harvard classicsThe Harvard Classics has been a reading literary project that has fascinated me ever since I first heard about it a few years ago. It was compiled in 1909 by the then-president of Harvard University, who boasted that he could put together a collection of books which would fit onto a five-foot shelf, which would contain everything a common person needed to read in order to obtain the rudiments of a classical liberal arts education.

What a project to put together, and what a project to undertake to read! A complete set of them, long available via MobileRead thanks to a devoted user, has been languishing in my Calibre library for some time, unread because I simply didn’t know where to start with it. It turns out these books used to come with a pamphlet which offered suggestions for reading selections for every day of the year, chosen for their length (15 minutes) and interest. What a great way to dive into this massive collection!

And the best news of all is that a poster named George has just started upgrading  Robert Wood’s excellent mobi versions to ePub, and while he’s at it, he’s going after the daily excerpt pamphlet too and compiling the selections for each month into an anthology that you can read straight through, with every day’s selection right there. The January collection made a late debut this past week, and the February book was just posted a couple of days ago, ready for queuing up at month’s end. The DRM-free epub can be converted in Calibre easily for you Kindle folks!

The generosity of the ebook-reading community never ceases to amaze me. These books are being formatted and shared for free for the benefit of those who want to read and learn. So, enjoy! And thanks, George!

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"I’m a journalist, a teacher and an e-book fiend. I work as a French teacher at a K-3 private school. I use drama, music, puppets, props and all manner of tech in my job, and I love it. I enjoy moving between all the classes and having a relationship with each child in the school. Kids are hilarious, and I enjoy watching them grow and learn. My current device of choice for reading is my Amazon Kindle Touch, but I have owned or used devices by Sony, Kobo, Aluratek and others. I also read on my tablet devices using the Kindle app, and I enjoy synching between them, so that I’m always up to date no matter where I am or what I have with me."


  1. The reading community really is great. One of my nephews is busily creating cleaned up versions of books he likes for others to read. He was ticked off when Amazon forced him to charge 99 cents for it. I pointed him to places where it could be free.

    In the case of the Harvard bookshelf, two more additions would be nice:

    1. An app that can load up a few weeks of reading at a time, following this calendar, and allow daily reading.

    2. Spoken versions released as podcasts, either daily or weekly. Great for that daily commute. Five feet would keep someone busy for a long time.

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