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Some books should be on everyone’s to-read list 5 Essential "Best Books" Lists: How Many Have You Read? 5 Essential "Best Books" Lists: How Many Have You Read? "What should I read next?" is the most common question. And so you google for lists of the best books. Find the right list with these resources. Read More — but not everyone has time to read every book they want to read. That’s where audiobooks come in. Even if you don’t have the time to sit down and read a book, these recordings will help you experience some of the greatest literature in human history.

And because they’re all free, you can get started right away! Here are 18 of the best free audiobooks we could find for your listening pleasure.

1. Pride and Prejudice

audiobook pride and prejudice

Jane Austen’s tale of romance is a classic for a reason. It’s exquisitely written, contains a cast of memorable characters, and is drily witty from the first page. And its influence on modern love stories can’t be overstated. This free audiobook, provided by LibriVox, is narrated by Karen Savage, who provides a spirited, but not overly dramatized, reading (and in a fitting British accent).

Download or stream Pride and Prejudice.

2. Heart of Darkness

audiobook heart of darkness

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Another classic, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness is possibly best known as the inspiration of Francis Ford Coppola’s masterwork Apocalypse Now. A harrowing journey into the human psyche and the darkness within men’s souls is disguised in what seems to be a rather normal trip upriver in Africa. The unnamed narrator of Loyal Books’ recording does a great job with this one.

Download or stream Heart of Darkness.

3. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

audiobook alice's adventures in wonderland

Children and adults alike love Alice in Wonderland. It’s a story almost unrivaled in its strangeness, and Carroll’s fantastical storytelling has left an indelible mark on the world of literature. The fact that this version is read by Cory Doctorow — cyberpunk author and co-editor of Boing Boing — just makes it even better.

Download Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

4. A Christmas Carol

audiobook christmas carol

Christmas ghost stories are 10 a penny, but A Christmas Carol rises above the rest. It’s a story of friends, family, love, redemption, and (of course) ghosts. And it never gets old. Dickens performed many readings of his novella, and he made edits and notes on his personal copy. Neil Gaiman read the story from that edited copy at the New York Public Library, and the performance is second to none.

Stream A Christmas Carol.

5. 1984

audiobook 1984

In an age of rampant surveillance Is There Anything You Can Do About CIA Surveillance, Or Is It Game Over? Is There Anything You Can Do About CIA Surveillance, Or Is It Game Over? At first, it was dismissed as a tin-foil conspiracy theory. But disclosures and declassifications show that worldwide surveillance is at an all-time high. Has the surveillance state finally won? Read More and crackdowns on free speech, George Orwell’s 1984 gets invoked a lot. But you can’t appreciate just how terrifying his world is until you’ve actually read (or listened to) the book. Frank Muller’s narration does justice to this difficult classic — you don’t want to miss it.

Stream or download 1984.

6. A Brave New World

audiobook brave new world

Whether you think we’re headed into a dystopia or not, Aldous Huxley’s disquieting vision of the future will haunt you. Seeing the new world, heavily influenced by Henry Ford’s assembly lines, through the eyes of John the Savage is an affecting experience. This radio drama Where To Find Amazing Free Audio Dramas Where To Find Amazing Free Audio Dramas Long, long ago, it was very common to sit around the radio and listen to the latest episodes of old-time radio dramas and serials (like The Shadow). However, when people were able to put a... Read More differs from the book, but the fact that it’s narrated by Huxley himself makes it worth listening to.

Stream A Brave New World.

7. The Call of Cthulhu

audiobook call of cthulhu

H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu stories have influenced an entire generation of weird fiction. The madness lurking behind the thin veneer of the world that we see has seeped into movies, books, and games of all types. This is the story that started it all. Gareth David-Lloyd’s narration is gloomy and brooding — and an absolutely perfect fit for this chilling short story.

Stream The Call of Cthulhu on Spotify.

8. Walden

audiobook walden

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” Thoreau’s reflections on life and nature are some of the most enduring in the literary canon. Gord Mackenzie does his best to capture the poetic sound of Thoreau’s prose in this recording.

Stream or download Walden.

9. The Picture of Dorian Gray

audiobook the picture of dorian gray

The protagonist with a hidden life is a common trope in modern suspense books The Top 10 Free Or Very Cheap eBook Thrillers [MUO Book Club] The Top 10 Free Or Very Cheap eBook Thrillers [MUO Book Club] You’ll be hard pressed to find any long distance journey where none of the passengers are reading a thriller. This type of novel – packed with suspense, tension and excitement – has become a staple... Read More and movies. There’s perhaps no better classic example of this type of story than Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, in which a sensuous socialite hides a dark truth. This version comes with the full text, which is great if you want to follow along.

Stream of download The Picture of Dorian Gray.

10. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

audiobook the rime of the ancient mariner

Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s nautical poem is a masterclass in poetic storytelling. So much so that it’s been referenced in everything from Interview with the Vampire to Fallout: New Vegas. It’s a short audiobook — only about 30 minutes long — but it packs a lot of story and emotion into that half an hour.

Stream or download The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

11. The Waste Land

audiobook the waste land

T.S. Eliot is one of the most famous poets of all time — and The Waste Land is considered one of his most important poems. Eliot isn’t easy to get into, but his mastery of language shines in the audio format of this work. It’s not a happy work, but its legacy, influence, and artistry make it absolutely worth listening to.

