Category Archives: Free ebooks

FREE PDF: Faber’s Hymns (edited by Pioneer Library)

In the current crisis, many are quarantined either by choice or force, and others are practicing “social distancing” or attending church only remotely. I thought it would be helpful to offer a free ebook, so I’ve attached our 2017 edition of Faber’s Hymns, edited from an 1894 volume, partly to better accommodate Protestant worship.

Many hymns in this book deal with God’s character, God’s holiness, spiritual dryness, and eternity. I thought they might be a comfort to our readers.

Faber’s Hymns (edited by Pioneer Library) (0.4 MB)

Please feel free to share, copy, or re-use the hymns, with or without crediting us. They are in the public domain.

Free Book for Lent: Shadows of the Cross (Birks)

I recently made a trip to the British Library at St. Pancras, London, and digitized quite a few scarce English books by my personal favorites like F. W. Boreham and H. A. Birks (author of Jesus, a Man of Sorrows; The Life of Thomas Valpy French; and numerous other works). Birks was a scholar and preacher who published several books intended especially for use during Lent:

  • Jesus, a Man of Sorrows (now available for Kindle)
  • God’s Champion, Man’s Example (forthcoming)
  • The Shadow of the Cross in Our Lord’s Ministry

For the occasion of Lent 2020, I wanted to make this third book publicly available, so I have uploaded at the link below.

Unless you have library access in Cambridge, Dublin, Edinburgh, Cardiff, or the British Library in London, you will probably never see a physical copy of this book. It has been out of print since 1892—for 128 years.

The Shadow of the Cross in Our Lord’s Ministry – free PDF download (17.1 MB)

If you are looking for a 40-day daily devotional created just for Lent, you can also check out In the Desert with Jesus.

Free Books by G. Campbell Morgan (50+)

Some readers may remember that, about ten years ago, a number of G. Campbell Morgan books (which are in the public domain) were freely available online at gcampbellmorgan.com (then the G. Campbell Morgan Archive). These were nice because they were already formatted, and the PDFs were proofreaded and readable.

With the advent of ebooks, this was turned into a paysite, and has apparently been shut down or changed domains.

However, you can still access the old free website thanks to archive.org’s Wayback Machine, which is a web crawler that archives websites.

Use the links below:

Free G. Campbell Morgan books on the Internet Archive (50+)
Free G. Campbell Morgan audiobooks on LibriVox (3)
Free G. Campbell Morgan books on the Wayback Machine (30+)

Lubbock’s List: The Original ‘Must-Read’ List

This post is a break from “our usual programming” to look at a surprisingly modern phenomenon in publishing: “must-read lists.” Included below is probably the most famous example, with links to free copies of over 100 books, mostly classics.

“The choice of books, like that of friends, is a serious duty.”
—Sir John Lubbock.

What Did People Read in Victorian Times?

I came across something in F. W. Boreham’s Ships of Pearl the other day, where he mentioned in passing that Sir John Lubbock had created a list of 100 books that anyone should read if they want to think of themselves as “well-read.” Out of pure curiosity, I found the list online, and I wanted to take a closer look at what’s there. Note: The list was partially reported in The Spectator on the day the speech was given in 1886, but it was  later published fully with comments (and a few changes) in a book by Sir John Lubbock (see chapter 4 of The Pleasures of Life).

F. W. Boreham, who informed me of the list, read many of the philosophers, historians, playwrights, and poets on this list. I would guess that he read close to half of the works on this list. The list, therefore, is a pretty strong indicator of what was popular then. It is interesting to think that a preacher in the 1910s and 1920s might be reading substantially the same literature as the layman, whereas today I would expect that I have almost no books in common with the library of non-churchgoers.

Three books on this list that were hugely influential, but are rarely explored today, would be: Boswell’s Life of Johnson (seminal in the field of biography), Keble’s Christian Year (popularized 365-day devotionals), and Smiles’ Self-Help (foundational to the modern genre of self-help).

The Widespread Influence of Lubbock’s List

Lubbock’s list was originally presented to the Working Men’s College in London, of which he was the principal from 1883 to 1899. Notably, the list set working-class men running for the Classics: Lubbock had high praise not just for Plato and Homer, but Plutarch, Xenophon, and Epictetus, names the mere mention of which would set most Americans yawning today. Lubbock also comments about omitting novels, modern historians (all “kings and queens . . . dates of battles and wars”), and modern science (“so rapidly progressive”).

