Obvious State

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The Five-Foot Shelf

At the turn of the century, Harvard President, Dr. Charles Eliot proposed that the elements of a liberal education could be obtained by spending 15 minutes a day reading from a collection of books that would fit on a five-foot shelf. He was challenged to compile the collection, which resulted in a 51-volume anthology entitled The Harvard Classics  published by P.F Collier and Son (1909). It's still possible to purchase the anthologies, but Project Gutenberg assembled links to free digital versions of the texts. In addition, they've compiled links to the The Harvard Classics of Shelf Fiction. Something to fill your reader with perhaps? As evidenced by the above photo of our living room, Evan believes in the pleasing effects of combining several liberal pursuits at once. - Nichole


Jul 20, 2014 • Posted by Karen Graham

I had a set from Britanica that had all the classics. My son still has them.

Jul 20, 2014 • Posted by l o v e l y t h i n g s

Your shelves remind me of that quote…“have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”…I think that’s how it goes.

Jul 20, 2014 • Posted by gretchen

I have both of those collections. Great books to own and to read.

Jul 20, 2014 • Posted by Briel K.

I love those wooden birds! Cute. :)

Jul 20, 2014 • Posted by Susan

I enjoy both of those liberal pursuits ;)

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