Ten random public domain freebies #3
This is the third in a series. I’m including the opening of the book, to replicate that feeling of picking up a book and reading it a bit to see if you like it. If my random search returns a title from a previous post in this series , I’ll randomize again.
One of the things people say they miss when shopping online is that sense of random discovery you get in a physical store.
When you go online, you tend to search for something specific.
When you walk in a store, you never know what you’ll find. Heck, they might even have changed where the sections are.
That was especially true of used bookstores. I loved finding some obscure old title…the kind you couldn’t figure out how it ever got published in the first place.
Alternatively, maybe it was something that was clearly popular at one time.
The point is, you never quite knew what you’d see.
So, I decided to replicate that experience.
When you do a search at Amazon, you can only see 400 results.
to limit my search to free public domain titles, and to rank the results by popularity.
Next, I used
to find me ten random numbers from 1 to 400.
The books below are the results of that search…have fun wandering down the aisle!
#45 Tom Sawyer, Detective
by Mark Twain
original publication: 1896
“WELL, it was the next spring after me and Tom Sawyer set our old n—–* Jim free, the time he was chained up for a runaway slave down there on Tom’s uncle Silas’s farm in Arkansaw. The frost was working out of the ground, and out of the air, too, and it was getting closer and closer onto barefoot time every day; and next it would be marble time, and next mumbletypeg, and next tops and hoops, and next kites, and then right away it would be summer and going in a-swimming. It just makes a boy homesick to look ahead like that and see how far off summer is. Yes, and it sets him to sighing and saddening around, and there’s something the matter with him, he don’t know what. But anyway, he gets out by himself and mopes and thinks; and mostly he hunts for a lonesome place high up on the hill in the edge of the woods, and sets there and looks away off on the big Mississippi down there a-reaching miles and miles around the points where the timber looks smoky and dim it’s so far off and still, and everything’s so solemn it seems like everybody you’ve loved is dead and gone, and you ‘most wish you was dead and gone too, and done with it all.”
#104 Master Tales of Mystery, Volume 3
collected and arranged by Francis J. Reynolds
original publication: 1915
ARTHUR B. REEVE
THE POISONED PEN
THE INVISIBLE RAT
THE SILENT BULLET
THE DEADLY TUBS
THE BLACK HAND
THE STEEL DOOR
PAUL L. FORD
GREAT K. & A. TRAIN ROBBERY
THE RISEN DEAD
BURTON E. STEVENSON
THE CASE OF MRS. MAGNUS
THE EPISODE or THE BLACK CASQUETTE
MARJORIE L.C. PICKTHALL
#133: Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus
by Ludwig Wittgenstein
original publication: 1922
By BERTRAND RUSSELL
Mr Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, whether or not it prove to give the ultimate truth on the matters with which it deals, certainly deserves, by its breadth and scope and profundity, to be considered an important event in the philosophical world. Starting from the principles of Symbolism and the relations which are necessary between words and things in any language, it applies the result of this inquiry to various departments of traditional philosophy, showing in each case how traditional philosophy and traditional solutions arise out of ignorance of the principles of Symbolism and out of misuse of language”
#218: The Miser
Original publication: 1668
“Val. What, dear Élise! you grow sad after having given me such dear tokens of your love; and I see you sigh in the midst of my joy! Can you regret having made me happy? and do you repent of the engagement which my love has forced from you?
Eli. No, Valère, I do not regret what I do for you; I feel carried on by too delightful a power, and I do not even wish that things should be otherwise than they are. Yet, to tell you the truth, I am very anxious about the consequences; and I greatly fear that I love you more than I should.”
#351: Edgar Huntly or, Memoirs of a Sleep-Walker
by Charles Brockden Brown
Original publication: 1799
“I sit down, my friend, to comply with thy request. At length does the impetuosity of my fears, the transports of my wonder, permit me to recollect my promise and perform it. At length am I somewhat delivered from suspense and from tremors. At length the drama is brought to an imperfect close, and the series of events that absorbed my faculties, that hurried away my attention, has terminated in repose.
Till now, to hold a steadfast pen was impossible; to disengage my senses from the scene that was passing or approaching; to forbear to grasp at futurity; to suffer so much thought to wander from the purpose which engrossed my fears and my hopes, could not be.”
#355: Mouser Cats’ Story
by Amy Prentice
Original publication: 1906
“On that day last week when it stormed so very hard, your Aunt Amy was feeling very lonely, because all of her men and women friends in the house were busy, and it was not reasonable to suppose any of her bird or animal acquaintances would be out. As she sat by the window, watching the little streams of water as they ran down the glass, she said to herself that this was one of the days when she could not hope to be entertained by story-telling.”
