From one of my all-time favorite ebook resources, the Portable Harvard Classics
"While complete sets of the Harvard Classics are available on ebay for just a few hundred dollars, the volumes, one and all, carry the same fatal flaw. They are bulky, heavy, unbendable, and, lets face it, made of paper.
The Portable Harvard Classics was born of necessity. I travel extensively, read voraciously, and collect compulsively. I found the Harvard Classics online and I was hooked! But how was I to bring this massive collection with me in my many and varied travels. I needed a solution to this dilema. Thanks to the good folks at www.bartleby.com
, practically the entire 51 volume Harvard Classics collection, as well as the 20 volume Shelf of Fiction, are available online. And so was begun the Portable Harvard Classics project.
My plan is to convert each and every tale, history, essay, treatise, poem and volume into plain text. From there, one by one, they are finding their way onto my little Palm m130 for my reading pleasure while on the bus, train or airplane.
And through the goodness of my heart, and at the suggestion of my son, I am making my magnum opus available to all of you. Feel free to distribute these files to all and sundry. There is no copyright on these volumes so give 'em to your friends, send 'em to your family, and distribute them to your co-workers and fellow students through anonymous emails."
A wonderful undertaking that continues to progress through time at a rate faster than I am reading it, so that works out fine. So far I'm on Volume 3 Book 1 at a leisurely pace and loving it.
If you are not familiar with the Harvard Classics, Bartleby's says
it is "The most comprehensive and well-researched anthology of all time comprises both the 50-volume “5-foot shelf of books” and the 20-volume Shelf of Fiction. Together they cover every major literary figure, philosopher, religion, folklore and historical subject through the twentieth century."
In fact, I believe it all started in the early 1900's when the president of Harvard College put together the collection and said that in those 5 shelves of books were the equivalent of a complete liberal education. It's all the sorts of books that I ignored when I was in college, but find fascinating now. They are significant works of literature and quite relevant to culture and history. All of a sudden I find myself completely enthralled with the idea of getting a glimpse into what these great men have written. It's definitely worth a look if you like to read non-fiction. And if you like fiction, be sure to check out the books from the shelf of fiction also!
Update: The new URL is http://www.portableharvardclassics.com