image A game came up on a message board I frequent, where the following question was posed:

Let’s say that you were some famous celebrity promoting the cause of literacy, and as a prize in a charity fund-raiser, you were asked to donate a library of up to 25 beloved books, hand-picked by you. What would you choose?

Now what about a starter kit for e-book newcomers—a little package of great reads like The Great Santini, shown here?

My list is a mix of classics, contemporary literature and light sci-fi/mystery, usually with a somewhat quirky or fun, but decidedly mainstream leaning. I’ve included links to both commercial and public domain books. Ready? In no particular order…

  1. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (free)
  2. The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
  3. Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay
  4. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (free)
  5. The Great Santini by Pat Conroy
  6. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
  7. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
  8. Wicked by Gregory MaGuire
  9. Three Plums in One by Janet Evanovich
  10. The Chrysalids by John Wyndham (free)
  11. 1984 by George Orwell (free in Canada, Australia and various other countries, but not the U.S. due to copyright laws)
  12. Overclocked by Corey Doctorow
  13. Naked in Death by J.D. Robb aka Nora Roberts
  14. City at World’s End by Edmond Hamilton (free)
  15. Story of my Life by Helen Keller (free)
  16. Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
  17. Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi (free)
  18. The $30,000 Bequest and Other Stories by Mark Twain (free)
  19. The Golden Treasury edited by Francis Turner Palgrave
  20. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (free)
  21. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  22. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
  23. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery (free)
  24. The Stand by Stephen King
  25. The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayam by Edward Fitzgerald (free)

So what list would you compile for e-book newbies?

Moderator, Nov. 23: That’s Australia in item 11, not Austria. Mea culp. The fault was mine, not Ficbot’s. – D.R.

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"I’m a journalist, a teacher and an e-book fiend. I work as a French teacher at a K-3 private school. I use drama, music, puppets, props and all manner of tech in my job, and I love it. I enjoy moving between all the classes and having a relationship with each child in the school. Kids are hilarious, and I enjoy watching them grow and learn. My current device of choice for reading is my Amazon Kindle Touch, but I have owned or used devices by Sony, Kobo, Aluratek and others. I also read on my tablet devices using the Kindle app, and I enjoy synching between them, so that I’m always up to date no matter where I am or what I have with me."


  1. Great thanks for creating and sharing this fine list Ficbot. I have read and enjoyed several of these works. Many of them are also available as commercial and non-commercial audiobooks. Below are links to some listed items that have been produced in the audio format by the volunteers at Librivox:

    Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (free)

    The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (free)

    Story of my Life by Helen Keller (free)

    Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (free – this link leads to one of three versions)

    Through the Looking-glass and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll (free – this link leads to one of two versions)

    A Dog’s Tale by Mark Twain (free – this is one of the short stories in the Twain collection cited by Ficbot. Librivox has several short stories by Twain.)

    The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (free)

    Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery (free – this link leads to one of four versions)

    The Rubaiyat of a Scotch Highball by Edward Fitzgerald – actually this one is by O. Henry (free)

    Remark: 1984 by George Orwell is available without copyright in Australia. Austria is in the European Union, and 1984 will not enter the public domain in the EU until 2020 according to Wikipedia.

  2. I don’t think the free ebook edition of The Chrysalids is a legitimate one. Wyndham, a British author, died in 1969, so his books shouldn’t be out of copyright until 2020 for a life+50 country (if any still exist by then), or later. I note that the original text was from Blackmask Online, whose proprietor had unusual notions about copyright law.

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