Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Project Gutenberg

Thanks to Project Gutenberg I will be reading free e-book editions of:

Sense and Sensibility
, by Jane Austen
The Way of All Flesh, by Samuel Butler
Looking Backward, by Edward Bellamy
Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens

And then two heavy hitters:

Ulysses, by James Joyce
War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy

Woof! I've got some heavy reading in front of me. I figure that chipping away at these books via Project Gutenberg will make it much more likely that I will actually read the books because I am more apt to borrow a book I wish to read for pleasure from the library versus one of the classics which may be somewhat painful (as I tend to find Jane Austen to be, which explains why I am reading her first). Finishing Ulysses will complete one of those life goals like running a marathon or writing a novel (check and check!) since I think while the novel is considered one of the great works of Literature very few people I know of, even when I was in college, have actually read the book.


Nick said...

Was just reading the first page of War & Peace at the library this afternoon. Seems dense but rewarding, something I don't find many classics to be. If I don't like what I'm reading, I discard it. Life's too short, and I know of no book which started out bad that ended up good in the end (books can improve, though, but that's another thing). If it's something I find hard to read, and this is especially true of the classics, I just put it aside and wait for the time I feel like giving it another try. But if I don't like it, such as Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment, which I've read the first 40 pages of at most after three tries, then I just discard it out of mindblowing boredom. Same with Jane Austen. The movies are wonderful but the writing is too alien and hard for me to focus on. My English is good enough, but some things just bore me, and I freely acknowledge that.

Big project this summer will be reading War & Peace (English translation), Brothers Karamazov (Swedish translation), Frans Bengtssons The Long Ships and FA Hayek's The Road to Serfdom.

Joe said...

In general I agree with you. I've a low tolerance for books that do not interest me, no matter how "good" they are supposed to be.

With that said, I will slog through certain books if I feel that I need to finish it. And with the project gutenberg books I've copied them to word and will read a chapter here and there and work through them. Read three chapters of the Austen this morning. I would never take another Jane Austen out from the library, but I'd also like to finish that part of the "canon", whatever the hell that means.

Still...I'd much rather read John Scalzi than Jane Austen.

jaydro said...

I just recently read Sense and Sensibility for the first time for a book club--I never would have picked it myself. I've seen the movie two or three times, but not recently, and I was surprised at how much humor was in the book. I think it's the oldest novel I've read that I've found the least bit funny (breaking Mark Twain's record). I found myself enjoying it and also being caught up in the soap opera aspect of it and wanting to plow through to the end as soon as possible. I've now got Pride and Prejudice from the library, but I'm not sure when I'll get around to it.

I keep saying I'm going to read Moby Dick someday....

Joe said...

Well, now I have to go add Moby Dick to my list...

Thanks a lot!

Nick said...

Can't read long documents on a computer screen. My concentration just says stop after a while. If it's long I need it in at least A5 page size, numbered.

Oldest book that's ever cracked me up is probably Don Quijote. Not the old man's antics as much as Sancho Panza, who's always been pretty underrated as one of the great literary characters, and the source of many of the better scenes and quotes in the two parts. I also loved that the second part went all Adaptation on itself, and held a perfect balance between comedy and tragedy, even if it's ultimately tragic.

Oldest book I've enjoyed would probably be Suetonius Twelve Caesars, unless you count some of the old Greek plays as novels.

jaydro said...

Well maybe I'll have to try Don Quixote. I've enjoyed books older than S & S, and I've found humor in older literature, but it was the oldest funny novel I've read.

Nick said...

Don Quixote is sublime. Strangest thing about it is that, despite it's long archaic phrasing, it feels fresh, as if it could have been written by someone today who wanted to satirize knightly romance novels.

Nick said...

Which it in a way does.

Joe said...

Maybe I need a better translation because I couldn't get into Don Quixote, but maybe I just needed to age a little.

Nick said...

Think it all depends on where you approach it from. If you approach it as a mammoth of literature, I don't think you're going to like it.

If one the other hand you approach as something of a light comedy with hidden depths, and the writing stops being a problem after a while, and even enjoyable later on, then you might find yourself enjoying it.