As some folks here may have read by now, I am in the middle of packing to move to a different city, a routine that I’m frankly getting a bit tired of rehashing. One of these days I will have a house of my own, and not have to move for many years, if ever. Oh well. I love books, and have always had a lot of them. If I were in my most happy setting, I would have a whole extra bedroom set up as my library, with walls full of books, and a few comfy chairs and really good lighting for reading, maybe with a minifridge and microwave for all those drinks and snacks that intense reading demands. I also would be the owner of a bookshop/antique shop with a cafe and a small stage for acoustic live music and weekly open mics and poetry nights. The distance between that fantasy life and the one I have now seems insurmountable right now, as I am packing up everything once again.
One of the first things that is being weeded out of my boxes this time is all those books I have already read and will never read again. I love them, but I don’t love carrying lots of boxes of books up and down stairs to get them to the new place. I know I always find more books, lot of them, eventually, but it still hurts to part with the ones I have. This time, though, I am reminding myself when I get sentimental about my growing stack of ‘reject’ books that there are many books in the local library near where I’ll be living, and many books available online, no boxing or carrying required. Actually there are enough books on my favorite ebook site, Project Gutenberg, to keep me reading for the rest of my life.
So, to keep up my spirits as I part with boxes-worth of my books, here is my list of the first 10 books off Project Gutenberg that I plan to read in April.
- All Cats Are Gray, by Andre Norton (http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/29019) My sister has been collecting all of Andre Norton’s books, and I’ve been reading them. She doesn’t have this one yet, though, and the title sounds fun.
- Beyond Good and Evil, by Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/4363) I studied political philosophy in grad school, and Nietzsche was always one of those authors everyone quoted but no one had actually read. A lot of his work is available on Project Gutenberg, in several languages.
- Droll Stories, by Honore de Balzac (http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/13260) I read a couple of Balzac’s longer stories a while ago and was surprised at how much I liked his female characters.
- The Quest of the Four, by Joseph Altsheler (http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/40480) I’d love to read all the rest of Altsheler’s books, actually. I read his series on the US Civil War a few years ago, and really enjoyed them. He’s a fantastic storyteller and he does a great job researching and conveying the history embedded in his novels.
- Poor White: A Novel, by Sherwood Anderson (http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/7414) Another classic author I keep meaning to read more from. I read Winesburg, Ohio 2 years ago, but nothing since.
- Culture and Anarchy, by Matthew Arnold (http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/4212) This book was on my ‘extended reading’ list when I was working on my Master’s thesis, but I never got to it. Arnold’s book on Celtic literature also sounds cool.
- Persuasion, by Jane Austen (http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/105) One of the few Jane Austen books I haven’t read yet.
- Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott (http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/514) How many more years shall I go without reading this classic? It’s high time I finally read this book. I read her book Eight Cousins back in 2005, and liked it well enough.
- The Scottish Reformation, by Alexander F. Mitchell (http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/22023)
I started a few years ago trying to read all of the books available in English on Project Gutenberg, and I discovered quite a few great books I would never have tried if I had not been just working through their catalog alphabetically. My project fell off my to do list after a while once I realized that new books were constantly being added and I would never finish the section of authors starting with A, let alone the rest of the catalog. The idea is still tempting though. A lot of my favorites last time were books that were largely forgotten, not classics but other books from the same eras as the classics that just never stayed in circulation. My favorites were Lisbeth Longfrock, by Hans Aanrud (http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/26348), Historia Calamitatum, by Peter Abelard (http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/14268) and the Civil War novels by Altsheler.
What books have you discovered on Project Gutenberg?