I recently opened a Pandora’s box of sorts. While reading a review of Amazon’s new Kindle reading device (an electronic book reader with wireless access and loads of other features), I came across several sites that offer free PDF downloads of books. This might be old news to some, and I might be late hopping on the bandwagon, but I’m still stoked about the possibilities.
Though I prefer paper-and-ink books (and probably always will), I freely acknowledge that electronic books are increasing in popularity and (shudder) my kids could be reading electronic books in high school English class. With my discovery of these free book sites, I will definitely be investigating this brave new world. Since my wife and I are poor graduate students, this is definitely a welcome discovery, especially for those books I want to read, but don’t have the desire (or finances) to buy.
The site I am most looking forward to is Christian Classics Ethereal Library (www.ccel.org), which has hundreds of classic Christian works available for download – from Augustine to Edwards to Owen to Ryle to Whitefield.
John Piper has also made dozens of his titles available for free download on his ministry’s site, DesiringGod.org. While not every Piper book is available in complete form, there are many that I hope to check out, including Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die, The Future of Justification, When I Don’t Desire God, and The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World.
To some, reading classic works of literature in electronic form is blasphemous, but if you’re looking to read some old books (see C.S. Lewis if you are lacking motivation) with no budget, go to Feedbooks.com. With a brief browse, I found 1984, Oliver Twist, Robinson Crusoe, War and Peace, and The Great Gatsby.
I’m very excited about the possibilities that electronic books offer, though I wouldn’t recommend printing out the PDF files. Reading devices like the Kindle are pricey, and I have no plans in the near future to even become interested in one, though it would probably make for a more enjoyable electronic reading experience compared to a desktop or laptop screen. I’m going to get my feet wet with some electronic reading first, before I make any sort of commitment to a reading device.
Postscript: If you are looking to read classic literature (or other books) with no budget – visit your local public library! I know the Virginia Beach library system is fantastic, and it’s something Elizabeth and I want to take advantage of more often.