read books online free

Want to get your eyes on MILLIONS of free books online?

I got you.

If you’ve been following along, you already know that you can find free audiobooks online (woop woop!). We talked about options like LibriVox and MindWebs that are offering readers free audio books and short stories.

Now, we’ve got 15 more sites where you can read free books online when earbuds aren’t an option. You’ll get beyond the classics (though those are cool too), with free YA books, graphic novels, fanfiction, children’s books, and more.

And all together these sites have a lot of great books. A lot. Like, in the millions. Seriously. Your TBR list may be crying, but at least your wallet is happy?


We give more details about each one below, but the following sites all offer (or curate a collection with) free books online:

  1. FanFiction.net
  2. Goodreads
  3. International Children’s Digital Library
  4. Internet Sacred Text Archive
  5. ManyBooks
  6. Open Culture
  7. Open Library
  8. Overdrive
  9. Project Gutenberg
  10. Read Print
  11. Riveted
  12. Tor
  13. Wattpad
  14. Wikisource
  15. World Public Library

15 Of The Best Places To Find Free Books Online | BookRiot.com


While many of the books on the following websites are classic books and out of copyright, you can find more contemporary online books for free at Goodreads’ free eBooks shelves (either full or excerpts) or with the “free-online” tag.


If you’re looking for free children’s books online, the ICDL is a nonprofit organization with a mission to: “promote tolerance and a respect for diverse cultures by providing access to the best of children’s literature from around the world.”

You can read freely and anonymously on their site, or create an account to keep an ongoing bookshelf. And there are books from all over the world (you can even search by countries on the globe). Look for great free books online like:

  • Yukimado (The Snow Window) by Naoko Awa
  • Legends of the Maori from the National Library of New Zealand
  • All We Need Are Dragons by Ljubivoje Ršumović


Dedicated to religion, mythology, and folklore, the ISTA online collection provides access to hundreds of sacred texts online. It also promotes religious diversity, tolerance, and scholarship baked into its mission (which is pretty rad of course).

You’ll find versions of the Bible, as well as the TalmudVedas, and more.

15 Of The Best Places To Find Free Books Online | BookRiot.com


Just as the name implies, ManyBooks has loads and loads of online books for free. Over 30,000 in fact. The majority of their eBooks work for Kindles, Nooks, iPads, and other readers.

You’ll find thousands of books, both classic and contemporary here, such as:

  • The Unveiling by Tamara Leigh
  • The Art of War by Sun Tzu
  • The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie


Open Culture connected readers with a curated list of free audiobooks, and they’ve created something similar for free eBooks. You’ll find 800 free and downloadable eBooks through their site, ready to download for iPads, iPhones, Kindles, or to read in your browser directly.

Some knockouts include:

  • The Stranger by Albert Camus
  • Poems from Charles Bukowski
  • Short stories from Junot Diaz


Open Library offers over 1.7 million free eBooks online to users. It’s part of the Internet Archive, which also allows users to contribute (and correct!) books. They both offer free versions of full books and links to access paid books elsewhere.

Books to read online include Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle or Matilda by Roald Dahl.


OverDrive connects you with your local libraries to check out eBooks on your personal devices. You only need a library card and you’ll be able to check out classic and contemporary eBooks for free, anywhere and anytime. They host a catalog of over two million eBooks, as well as audiobooks. And, they’ve recently made it easier to transfer books onto your device.

Some new and recent releases on their catalog include:

  • Artemis by Andy Weir
  • Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
  • Beyond Magenta edited by Susan Kuklin

Of course, since it’s connected to your library, you’ll also see free Harry Potter eBooks and other more recent classics.


Project Gutenberg continues to be a fantastic resource for classic novels and obscure older texts alike that are already in the public domain. The organization is run entirely by volunteers who digitize and then also proofread works. In all, they’ve added over 50,000 free books online.

Whether you’re reading them online or downloading them to your device, you can dig into classic books like:

  • Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave by Frederick Douglass
  • Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker

15 Of The Best Places To Find Free Books Online | BookRiot.com


Read Print is a user-friendly website that allows users to read classics online. It also has a fancy bookshelf widget where you can track books read and books (so many books) that you want to read.

