Where Can I Read Full Books Online for Free?

Contributor: Michael Kwan
Digital book in a bin

Several resources provide legal, free books for you to read online, easily accessible from the web browser on your computer. Whether you are looking for classic literature, encyclopedic reference works, or even contemporary fiction, it is likely you'll be able to find free selections online you can enjoy from the comfort of your home computer, laptop, or tablet.

1. Public Bookshelf

Focusing exclusively on romance novels, Public Bookshelf is touted as the "#1 place to read romance." There are over 575 quality romance novels from a variety of authors who write their novels directly for Public Bookshelf. Selections are available from sub-genres including contemporary, historical, and vampire romance novels. The site is ad-supported, which is how it is able to provide full books at no cost. To read books on the site, you'll need to navigate page by page through the online interface. You can also comment to the author about the book and discuss it with other readers.

2. Google Books

Navigating through the Google Books online bookstore is similar to the experience of looking for Android apps from the Google Play Store. You can browse through the popular titles as well as filter by category or search by keyword. While many of the books are available for purchase, several are completely free to read online. To find free books, use the advanced search option and choose "full view." If you create an account with Google, you can add books to your library to have easy access to them at any time. There is a wide variety of books available for free, from science fiction to history to classics.

3. FullBooks.com

The books from FullBooks.com are arranged alphabetically by title, so it may be very difficult to search for books unless you know the specific title of what you are looking for. There are no book descriptions and no categories either. The book contents are displayed as plain text on a single page with just a single advertisement at the top of the page to help fund the website. The majority of the books available are in the public domain such as poetry, literature, history, and philosophy classics.

4. Bartleby.com

With thousands of reading options, Bartleby.com calls itself "the preeminent internet publisher of literature, reference and verse." Choose from complete collections like The Oxford Shakespeare, containing all the Bard's plays and sonnets, and single works like Aesop's Fables. In addition to classics that are public domain, Bartleby.com is unique in its focus on reference works, including books like Grey's Anatomy and Emily Post's Etiquette.

5. Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg is one of the most well-known places to read full books online. The majority of the site's offerings are books in the public domain, so the site is heavy on the classics. However, Project Gutenberg also includes electronic versions of copyrighted books uploaded with the authors' permission. Project Gutenberg is based in the United States. The freely available works are dependent on U.S. copyright and are generally written in English. Books can be read on the site or many have downloadable ePub and mobi versions for tablet readers.

6. ReadCentral.com

The majority of the books available on ReadCentral are in the public domain so you will find classics of literature, philosophy, and more. The site has a nice interface that allows you to search via author or most popular listings, and it even offers some fun quizzes on your reading personality. When you create an account, you can customize the interface with your preferred colors, fonts, and more, and set up a "bookshelf" of your titles. Creating an account is not required to read books on the website or via your mobile phone.

7. The Internet Archive

This website is a free collection of over 15,000,000 books and texts. In addition, there are over half a million eBooks to borrow if you create an account on the website. Their collections include books from libraries across the U.S. and Canada with reference manuals, classics, and journals. The eBook collection includes modern literature, non-fiction, and children's books. The site also has many items in large print for people with visual disabilities.

A Library at Your Fingertips

There is an impressive range of reading material available free online for adults and children. These sites provide a variety of full books, all easily accessible from any web browser. There are many ways to read books these days, so there is no reason not to get in the habit of reading on a regular basis.

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Where Can I Read Full Books Online for Free?