This list also set off a chain reaction in English literary circles: first, of comments and criticisms; then, of scholars and academies creating their own lists; thirdly, of publishers creating series like Great Books, which were very successful into the first decades of the twentieth century.

The Purpose of the List

In a way, Lubbock’s list is the original ‘must-read’ list, but it is not by any means a list of his personal favorites. If you’re surprised by what’s there (a Victorian MP recommending the Qurʼān?), note Lubbock’s comment:

I drew up the list, not as that of the hundred best books, but, which is very different, of those which have been most frequently recommended as best worth reading.

On the Qurʼān, for instance, he writes:

The Koran, like the Analects of Confucius, will to most of us derive its principal interest from the effect it has exercised, and still exercises, on so many millions of our fellow-men. I doubt whether in any other respect it will seem to repay perusal, and to most persons probably certain extracts, not too numerous, would appear sufficient.

Nabeel Qureshi, though, would point out the cultural mismatch of making an analogy between Christians’ view of the Bible and Muslims’ views of the Qurʼān—especially noting the orality of many Muslim-majority cultures, and the recentness of widespread literacy.

More Like a Hundred-ish

The list is purported to be “a hundred,” but many of the “books” listed are either volume sets or series, and as listed it even exceeds 100 works, so that the actual number of “books” here is about 189 (!) by my count. (Some are very short, though, right?)

I’ve linked all of them to Project Gutenberg for reference. Out of all 100+ works, less than 10 were not on Project Gutenberg, which is a tribute to the enduring popularity of the books that Lubbock chose.

