Published: May 23, 2017 12:00:00 PM


Vision augmented by 20/20 hindsight, and maybe an updated glasses prescription, you're sizing up a summer reading list. Not just trashy beach books with covers thick enough you could smash clams, but classics you've always meant to read.

Didn't you always mean to read an oldie-but-a-goodie?

Lucky you, Amazon is packed to the gills with free novels. Not $1 bodice-rippers. Not $4 adventure pulp (it has those, too), but honest-to-goodness masterpieces.

These are some of the finest books you can find on the Amazon Kindle Marketplace, ready for summer reading... 

The Time Machine

The grandfather of all time-travel stories, GH Wells' The Time Machine is a giddy thought-meditation on what's beyond the horizon of humanity on earth. The time machine itself itself could be described as steampunk in the simplest sense, while the overall genre verges on post-apocalyptic / dystopian. The story remains prescient, concerning what happens when mankind's science outpaces our biology, and how unrecognizable we may become if humanity lacks constraint.

It's fantastic free books like The Time Machine remain available, a few taps away on any smart phone. It's only 128 pages. Hit the link and get reading.


Frankenstein is arguably the very first science-fiction book ever written, initially printed in 1818. Legend has it, Mary Shelly conceived of Frankenstein in a deep fever-state.

Toss out any prejudice toward the story you might've developed from the original black and white movie. The Monster in the novel is an entirely different animal. Debates concerning the right to create and tampering in God's domain are drawn into the light. The language and format is writerly and personal, told primarily through letters. The deeper you go, the more unsettling the story becomes.

Like most free books on Amazon, there are a few versions, but you'd be best served extracting yourself from the now-traditional illustrations of Frankenstein's monster, and imagining it for yourself.

Heart of Darkness

The original "oh, look how few pages this is" book you remember from your school reading list, Heart of Darkness is the ultimate replacement for 99% of the think-piece garbage we thumb through on our phones. Most of the free novels mentioned here fall into that category, as well, but this is a real cure-all. It's 79 pages, hardly heftier than most long-reads, and a billion times more conversation-provoking.


Figure this: any time you've watched a TV show, a movie, or played a game where a guy's on a mission to into the interior of some brutal environment to find another guy that's gone crazy, that story you're reading REALLY wants to be Heart of Darkness. It's a great premise, letting the protagonist observe the landscape that 

Furthermore, if you ever come across the following three names in fiction, it's likely meant to be a half-hearted homage to Heart of Darkness:

  1. Conrad
  2. Marlow
  3. Kurtz

Don't convince yourself that free books like Heart of Darkness makes you morally superior for knowing the original source for so many similar stories, rather, you can develop a greater appreciation. Mash the link and earn some perspective.

Paradise Lost

Do we have time for one more? Okay, strap yourself to the rocket if you're ready for the most challenging of the books featured here. Paradise Lost was thoroughly discussed and explained years ago on this very site. The story of Lucifer cast out of heaven for his spirited individuality and distaste for God's authoritarianism, this is a shocking visual tour through Christian cosmology.

It's partly a story about self-justification from the devil's perspective, partly a road movie as he travels out of hell, and partly an admission of how distant human consciousness is from God's. In fact, if you've ever heard some firebrand minister—whether in real life, or in fiction—spouting descriptions of hell, or blithering about Satan, or reciting bullshit about Adam and Eve, that guy is likely pulling from what's detailed in Paradise Lost (not the Bible (which makes it apocryphal (which is a fancy word for fan-fic))).

If you can make it to Book X, you've effectively completed the story. Considering the price for this and the other free books though, it's well worth the admission fee. Hit that link if you're ready for a heavy-hitter.

What else?

There are countless free novels for download on Amazon. If you want to fork over the mighty sum of $1, the library expands even further. If you dare pay $5hardly more than a cup of coffee with too much artificial sweeteneryou're venturing into an exciting territory.

If you want to read more about Ghost Little's own growing library of free books and original fiction, mash the link and get yourself a taste of indie creative culture.

-- Alex Crumb
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