November 2011

A Great Source for Free Biographies

Project Gutenberg for Free eBooks

I read a lot, generally finishing a book every couple of days, except when I am really busy.  As a result, I am always on the lookout for free and cheap sources of books.

My ebook reader has become my best friend, partly because I've discovered how many classics and older books I can get for free (as well as the occasional free book for a publisher's promotion).  Project Gutenberg is one of my best resources for free ebooks, and as I've discovered, there are many older biographies available on the website.

Whose Biography Still Needs to be Written?

There are many biographies and autobiographies to choose from, but there are also a lot of interesting people, both historical and contemporary, who have been overlooked by the publishing industry.

One that I think of readily is Anne Bronte.  Most people who know much about literature know about the Bronte sisters, but how many people know that there were three of them, and that all three were writers?  Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre and Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights are the best known of the sisters' books, but their youngest sister, Anne, also wrote two books of her own: Agnes Grey, a short novel about a governess (based on Anne's own experiences), and her masterpiece, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, about a woman who defies Victorian society by taking custody of her young son and leaving her alcoholic, unfaithful husband.

It's Not All About Dead White Men

Founding Mothers by Cokie Roberts

When I read Founding Mothers, it was a life-changing book for me.  While it wasn't just about one woman, but many, it challenged many preconceptions that I think we as Americans have: that men alone shaped the formation of our country.  Founding Mothers is fascinating because it looks at how women, often the wives of our Founding Fathers, impacted the United States from the very beginning.

For instance, the book discussed in great detail Martha Washington's involvement during the war and afterward.  It was her money, essentially, that financed many of the great things George did in the name of American independence.  She was also a significant presence on the front during the Revolutionary War, and she and the other wives helped to keep spirits when things looked very, very bad.