Just like a year ago, we are presenting the list of ebooks that were most downloaded from Project Gutenberg in the last 30 days – just in time for Christmas.
Almost 7.8 million free ebooks were downloaded from Project Gutenberg since mid-November 2023. Apart from all-time classics, you will find on the list three picaresque novels by Tobias Smollett and a short story by Philip K. Dick.
Founded in 1971 by Michael Hart, Project Gutenberg is the longest established digital library.
Currently, the site offers free access to over 70,000 eBooks that can be read online or downloaded in a variety of formats, for all possible ebook apps and e-reading devices, including Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, and Rakuten Kobo.
The site provides useful stats about ebook downloads, Top 100 Ebooks in the Last 20 Days, where you can see the most popular titles based on how many times they were downloaded or read online.
Between November 15 and December 15, 2023, users downloaded from Project Gutenberg 7,776,391 ebook files.
On the list, you will find such classics as Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, or Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.
For the second year in a row, three books by T. Smollett made it to the Top 20 Most Downloaded Ebooks, including The Adventures of Roderick Random. These three books alone were downloaded 108,000 times in the last 30 days.
Tobias Smollett was a Scottish poet and author living in the 18th century. He is best known for his picaresque novels – stories of an anti-hero’s adventures in a disreputable world. They usually feature a roguish protagonist who is forced to rely on his wits, charm, and cunning to survive misadventures.
You can download ebooks from Project Gutenberg to any e-reader or book-reading app. Make sure to pick up the file called EPUB3. This file format is compatible with Kobo, Apple Books, Nook, Google Play Books, and Amazon Kindle, among other platforms.
Top 20 free ebook downloads for Christmas 2023
1. Frankenstein; Or, The Modern Prometheus
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
Published in 1818, this famous classic novel follows a young scientist named Victor Frankenstein who creates a hideous sapient creature out of body parts of the dead.
The creature is rejected by society and ultimately seeks revenge on his creator.
The book combines elements of the Gothic novel and the Romantic movement, and is considered one of the first true science-fiction stories.
Number of downloads: 83,710
2. Pride and Prejudice
The world’s beloved novel of manners is set in rural England at the beginning of the 19th century and follows the relationship between Elizabeth Bennet and her love interest Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy.
We follow the five Bennet sisters as they navigate their way through their family’s financial struggles, the pressures of marriage and society, and their own personal feelings.
Through witty dialogue and character development, Austen explores themes of love, class, and pride.
Number of downloads: 58,559
3. Moby Dick; Or, The Whale
A classic novel by Herman Melville tells the story of the obsessive quest of Ahab, captain of the whaling ship Pequod, for revenge on the giant white sperm whale that on the ship’s previous voyage bit off Ahab’s leg at the knee.
The novel is a great exploration of themes of fate, revenge, and the power of nature. It has been adapted into numerous films and television shows over the years.
D. H. Lawrence called Moby-Dick “one of the strangest and most wonderful books in the world” and “the greatest book of the sea ever written.”
Number of downloads: 57,192
4. A Christmas Carol
First published on December 19, 1843, this novella is considered one of the most popular and beloved Christmas stories of all time.
The story follows the miser Ebenezer Scrooge as he is visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future, who show him the error of his ways, and how to be a better man.
The tale of redemption of the human spirit has been adapted for stage, film, and television many times over the years.
Number of downloads: 56,917
5. Romeo and Juliet
Written by Shakespeare early in his career, the tragedy follows two young star-crossed lovers whose families are engaged in a long and bitter feud.
The play is set in Verona, Italy, and it revolves around the forbidden love between Romeo Montague, a young man from the Montague family, and Juliet Capulet, a young woman from the Capulet family.
The play is one of Shakespeare’s most famous and well-loved works, and it has been adapted for stage, screen, and opera countless times. It is a story of love, loss, and the destructive power of family feuds.
Number of downloads: 53,359
Middlemarch is a novel by George Eliot, set in the fictional Midlands town of Middlemarch during 1829–1832 and follows several intersecting stories with a large cast of characters.
The novel explores the social and political changes in England during the early 19th century, particularly the impact of industrialization and the reform of local government.
Middlemarch is widely regarded as one of the greatest novels in the English language.
Number of downloads: 47,070
7. A Room with a View
E. M. Forster
Set in Italy and England, the story is both a romance and a humorous critique of English society at the beginning of the 20th century.
The novel brought Forster recognition when it was first published and is now considered a modern classic.
The story centers on Lucy Honeychurch, a young upper-middle-class Englishwoman, and her experiences with love, independence, and travel.
Number of downloads: 46,322
8. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare
This is a comprehensive collection of the writings of William Shakespeare. It includes all of his plays, sonnets, and other poems, as well as various other works attributed to him.
