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.