Like reading? Want to support a good cause? Welcome to the Project Gutenberg Project*!
If you’ve never heard of it, Project Gutenberg (Wikipedia page) is an almost entirely volunteer-driven effort to digitize, archive, and distribute “cultural works” (mostly books). It was established in 1971 and now includes over 30,000 free ebooks that you can read on a wide variety of devices including computers, cellphones, various mobile devices, and ebook readers.
Project Gutenberg contains some amazing, unparalleled works of literature and it is an incredibly valuable resource that just doesn’t seem to get the credit (and support) it deserves. This challenge has two purposes:
1) To inspire people to read some of these wonderful old classics, and
2) To support Project Gutenberg.
Here’s the challenge
1) Set a goal: Pick a number of Project Gutenberg books you think you could read over the next year. This can be anything from a conservative 2 or 3, a more ambitious one per month, or a hardcore no-holds-barred one per week. The number is entirely up to you. Post a quick comment here if you would like to make your goal public!
2) Make a donation: Donate a few dollars to Project Gutenberg. I’m going to donate $2 for each book in my goal, but that’s just a suggestion. Just try to send ’em a couple of bucks if you can.
3) Find some books and start reading. Each time you finish a book, blog a quick review of it, fire off a tweet about it, or post to Facebook about it. Encourage other folks to play along, donate a few dollars, and read some of these amazing pieces of literature. Project Gutenberg is a great and under-appreciated project that is doing some fantastic work, so let’s show ’em some love.
Not sure where to start?
Here’s a quick baker’s dozen of some of the fantastic books available through Project Gutenberg:
- Hound of the Baskervilles, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
- The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Franklin
- Walden, Henry David Thoreau
- Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
- The Voyage of the Beagle, Charles Darwin
- Anne of Green Gables, Lucy Maud Montgomery
- Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
- Dracula, Bram Stoker
- Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
- A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
- Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Jacob and Whilhelm Grimm
- Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka
- Harvard Classics bookshelf (for a real challenge)
Here are some stickers you can put on your weblog if you decide to participate. Link the sticker to this blog post, and we’ll see how many people we can get reading some old classics and supporting Project Gutenberg.
* Disclaimers: I’m doing this just for fun. I am in no way associated with Project Gutenberg, and they have no idea I’m doing this. Having read their legalese I think I’m ok calling this the “Project Gutenberg Project”, but I didn’t ask for their permission (so the name may change!) If you decide to donate, please go to the Project Gutenberg site, and follow their directions.
Very cool original stamp graphic is from Wikipedia and is in the public domain.
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This not only is a very good project, but it’s a worthwile cause too! I joined right in, and am correcting my link back to your article so that the image isn’t hotlinked anymore (sorry about that, was short on time)
I’ve got a question for you: would you mind if I “mirrored” your Project Gutenberg Project (or PGP) on Goodreads.com as a group? Of course, I’d keep credit to you and a link here, but since the PGP isn’t present there yet and I guess a certain number of users may be interested, I wondered if this would seem a good idea to you.
In a similar vein, would you mind if I translated your PGP explanation in French? There are quite a number of Frencht books too in the Project Gutenberg, and if we could get more French-speaking readers actually support Project Gutenberg, this would be a win alla around.
Of course, if you prefer to keep thinsg this way, in order to better have a view over your project and who joins in, I’d understand since this is originaly *your* idea, so in this case just say no thanks, and I won’t insist.
Thank you, and best regards
Serge K. Keller
Hi Serge — feel free to do what you wish with the project idea 🙂 It hasn’t really taken off at all here, so any help or promotion would be great.
Thank you – I’ll try to promote it from my side as well, and keep you informed.
For information: sadly, Michael S. Hart, the father of Project Gutenberg, has died http://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Michael_S._Hart
Even more reason to greet projects like yours that honour Project Gutenberg, his own lifetime project.