Settling down with a good book can provide a much needed change of pace during lockdown. And don't worry if you’re cash-strapped: there are plenty of ways to enjoy free ebooks that are totally legal.
For classic literature that’s out of copyright, head to Project Gutenberg, which has more than 60,000 public domain works available for free. Meanwhile, if you belong to a public or school library, you’ll also find more modern fare to download, via an associated service like Overdrive.
Most of the online ebook sellers, including Amazon, Google Play and Kobo, also offer a range of free ebooks, no strings attached. Plus there are individuals and companies who've make their ebooks available to download, free of charge: you find some of these in our list of free ebooks for artists and designers.
Since the lockdown, a lot of extra ebooks have been made available for free, and we present our 10 favourites below. Note that these are all free at time of press, but that may change, so you might not want to hang around. If you're looking to buy yourself an ebook, check out our best ereaders article.
Free from Amazon
Amazon is currently making a number of ebooks and digital magazines available for free download here. They’re all designed for Kindle, but if you don’t have a Kindle device you can still read them on the Kindle app, which is free to download for iOS and Android.
Amazon’s selection of freebies includes children’s books, school books, popular fiction, books on professional development, and books on health, home and lifestyle topics. Here are our four top picks for free Amazon ebooks.
01. Overthinking: How to Eliminate Anxiety
One of the biggest causes of stress, anxiety and procrastination, according to author Robin McGill, is our tendency to overthink things. But how do you train your brain to avoid doing so? In this self-improvement book, he outlines some practical strategies, including meditation, mindfulness, deep breathing and ETF.
02. Declutter Your Life
Decluttering has become a big trend in recent years and here’s your guide to what's behind it. As author Gill Hasson explains, taking back control over your life is not just about throwing stuff away, but fundamentally changing your relationship with the things you own. This calm and measured book offers plenty of ideas, advice, tips and techniques to help you get there.
03. The Year without Pants: WordPress.com and the Future of Work
WordPress is the open source system that powers 20 per cent of all websites today. This book shares the secrets of the organisation’s success, and you don’t have to be a techie to enjoy it. Indeed this candid story of what transpired when Scott Berkun left Microsoft to work at WordPress offers valuable insights about creativity, productivity, and leadership that anyone can be inspired by.
04. 30-Second London
You may have visited London, or even lived there, but how much do you know about the place? This book by Edward Dennison traces the history of one of the most diverse cities on Earth and looking at the forces that shaped it, from early Neanderthal settlements on the banks of the Thames to today’s vast metropolis.
Free from Google Play
Google Play has made a number of its ebooks free to download from the Google eBookstore, covering both fiction and non-fiction. Here are three top picks we think are particularly worth checking out.
05. American Dream: Interviews with Industry-Leading Professionals
Want to become a success? Then you’ll want to hear the best advice from people who’ve already made it. In this book, Jason Navallo brings together six in-depth interviews with leading professionals across a number of fields, to provide you with the inspiration, and motivation you need to achieve your goals.
06. How Not To Worry
Best-selling author Paul McGee believes that worrying too much can be debilitating and destructive. In this self-help book, he exposes the behavioural traps we fall into when faced with challenges, and offers practical tools and ideas to deal with our worries in a more constructive way.
07. Plant-Based Eating
Right now, we’re all taking a step back to reassess our lives, and what we eat is an important part of that. If you’re thinking of going vegan but don’t know where to start, this excellent book of nearly 50 recipes from BenBella will give you plenty of ideas for tasty meals.
Free from the web
08. Manuscript Found in Accra
Paulo Coelho is a Brazilian writer whose 1988 novel Alchemist sold 35 million copies and is the most translated book in the world by a living author. In response to the pandemic crisis, he recently posted a number of his works on his website for people to download freely. Our favourite is Manuscript Found in Accra, a philosophical tale set on the eve of Jerusalem's conquest by the Crusaders in 1099AD.
09. Coronavirus: a Book for Children
The author behind The Gruffalo, Axel Scheffler has recently released a book for children explaining everything they need to know about Coronavirus, and made it free for anyone to read on screen or print out. With expert input from Professor Graham Medley of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, as well as two head teachers and a child psychologist, the book answers key questions in simple language that's appropriate for five- to nine-year-olds.
10. The Remote Playbook
We’re all learning how to work in remote teams right now. So where better to get advice than the world’s largest remote-working company? The Remote Playbook from GitLab outlines the key steps every remote worker and manager should take, and offers tried and tested tactics for building remote fluency.