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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Read! For Free!

I am one of those people who hates grocery shopping and waiting in line. I've found a great way to get things done while you are physically idle: Read. Without a book.

Two of my favorite sites are: and

The first site is a place where you can download audio books for free. These are all books that are in the public domain and have no copyright. That means if you are looking for the latest Tom Clancy, you won't find it. You will, however, find tons of classics and some really neat esoteric stuff. Two of my favorites are "Secret Chambers and Hiding Places" and "The Haunted Bookshop".

Secret Chambers and Hiding Places

by Allan Fea (1860-1956)

“Secret Chambers and Hiding Places” is a collection of concealments and their uses, almost all within England, although a very few passages and chambers in continental Europe are mentioned, Jacobite hidey holes in Scotland, while the final chapter of the book covers Bonnie Prince Charlie’s wanderings around Scotland, among caves and other hiding places. Most chapters are devoted to historical events; such as the the seventeenth century persecution of roman catholics (with many large houses having specially constructed “priests’ holes”), or various unpopular monarchs and their hiding places. The text is scattered with legends and true stories, with occasional skeletons found, still hiding, long centuries after the searchers have left. The author describes hidden doors, passages, rooms and pits with enormous enthusiasm … and with considerable regret when he has to describe secret places lost to demolition or modernisation. You’ll wish you could wander the country, poking into the darkest recesses of every old house you find! (Summary by Peter Yearsley)

The Haunted Bookshop

by Christopher Morley (1890-1957)

Roger Mifflin is the somewhat eccentric proprietor of The Haunted Bookshop, a second-hand bookstore in Brooklyn that is “haunted by the ghosts of all great literature.” Beginning with the arrival of a young advertising man and the mysterious disappearance of a certain volume from the shelves of the bookshop, a lively and often humorous tale of intrigue unfolds, generously sprinkled with liberal doses of Roger’s unique philosophy on literature and book selling. (Summary by J. M. Smallheer)

Both books are relaxing and entertaining and fairly difficult to find in their print form. The site is volunteer based and most books are read by random people from all over the world. You can find books from all genres and languages and it is all free. is the website for the Boston Public Library. They have first-run books that you can download for 14 days at a time (also for free). All you need to do is sign up and use a Boston address as your home address. I chose 'my room at Harvard' as my home and I have rented at least a hundred audiobooks.

These sites are great for road trips, planes, or any stretch of time that you would like to fill with great literature (and some not-so-great). They are free and have saved me tons of time and money.

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