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From final Sherlock book to Christie’s Big Four, new books enter public domain

Five books to add to your ever increasing to-be-reads. Plus, they are free!

A new batch of free books have come into the public domain this year. (Source: Amazon.in)

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The sweet friendship of Winnie the Pooh and Piglet is set to be reimagined in an unexpected genre: horror. In this yet- to-be-released film, Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey, beloved children’s characters Pooh and Piglet are dark after the abandonment by Christopher Robin. This unique reimagination of the original characters is possible because A. A. Milne’s original work entered the public domain in 2022.

Also read: White Noise travels well from page to screen

Every year, new books, music, and films come into the public domain as their copyright term expires, many of which have a life span of 95 years. They are free for all to ‘copy, share, and build upon’. This year, as of January 1, copyrighted works from 1927, which include Arthur Conan Doyle’s final Holmes stories (The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes) and Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, have entered the public domain in the United States.

As an annual new year gift, or rather a Public Domain Day gift, Jennifer Jenkins, Director of Duke’s Center for the Study of the Public Domain, puts together an extensive list of works with expired copyrights. Here are five books to add to your ever increasing to-be-reads.

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

There is a certain joy in being pulled into a story by Virginia Woolf. She has a beautiful way of using words to paint a picture, such as an idea entering a mind like a drop of ink diffusing in water, or ‘drowning in seas of fire’. We see much of this in this book, her vivid use of visualisation married with stream of consciousness which Woolf is popular for. The story follows the Ramsay couple, their children, and guests living in a summer house on the Isle of Skye. It examines the tensions between the men and the women, the joys and tragedies experienced by the family, all while Mr. Ramsay puts off visiting the lighthouse.

The Big Four by Agatha Christie

Last year, Christie’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, often called her masterpiece, entered the public domain. This year it's The Big Four's turn. There have been varied opinions about the book: some have called it her greatest work, while others blatantly expressed their disappointment, such as The Scotsman, which called it “an exaggerated parody of popular detective fiction”. The structure of this book is a different from her usual novels: it involves a series of short cases involving the The Big Four, a gang working toward world dominance.

Amerika by Frank Kafka

The first novel by Kafka, the author of The Metamorphosis, is about a young immigrant, Karl Rossmann who, after a sexual misadventure, is forced to go to the land of opportunities, New York city. Here is the thing: Kafka never visited US and so the story is inspired by his imagination, research, and stories he had heard. The reviewers have called the story bizarre, keeping up with Kafka’s reputation for mixing reality with unconventional imagination.

Men Without Women by Ernest Hemingway

The second collection of stories by the American novelist includes some of his popular short stories such as Hills Like White Elephants and Fifty Grand. The stories explore causalities of war, complexities of relationships, grief and mourning, and sportsmanship. This considered his most important early work in which readers get a peek into many of the themes that his future works explored in-depth.

Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather

This book, one of Cather’s most critically acclaimed works, takes us reader through the lives of a Catholic bishop and priest as they attempt to diocese in New Mexico Territory. The story is told across four decades and explores the moral ideas, rebellions, and loneliness.

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