It wasn’t too long ago that all my petty cash was spoken for before I’d even gotten my hands on it. Courses, text books, art supplies, bus fare & food don’t leave much left for reading. And with classes and my part-time job, I didn’t trust myself to remember to take books back to the library on time (honestly, I still don’t). But luckily, there’s a whole wide world web FILLED with books that are in the public domain (no piracy! huzzah!) Today, I am going to be your friendly internet librarian and point you in some helpful directions.
Personally, I love me some horror and fantasy. If I were forced to scorn all other genres, I’d have to pick it. So my first place to go is Dagonbyte’s H.P. Lovecraft Library. It claims to have all Lovecraft’s stuff; I don’t know for sure whether that’s true or not, but regardless, it has enough to keep even a fast reader occupied for a few weeks. The site also has some other horror staples available for free, including Dracula, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Frankenstein, The Phantom of the Opera, and the works of Edgar Allen Poe. I invite you to explore the site yourself, as there’s even more there worth a look if horror is your thing.
If horror isn’t your thing, that’s okay. I have more.
For daring adventures, cunning games of cat and mouse, and the French Revolution, look no further than The Scarlett Pimpernel series. Blakeney Manor not only has the history of the Pimpernel’s many incarnations over the years, from movies to comics to card games; it also has every book in the series online. One semester, I rewarded myself by reading a book if I finished a paper or drawing first. They’re fast, funny, and frequently fluffy books and I love them dearly. Baroness Orczy’s royalist sentiments can get irritating at times, and her loose grip on her own continuity can make you double-take if you think about it too hard, but if you’re in need of brain fluff, I’ve found nothing fluffier (that doesn’t cause your IQ to drop). The good guys win, the innocent are saved, the villains suffer, and the hero returns to his devoted love to rest before hurrying off to fight injustice again. (And on the subject of the Pimpernel’s lady love, Marguerite has a few damn fine, heroic moments herself. I wouldn’t call her a paragon of feminist ideals, but the woman isn’t the shrinking violet other characters often mistake her for.)
If your interests lie more within the realm of non-fiction, I have even more handy-dandy links.
For the visual arts, The Metropolitan Museum of Art has put nearly 400 out of print publications online in free PDFs. I have a large folder of these that I downloaded because do you have any idea how much art books cost? ANY IDEA??? Just- just go here and download. If you have a specific love of modern art, the Guggenheim has a similar project here, with over 60 titles available online. The subjects range from individual artists to art movements entirely. I don’t think you can download any of them, but you CAN read them online.
If you’ve got a social studies paper due, UNESCO’s resources page has a huge database online. Some of it does need money, but it also has a huge collection of free publications available, including journals, essays, books, and links to other educational websites. It’s a great tool for research, but even if you’re only passingly interested in any cultural or scientific studies at all, I’d explore the site. It’s a bit like having a constantly updated encyclopedia, which I guess makes it like Wikipedia, except the people uploading are certified experts in their field, with cited resources and everything.
Finally, an invaluable resource for all readers is Project Gutenberg. There are literally tens of thousands of ebooks they’re providing, many in multiple languages, in several formats (I know Kindle will accept files from the Project), and in a vast variety of genres and subjects. They even have audiobooks now. It’s a huge site and they’re always working to add more, so visit often! All the books fall under the public domain, so you don’t have to worry about piracy or denying the authors they’re well-earned paycheck (they’re all dead by now).
Go forth and read, my pretties! And if you find any other free, non-pirated resources for interesting reading, share them! A good resource is a terrible thing to waste.