  1. The Holy Bible (Latin) (Spanish) (Swedish)
  2. The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius (German)
  3. Epictetus
  4. Aristotle’s Ethics (Greek: NE vol 1, NE vol 2)
  5. The Analects of Confucius
  6. St Hilaire’s Le Bouddha et sa religion . . . is not on Project Gutenberg but it is available here and (in French) here
  7. Wake’s Apostolic Fathers . . . is not on Project Gutenberg but it is available here
  8. Thos. à Kempis’ Imitation of Christ (French)
  9. Confessions of St. Augustine (Dr. Pusey) (Latin)
  10. The Koran (portions of)
  11. Spinoza’s Tractatus Theologico-Politicus
  12. Comte’s Catechism of Positive Philosophy . . . is not on Project Gutenberg but you can read it here
  13. Pascal’s Pensées [“Thoughts”]
  14. Butler’s Analogy of Religion
  15. Taylor’s Holy Living and Dying . . . is not on Project Gutenberg but you can read it here
  16. Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress (Finnish)
  17. Keble’s Christian Year
  18. Plato’s Dialogues; at any rate, the Apology (Greek), Phædo (Finnish) (Greek), and Republic (Greek)
  19. Xenophon’s Memorabilia [listed twice]
  20. Aristotle’s Politics
  21. Demosthenes’ De Corona [“On the Crown,” excerpt from The Public Orations of Demosthenes, vol. 1]
  22. Cicero’s De Officiis (Latin), De Amicitia [“On Friendship”], and De Senectute [“On Old Age”] (Latin) [the first two are available in English as Treatises on Friendship and Old Age; De Senectute is in English here]
  23. Plutarch’s Lives (Greek) (4 volumes)
  24. Berkeley’s Human Knowledge
  25. Descartes’s Discours sur la Méthode
  26. Locke’s On the Conduct of the Understanding . . . isn’t on Project Gutenberg but you can read it here and here and here 
  27. Homer’s Iliad (French) (Greek) (Latin) (Spanish) and Odyssey (Finnish) (French) (Greek) (Latin) (Spanish) (Swedish)
  28. Hesiod (Latin) (?)
  29. Virgil (Finnish) (Latin) (Scots) (?)
  30. Epitomized in Talboy Wheeler’s History of India, vols i and ii: Maha Bharata (5 volumes), Ramayana
  31. Firdusi’s Shahnameh [an excerpt from The Persian Literature, vol 1]
  32. The Nibelungenlied (only available in German)
  33. Malory’s Morte d’Arthur 
  34. The Sheking [The Shi King] . . . is not on Project Gutenberg but you can read it here
  35. Kalidasa’s Sakuntala or The Lost Ring
  36. Aeschylus’s Prometheus [excerpt of Tragedies and Fragments] (Greek)
  37. Aeschylus’s Trilogy (Greek) (Swedish)
  38. Sophocles’s Oedipus (Dutch)
  39. Euripides’s Medea
  40. Aristophanes’s The Knights and Clouds (Greek) [both are excerpts from Eleven Comedies vol 1]
  41. Horace
  42. Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (Italian) (“perhaps in Morris’ edition; or, if expurgated, in C. Clarke’s, or Mrs. Haweis'”)
  43. Shakespeare (8 volumes)
  44. Milton’s Paradise Lost, Lycidas, Comus, and minor poems [Lycidas and Comus are included with the minor poems]
  45. Dante’s Divina Commedia (Cary’s tr.) (Longfellow’s tr.) (Finnish) (Friulian) (German) (Italian) (Spanish)
  46. Spenser’s Fairie Queen (1?)
  47. Dryden’s Poems [vol 1 and vol 2] (2 volumes)
  48. Scott’s Poems [such as The Lady of the Lake, Marmion, ?]
  49. Wordsworth (Mr Arnold’s selection) [Wordsworth’s complete poetical works is in 8 volumes . . . presumably Lubbock means Selected Poems of William Wordsworth]
  50. Pope’s Essay on Criticism
  51. Essay on Man
  52. Rape of the Lock [portion from Rape of the Lock and Other Poems]
  53. Burns
  54. Byron’s Childe Harold
  55. Gray [largest selection seems to be in Poetical Works of Johnson, Parnell, Gray, and Smollett]
  56. Herodotus [vol 1 and vol 2] (Greek: vol 1 and vol 2)
  57. Xenophon’s Anabasis (Greek)
  58. Thucydides (Greek)
  59. Tacitus’s Germania (Finnish) (French) (German)
  60. Livy (4 volumes)
  61. Gibbon’s Decline and Fall (6 volumes)
  62. Hume’s History of England (3 volumes)
  63. Grote’s History of Greece (12 volumes!)
  64. Carlyle’s French Revolution (3 volumes)
  65. Green’s Short History of England . . . is surprisingly not on Project Gutenberg but it is here [and Green’s 8-volume “long” history of England is on Gutenberg here]
  66. Lewes’s History of Philosophy . . . is not on Project Gutenberg but it is here: vol 1 and vol 2 
  67. Arabian Nights
  68. Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (Dutch)  (Finnish) (French)
  69. Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe
  70. Goldsmith’s Vicar of Wakefield
  71. Cervante’s Don Quixote (Finnish)
  72. Boswell’s Life of Johnson (2 volumes)
  73. Molière (?) [his complete works are 10 volumes in English]
  74. Schiller’s William Tell
  75. Sheridan’s The Critic, School for Scandal, and The Rivals
  76. Carlyle’s Past and Present
  77. Bacon’s Novum Organum
  78. Smith’s Wealth of Nations (part of)
  79. Mill’s Political Economy
  80. Cook’s Voyages
  81. Humboldt’s Travels [vol 1, vol 2, vol 3] (3 volumes)
  82. White’s Natural History of Selborne
  83. Darwin’s Origin of Species
  84. Naturalist’s Voyage [i.e. The Voyage of the Beagle]
  85. Mill’s Logic
  86. Bacon’s Essays
  87. Montaigne’s Essays (Finnish) (French)
  88. Hume’s Essays
  89. Macaulay’s Essays (6 volumes)
  90. Addison’s Essays
  91. Emerson’s Essays
  92. Burke’s Select Works
  93. Smiles’s Self-Help
  94. Voltaire’s Zadig (Finnish) (French) (Spanish) and Micromegas (Spanish)
  95. Goethe’s Faust (German),  and Autobiography (2 volumes)
  96. Thackeray’s Vanity Fair
  97. Thackeray’s Pendennis
  98. Dickens’ Pickwick
  99. Dickens’ David Copperfield
  100. Lytton’s Last Days of Pompeii
  101. George Eliot’s Adam Bede
  102. Kingsley’s Westward Ho!
  103. Scott’s Novels [28 volumes!!]:  The Abbot; Anne of Geierstein [vol 1 and vol 2]; The AntiquaryThe Betrothed[Bizarro was not in print at the time that J. L. created his list]; The Black DwarfThe Bride of Lammermoor (Finnish) (Italian); Castle Dangerous [portion of Waverley Novels vol. 12]; Count Robert of Paris [portion of Waverley Novels vol. 12]; The Fair Maid of PerthThe Fortunes of NigelGuy ManneringThe Heart of MidlothianIvanhoe (Dutch); KenilworthA Legend of MontroseThe MonasteryOld MortalityPeveril of the PeakThe PirateQuentin DurwardRedgauntletRob Roy (French); Saint Ronan’s Well[The Siege of Malta had not been fully printed at the time J. L. created his list]; The Talisman (Dutch); Waverley (Finnish); Woodstock.
  104. [Selections from the Writings of Ruskin (added in 1930 edition)]
  105. [Ruskin’s Modern Painters (added in 1930 edition)] (5 volumes)