You’ll find free classic books like:

  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens


Riveted offers YA books for free online, either full books or excerpts on a time-limited basis. By signing into the site from Simon & Schuster and becoming a member, you’ll be able to read some sweet free books, download them to any device, join in giveaways, and discuss your YA favorites.

Some recent options included:

  • A Line in the Dark by Malinda Lo
  • A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
  • Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger

11. TOR

If you love all things science fiction and fantasy, check out Tor’s eBook club and weekly newsletters.

The publisher releases weekly original short stories from some of the biggest sci-fi/fantasy authors (like N.K. Jemisin and Linda Nagata). And, seriously, receiving a smashingly fantastic short story in my inbox every week has been such a joy and has helped me find great new authors.

They also release the eBook of the Month club where you can get free access to one pick each month. Their next group isn’t kicking off until 2018, though, so subscribe to the newsletter to get an update when it’s released.


Got a jonesing for some original source material? Even if you’re not in academia, Wikisource is the ultimate place to do a deep dive on a topic. The site hosts almost 400,000 texts in English, with user-generated submissions allowed.

You can find texts from 1846 to 1941, from authors like Rudyard Kipling and Marie de France, on werewolves specifically. Or, discover new worlds with texts from Jules Verne and Philip Dick. Or, I dunno, maybe you’ll jump in letters between our Founding Fathersfollowing Hamilton fever.


The World Public Library’s online Millennium Collection isn’t free, but for less than $10 a year for *ahem* millions of free books in over 300 languages, it’s basically free. They also offer free memberships for physically disabled or special needs members. You’ll find eBooks from all over the world, including:

  • Classics
  • Sacred texts
  • Academic collections
  • Kid’s books
  • Graphic novels
  • Audiobooks

Some of their knock-outs include 1984 by George Orwell, Siddhartha by Hemann Hesse, and The Mahabharata translated by Kisari Mohan Ganguli.


These are mostly websites that share free books online that have at one time been traditionally published and disseminated. But, um, there’s the internet which means there’s more books available out there than you’ll ever have time to read.

Check out WattPad for stories by independent authors, historical fiction, fanfiction, and more. There’s also a huge active community over there to talk about books with. Here’s your beginner’s guide.

FanFiction.net is a hub for short story and novel length spin-offs of your favorite fictional worlds. More Harry Potter anyone?

Phew, we’re not done yet. BookRix is also a community of independent authors who publish free eBooks in any of your favorite genres. We’re talking fantasy, romance, sci-fi, children’s and more.

The Library of Congress also has a small collection of classic children’s books.

Finally, also make sure to follow your favorite authors on social media. They’ll often share links to eBook deals, excerpts to upcoming novels, giveaways, or free shorts set in the same universe.


Other cheaper options ($10 a month or less) include Kindle Unlimited, some of the books on the Google Play store, Unlimited Library, and Scribd.

You can also follow along with Book Riot’s Deals of the Day “Book Deals” emails where you’ll get alerts about absurdly cheap eBooks and audiobooks (like Girlboss for $1.99 or Shadowshaper for $1.99 cheap).

It makes my heart swell a little bit that there are SO MANY places to find free books online. That’s a lot of literature, all with a simple internet connection. And, I’m excited to hear about any sites I missed. If you have any places where you find free books online (especially specific genres), hit the comments to share them with other Book Riot readers.

Post originally published in August 2017; last updated in November 2017.

10 sites where you can read books online

read book online free

1. Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg is a mother of all ebook sites. It started in 1971, when a first ebook ever was created, “Declaration of Independence of the United States of America”.

Many sites that offer free ebooks from public domain use the titles originally uploaded to Project Gutenberg.

Currently, there are about 45,000 public domain books in the catalog. If you’re looking for great classic books, Project Gutenberg is the right destination to go.

You can read the book online in two ways.

