Title: 6 Top Free eBooks for English Literature Students
Author: Rob James, Getting Smart
The Internet, Online, 1/7/2015
When looking for eBooks and other study resources, it’s worth starting with the large number of sites like Project Gutenberg, and resources like Amazon, that offer free downloads and open access versions of books. Some good books and study guides to look out for online include:
Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels
Used in various English Literature courses, Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels is typically recommended for its influence on travel books and the English novel, and is often read alongside 18th century texts like Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. Free versions of Gulliver’s Travels, Robinson Crusoe, and study guides on these texts can be found online.
William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo & Juliet, Othello, et al
One of the main advantages of using free eBooks for your Eng Lit course is that there are usually complete collections of Shakespeare available at the click of a button. This can be an excellent bonus if you’re using a single book in classes, and want to scan through other texts, or find extra references for your essays. Many of the Shakespeare eBooks online are also now being optimized for reading on Kindles, iPads, and other tablets – compared to previous textbooks and older, more basic eBooks on text-only sites like Project Gutenberg, this optimization allows for interactive notes, better images, and easier navigation. Innovations in eBook technology and usability consequently make them more accessible for long term use and reading on portable devices.
Charles Dickens – A Christmas Carol; Great Expectations, et al
As with Shakespeare, Charles Dickens’ complete works can be downloaded for free, and represent an excellent way of saving money if you’ve lost a copy. While teachers typically recommend a set edition for page numbers and references for essays and exams, having another copy of a long novel is useful if you want to take a break from the book version.
Jane Austen – Pride and Prejudice
Another book that is routinely used in courses, Pride and Prejudice is worth downloading as an eBook to have another option for reading the text alongside other adaptations used in classes, from films to television adaptations.
Another advantage of eBook libraries is that you can quickly find the complete works of classic poets like Byron, Keats, and Wilde, and can use them to search through and annotate individual poems, or to get a wider sense of their work. Some particularly distinctive free poetry eBooks include:
Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy
James Baldwin, Six Centuries of English Poetry: Tennyson to Chaucer
Downloading large collections of different poetry is recommended if you want to fill in some gaps in your knowledge, but don’t fancy the idea of carting around a large edition from the library. A collection like Baldwin’s Six Centuries is particularly useful, in this respect.
There are also many study guides that are available as eBooks online from sites like novelguide.com, bilbiomania.com, and freebooknotes.com. While the quality may vary, and most don’t quite compare to comprehensive paid study guides, you can usually find good summaries of chapters, as well as brief commentary sections and extended essays. Using these guides can be a good idea if you’re finding it hard to get into a long novel. While study guides shouldn’t be used instead of reading through a text, they can be a good complement if you want to get an overview of key themes and plot points.