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Musick
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Joined: Tue Feb 07, 2006 3:43 pm
Posts: 653
PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2019 11:47 am 
 

wikipedia wrote:
The Harvard Universal Classics, originally known as Dr. Eliot's Five Foot Shelf, is a 51-volume anthology of classic works from world literature compiled and edited by Harvard University president Charles W. Eliot and first published in 1909.

Eliot had stated in speeches that the elements of a liberal education could be obtained by spending 15 minutes a day reading from a collection of books that could fit on a five-foot shelf. (Originally he had said a three-foot shelf.) The publisher P. F. Collier and Son saw an opportunity and challenged Eliot to make good on this statement by selecting an appropriate collection of works, and the Harvard Classics was the result.

Eliot worked for one year with William A. Neilson, a professor of English; Eliot determined the works to be included and Neilson selected the specific editions and wrote introductory notes. Each volume had 400–450 pages, and the included texts are "so far as possible, entire works or complete segments of the world's written legacies.


In 1909, one graduated from school with the ability to teach ones self throughout the rest of ones life (unlike today, where - for the most part - "school" has become a government sponsored day care system).

You can obtain all the volumes at no charge, courtesy of Project Gutenberg:
https://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Harvard_Classics_(Bookshelf)

These electronic versions are available for every known ereader format, text & html.

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InnesI
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Joined: Sat Jun 01, 2013 3:19 pm
Posts: 1454
PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2019 1:39 pm 
 

The list looks very good from the books I've read to the books I've heard lots of good about (or where I'm familiar with the general ideas of the authors). I could never do a reading list this diverse. I'm the type of person that really gets into one subject and read a lot about that. I often tell people that I know a lot about a little (as in contrast to knowing a little bit about a lot of things). So from the list I've read my fair share of the philosophical and religious titles represented but much less on the fiction side of things.

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Mellifleur
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Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2018 8:01 pm
Posts: 360
Location: United States
PostPosted: Fri Dec 20, 2019 4:04 pm 
 

Project Gutenberg is great for learning, can't deny that. That list is a bit dated though, a lot of apologetics and purtitan shit, and it doesn't even have "My Secret Life" which is also available on g-berg.
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Scorntyrant
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Joined: Mon Nov 15, 2004 5:55 am
Posts: 1431
PostPosted: Fri Dec 20, 2019 7:25 pm 
 

Mellifleur wrote:
Project Gutenberg is great for learning, can't deny that. That list is a bit dated though, a lot of apologetics and purtitan shit, and it doesn't even have "My Secret Life" which is also available on g-berg.



haha! I've read the text and also a few commentaries about it and Ashbee's life in general. If even half of what he claims is true that dude got around!
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Musick
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Joined: Tue Feb 07, 2006 3:43 pm
Posts: 653
PostPosted: Fri Dec 20, 2019 7:54 pm 
 

Im happy there is some interest in it. Not perfect by any means but I found it preety good for the price.

At librivox.org you can download public domain books as mp3 files. Some books have chapters read by multiple individuals so depending on the subject or speakers voice it can be a bit distracting.
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Mellifleur
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Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2018 8:01 pm
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Location: United States
PostPosted: Fri Dec 20, 2019 8:04 pm 
 

To be a little more serious, most of those are good books to read to broaden your knowledge of western history and culture and some foundational philosophy. I wouldn't recommend things like Confessions so much unless you're a theology or history of religion student personally. Such things can be very dry. I'd recommend mixing these kinds of titles into a broader reading pool rather than trying to charge through this 50 volume set uninterrupted. Mix in a few star trek novels and some YA written by african women; you'll stay much saner. :D

The fiction list is also ok for stone cold classics like Austen, Twain, Dickens, Dostoevsky, etc, you can't go wrong really.
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Last edited by Mellifleur on Fri Dec 20, 2019 8:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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droneriot
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Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2004 1:17 pm
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Location: Spahn Ranch
PostPosted: Fri Dec 20, 2019 8:05 pm 
 

Mix your Star Trek novels with Dave Marinaccio's books instead.
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Sepulchrave
Metalhead

Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2015 7:29 pm
Posts: 1697
Location: Croatia
PostPosted: Sat Dec 21, 2019 3:21 am 
 

Some of this is a bit Anglocentric. A lot of works of Russian literature are neglected, no works by any Marxist writers whatsoever.... yeah this list is fucken old. Many great and relevant works of literature have appeared since then, and would likely enhance the lives of many more significantly than, say, Benjamin Franklin's autobiography (though I admit I haven't read it). A lot of literature that appeared after this list was made had the added advantage of being written in periods of less social conservatism, so a lot more subjects could be tackled that were previously considered taboo.

Interesting list nonetheless, and the idea of literature as conducive to enhancing one's life is one that I fully support. Dostoevsky's works have changed mine, certainly.
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Xlxlx
Argentinian Asado Supremacy

Joined: Sat Dec 24, 2011 2:16 pm
Posts: 8018
Location: Argentina
PostPosted: Sat Dec 21, 2019 8:48 am 
 

I agree with Sepulchrave; a lot of this list needs a serious update. You got a significant amount of timeless classics, for sure, but also a lot of superflous stuff that's only for niche interests (Confessions of St. Augustine and Imitiation of Christ are certainly two things I'd get nothing useful out of). With a good revision that aims toward a more global and, yes, less Westernized and Anglocentric approach, I'd be all for this.
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Mellifleur
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Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2018 8:01 pm
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 21, 2019 3:17 pm 
 

Agreed with Sepulchrave and Xlxlx on all stated counts!

It is a good idea for everybody to check out at least some "classics". The western canon is good, but it is definitely important to go beyond that as well. We are in the first era where just about all the "classics" of every great civilization are available in translation in the most commonly used languages in the world, and you really can learn a lot about history, cultures, and the peoples of the world from their literary heritage. That said, you don't have to read supposed classics or Very Important Books to learn things. Reading just about any books *will* improve your knowledge, vocabulary, and intelligence. Doesn't matter if they are fiction, non-fiction, old, new, etc. Some books will certainly teach you *more* than others, but as long as you are reading you are growing. The only stipulation is that it has to be books, not magazines or clickbait articles circulating on facebook. Sorry to have to pull out the elitist book snob card, but that's how it breaks down.
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