Morning in the mountains:
It’s early, but the sky already heralds a cloudy,
maybe even a snowy day, perfect for curling up with a book ...
or a laptop! You'll see what I mean in a moment.
We live in an era that might justifiably be
called "The Age of the Internet." Anyone who doubts this should consider
the role that this nearly ubiquitous medium played in our recent
election. One of Barack Obama's signal advantages over John
McCain during the campaign was his superior ability to organize
and raise funds online. Every day more than a million new pages of
information appear on the Internet. Much of this -
perhaps most of it - consists of trivial stuff like
individual Facebook profiles. On the brighter side, in spite of energetic
attempts to impose profit-making business models on the
Internet, most online content is still free. The challenge
is to sift through all the dreck for the gems of information hiding there.
precious finds are the providers of on-line books. By that I don't mean
commercial enterprises like amazon.com. I mean
websites offering full-length books that can be downloaded or read online
for free! At one time it was speculated that mankind's entire literary
output would soon become available via free electronic media. This ideal
still lies in the future. Indeed, it may never come about, not least
because of the understandable reluctance of living authors to work for nothing.
Nevertheless progress has been made, especially in the area of books that are in
the public domain.
A good place to start is Bartleby.com, where you can dive into the 50 volume
Harvard Classics (Bacon, Milton, Emerson, Burns ... )
or the 20 volume companion collection of classic
fiction by writers like Poe, Dickens, Austen, etc.
That's just for openers.
The site offers hundreds and hundreds of other listings.
If you're interested in lighter (but by no means
inconsequential) fare, a good place to start is Page by Page Books.
Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, A Connecticut Yankee
... and others. Then there's Upton Sinclair, Agatha Christie, Jimmy Carter,
Jules Verne, and many more authors, both classic and contemporary.
technical and scientific publications provided by educational
institutions, as well as books published by special interest or
commercial groups. An example of the latter is a fascinating book entitled,
Plank and Beam Framing for Residential Buildings, put out
by the American Wood Council. Especially for those
interested in public policy, there's the National Academies Press website.
successful literary websites belongs to
"e-books" available for free (if you don't count the monthly cost of your
ISP subscription!) If you haven't visited their webpage yet, you should
take a look. Bibliophiles like me might want to set aside a
couple of hours for this!
offering free books. One such is the excellent Online Librairies. Or you can
google places for yourself. Meanwhile, here are a few more of my
like to read the librettos of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, many
of them with accompanying music and commentaries! But there's a lot more.
books that you can download to your mp3 player!
charming Mr. Pepys, the absolutely best introduction is Kenneth Branaugh's
audio version: The Diary of Samuel Pepys. (This is the
only link I've included here to something that you have to buy, but, trust
me, it's worth it! ) For those who've already experienced
Kevin Branaugh's performance and would like to learn more, the website
along with extensive links and references to the world of 17th century England.
and download them in mp3 or Ipod format. The list's not huge, but there
are still lots of interesting titles.
price is right!
members. You can download the audio files or you can volunteer to create
additional audio books yourself!
“Als Gregor Samsa eines Morgens aus unruhigen Träumen erwachte,
fand er sich in seinem Bett zu einem ungeheueren Ungeziefer verwandelt…”
"When Gregor Samsa woke from restless dreams one morning,
he found while in his bed he'd been transformed into a gigantic insect."
best known opening lines in all of literature, although I doubt
anything could match the iconic first sentence in Moby Dick!
writers, Kafka isn't as good in translation as the original.
There's much more out there. All you have to do is look.