The book includes, among others: The Sonnets, All’s Well That Ends Well, Hamlet, Macbeth, and Romeo and Juliet. The Comedy of Errors, The Merchant of Venice, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream are also included.
This free ebook is an invaluable resource for any student or fan of Shakespeare’s work.
Number of downloads: 43,412
9. Little Women
Louisa May Alcott
Little Women is a classic novel by Louisa May Alcott, originally published in 1868. It follows the lives of four sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March, and their experiences growing up in Massachusetts during the Civil War.
The book has been adapted for stage and screen numerous times and has been lauded for its strong female characters and its exploration of themes of love, family, and independence.
Number of downloads: 42,078
10. The Enchanted April
Elizabeth Von Arnim
The Enchanted April is a 1922 novel by British writer Elizabeth von Arnim.
It tells the story of four very different women who rent an Italian villa for the month of April and, through the beauty of the surroundings, find contentment, joy, and transformation.
The novel was adapted into a film in 1992, starring Miranda Richardson and Joan Plowright.
Number of downloads: 39,864
11. The Blue Castle
L. M. Montgomery
A 1926 novel by Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery, best known for her novel Anne of Green Gables.
The book tells the story of Valancy Stirling, a 29-year-old spinster who is stuck in a restrictive life, but finds freedom and adventure when she begins to explore the world around her.
Number of downloads: 39,252
Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell
First published in 1851, the novel is set in the fictional town of Cranford, a small market town in the north of England.
We follow the lives of the town’s many female inhabitants, who are mostly middle-class and elderly spinsters, as they go about their everyday lives and gossip about their neighbors.
The novel is known for its humorous, gentle satire of Victorian life and its strong female characters.
Number of downloads: 37,176
13. The Adventures of Ferdinand Count Fathom
The novel, first published in 1753, follows Ferdinand Count Fathom, a handsome and charismatic con artist who is adept at convincing people to part with their wealth.
After being sent away from his home in England, Fathom continues to travel across Europe and experience numerous adventures.
Through the course of the novel, Fathom is forced to confront his own moral boundaries and ultimately selects a path of redemption.
Number of downloads: 37,088
14. The Expedition of Humphry Clinker
The Expedition of Humphry Clinker, first published in 1771, is widely considered to be one of the first picaresque novels in English literature.
The novel follows the adventures of its protagonist, Humphry Clinker, as he and his companions journey from London to Scotland and back again.
Along the way, they encounter a variety of characters and settings, and the novel offers a vivid picture of life in 18th century Britain.
Number of downloads: 36,499
15. The Adventures of Roderick Random
Here is another novel from T. Smollett. It follows the exploits of Roderick Random, a young man from a well-to-do family who is disinherited and forced to make his own way in life.
Random goes on a series of adventures, ranging from romance and duels to a naval battle and a stint in a debtors’ prison.
The novel is noted for its realistic and humorous depiction of 18th-century life and for its exploration of themes such as social mobility, corruption, and injustice.
Number of downloads: 36,151
16. History of Tom Jones, a Foundling
This comic novel by English author Henry Fielding, first published in April 1749, follows Tom Jones, an illegitimate foundling, from infancy to adulthood.
Tom’s journey takes him through various social circles and tests of morality, eventually leading him to true love and a fulfilling, prosperous life.
The novel was well-received when it was first published, and it has since become one of the most beloved novels in the English literature.
Number of downloads: 36,151
17. My Life — Volume 1
My Life is an autobiography by German composer Richard Wagner.
First published in German in 1889, it contains a detailed account of Wagner’s life and works, as well as his personal reflections on his life and times.
Number of downloads: 34,290
18. Twenty Years After
Twenty Years After is a historical novel by Alexandre Dumas, first published in 1845. It is the sequel to The Three Musketeers and part of the D’Artagnan Romances series.
The novel follows the adventures of d’Artagnan’s sons as they fight to protect France from the machinations of Cardinal Mazarin, the chief minister of King Louis XIV.
The novel also follows the fortunes of the other musketeers, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, and their respective families.
Number of downloads: 34,289
19. The Eyes Have It
Philip K. Dick
From one of the most important figures in 20th century science fiction comes a short story was first published in 1953. It follows a man who is utterly convinced that the world is being overrun by aliens.
Through the eyes of the protagonist, the story blurs the boundaries between imagination and actuality, presenting a thought-provoking reflection on the nature of truth and the fallibility of human perception.
Number of downloads: 33,555
20. The Scarlet Letter
The Scarlet Letter is a classic novel by American author Nathaniel Hawthorne, published in 1850.
The book tells the story of Hester Prynne, a young woman who conceives a child while living in an oppressive Puritan society.
The novel examines the effects of societal pressure on an individual, as well as themes of sin, guilt, and redemption.
Number of downloads: 31,412
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