1. Go to page with book details and click on Read this ebook online link.

2. Open html file.

Project Gutenberg - two options to read a book online

The Read online default option displays only the unformatted text of the book. Plus there is a left sidebar visible all the time.

That’s why I found reading an html file much nicer. It displays all elements and all formatting, so you will be able to see the original cover of the book, as well as illustrations inside. You will also be able to navigate using the table of content or click on hyperlinks inside the file.

Ebooks from Project Gutenberg are extremely well prepared. Using an html format to read them online is a very good idea. Once you open the file, you have the simple full-screen view that you can scroll through.

The is one more benefit. The file is searchable. You can use your browser’s find tool to search for words inside the book.

Below there are screenshots of two reading options from Project Gutenberg.

Project Gutenberg read online option
Project Gutenberg read online interface – click to enlarge
Project Gutenberg read online an html file
Project Gutenberg read html file – click to enlarge

⇢ Project Gutenberg

2. Internet Archive

Internet Archive, founded in 1996, is a non-profit organization offering free access to digital or digitized content: books, images, videos, or audio files.

The catalog includes well over 6,000,000 fully accessible public domain ebooks and other text files. The section can be reached at this link: archive.org/details/texts.

Use the search box in the top left corner to find the book. By default, the list of results will be limited only to texts. You can sort the results by relevance, rating, download count, and the date of adding the item to the catalog.

To read the book, just click on the arrows in the bottom bar of the image of the opened book. You can enter full screen by clicking on the fullscreen link underneath.

Read books online - Internet Archive

The online viewer presents the scanned pages of the book, what brings an extra flavor to reading.

There are many ways to go through the content of the book, including one-page view, and zooming.

One thing to keep in mind is that the content of the book is fully searchable, let not the scan mislead you. Use the search bar in the top right corner to find a word. All found instances will be marked in the progress bar at the bottom.

Read books online - search inside the book on Internet Archive

One of the most amazing things on Internet Archive is the text-to-speech function. You can turn it on by clicking on the speaker icon in the top right corner of the book viewer.

⇢ Internet Archive

3. Open Library

You can find exactly the same online book reader tool on another site: Open Library. The site is actually Internet Archive’s separate project, more focused on collecting library records.

Its goal is to create one web page for every book ever published. On a page of a single book, you’ll find all its documented editions.

The site claims to have 6 million authors and 20 million books. You can search inside 2 million titles.

Once you find the book, you’ll immediately know whether you can read it online. A Read icon is shown next to the title.

On Open Library the books you can read online are specially marked

Click on the Read icon and you’ll land in the full-screen online reader, similar to Internet Archive.

When you click on the info icon, marked with “i” letter (right side of the top bar), you’ll be presented with options to download the book. Clicking on mobi or pdf link will immediately download the book to your computer.

⇢ Open Library

4. Google Books

A huge collection of books that Google scanned and turned into viewable files is now available on Google.

The homepage of Google Books is actually a search box. More importantly, Google will prompt you to check out Google Play – their online ebookstore.

To stay in the Google Books project, use the search box on the left side, as shown in the screenshot below.

Google Books - how to enter to read books online

You can type in an author or a book’s title. Not all books can be fully previewed, but you can narrow search results to those that are.

To do that, in the upper bar click on Search tools, and then Any view. Select Full view to see only the books that can be read online from the beginning to the end. Select Preview and full view to have the list of books that give an option to:

  • read a free sample,
  • read a full content.

Read books online on Google Books - find a free preview

The free preview in Google Books doesn’t have to be a first part of the book.

Let’s say a publisher sets a free preview to be 20% of a book. You can select a chapter in the middle and read 20% from now on. Or jump from page to page, if you want.

You’ll be able to preview the book until you reach the limit of free pages set by a publisher.

Read books online on Google Books
Reading interface on Google Books – click to enlarge

In case of contemporary books, the preview pages are scans, and they are displayed with a permission of the publisher (see screenshot above).

⇢ Google Books

5. Smashwords

I’m a big fan of Smashwords. It’s the biggest and most advanced site with ebooks from independent authors and publishers. There are currently around 300,000 from over 100,000 authors.