Stream or download The Waste Land.

12. Frankenstein

audiobook frankenstein

Humans have always had a tumultuous relationship with science Here's Why Scientists Think You Should be Worried about Artificial Intelligence Here's Why Scientists Think You Should be Worried about Artificial Intelligence Do you think artificial intelligence is dangerous? Does AI may pose a serious risk to the human race. These are some reasons why you may want to be concerned. Read More . And there’s no better study of that relationship than Frankenstein. This vaunted Gothic horror novel has influenced modern works in myriad ways, but you haven’t truly experienced it until you’ve heard the original tale (which might differ from what you imagine). It’s an absolute classic, and one of my favorite books. I’ve linked the abridged version here — while the full novel is better, this one is read by Christopher Lee, and there’s no one better to read it.

Stream Frankenstein (abridged) on Spotify.

13. The Art of War

audiobook the art of war

It’s possible that this book’s reputation is actually more famous than the book itself. Sun Tzu’s treatise, however, is an important influence on strategic thinking, and if you’ve read books about management, business strategy, or even creativity, you’ve probably seen it referenced. It’s a quick listen, but the short play time belies its importance in modern culture.

Stream or download The Art of War.

14. A Tale of Two Cities

audiobook a tale of two cities

There are few opening lines as famous as “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” But Two Cities is so much more than that. Dickens might be best known for his Christmas stories, but this novel deals with darker, more significant issues. His signature storytelling ability is absolutely on point in this novel. It’s not to be missed.

Stream or download A Tale of Two Cities.

15. Jabberwocky

audiobook jabberwocky

Originally published in Through the Looking-Glass, the sequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Jabberwocky has since taken on a life of its own. Carroll’s nonsensical style is on full display in this poem — and while it may not make a whole lot of sense, it’s a lot of fun to read. The link below contains 34 different versions of the reading, but you may want to start with this recitation by Neil Gaiman:

Stream or download Jabberwocky.

16. Les Misérables

audiobook les miserables

Victor Hugo’s historical novel has been required reading for decades, and both Jean Valjean and inspector Javert have influenced countless characters in modern literature. This radio drama is an adaptation created by Orson Welles. The old-school drama is a great way to experience this classic tale, especially if it’s your first time.

Stream or download Les Misérables.

17. Aesop’s Fables

audiobook aesop's fables

There are few collection of stories that have had such an effect on modern storytelling as Aesop’s Fables. This collection of around 600 tales includes some that are very familiar, and many that aren’t — but are just as good. These fables not only entertain, but also teach, and can help you learn a great deal about life, both in modern and ancient times.

Stream or download Aesop’s Fables.

18. Grimm’s Fairy Tales

audiobook grimm's fairy tales

Like Aesop’s Fables, these famous fairy tales have made their way into modern culture in many ways. Familiar stories of witches, princesses, and talking animals abound. While the collection of fairy tales at one point contained over 200 stories, this audiobook collects 62 of the most widely loved and appreciated into one volume.

Stream or download Grimm’s Fairy Tales.

Start Listening Today Without Paying a Cent

Audiobooks are a great way to fit more reading into your life Getting Started with Audiobooks: How to Finally Finish Your "Reading List" Getting Started with Audiobooks: How to Finally Finish Your "Reading List" Audiobooks are a good way to tackle your reading list, but it can be difficult to get started with them. Let's make it simple. Read More , and if they’re available for free then you’ve got nothing to lose. All 18 of these books are totally free to download and listen to. All you need to do is start streaming them or download them onto your phone. Then, you’ll have some of the most important books in the history of literature to listen to while going about your daily life.

What are your favorite free audiobooks? And what are your favorite places to obtain free audiobooks from? Please share your best suggestions in the comments below!

Image Credit: Syda Productions via Shutterstock

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  1. Tony
    August 10, 2017 at 8:14 pm

    Actually, I find it more entertaining to listen to a good audio drama podcast or radio stations. These are in the same vain as the old radio shows. There are a ton of them out there and if you like they also rebroadcast some of the shows from the old days.

    Heck, back in the early 2000, they recreated a number of the twilight zone tv episodes as a radio show and got ahold a number of celebrity actors to participate. There was I believe 17 seasons

  2. David
    August 10, 2017 at 10:04 am

    Whilst I do like classics, if you are looking for something a bit more up to date, you could do a lot worse than to check out Scott Sigler who has made many of his science fiction novels available as free podcasts.

    Beware, they are pretty violent and so not to everyone's taste but they are rollicking good stories and no character is too precious that they can't meet a horrifying demise in the next chapter

    • Tony
      August 10, 2017 at 8:06 pm

      David,
      I agree, his stuff helped me drive across from Colorado to Ohio.

  3. Robb
    August 9, 2017 at 8:50 pm

    I listen to audiobooks whenever I drive because I find the radio, except for BBC 4 Extra, intolerable. With this literary genre, the reader can make or break the listening experience. Some authors should never be allowed to read their own books. (No names, but you know who you are!) When I was in college, I was mesmerized by an assigned reading of the 'Rime of the Ancient Mariner' by the great Welsh actor, Richard Burton. Unforgettable!

  4. Maya
    August 9, 2017 at 1:40 am

    Thank you so so much for sharing these!! I usually just go to the library but it's not always easy to find good free audiobooks.
    THANK YOU!! :)