You stream music online without ever downloading it. Why should audiobooks be any different? Here are the best audiobooks you can listen to online for free without the need to download anything.
Why listen to audiobooks though? Well, there are probably some books you intend to read, but never get round to it. Classic novels are a great example of this, and most of them are available as free audiobooks.
Original Author: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Narrated By: Unknown
You’ve seen him in movies and on TV, but if you haven’t read the original Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, you’re missing out on one of the best detective novels ever written. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is a collection of 12 short stories, which includes classics like A Scandal In Bohemia, The Five Orange Pips, and The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle.
Each of the short stories is available as a separate audio file, which you can stream on the site. The stories are roughly 40-45 minutes in length, which is kind of nice since you can listen to one and then stop, without having to remember where you paused.
Original Author: Stephen King
Narrated By: Stephen King
Stephen King has written some of the best horror books to scare you. So who better to read one of his short stories than the master himself? At the University of Massachusetts Lowell, King read out Afterlife to the audience, and it has now been uploaded to YouTube by the university, free for anyone to watch and listen to.
Afterlife is the tale of William Andrews, an investment banker who lived through the 2007 financial crisis, but has now died. In the afterlife, Andrews has to face a bureaucrat who gives him a difficult choice, while the bureaucrat explains his own dilemma to Andrews. King reads for less than half an hour, but you’ll be enthralled throughout.
Original Author: C. S. Lewis
Narrated By: Chrissi Hart
The Chronicles of Narnia is now a famous movie series, but if you want a taste of the original books, they are free to stream online. Renowned children’s literature author Chrissi Hart was given permission to read out the entire seven-book fantasy series on her podcast, and it’s still available for listening.
In case you don’t know, The Chronicles of Narnia is a children’s literature classic, but enjoyed thoroughly by adults too. Set in the magical kingdom of Narnia, the talking lion Aslan calls children from our real world to Narnia in order to help defeat an evil force. Hart’s narration is great, making this well worth a listen.
Original Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Narrated By: Frank Muller
The Great Gatsby is one of a number of classic novels you can read for free on Kindle. But the trouble with the classics is that you never seem to get around to reading them. Instead, try streaming an audiobook version whenever you have some free time. And in the case of The Great Gatsby, it’s read by one of the most famous and respected audiobook narrators, Frank Muller.
Set in the 1920s, The Great Gatsby is the tale of the high life of American society. Seen through the eyes of a salesman, you’ll meet millionaire Jay Gatsby and be exposed to the lavish and opulent lifestyle of the rich, as well as the social intrigue that follows them.
Original Author: Franz Kafka
Narrated By: David Barnes
Franz Kafka wrote in German, and his text was later translated into English. And now you have a narrator reading that English. But Kafka’s thoughts and imagery were so powerful that nothing gets lost in translation, and you’ll be taken directly to the story of Gregor Samsa.
Gregor is a salesman, who wakes up one day and finds that he has turned into a giant insect. And now he must adjust to this new life, hiding his new form from the people he loves and yet somehow surviving.
Original Author: Neil Gaiman
Narrated By: Neil Gaiman
A young adult novel, The Graveyard Book is the story of Nobody “Bod” Owens. Bod’s family is brutally murdered while he is a toddler, but Bod escapes and finds himself in a graveyard. Mr. and Mrs. Owens, two ghosts in the graveyard, decide to raise the boy, with help from the other spooky inhabitants of the cemetery. And Bod gets a few powers of his own while in the graveyard.
As you’d expect, The Graveyard Book is full of Gaiman’s charming prose and dark humor. During the book’s launch, Gaiman read chapters of the book in different stops. His publisher, Harpercollins, put them all together on YouTube for any fan to listen to.
This is yet another fine example of how audiobooks narrated by their authors add something extra to the experience.
Original Author: Anton Chekhov
Narrated By: Various
Anton Chekhov wrote so many great short stories that a selected curation of his work still amounts to 65 must-hear short stories. Chekhov is one of the most famous Russian authors in history, and even after his works have been translated, the original human themes and stories are so strong that you’ll love them.
A variety of narrators have read Chekhov’s works over the years, and the various sources have now been collected in one place at The Internet Archive. Pick any story at random, depending on how much time you want to spend listening, and enjoy.
Original Author: L. Frank Baum
Narrated By: Unknown
The Wizard of Oz is a classic that everyone needs to read. And once you’ve read it, you need to see it on film. And once you’ve seen it on film, you should listen to the audiobook. It’s that good that you can keep revisiting it to find new gems each time.
You probably already know what the tale is about, as Dorothy and her motley crew look to take down the wicked witch. The narration is broken down into chapters, which is nice since you don’t have to remember where you stopped listening.
Original Author: David Foster Wallace
Narrated By: David Foster Wallace
David Foster Wallace is a giant in the world of literature. He’s credited with re-defining postmodernism through his use of irony in writing.
The View From Mrs. Thompson’s is an essay by Wallace, written in October 2011 about the devastating 9/11 attack. First published in Rolling Stone magazine, it is now part of multiple books that collect Wallace’s works.
If you like this, you should also check out the DFW Audio Project, which seeks to collect everything that Wallace has ever read out loud himself.
10. Moby Dick
- Original Author: Herman Melville
- Narrated By: Several celebrities including Tilda Swinton, Stephen Fry, Benedict Cumberbatch, Sir David Attenborough, David Cameron, and more.
Plymouth University conducted an ambitious project called The Big Read, where they asked several celebrities to read a chapter from Herman Melville’s classic novel, Moby Dick. The response they got was tremendous, with readings from heavyweights of literature, as well as other media and cultural figures.
The entire work is now available to stream for free online, or you can even download it on SoundCloud. The Big Read’s version of Moby Dick is one of the best free audiobooks you need to hear.
Don’t Forget Audible’s Free Audiobooks
With any of these audiobooks, you will usually need to listen to them from start to end or remember the point you paused it at. Unlike dedicated audiobook apps, these free audiobooks won’t resume playing if you close the window.
Among audiobook apps, Audible is probably the best. While it’s a paid service, there’s a free trial you can use to download and listen to 1 audiobooks and 2 Audible Originals for free. If you take advantage of it, here are some of the best audiobooks to listen to during your Audible trial.
Use this link to grab your free 30-day trial of Audible right now!