Many Smashwords books are being sold in big ebookstores, including Barnes & Noble, or Kobo.

All these bookstores offer an option to send a sample file to a connected device or application, but options to read books online are limited to selected titles or/and short excerpts.

If you find out that a publisher of the book is Smashwords, you can be sure that in the original site you can read a free sample in your browser.

What’s more, Smashwords authors have an option to set up the length of a free preview. Some writers choose to let readers preview the entire book.

On a page with book details, scroll down to see a table with available ebook reading formats. Click on Online Reading to start reading.

Smashwords read online - find the option

There are several customization options to choose from. You can select a size (4 levels to choose from), and font face (Arial, Courier, Times, Verdana, Georgia). You can also personalize colors by setting up your own font and background.

Smashwords reading interface – click to enlarge

Quite frankly, reading interface offered by Smashwords is not the strongest part of this great site.

There is no full-screen view, for example. It would help a lot, as the book content window is very narrow.

The screenshot above shows options I found most suitable for reading on the computer screen (font-to-background contrast not too big, font size large enough):

  • font face: Georgia,
  • font color: Olive,
  • font size: large,
  • background color: white.

⇢ Smashwords

6. Blurb

Blurb is one of the most important self-publishing sites, where you can find a lot of quality, very well designed ebooks. To discover new books to read, you can go directly to Blurb bookstore.

Very often, online book previews on Blurb show the entire content, as authors earn money on selling print versions.

As the site is focused on showcasing beautifully designed books, the reading interface was developed with that purpose in mind.

After you find the book, click on its cover if you see Preview Book!ribbon. It takes some time for the book to load, but it’s worth waiting if you’re looking for books that could give you a visual inspiration.

Blurb read online
Blurb reading interface – click to enlarge

I recommend switching to full-screen mode right away. You can browse through the book page by page, or quickly jump to interesting section using thumbnail preview.

⇢ Blurb

7. Scribd

The service is often described as YouTube for documents. There are millions of docs available here: comics, presentations, brochures – and obviously books.

There is one thing you have to keep in mind, as you may get lost when entering the site. Scribd offers its visitors two kinds of books:

  • the ones available through a monthly subscription,
  • the free ones.

Scribd is reading on steroids. You’ve got several ways to share what you read. There is an option to embed a book on blog or website.

Some time ago the site was packed with Google ads. It made it almost impossible to focus on reading. Now the interface is much smoother and the reading experience is way better than before.

The content of a book is displayed immediately when you open the book’s page. Once you scroll down, all distracting elements are gone, leaving only a top toolbar and download widget.

Scribd read online
Scribd reading interface – click to enlarge

⇢ Scribd

8. Wattpad

Canada-based Wattpad is one of the most popular e-reading communities in the world. According to official information, Wattpad readers spend over 2 billion minutes on the site every month.

Every minute, more than 10,000 readers are connected with a new story.

The site supports over 20 languages. When you select your mother tongue, you’ll see books in your language and book recommendations from users who selected the same language.

Wattpad read online
Wattpad reading interface – click to enlarge

To find new stories, click on Discover in a navigation bar, and you’ll see a handy panel where you can browse by category, type a keyword or find what other users are reading.

⇢ Wattpad

9. Bookish

If you care about the user interface and a pleasure of reading, you should definitely try Bookish. The service has the most beautiful book reading interface I’ve ever seen.

You have to sign in, but the process takes only a moment.

Service is designed to be a user’s cloud bookshelf. There are not many books available for immediate reading. Public domain titles can be browsed from a dashboard. You can also add your own DRM-free ePub files.

Bookish read online
Bookish reading interface – click to enlarge

⇢ Bookish

10. 24Symbols

Another interesting book startup to watch. You can connect with your Facebook account. A dashboard is very well-organized. You can browse catalog alphabetically, by author or category, and by, yes – language.

24Symbols read online
24Symbols reading interface – click to enlarge

The right panel shows details of a book. You can start reading by either clicking on a red-colored Read button or selecting one of the chapters from a table of content.

⇢ 24Symbols