There are tons and tons of “Greatest Books” lists out there. The Google gave me these, right off the top:
Modern Library’s 100 Best Novels (Although they don’t supplied a criteria in any way)
Wikipedia’s Lists of 100 Best Books (They didn’t even try to stop at just one list).
There are many, many more of these best and greatest lists out there. I don’t know about you, but I often browse through the lists, wondering if I’m missing out on anything. A lot of these lists add a guilt factor, too. They imply that if you haven’t read all the books on the list, your education is somehow deficient.
A huge number of the books on the “Greatest” lists are more than a century old. They are the “classics” of literature — although at the time they were written, they were often hack stories sold for money to pay the rent — and I’m including Shakespeare in that list. Time has made them literature.
However, that doesn’t stop me from sometimes thinking I should broaden my outlook and catch up with some of the classics that “everyone else” seems to have read.
So I’ll pop over to Project Gutenberg to pick up copies of all the copyright-free books, thinking I’ll be thoroughly enriched for my efforts.
Then I load the book onto my reader (most often Kindle App, but these days, often Google Play Books, too). That’s where the enchantment often comes to a screeching halt. Project Gutenberg supplies Kindle and ePub files of their classic collections, but the formatting on these books is often rudimentary at best. I’ve opened up ePub copies of classics, only to find words that should be in italics still represented by the hacker’s standard _underlining_ notation.
But I’m a fussy bugger. If you are, too, and have a fancy to read the classics in properly formatted editions, then hop over to Standard Ebooks. They have a gradually building library of classic works of fiction and non-fiction, properly formatted for ePub (just about every reader except Kindle) and Kindle files. The collection is quite small right now, but it’s a brand new project.
But there is a good copy of Pride and Prejudice there — download a copy and compare it with your current ebook version — see what you think.
If you have an interest in preserving the classics, you can contribute your time and efforts, too.