Any course in “Websites 101” includes a certain education in the basics, the foundations—Google, Craigslist, Slate, that kind of thing. And if this space is my introductory course, then I sometimes think that I must be a real a failure of a teacher, because it’s these basics that I often forget to praise sufficiently. Case in point: Project Gutenberg. A staple of “Best Of” website lists and, indeed, a pretty amazing resource, this site is bookmark-worthy for pretty much anyone with a brain and half an ounce of curiosity when it comes to the written word.

Project Gutenberg, which began in 1971 as a research project at the University of Illinois, is now the oldest and largest collection of free electronic books. Its catalogue of titles numbers over 20,000 and even a cursory browse of the “eshelves” (my term, not theirs) makes it clear that these titles aren’t self-published missives from the Ted Kaczynskis of the world. Nope, Project Gutenberg offers a good dose of the classics online, everything from Alice in Wonderland to The Bible to Roget’s Thesaurus. What’s more, some of these titles are also available as ebooks that you can download as mp3 audio files and then listen to at you leisure, should the actual act of reading be too taxing or inconvenient for whatever reason.

I know it’s a little Pollyanna of me to say, but sites like this really just make me go, “Wow! The Internet is so cool sometimes!”

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