#365: Facing Death The Hero of the Vaughan Pit. A Tale of the Coal Mines
by G.A. Henty
Original publication: 1882
“A row of brick-built houses with slate roofs, at the edge of a large mining village in Staffordshire. The houses are dingy and colourless, and without relief of any kind. So are those in the next row, so in the street beyond, and throughout the whole village. There is a dreary monotony about the place; and if some giant could come and pick up all the rows of houses, and change their places one with another, it is a question whether the men, now away at work, would notice any difference whatever until they entered the houses standing in the place of those which they had left in the morning. There is a church, and a vicarage half hidden away in the trees in its pretty old-fashioned garden; there are two or three small red-bricked dissenting chapels, and the doctor’s house, with a bright brass knocker and plate on the door. There are no other buildings above the common average of mining villages; and it needs not the high chimneys, and engine-houses with winding gear, dotting the surrounding country, to notify the fact that Stokebridge is a mining village.”
#380: Are Women People? A Book of Rhymes for Suffrage Times
by Alice Duer Miller
Original publication: 1915
“Father, what is a Legislature?
A representative body elected by the people of the state.
Are women people?
No, my son, criminals, lunatics and women are not people.
Do legislators legislate for nothing?
Oh, no; they are paid a salary.
By the people.
Are women people?
Of course, my son, just as much as men are.”
#393: Memoirs of Marguerite de Valois – the Volume 1 [Court memoir series]
by Marguerite de Valois
Original publication: 1628
“I should commend your work much more were I myself less praised in it; but I am unwilling to do so, lest my praises should seem rather the effect of self-love than to be founded on reason and justice. I am fearful that, like Themistocles, I should appear to admire their eloquence the most who are most forward to praise me. It is the usual frailty of our sex to be fond of flattery. I blame this in other women, and should wish not to be chargeable with it myself. Yet I confess that I take a pride in being painted by the hand of so able a master, however flattering the likeness may be. If I ever were possessed of the graces you have assigned to me, trouble and vexation render them no longer visible, and have even effaced them from my own recollection. So that I view myself in your Memoirs, and say, with old Madame de Rendan, who, not having consulted her glass since her husband’s death, on seeing her own face in the mirror of another lady, exclaimed, “Who is this?” Whatever my friends tell me when they see me now, I am inclined to think proceeds from the partiality of their affection. I am sure that you yourself, when you consider more impartially what you have said, will be induced to believe, according to these lines of Du Bellay:
“C’est chercher Rome en Rome, Et rien de Rome en Rome ne trouver.”
(‘Tis to seek Rome, in Rome to go, And Rome herself at Rome not know.)”
#397: The Fair Maid of Perth Or, St. Valentine’s Day
by Sir Walter Scott
Original publication: 1828
“The ashes here of murder’d kings Beneath my footsteps sleep; And yonder lies the scene of death, Where Mary learn’d to weep.
Every quarter of Edinburgh has its own peculiar boast, so that the city together combines within its precincts, if you take the word of the inhabitants on the subject, as much of historical interest as of natural beauty. Our claims in behalf of the Canongate are not the slightest. The Castle may excel us in extent of prospect and sublimity of site; the Calton had always the superiority of its unrivalled panorama, and has of late added that of its towers, and triumphal arches, and the pillars of its Parthenon. The High Street, we acknowledge, had the distinguished honour of being defended by fortifications, of which we can show no vestiges. We will not descend to notice the claims of more upstart districts, called Old New Town and New New Town, not to mention the favourite Moray Place, which is the Newest New Town of all. We will not match ourselves except with our equals, and with our equals in age only, for in dignity we admit of one. We boast being the court end of the town, possessing the Palace and the sepulchral remains of monarchs, and that we have the power to excite, in a degree unknown to the less honoured quarters of the city, the dark and solemn recollections of ancient grandeur, which occupied the precincts of our venerable Abbey from the time of St. David till her deserted halls were once more made glad, and her long silent echoes awakened, by the visit of our present gracious sovereign.”
Wow! I love the results of this experiment in literary serendipity. It does feel to me like being in a used bookstore. I thought the opening from Alice Miller was great! I’m going to read that one. Marguerite de Valois has inspired a lot of fiction (Loves’ Labours Lost, and La Reine Margot, to name two)…if you are intrigued by royalty, or by people who walk their own path’s, you might want to try that volume.
* Mark Twain uses what is now called the “n word”. I haven’t reproduced it in this post, but it is in the original book.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.