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Old 06-13-2014, 11:10 AM   #1
Kasper Hviid
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Write a few words about your favorite Public Domain book!

Sometimes, Public Domain recommendations ends up looking like an uninviting list of all classic books in existence. So I thought it would be nice with a thread where sequences of words are used to descripe why a certain Public Domain book is worth reading. Here's mine own recommendations:


There is loads of cooking books about ethnic food, that is, food from other part of the world than your own. But I has alway thought it a rather new phenomena. So I was quite surprised when I discovered 365 FOREIGN DISHES, a collection of ethnic recipes published in 1911, which gives the brave reader a new recipe for each day of the year. So if you're in for a helping of German Stewed Brains, this is the book for you!
Download 365 Foreign Dishes: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/10011


THE HUNTING OF THE SNARK (1874) is a nonsense-poetry by Lewis Caroll. The tale is funny, but with a rather groteque undertone, which fits nicely with the hyperdetailed, caricatured illustrations. The story centers loosely about the hunt for a legendary and mysterious creature called the Snark. So, I guess its theme is a bit like Moby Dick, only a bit more insane.
Download The Hunting of the Snark: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/29888


PETER AND WENDY (1911), the novel behind Disneys classic Peter Pan movie, is a piece of litterature that I somehow never gets to finish. But it is a great read. Like Douglas Addams novels, the thing is stuffed with fantastic ideas. Even before the kids enters Neverland, there are lots of magic realism. The kids has a dog as babysitter, and finding a leftover shadow belonging to one of the childrens imaginary friends is considered a practical problem that doesn't warrent further thought.
Considering that this is a childrens book, it has some interesting content. There is a great deal of death and nudity, and it is even mentioned that the faries are doing orgies. We don't get any details, but still. And when Hook murders one of his men, the author has made it clear that he has made that murder happen for the readers sake.
I think what determines if one like this book is wether one think its victorian writing style is cool or irritating. I like it a lot!
Quotes:
"You may be sure Mrs. Darling examined the shadow carefully, but it was quite the ordinary kind."
"He was one of those deep ones who know about stocks and shares. Of course, nobody really knows, but he quite seemed to know, and he ofthen said stocks were up and shares were down in a way that would have made an woman respect him."
"To die will be an awfully big adventure."
'Tinker Bell,' he called softly, after making sure that the children were asleep, 'Tink, where are you?' She was in a jug for the moment, and liking it extremely; she had never been in a jug before.

Download Peter and Wendy: http://www.feedbooks.com/book/3413/p...eter-and-wendy


KOKHEYA SHEKAWAT HOSSEIN was a prominent feminist, who in 1911 established a school for Muslim girls that exists to this day. She had early learned English by his older brother. This was done in secret, her family was against it. At age 16, she married a widower in his 30s. Like her brother, he was a supporter of women's education, so he gave her further education in English. In the year 1905 she wrote SULTANA'S DREAM, one of the first examples of feminist science fiction. It was printed in the Indian Ladies' Magazine.
(SPOILER WARNING! - SOME CONTENT OF THE STORY REVEALED BELOW)
At the beginning of the story, the narrator is in the twilight between dreaming and awake. From here, she moves on a dream trip into a utopian future world called Ladyland. You work two hours a day, the kitchens are clean and bright and powered by solar energy, water is collected from the clouds, the earth is cultivated by electric motors and transported by air. Religion is based on Love and Truthfulness and the streets are covered with moss and beautiful flowers. This bliss is made possible by that society's problematic elements - the men - are under strict control. Utopia has has a bit of dystopia about it and the pompous Victorian language gives the story a grotesque glow.
The danish crime novel MØGKÆLLINGER also ponders about the benefits of locking men up, but here, the author distances herself from the books imprisonment and castration terrorism by letting it be the work of the books insane villain, thus implying that such behavior is not very nice. SULTANA'S DREAM, on the other hand, goes all the way, and descripes how the perfect society can be archived, not by equality between men and women, but by women having the power to suppress the male population. The short story is influenced by that era optimistic belief that technological advances could create a new and better world. This is in stark contrast to Mother Lines from 1978, when the technology is seen as a threat.
Download Sultana's Dream: http://www.feedbooks.com/book/6719/sultana-s-dream
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Old 06-14-2014, 09:40 AM   #2
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You mention Peter and Wendy, by J.M. Barrie. One of my favourite quotes from that story is the description of carefree children like Peter Pan as: "gay and innocent and heartless".

