Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Classic Novel eBooks

Although I absolutely prefer a nice physical book in my hands there is another option out there for anyone reading this post if they want to read a Classic, an eBook.

It can be hard to find some classics as eBooks without paying for them, such as "The Pearl" by John Steinbeck, however this is due to a copyright still existing on the work. Those works where the copyright is no longer in effect and the book is 'public domain' are in eBook format in many places on the web.

Three sites that offer free eBooks for the public to download without needing any kind of account are:

Planet eBook:

PlanetPDF (7 pages of classics):

Project Gutenberg:

Of these three Project Gutenberg is by far the most extensive.

They are also very accessible by offering the eBooks on CD or DVD in either a downloadable format or you can actually request for them to send you a free CD or DVD and have them mail it to you.

Another really cool thing is that you can actually create your own disc so that the image only has what you want on it. This option however does not allow you to have them mail it to you (only to download and create the disc yourself).

If you decide that you'd rather have the classic eBook in your hand on an independent reader (instead of a laptop, Palm Pilot, Dell Axim, etc) you can check out devices such as Amazon's Kindle. There are actually quite a few devices that are dedicated for eBooks. This page does an excellent job of breaking down all of the options: Mobileread Wiki eBook Reader Matrix. However with the price of the Amazon Kindle at $399 without purchasing titles, I think I'll stick with the hard and softcover classics that fit in my hand.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Books from Madison

Two quick pictures and one point:

The first picture shows a variety of classics that I was able to obtain for very low prices (mentioned last post) from Madison this past weekend!

Oxford, Penguin, Dover, Signet, Bantam, Konemann, and Barnes & Noble Classics!

My next picture is to display one big difference among classics. The book on the left is more mainstream. People recognize the author and the title. The book on the right, I had never heard of before last weekend. Both classics.

Now while plenty of people have read the book on the left, probably few people have read the book on the right. One reason for this blog is perhaps exploring why this disparity exists.

The first picture also shows a more middle ground in regards to the question I just asked. While Robert Louis Stevenson is much more known than Paul Laurence Dunbar, how many people have really heard of his classic Catriona in comparison to Treasure Island? In the same vein, while many people may associate Kate Chopin with The Awakening, it is easy for me to believe that relatively few people who have not studied Kate Chopin or somehow had a literature class devoted partially to her would have heard of (or read) Bayou Folk or A Night in Acadie.

If you've read either of these lesser known books by Paul Laurence Dunbar, Robert Louis Stevensen, or Kate Chopin i'd really like to see your comments on how they were. I'll read them someday, but i'll read them sooner if I get some good reviews!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Madison, Wisconsin Book Stores

This last weekend, the wife and I had a chance to head to Madison, Wisconsin for Coffee Shops and Bookstores. I in search of Classics and her in search of that perfect Latte!

We attempted to go to Shakespeares Books first at 18 Carroll St on the Square by the Capitol however it had changed locations (without any word of where they moved!). A very friendly woman at Capitol Kids helped give us directions to navigate down State street. After parking in a parking deck off of Wisconsin St. we headed to State street.

If you are going to Madison to get classic books I would recommend Avol's Bookshop on 315 Gorham St. It was a very nice establishment with a good selection of classics. The classics were mixed in with general fiction and were in decent shape.

However, the real gem of classics in Madison was at Frugal Muse Books. This was after we had left State street and had ventured to Mineral Point road. We were originally on a trek to the local Barnes & Noble on Mineral Point road when we spotted Frugal Muse. It absolutely was the best book store we visited. Very very good quality books with what I would consider low prices - especially in comparison to other stores. Black cover Penguin Classics were generally $4.95, Barnes & Noble Black Dustjacket hardcovers $2.95 - $4.95, Penguin Green/Blue classics $4.95 - $6.95. There was an excellent selection of classics that were mixed in with Fiction. I found some rare gems!

Our classics collection is getting down to where we need only obscure classics. I recently was asked "If you are only looking for obscure classics, why are they classic if they are so obscure?" And that's a good question. I would love to hear comments from the readers of this blog on what they think of that question.

My personal thoughts are that classics are classics because they have withstood the test of time and are a good quality read. Being obscure (at least to me) is only the product of not being more well known within society. That doesn't necessarily mean the book is not classic... there are plenty of classics I wish that WERE more popular in the public arena. As time goes on I sincerely hope they do. People are really missing out on great reads simply because they aren't aware that they exist!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Types of Classics

There are plenty of types of classics.  I have known this for quite some time but became much more aware of this fact the last several years that my wife and I have actively been collecting books for our library.

I decided to show you the different types of classics for two reasons:

1. To show those who are not aware just how many there are
2. To ask viewers what other types do you have that I haven't included?  I would be very interested to know.

My first picture includes twenty five types:

From left to right they are:

ROW 1:
1.  Dover Children's Thrift Classics
2.  Dover Mystery Classics
3.  Dover Thrift Edition
4.  Borders Classic
5.  Signet Classic

ROW 2:
6.  Perennial Classics
7.  Penguin Classics (Newer Black edition)
8.  Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics
9.  Penguin Classics (Cream back)
10. Virago Modern Classics

ROW 3:
11. Barnes & Noble Classics (Cream dust jacket)
12. Barnes & Noble Classics (Black dust jacket)
13. Barnes & Noble Classics (2003 - Current)
14. The Barnes & Noble Library of Essential Reading
15. Barnes & Noble Classics (Mass Market)

ROW 4:
16. Barnes & Noble Children's Classics
17. Puffin Classics (Block Lettering of Puffin)
18. Puffin Classics (Newer)
19. Bantam Classic
20. The Modern Library Classics

ROW 5:
21. A Watermill Classic
22. Odyssey Classic
23. Oxford World's Classics
24. Wordsworth Classics
25. Del Rey Fantasy Classic

This second picture was supposed to illustrate that not all classics actually say "Classic" on them.  However when looking for examples from our library I was able to find two more that actually did say classic.  The top book is "An Airmont Classic" and the bottom left is a "Vintage Classics" book.

Here is the second picture:

There are two rows in the above picture.  Their publishers are, again, from left to right:

Top: An Airmont Classic

ROW 1:
1.  Scholastic Book Services
2.  Rand McNally
3.  Scribner Paperback Fiction

ROW 2:
4.  Vintage Classics
5.  Mariner Books
6.  Collier Books/Scribners

My point with this blog is that while I try to collect a title in any type of "Classic" as deemed by the publisher there are also plenty of books that are classics without being labeled as classic.  So, the question beckons, "What makes a classic a classic?"

I would love to hear your definition as well as any other imprints of classics that I haven't touched on.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Classic Novels

This blog will be about classic novels that I read as well as other books I come across. I welcome your comments and suggestions for classics to read as well as what you have read.

Over the course of the last few years I've really loved reading classic novels.    My favorites have been of the dystopian/utopian flavor.   This has included:

We by Yevgeny Zamyatin
1984 by George Orwell
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy

Besides the dystopian/utopian subject i've also had the pleasure of reading Anna Karenina by Tolstoy,  A Tale of Two Cities by Dickens,  Silas Marner by Eliot,  and Vanity Fair by Thackeray.

I am also proud creator of the Wikipedia page on Barnes & Noble Classics.

My love for classics grew out of finding the Black dustjacket volumes found in that article.   It took me several years but in 2005 I was able to track down the entire set.

What is your most favorite classic?