Several years ago I became aware of the Harvard Classics. For those who may be unfamiliar with these, they are a set of 51 volumes of some of the world's greatest or most important writing. They were first published in the early 1900's as a project inspired by the then-president of Harvard University, Dr. Charles Eliot.
So, after learning about this set, I decided I wanted to acquire it, with the intention of reading it one day. The Harvard Classics, at least up until a few years ago at least, was still in print, albeit usually in fine leather-bound editions that are not meant so much for reading as for decoration. I knew I definitely couldn't afford a set like that, nor could I afford a complete vintage set. Although they go for pretty much a song on eBay because of the hundreds of thousands of copies that have been printed over the last 100 years, these sets are still pretty pricey, going for upwards of $200-$300.
1) The cost of a complete set of Harvard Classics could easily be amortized over a number of months or even years, and my wallet would probably hardly even notice the expense; and
2) By buying the set in this way, I would end up with a funky and fun mismatched set that would look very cool on my own "five-foot shelf."
My complete collection, so far...
A close-up of my mismatched-on-purpose Harvard Classics
So today, on this first day of my 51st year on the planet (and no, that doesn't make me feel old AT ALL, why do you ask?), I am going to officially embark on the reading of the first of the 51 volumes of the Harvard Classics. Hopefully it will not take me the next 50 years, although it might.
The first volume contains Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography, the Journal of John Woolman, and William Penn's Fruits of Solitude. Very Colonial, it seems. The Franklin is of course one of those enduring works that has stood the test of time, and evidently the other two seemed important back in the early 1900's. I wonder if they will still be worth reading? I don't imagine this is going to be a terribly quick process, so I will from time to time post updates on how my Harvard Classics journey is going (or if I have given it up altogether). Wish me luck!