Project Gutenberg Guide?
June 12, 2006 9:46 PM   Subscribe

Are there any guides or reviews to books on Project Guttenberg? With 18,000 books there has to be some hidden gems, but how to find them? I'd also like to find other free book sites.
posted by afu to Society & Culture (14 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: For example I found this great little book about a British journalist who trekked across China in 1905. I just kind of randomly tumbled across it, and was wondering if there was someone where people posted there finds.
posted by afu at 9:49 PM on June 12, 2006

A subset of the Guttenberg books are hosted at, and they have star ratings and reviews. Unfortunately, only about 40 books have been reviewed, but here they are.
posted by rajbot at 10:08 PM on June 12, 2006

Less "culture" and more "pulp", but if you enjoy sci-fi and fantasy books, then I recommend the Baen Free Library.
posted by nightchrome at 10:15 PM on June 12, 2006

Perhaps someone could start a project, posted to projects.metafilter of course, that simply takes the ISBN or title data from Gutenberg and uses some sort of API to query for the ratings people have assigned.

Sounds like it wouldn't be terribly difficult and would have very interesting results.
posted by lockle at 10:40 PM on June 12, 2006

The Online Books Page.
posted by russilwvong at 11:31 PM on June 12, 2006 takes some of the books from project gutenberg and puts them in a more browsable interface.
posted by meta87 at 11:38 PM on June 12, 2006

posted by meta87 at 11:38 PM on June 12, 2006 is pretty well-organized, and has a lot of good (legal) stuff.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:39 AM on June 13, 2006

I love, love, LOVE Black Mask.

They've got a lot of the old public domain reliables, but also have tons of pulps. You can get an almost complete set of "The Shadow", and a lot of "Doc Savage" and other pulp heros there for crime fighting fun.
posted by willmize at 3:50 AM on June 13, 2006

There is also the Assayer, "the web's largest catalog of free books, and also collects user-submitted reviews", though I haven't really explored it myself.
posted by MetaMonkey at 5:59 AM on June 13, 2006

Many good links here.
posted by ibmcginty at 6:03 AM on June 13, 2006

afu, this is something I'd looked for in the past and I can say with confidence that it doesn't yet exist. You can look at the Top 100 downloads and the "Best of" lists on the Gutenberg site, but those mostly have the books you've already heard of. If you started a wiki or something that would include suggestions from among the more obscure books on the site you would be a hero to millions.

My temporary solution has been to regularly check their RSS feed of updated books, which is not only new ones but also old ones with new editing or work on the formats, and flip through the ones that look interesting. You'll see a lot of unfamiliar things in this way, in digestible little chunks. That's how I found Grenville Kleiser's invaluable and strange book-length list Fifteen Thousand Useful Phrases: A Practical Handbook Of Pertinent Expressions, Striking Similes, Literary, Commercial, Conversational, And Oratorical Terms, For The Embellishment Of Speech And Literature, And The Improvement Of The Vocabulary Of Those Persons Who Read, Write, And Speak English.
posted by nflorin at 8:37 AM on June 13, 2006

I'm particularly fond of The Art of Travel which has fascinating information from back when travel was actually hard work: results of scientific tests on different types of rope, advice on loading elephants, where to buy a good pith helmet, that kind of thing...

And a Cut'n'Paste from part of a draft blog entry (draft because I never got around to searching for the second set of 20 that Penguin released.)
Now Penguin brings you the works of the great thinkers, pioneers, radicals and visionaries whose ideas shook civilization and helped make us who we are.
  1. Seneca — On the Shortness of Life
  2. Marcus Aurelius — Meditations
  3. St Augustine — Confessions of a Sinner
  4. Thomas à Kempis — The Inner Life (Book II)
  5. Niccolò Machavelli — The Prince
  6. Michel de Montaigne — On Friendship (Chapter XXVII)
  7. Jonathan Swift — A Tale of a Tub
  8. Jean-Jaques Roussea — The Social Contract (non-Gutenberg link)
  9. Edward Gibbon — The Christians and the Fall of Rome (Chapter XV) (HTML format)
  10. Thomas Paine — Common Sense (Alternate Version)
  11. Mary Wollstonecraft — A Vindication of the Rights of Women
  12. William Hazlitt — On The Pleasure of Hating (non-Gutenberg link)
  13. Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels — The Communist Manifesto
  14. Arthut Schopenhauer — On The Suffering of the World (first essay)
  15. John Ruskin — On Art and Life
  16. Charles Darwin — On Natural Selection (6th Edition)
  17. Friedrich Nietzsche — Why I Am So Wise (Chapter I) (German only)
  18. Virginia Woolf — A Room of One's Own
  19. Sigmund Freud — Civilization and Its Discontents
  20. George Orwell — Why I Write

posted by rjt at 10:20 AM on June 13, 2006 [1 favorite]

And not quite on-topic, but Gutenberg also has a CD you can torrent (scroll down to "Additional Methods") which has a good number of their better books you can download in one click, and browse through that way, rather than searching their web-site and downloading them individually.
posted by rjt at 10:24 AM on June 13, 2006

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