But from J.M. Barrie I prefer The Little White Bird (1902). The middle section (later published separately as "Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens") is not so much to my taste, but early and final chapters offer a fascinating and poignant character study of the narrator.
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Old 06-14-2014, 12:27 PM   #3
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My favourite in the public domain is Moonfleet by Meade Falkner. I read it first when I was about 12, then again when I was in my 20s to see if it was a good as I'd remembered. It was. So, I read an ebook version a few years ago and I still love it.

It's got mystery, adventure, a little romance and even treasure. And someone named Elzevir. What a great name!
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Old 06-14-2014, 12:51 PM   #4
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Mostly people are familiar with Elizabeth von Arnim as the author of Elizabeth and her German Garden and The Enchanted April. Both books are too twee for my tastes, but she wrote one black comic gem in my estimation. Vera is a psychological story of a marriage, akin to du Maurier's Rebecca but first and better and much darker.
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Old 06-18-2014, 05:27 PM   #5
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HERBERT WEST – REANIMATOR is a 6 part serial that appeared in Home Brew Magazine in 1922. The author behind it hated it - he had been paid in advance to write it, and thus, the story was contaminated. In respect of this, the story was ommited when August Derletch replublished H. P. Lovecrafts collected works after his death. Stuart Gordon rediscovered this gem after a longer search, and directed the now classic splatter flick REANIMATOR (1985). Compared to the authors more subtle and restrained Cthulhu tales, this mad doctor story has a lot more action, and also quite a bit of grotesque humor. The story itself is weak, but a nice ride nonetheless!
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Old 06-18-2014, 06:03 PM   #6
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Kasper, thanks for that, sounds interesting.

Here are a couple links to these in the MR Library where they weren't posted earlier:
Herbert West - Reanimator: http://www.mobileread.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=199562
Moonfleet: http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=44731
Vera: http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=31828
The Little White Bird: http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=27862
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Old 06-18-2014, 06:16 PM   #7
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Captain Blood Pirates, swashbuckling, awesomeness.
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Old 06-21-2014, 07:05 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by issybird View Post
Mostly people are familiar with Elizabeth von Arnim as the author of Elizabeth and her German Garden and The Enchanted April. Both books are too twee for my tastes, but she wrote one black comic gem in my estimation. Vera is a psychological story of a marriage, akin to du Maurier's Rebecca but first and better and much darker.
Issybird, I'm going to give Vera a try since I really liked Rebecca.
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Old 06-22-2014, 04:18 PM   #9
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Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Persuasion. They're clever and the characters feel very real.

Walden. I've always found this very inspiring.

Les Miserables and A Tale of Two Cities. I love books set during this general period of time - the French Revolution and the time following it (Les Mis is set about 15 or so years later.) I found myself very drawn into both of these novels and had a hard time putting them down.

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. I talked about how much I liked A Tale of Two Cities here, and someone said if I like Dickens, I'd like Gaskell, and that was certainly true. It isn't just a love story - it has this whole theme of labor and the plight of working people in it that I found fascinating.

The Wind In the Willows. This is probably my favorite children's book, and then I read it aloud to one of my kids and I loved it even more after I read it aloud. I think it's a book that sounds wonderful spoken.

I have picked up this book mentioned above - Vera. Rebecca is a favorite of mine.
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Old 06-25-2014, 02:23 PM   #10
Kasper Hviid
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gutenberg.ca - The Canadian version of Project Gutenberg gives each new release a short, enthusiastic introduction. Scrool down a few pages to see their "New releases" section.

gutenberg.ca has the everything-on-a-single-page approach, which is practical if you can convert it to epub or a ereader-friendly format. Only downside is that only some of their books are in epub format.
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Old 06-27-2014, 06:53 AM   #11
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THE YELLOW WALLPAPER (1892) horror short story. A woman suffering from nerveous depression has been confined to her bedroom - a cure prescriped by her husband. There, she developes a strange fixation on her bedroom wallpaper. Sure, there's feminist themes and all that, but what I really love is the basic idea of creating a horror story about a person staring at wallpaper. Genius!

This short story really shows the strength of litterature - it is hard to imagine a story like that in any other medium. Nevertheless, it was addapted into a movie in 1989 and 2011.

http://www.mobileread.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=231702
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Old 06-27-2014, 08:10 AM   #12
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H. Beam Piper's _Little Fuzzy_ --- an examination of what it means to be sentient. Available in: http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=47980

(my suggestion, skip the first story if it doesn't interest you).
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