 

Note: Previous Lubbock lists had included:

  1. Southey’s Thalaba the Destroyer, The Curse of Kehama (vol 1 and vol 2)
  2. Lucretius [“less generally suitable than most of the others in the list”]
  3. Miss Austen’s Emma, or Pride and Prejudice [Lubbock omitted them, commenting that English novelists were “somewhat over-represented”]
  4. Locke’s Human Understanding (vol 1 and vol 2) [apparently mistaken for Conduct of the Understanding in some lists, since the titles are so similar]

Free Complete Works of Jonathan Edwards

A friend recently asked about a readable edition of Jonathan Edwards’ complete works.

You can download his complete works in PDF format for FREE from archive.org, using the following links—WARNING: the full volumes will have VERY LARGE file sizes:


vol 1vol 2vol 3vol 4
These links are all to the 1879 edition of ‘The Works of President Edwards,’ which is the most recent complete edition available online.


Arranged by topic:

BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS:

  1. Memoirs of President Edwards
  2. An Account of the Life of the Rev. David Brainerd
  3. Narrative of Surprising Conversions

SERMONS:

  1. A Farewell Sermon
  2. Six Occasional Sermons
  3. Sermons on Various Important Subjects

WORKS DEFENDING OR PROMOTING CALVINISM:

  1. A Careful and Strict Inquiry into the Prevailing Notions of the Freedom of the Will
  2. Miscellaneous Observations concerning the Divine Decree in General and Election in Particular
  3. Concerning the Perseverance of the Saints

OTHER THEOLOGICAL DOCTRINES:

  1. The Great Christian Doctrine of Original Sin Defended
  2. A History of the Work of Redemption (originally sermons)
  3. Miscellaneous Observations on Important Doctrines
  4. Mysteries of Scripture
  5. Observations upon Particular Passages of Scripture
  6. Theological Questions

CHRISTIAN PHILOSOPHY:

  1. Dissertation on the Nature of True Virtue
  2. Dissertation on the End for which God Created the World

PRACTICAL THEOLOGY:

  1. The Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God
  2. Thoughts on the Revival of Religion in New England, 1740
  3. Inquiry Concerning Qualifications for Communion
  4. A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections
  5. A Humble Attempt to Promote Explicit Agreement and Visible Union of God’s People in Extraordinary Prayer

POLEMICAL WORK:

  1. Misrepresentations Corrected and Truth Vindicated, in Reply to the Rev. Solomon Williams
  2. Reasons Against Dr. Watts’ Notion of the Pre-Existence of Christ’s Human Soul

Arranged by volume:

Volume 1:

  1. Memoirs of President Edwards
  2. A Farewell Sermon
  3. Inquiry Concerning Qualifications for Communion
  4. Misrepresentations Corrected and Truth Vindicated, in Reply to the Rev. Solomon Williams
  5. A History of the Work of Redemption
  6. The Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God
  7. Miscellaneous Observations on Important Doctrines
  8. An Account of the Life of the Rev. David Brainerd

Volume 2:

  1. A Careful and Strict Inquiry into the Prevailing Notions of the Freedom of the Will
  2. Dissertation on the End for which God Created the World
  3. Dissertation on the Nature of True Virtue
  4. The Great Christian Doctrine of Original Sin Defended
  5. Miscellaneous Observations concerning the Divine Decree in General and Election in Particular

Volume 3:

  1. A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections
  2. Narrative of Surprising Conversions
  3. Thoughts on the Revival of Religion in New England, 1740
  4. A Humble Attempt to Promote Explicit Agreement and Visible Union of God’s People in Extraordinary Prayer
  5. Concerning the Perseverance of the Saints
  6. Reasons Against Dr. Watts’ Notion of the Pre-Existence of Christ’s Human Soul
  7. Mysteries of Scripture
  8. Observations upon Particular Passages of Scripture
  9. Theological Questions
  10. Six Occasional Sermons

Volume 4:

  1. Sermons on Various Important Subjects

Free Books by A. W. Tozer

Most of Tozer’s books are still under copyright, but a few happen to be in the public domain, including the classic The Pursuit of God. Although that’s the only one that’s in multiple formats, I’m leaving these links here in case more of them show up in the future (like Total Commitment to Christ, or How To Be Filled with the Holy Spirit).

