Great short stories or novellas legally downloadable for free for Kindle
May 26, 2014 11:46 AM   Subscribe

What great short stories, short novellas, or even short nonfiction pieces can I legally download for free for my Kindle? Some details inside.

I emphasize "short". Short stories, relatively short novellas, short nonfiction pieces. Not even a novella that's long for a novella, please. Short.

Collections of such things are fine, and individual such things are fine too.

I don't particularly care about the genre, except please no Harlequin Romance sorts of things, and nothing that's specifically and essentially only for children. "Enjoyable by children" is fine, though; so for example Alice's Adventures in Wonderland would be fine (if not for its length, which is too long for what I'm looking for), but no Berenstain Bears, please. Other than those couple restrictions on the genre, I don't care - if you think it's great, that's what I want to hear.

Regarding "legally", I'm in the USA. I'm totally up for really old things or relatively old things that are out of copyright, and for newer things that are given away for free (without needing me to jump through some sort of hoops - e.g. I don't want to sign up for an account or a mailing list or whatever), as long as you think they're great.

Thanks in advance.
posted by Flunkie to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (13 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: These are all classics:

James Joyce, Dubliners (short story collection, including "The Dead," which is generally considered among the greatest short stories ever written)

Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (novella)

Herman Melville, Bartleby, the Scrivener (short story)
posted by scody at 12:13 PM on May 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Dubliners
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
The Jungle Book

Links are to Project Gutenberg, with Kindle files available for download. You can typically get them from Amazon for free or $0.99 or so, if you want to manage them that way.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 12:14 PM on May 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Grimms' Fairy Tales
posted by Huffy Puffy at 12:15 PM on May 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have only finished reading about half of these but enjoyed all of them. If you like philip k dick, these'll be up your alley.
posted by lownote at 12:16 PM on May 26, 2014

Best answer: On my iPad, so I can't do links but all of these are available---either singly or in collections---at Project Gutenberg.

An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose
The Adventure of the Speckled Band by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
A Jury of her Peers by Susan Glaspell
The Snows of Kilimanjaro by Ernest Hemingway
The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
The Monkey's Paw by W.W. Jacobs
Rikki-Tikki-Tavi by Rudyard Kipling
The Garden Party by Katherine Mansfield
The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe
The Lady, or the Tiger? by Frank Richards Stockton
Three Questions by Leo Tolstoy
The $30,000 Bequest by Mark Twain
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
posted by JoannaC at 12:16 PM on May 26, 2014

Best answer: Do you have an Amazon account? It will give you access to vast reams of new, free fiction. I have found all of the anthologies well worth reading, and they also have some novellas I've not investigated. Knowing Tor, they are probably available in non-Kindle formats, I just don't know anything about those.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:11 PM on May 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Wonderful writer (and "Mefi's own") Kelly Link has a book of short stories available for free from her site.

Here's the info and pay version from Amazon.
posted by taz at 1:28 PM on May 26, 2014

Best answer: For starters, everything by Saki and by M. R. James (both Project Gutenberg links) is worth reading.

All the rest of these are in the science fiction / fantasy category; and as I don't have a Kindle myself, I'm just assuming that anything you can read on a computer can be read on a Kindle too, one way or another. I apologise if this isn't true.

Frederik Pohl's excellent short story The Tunnel Under the World is available on Project Gutenberg.

Gutenberg also has short stories by H. G. Wells - this collection includes the chilling The Country of the Blind; this one includes my longtime favourite The Magic Shop.

I'll second Kelly Link.

Two of my favourite authors, Martha Wells and Mary Robinette Kowal, have released short stories under a Creative Commons licence, available via Feedbooks (and doubtless elsewhere).

And then there is Ted Chiang, universally acclaimed as a master of the genre; here's a summary of where you can (legally!) find his fiction for free online.

Metafilter's own Charles Stross has some novelettes from his Laundry series up on If you haven't read the Laundry novels, I don't think that'll matter too much - the novelettes stand alone - but I'd suggest reading them in order of publication, i.e. Down on the Farm first and Equoid last.
The two book extracts and the short story A Tall Tail are non-Laundry, incidentally. Still recommended!

I know a publisher recommendation is broader than you were looking for, but in fact, has tons of interesting short fiction; the anthologies linked to by a previous poster may be the same thing, but just in case they aren't, here, why not have a browse?

On a similar note, Baen has some short texts up as part of the Baen Free Library. The selection has changed over time and the specific titles I was planning to recommend are gone - but the annual short stories and short non-fiction collections might be of interest.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 4:12 PM on May 26, 2014

Best answer: Lord Dunsany's weird fantasy stories are pretty well-regarded and influential; I enjoy them, at least. They're also mostly very short. Most of his earlier and better-known stuff is about a century old at this point, out of copyright in the US, and on Project Gutenberg. Some of his earliest and best-known story collections include The Gods of Pegana, Time and the Gods, The Sword of Welleran, and A Dreamer's Tales. There's lots more on Project Gutenberg if you search for Dunsany.

William Butler Yeats' Fairy and Folktales of the Irish Peasantry and Irish Fairy Tales are collections of supernatural folktales, though I believe some of the introductions discussing the meaning and origins of some of the fairy beliefs in the stories are a little outdated.

This may be a little more involved than what you're looking for, but The Thousand and One Nights are pretty archetypal short, diverting stories, though the public domain English translations can be a little questionable. Here is what I could find on Project Gutenberg of the John Payne translation: volume one, volume two, volume three, and volume four.

Yei Theodora Ozaki's Japanese Fairy Tales contains translations of a number of old folktales, including "Urashima Taro", and "The Ogre of Rashomon Gate".

I hope that helps!
posted by branduno at 6:49 PM on May 26, 2014

Best answer: I just read Equoid last night and thoroughly enjoyed it, so I'd 3rd the recommendation for that. I've read no other part of the Laundry series but it was no kind of problem.

Anyway, I went to add it to my Kindle Freebies Worth the Read list and remembered you might find something to read there as well. (I've read more than 700 ebooks in the past 18 months, so as a list of 7 books, I like to think it's quite discerning.)
posted by DarlingBri at 2:48 AM on May 27, 2014

Best answer: Some collections for you:

Seven Men, by Max Beerbohm
The Three Impostors, by Arthur Machen
Wessex Tales, by Thomas Hardy
The Historical Nights' Entertainment, by Rafael Sabatini
Stories, by Guy de Maupassant
Nonsense Novels, by Stephen Leacock
In the Teeth of the Evidence, by Dorothy Sayers

And here are 59 short horror stories and novellas I posted a couple of years ago. The majority are available from Project Gutenberg.
posted by Iridic at 8:34 AM on May 27, 2014

Best answer: Wodehouse! His public domain short stories are mostly school stories that maybe haven't aged all that well, but there are a couple of collections of non-school stories available for free:

My Man Jeeves
The Clicking of Cuthbert

Also many of his novels are very episodic and read like a set of short stories with a through-line.
posted by mskyle at 9:48 AM on May 27, 2014

Best answer: Here are a few of my favorites that I think have not yet been mentioned:
The machine stops, by E.M. Forster
Exhalation, by Ted Chiang
The Crack-Up, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

You may already know this, but just in case: If you use Instapaper you can link it to your Amazon account and have it deliver free short stories you find on the web to your kindle. So although most of the links I've included above don't have easily downloadable Kindle formats, you can still get them for free on your Kindle. AFAIK this is legal.
posted by OrangeDisk at 1:35 PM on May 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

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