Many good answers on this site are going to require quoting passages of the text of a novel, poem, play, or other piece of literature. Thus, knowing where to find such passages is going to be very important for the site's users in composing their answers.

Copying them out by hand from paper books works, but is slow and tiring. Finding pirated texts online probably also works (I've never tried), but we don't want to encourage that here. So:

what are some good, legal, online resources for finding texts to quote?

I'll post a community-wiki answer to this question which anyone can edit. Let's try to get a really good list all in one place so that we can refer people to it in the future.

  • Do you mean to ask about free resources? I infer from the sites you included in your answer that you were, but I don't see the word "free" in your question (unless I just missed it). Would amazon.com work in an answer? That site satisfies "good," "legal," and "online."
    – Shokhet
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 2:14
  • 3
    Related administrative note regarding resource lists on meta - latin.meta.stackexchange.com/a/142 - Should this be moved to the main site?
    – Chenmunka
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 7:32
  • 1
    I think that clearly suggests we should move this to the main site.
    – Benjamin
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 11:58
  • 4
    @Chenmunka Ah, but I'm not just asking for a random list of literature-relevant resources: I'm trying to set up a resource which will help people with writing posts on Literature.SE. That's what meta is for. (This is why I was careful to include that 2nd sentence in my question.)
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Apr 1, 2017 at 13:01
  • It would be helpful if we could just get guidance to be sure.
    – Benjamin
    Commented Apr 2, 2017 at 10:49
  • 1
    @Benjamin Does this count as guidance? :-)
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Apr 4, 2017 at 9:17
  • No, not really because the advice there is coming from an admin.
    – Benjamin
    Commented Apr 4, 2017 at 9:57
  • @Benjamin Well, you've got my comment above explaining why I think this should stay on meta, and a mod of this site who clearly agrees. I'm not sure what else you want. We can't call in a CM for every little meta issue.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Apr 4, 2017 at 9:59
  • If this question exists, it can't exist on the main site, because it would be closed as a recommendation question. Should the question be allowed on meta? I don't really care, but I could go either way.
    – user111
    Commented Apr 6, 2017 at 18:55
  • 4
    Reasoning for why this should stay here: 1.) It doesn't belong on the main site. It would be closed as either too broad, because it's an open-ended list question, or off-topic, as a recommendation question. 2.) It's designed for helping this community in their efforts on this site. (cc @Benjamin)
    – Mithical Mod
    Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 6:29
  • @Mithrandir I think I now agree.
    – Benjamin
    Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 10:33
  • 2
    @Shokhet (Sorry, I must have missed your comment at first.) I think I'd like to focus on free resources if possible, since you can get nearly any book reasonably easily if you're willing to pay for it, and I doubt many people will be willing to spend money just to write answers on SE. But if enough people think a non-free section in the CW answer would be useful, then by all means add one.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Apr 19, 2017 at 21:07

1 Answer 1


Sites which cover many books

  • Project Gutenberg has tens of thousands of public domain texts. Project Gutenberg Australia and Project Gutenberg Canada sometimes have texts that their US cousin does not, due to different copyright terms in the three countries.

  • Google Books has the full text of many public domain books, and generous previews of copyrighted books are also available, though these tend to be in noncontiguous chunks of pages.

  • The Internet Archive has many scans of books: those in public domain are freely accessible; those in copyright are available for loan.

  • Wikisource has many public domain texts in English, French, German, Hebrew and other languages.

  • The British Library has a large collection of digitized manuscripts.

  • Goodreads provides previews of books, often quite lengthy, making this site perfect if you are looking for something in the first few chapters. It also collects user-contributed reviews and plot summaries.

  • For questions, Poetry Foundation has a large collection of poems. The site also carries biographical and critical essays on several poets.

  • Luminarium provides an anthology of English literature covering four periods: the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the seventeenth century and the Restoration.

  • Loyal Books, formerly known as "Books Should Be Free", provides a collection of public domain audio books and e-books.