Helpful tip: If you’re in a pinch, you can borrow many Tozer books with digital library access from the Internet Archive. All you have to do is sign up, and you can borrow a book for two weeks at a time.

Free A. W. Tozer books (PDF) on the Internet Archive (10+)
Free A. W. Tozer audiobooks on LibriVox
Free A. W. Tozer books on Project Gutenberg

8 Best Websites for Free Books

In general, if you’re looking for free books, the best places to look are the following, in order of usefulness:
  1. The Online Books Page
    A huge handmade database that aggregates freely available books in all formats, especially from major sites listed below like Google Books, HathiTrust, and the Internet Archive. It is the most useful because you can find comprehensive lists arranged by author, although, for our favorite authors, listed above, we have compiled even better lists here.
    Especially good for: Books organized by author
  2. The Internet Archive (archive.org)
    A massive media archive based in San Francisco, housing mainly public domain materials. The Internet Archive includes digitized library resources, like Google Books, but also includes other media forms like video and audio. Many public domain books from Google Books have been re-uploaded on archive.org, but not nearly all. It is also sometimes prone to religious propaganda or spam, so you may have to tailor your searches.
    Europe has more Internet restrictions and stricter copyright laws, so you will have the best luck if you are logged in from the United States or Canada.
    Especially good for: Any book from 1850 to 1923
  3. Google Books
    Google Books contains millions of digitized books, including both public domain and in copyright. Google Books often has the best collection of very old materials, i.e., before 1850. If you are looking for a rare Puritan work, a very rare hymn, or something from William Carey’s day, Google Books is often the best place to start.
    I also have written a guide to hunting for rare quotes, which works best on Google Books for numerous reasons.
    Especially good for: Magazines, periodicals, anything pre-1850
  4. Project Gutenberg
    Project Gutenberg is the best place to find books in epub and mobi formats, as well as rich-text format or plain text files, all of which are kilobytes instead of megabytes, and have many advantages over reading PDFs.
    Especially good for: Reflowable and searchable formats (epub, mobi, rtf, txt)
  5. LibriVox (for audiobooks only)
    LibriVox is the best source for public domain audiobooks. Occasionally, there are public domain books on LibriVox that are not available in any of these other sites; but, usually, they are popular titles that are already on Project Gutenberg and elsewhere. Often, I find that books that are free on Kindle will end up on LibriVox, so it is nice to switch back and forth, and use the Kindle to annotate or highlight the book as you listen.
    Especially good for: Fiction and adventure
  6. HathiTrust Digital Library
    HathiTrust is similar to Google Books and the Internet Archive, but, like Google Books, it also includes some books with use restrictions. So, sometimes you will find a newer book listed, but you won’t be able to access, or it will ask for an institutional (i.e. library or university) login, or perhaps the file will be read-only.
    Like the Online Books Page, HathiTrust has wealth of metadata, like author’s birth and death date, which makes it easier to find out if you are looking at the right title or not.
    Especially good for: Pamphlets
  7. Amazon’s Kindle Store
    When the Kindle Store began, there was a huge selection of free ebooks; however, all of these were taken directly from Project Gutenberg, so there’s no unique free material. Amazon was also swarmed from 2013 to 2015 by piggybacking public domain publishers, which caused a number of problems when readers are searching for older books—there would be dozens of Kindle editions, with no available rationale for choosing between them. This debacle has unfortunately become the status quo for lovers of resurrected books, since Amazon has continued to change its indexing in ways that only mask the free editions and promote more expensive ones. You can type “free” in the search bar, but it won’t limit your search to free titles.
    For the authors listed above, you will find that we have personally curated lists of Amazon’s free ebook editions, wherever available.
    Especially good for: Quick access & syncing
  8. U-M Library Digital Collections
    The University of Michigan has a fantastic collection of digitized books, but it’s not a good place to start looking. Usually, I end up on U-M’s digital collection because I am looking up a quote from poets and Puritans.
    However, it belongs on this list because I frequently find very rare or very old books there that are not available anywhere else. They have digitized books in their collection that are virtually impossible to even read anywhere else.
    Especially good for: Very old books, 17th and 18th century