A library at your fingertips: The best free Kindle books

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‘My Man Jeeves’ by P.G. Wodehouse

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The best part of short stories is the brevity, whether good or bad. My Man Jeeves is comical collection of eight short stories originally published in various U.K. magazines prior to initial release as a book. Half of the stories are centered on silly escapades of the good-hearted aristocrat Bertie Wooster and his loveable valet Jeeves, while others concern Reggie Pepper (a similar character to Wooster). The formula for the stories is essentially the same — Jeeves always manages to save Wooster’s moronic neck — but the appeal lies in Wodehouse’s dry, British humor, and intellectual wit.

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‘Roughing It’ by Mark Twain

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Twain was fabled for embedding autobiographical accounts of his wanderlust years within his fictional works. Published in 1872, Roughing It chronicles Twain’s raucous journey throughout the American West with his brother, intertwining realistic stories of his travels with the developing rough-hewn, ironic humor that would later become synonymous with his name and most beloved works. It delves into his stints as gold miner, a reporter and lecturer, as well as his stagecoach travels through Nevada and his sidetrip in Hawaii. Plus, it’s ten times shorter than the Autobiography of Mark Twain: Volume 1.

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‘Sloppy Seconds: The Tucker Max Leftovers’ by Tucker Max

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Not only did Tucker Max make a name for himself with I Hope they Serve Beer in Hell, he even managed to land on Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential List in 2009. Sloppy Seconds doesn’t quite epitomize “fratire” in the way his previous novel did, but it relies on the same vividly gross set of humor and drunken antics as his other works. It’s essentially a set out outtakes, littered with repulsive recaps of various stories regarding him and his cronies, and showcases just how adept Max is at being… well… an asshole. Read at your own risk.

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‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ by Oscar Wilde

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Sure, Wilde penned his one and only novel in 1890, but it was his later works that helped become the acclaimed playwright we recognize him as. The Importance of Being Earnest is the embodiment of satire, a humorous examination of Victorian-era manners and marriage laced with rapid-fire wit and an eccentric cast of epigrams. It revolves are two refined gentleman who adopt fake personas with the goal of dazzling their respected love interest. Unlike his novel, the play’s debut marked a high point in Wilde’s career and was met with a sea of critical acclaim and universal praise.

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‘The Taming of the Shrew’ by William Shakespeare

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If there ever was a Shakespeare play that relied on language to carry the plot more so than any other theme, it would be the Shrew. It’s the tale of Lucentio and Petruchio, two young men seeking to wed two wealthy sisters they encounter in the Italian city of Padua. However, trouble arises when Lucientio discovers that he can not marry the women he loves unless her ill-tempered and verbally-aggressive older sister is wed — that’s where Petruchio comes into play. Although it’s been seen as misogynistic and patriarchal, it’s also one of the most Shakespeare’s most boisterous and comical plays, steeped with sharp-tongued banter and rhetoric.

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‘Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog)’ by Jerome K. Jerome

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Jerome’s novel is a far flung departure from the serious travel and historical reference guide he originally intended it to be. Though still centered around Jerome’s travels, it’s more of a semi-autographical tale based on a boating holiday he and two of his real-life friends experienced on the River Thames. There’s no overarching plot — the novel consists of various witty ramblings regarding family, education, and fishing among other topics — but it still manages to capture Jerome’s initial concept, albeit with an abundance of sarcasm and tongue-and-cheek humor.

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‘The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman’ by Laurence Sterne

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If Laurence Sterns wasn’t well-read, he certainly plays it off like he is. His novel, a humorously-rich satire regarding Tristram Shandy’s life story, is aloft with references to philosophical theories and allusions reminiscent of 17th-century metaphysical poets. The humor is bawdy and brash, whether focusing on Tristram Shandy’s rational father or his military-obsessed uncle, but frequently finds itself intertwined in bouts of digression regarding sex, insults and philosophical dilemmas. It’s entertaining, amusing and showcases a narrative just as inventive today as it was when it was released in the 1760s.

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‘Don Quixote’ by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

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Chivalry is arguably on its way out, but it would likely never cease if the country gentlemen Don Quixote and his cunning squire Sancho Panza had anything to do with it. Saavedra’s classic canonical novel remains one of the most influential of the Spanish Golden Age and follows a retired country gentlemen who takes up his lance on a dubious — and undeniably lengthy — quest to subdue the evils of the world. It’s playful, loaded with irony and delusion, and has been considered one of the first modern novels for more than 400 years.

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