After spending summer vacations at ours grandmother’s home, me and my brother returned with around 40 comics and Children’s Digests that were exchanged for 2 Rupees each in an old comic shop of Prayagraj. We didn’t have same kind of book shop in our own town that exchanged books at such low prices. Our parents supposed the comics will last us one whole year.  Sadly it didn’t even last ten full days. 

After finishing with comics, us brothers were left with no other option but to dig inside our mothers GrihShobha, Vanita and Sarita magazines. They were not bad, but children are not meant to read magazines on complex subjects like knitting, cooking and other subjects we didn’t even understand. But still we read the magazines because that was all we had. We read them with contentment as we were yet to discover what complaining meant. It was the one of those sleepy summers of a new century, the internet was light years ahead from our reach. 

Although the following might not become your primary source of reading but they might serve as excellent source of creating a reading ecosystem. Eg- you have a paperback copy of Alice in Wonderland, from this list you could access an eBook and an audiobook source of Alice in Wonderland.  Here is a list of some spaces you could check if you are on a budget. (Books through these websites are either in public domain or made available by author/ organisation)

1. Project Gutenberg

If Names like Austen, Dostoyevsky, Joyce, Kafka are enough to ring the reading bells in your mind, then Project Gutenberg might be your go to spot.

Project Gutenberg was one of the first websites to provide public domain books for free over the web. Helping countless people across globe their catalogue contains more than sixty thousand books, most of which are in public domain in USA. There are books on History, Geography, Science, Fiction, Music and many more. 

The strongest aspect of this website is in its Children’s Literature Section. There are not any fancy photos in the catalogue but what I have observed is that there is absolutely no chance that children might come in contact of an explicit thumbnail or content whatsoever, which is almost impossible to get in these ad-centric times. 

The books are available in multiple formats like EPUB, MOBI, PDF, etc. One can also read books directly on browser without downloading books.

Also you can get a lot of books recommended by SwamiJi, like

The Dhammapada by Lord Buddha

Three Men in A Boat by Jerome K. Jerome

Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

A lot of authors quoted and mentioned by OSHO (Sigmund Freud, Gandhi, Confucius, Bertrand Russell, Dostoyevsky, etc.) can also be found on Gutenberg.

2. Free Books on Amazon Kindle and Google Play Books

Most probably your OS.ME account is powered with a Google mail, the books we purchase mostly come from an Amazon account. Products of these companies are now part of our lives, it is for this reason that Play Books and Amazon Kinde have an upper edge as they are already integrated in our lives. Although they are not the most advanced e-reading apps yet they are the most widely used because of their ease of access. There are many public domain books available which can easily be synced across devices along with personal bookmarks, highlights that don’t go any where.

Also, Amazon Kindle store is also a source where publishers often make books available at a considerably low price for promotions. On sale days one can purchase an e-book for less than one third of the normal price.  

3. LibriVox 

Just like Project Gutenberg makes you read LibriVox makes you listen. LibriVox is a non-profit, non-commercial platform which hosts more than 15000 books in public domain that are narrated by volunteers across the globe. They have a multi language catalogue which is managed by real people like you and me. English, German, French, Russian are some of the most uploaded languages. I was exited to find Indian languages in catalogues but there I couldn’t find anything concrete to recommend. As I said, its a volunteer based initiative, and maybe some of you reading this article could consider donate their voices to the Indian regional section.

The interface is free of ads, clean and books are sorted in genres, languages, titles and authors. The books are uploaded chapter by chapter which is extremely useful if one is listening to a very long book. For example reading a huge classic like The Brothers Karamazov might get daunting after five hundred pages or so, LibriVox might just be a return ticket of our interests, till we get to a point where it is easy to read again.

Not to forget that the audiobooks, are fairly expensive and this website might just be a cool option to consider. 

They are also on YouTube

4. Books Made Available by Authors 

While the above options might not bring the current a NY Times bestselling author in front of your screen, this option can. 

Most of the times people tend to skip the free novellas and short stories provided by authors themselves. There are lot of award winning authors that have made their works available on their websites or on some online magazines. For example one can find the dreamlike Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link (winner of Nebula Award, Locus Awards, BSFA Award for best novella) on her website. Very easily one can find a novella that won Hugo or Locus award on the authors official website. There are also lot of graphic novels available like ElfQuest (by Wendy and Richard Pini) and The order of the Stick (by Rich Burlew). 

Magazines like The New Yorker, The Atlantic and Harper’s Magazine are also some of the most influential hotspots that constantly publish high quality literature and journalism. They take submissions as well. 

Not only in fiction genre, works of  Swami Vivekananda, Jiddu Krishnamurti are also made available by their organization websites. 

Priceless.  

5. OS.ME and Black Lotus Website

In this age of distraction and click-baits

there is a corner on the internet

where even the thumbnail meditates

While I am a nobody to comment or write about the powerhouse that gets this engine going,

I really like it when I find people who comment below SwamiJis videos on YouTube. Reading about their challenges, their aspirations and experiences

Sure does feel special.

Thank You for reading, I do hope this article was worth your time.

🙂

🙏🏾