  • Sacred Texts provides the full texts of assorted books of religion, mythology, and folklore.

  • Faded Page hosts an archive of over 5,000 ebooks.

  • The Hathi Trust "is a partnership of academic and research institutions, offering a collection of millions of titles digitized from libraries around the world." The catalog features are more convenient than the Internet Archive, but access speed can be painfully slow.

  • Tor.com has hundreds of short stories and novelettes, and sometimes makes novels available as part of marketing campaigns.

  • The "Look inside" feature at Amazon.com shows sample pages from many of the products on sale. In some cases the search box at top left will show pages beyond the sample.

  • Hypertexts (XRoads) at the University of Virginia formerly hosted texts by American writers, including Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. (Preserved via web.archive.org.)

  • eBooks@Adelaide at the University of Adelaide formerly hosted public domain texts of academic interest. (Preserved via web.archive.org.)

  • Many public libraries make eBooks available to members as part of the library benefits. Typically, eBooks can be checked out from the library's website by any cardholder.

Sites for texts in specific languages

Sites for specific books or authors

Please help add to and improve this answer!

That's why I've made it CW - this is a community resource, so let's all muck in and help to create it.

  • 6
    Please don't add links to this answer unless that you are 100% sure they are legal and not pirated.
    – user111
    Commented Apr 4, 2017 at 2:29
  • 2
    You can search the full text of copyrighted works at Google Books and Amazon, but I don't know if those are the sort of resource you're looking for. The excerpts are sometimes all you need, or they may be enough to decide whether it's worth paying a visit to your local library for a specific book.
    – amaranth
    Commented Apr 6, 2017 at 19:41
  • I've found this website, which lists numerous platforms that are either libraries or shopping platforms. I'll take a stroll through it later and add the good ones. Commented Apr 10, 2017 at 11:45
  • 4
    I'm not sure if this warrants an edit to this post, but you should check with your local library. You might not be aware, but many have ebooks available for "loan." Yours might, too.
    – Shokhet
    Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 20:18
  • Tor.com Publishing has hundreds of short stories and novelettes available for free on its site and will often also make entire ebooks available for limited times as part of marketing campaigns.
    – BESW
    Commented Jul 17, 2017 at 1:50
  • 1
    @BESW Why not edit instead of commenting? That's why this post is CW :-)
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Jul 17, 2017 at 8:01
  • I've copied @BESW's comment into the answer.
    – verbose
    Commented Feb 4, 2021 at 7:46
  • Also @Shokhet's
    – verbose
    Commented Feb 11, 2021 at 5:46
  • Thanks @verbose! You've done so much work on this answer that the little grey CW box in the bottom right now shows your username instead of mine :-D
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Feb 11, 2021 at 8:10
  • @Randal'Thor The way they calculate is odd. I wrote very little. I did move a bunch of stuff around and restructured/reformatted the answer. 70%+ of the answer is not by me.
    – verbose
    Commented Feb 11, 2021 at 8:12
  • @verbose Very odd, I don't know what algorithm they use to calculate it. Maybe it's because you added/changed some links and the system counts that as deleting and re-adding lots of stuff even though it's just moving (see the revision history, there's tons of red and green text).
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Feb 11, 2021 at 8:17
  • Oh! Yes, the links were inconsistent. Some were [in this format](with the URL in parentheses), others used [this format][1] and I turned them all into the latter for consistency's sake. [1] link down below
    – verbose
    Commented Feb 11, 2021 at 8:18
  • @verbose That's because different people were editing the answer. I always use the [text](link) format, because I don't like scrolling all the way to the bottom to find the link, but some other editors added lots of things the [text][1] format. Oh well, I agree with you that consistency is better.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Feb 11, 2021 at 8:22
  • @Randal'Thor heh when editing the answer the reason I used the [text][1] format was that it was too much trouble to scroll down to grab each link and convert it to [text](link), whereas converting the latter into the former was much easier.
    – verbose
    Commented Feb 11, 2021 at 8:25

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