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Free Books

How Many Books Have You Read From a 1907 High School Reading List?

Renaissance Learning has released its fifth edition of the What Kids Are Reading report. Among the many topics covered in the free report, it compared high school reading across the last century.

Below, we’ve linked to free eBook copies of the most popular books in 1907, 1923 and 1964. The complete report noted “a decline over time in the complexity of required texts for high school students.” Follow this link for an infographic summary of the research. Here’s more from the report:

Although our analysis is restricted to the  period of 1907 to 2012, there is evidence that writing has become less complex over the last several hundred  years. Complexity is impacted in part by average sentence length; books with longer sentences tend to be more  difficult to comprehend than books with shorter sentences … it is worth noting that just because the books students are being assigned to read are less complex than in  prior years, this does not necessarily mean that they cannot read or comprehend books at higher levels, nor can  we assume that assigning more complex texts would necessarily lead to improvements in achievement.

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151 Free Stories from Tor.com

To celebrate the website’s fifth birthday, Tor.com has released a free digital anthology containing nearly 4,000 pages of original science fiction and fantasy fiction.

Register at the site to download the free anthology in a variety of formats.

The collection contains 151 different stories and you should download today. The publisher originally intended to offer the free anthology for one week, but has since extended the offer until the end of August.

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Free Books for Herman Melville’s Birthday

Happy birthday, Herman Melville!

To celebrate, we rounded up free books by the great author, including Moby Dick, Or, The Whale

In addition, Project Gutenberg has a great collection of other free eBooks by Melville. We’ve linked to these individual titles below–you can download the correct format for Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iPad and many other devices.

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Great Scientists Get Customized Fonts

Designer Prateek Lala created a set of “typographic elements of names and discoveries of famous scientists,” creating customized fonts and imagery for some of our brightest minds.

Lala periodically updates the collection with new scientists–who should be added next?

We’ve embedded the complete infographic below, along with a collection of free books by Plato–our favorite thinker included in this chart.

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Cory Doctorow on Free eBooks & Unions

Novelist and journalist Cory Doctorow is hosting an Ask Me Anything interview on Reddit right now. In this encore edition of the Morning Media Menu, we spoke Doctorow about his 2010 book, For the Win. He spoke about online currency, book promotion and the feasibility of unions in digital culture.

Doctorow discussed his strategy of releasing a free eBook edition of his book alongside the print book. Press play below to listen on SoundCloud. Here’s an excerpt:

I make the books available as free downloads under a Creative Commons license that encourages my readers to share them and remix them, provided they are doing so non-commercially. That means one reader who loves the book who knows another reader who would love the book can put the book in that reader’s hands … Tim O’Reilly says: ‘The problem with writers isn’t piracy, it’s obscurity.’ It may be hard to monetize fame, but it is impossible to monetize obscurity.

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Free Books for the Fourth of July

As you enjoy a long holiday weekend, don’t forget to remember the books, documents and writers that helped build our country.

Below, we’ve linked to free editions of classic books by our Founding Fathers. They contain a mix of history and politics, enough to keep you reading the rest of the summer.

Follow these links to explore more free eBooks at Project Gutenberg: our 50 Free eBooks To Be Thankful For list, our Free Books for Halloween collection, our Free Herman Melville books list, our Free Edgar Allan Poe books collection, our Downton Abbey poetry reading list, our Free Bram Stoker collection and our Free Books That Inspired David Foster Wallace list and Free Books Neil deGrasse Tyson Thinks Everybody Should Read.

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A Mashup Book from 1762

We used to think that the mash-up literary trend began in 2009 with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but it really started in 1762 with A Burlesque Translation of Homer.

You can download a free copy of the book at Open Library. Published under a pseudonym, author Thomas Bridges‘ took the classic epic and reframed it as a racy burlesque poem with comic illustrations. Public Domain Review has more about the book:

Homer’s Iliad set to bawdy verse by Thomas Bridges (c.1710-c.1775), originally published in 1762 under the pseudonym Caustic Barebones. The work achieved some popularity, and was reprinted several times, the last in 1797.

100 Free Books by 100 Different Authors

Web developer Christopher Pound mounted a data mining expedition deep into the free book lists at Project Gutenberg, creating a list of the 100 most popular books by 100 different authors on the site.

The top books list on Project Gutenberg is usually dominated by popular writers with more than one book, but this list creates a different kind of spread. We’ve linked to the top five books below for your weekend reading pleasure. Follow this link to explore the complete list:

As a follow-up to messing around with Goodreads and Project Gutenberg last week, I wondered what the top 100 list would look like with no duplicate authors, so I generated the list below, removing works by authors who have work higher on the list. What I like about the result is how dense it is with different themes, concerns, styles, etc. It’s an intriguing condensation of Project Gutenberg’s fiction collection and perhaps a better reading list for absorbing common literary reference points among works available in English.

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Free Books Recommended By Ernest Hemingway Himself

In 1934, the great novelist Ernest Hemingway made a list of books that all aspiring writers should read. Below, we’ve linked to free copies of most of the books on his massive list.

Open Culture has a great article about how a young hobo and aspiring writer named Arnold Samuelson ended up getting writing advice from Hemingway himself. Check it out:

Hemingway advised Samuelson to avoid contemporary writers and compete only with the dead ones whose works have stood the test of time: “When you pass them up you know you’re going good.” He asked Samuelson what writers he liked. Samuelson said he enjoyed Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped and Henry David Thoreau’s Walden. “Ever read War and Peace?” Hemingway asked. Samuelson said he had not. “That’s a damned good book. You ought to read it. We’ll go up to my workshop and I’ll make out a list you ought to read.”

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Free Books for Mother’s Day

Looking for a literary Mother’s Day gift?

Fill your mom’s iPad, Kindle, Nook or other eReader with classic eBooks about mothers. Below, we’ve linked to a collection of the most popular fiction about mothers in Project Gutenberg.

These are not all sentimental or happy stories, but they will give your mom some classic literature to enjoy all year round.

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