Sure, I've got a room full of books at home, but none of those seemed appealing. Unfortunately my local library isn't within walking distance like where I used to live, so I decided to check out their e-book collection. It's not a huge collection, but it has enough to pique my interest. There was also a link to Open Library, which has a huge collection of scanned copies of books of all kinds. Anyone can join for free. I signed up immediately, only to find that I was already a member! Open Library falls under the umbrella of Archive.org, which I'd joined years ago. Seems I'm also a confirmed nerd!
My current wave of obsession began when I (re)read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Several years ago, I decided to read it every Christmas/New Year as a personal tradition. (I don't really celebrate Christmas, but I do have a few things I like to do every year.) This year I read the e-book edition from Project Gutenberg with illustrations by Arthur Rackham. It made me want to read more Dickens and other books relating to 19th century England.
I logged onto Open Library and started Dickens' first published book: Sketches by Boz. One thing I love about Open Library is that many older books and even first editions have been scanned in. I chose the oldest edition I could find, to make my reading experience more interesting. In a strange way, I feel like I'm a little closer in time to the original readers of the book -- even though I'm reading it on an iPad.
I haven't read much Dickens so far (only Great Expectations), and my interest in the area in general has been piqued, so my first reading list looks a little like this:
Victoriana✽ Finish Sketches by Boz
✽ The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens - his second book
✽ Dodger by Terry Pratchett - set in Dickens' London, and Pratchett is wonderful (a library find)
✽ The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency series - a series of 4 children's books detailing the adventures of Ada Lovelace and Mary Shelley as children (in reality they were born 30 years apart, but the books bring them together to solve a series of mysteries). It also has a fictionalised Dickens as a child in it. (another library find)
I didn't pay much attention to the audiobook side of my local library's selection, because initially I thought I wouldn't have much chance to listen to audiobooks, but last week I realised I can listen to them while I'm doing crafts. Silly me! That opened up a whole different set of options. I started with The Cottingley Secret, a fictionalised account of the two girls, Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths, whose photos of fairies in the 1910s took the world by storm.
It mentions more than once a book extant at the time: The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley. I decided to stop and read that book before continuing, to get a fuller experience. So my second list is:
Fairy Tales✽ The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley
✽ finish The Cottingley Secret
✽ The Magic Pudding by Norman Lindsay - an Australian classic (from Open Library)
✽ The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (from my shelves)
✽ Grimm Tales By Philip Pullman (a library find)
Illustrations by Jessie Willcox Smith.
And, because I couldn't help myself, a third list:
Extras, If I Have Time✽ Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
✽ Books 2 and 3 of the Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, the first book of which I reviewed here (I'll be borrowing these from the library, too)
✽ The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter (from my shelves)
✽ Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Anderson (I apparently own this book, according to LibraryThing, but I'll have to find it before I can read it!)
Also, I've re-discovered these resource websites, which may well prove to be handy:
★ Books Set In - choose a country, region or city to find books set in that location
★ Historical Novels - find historical novels set in your preferred time period. Some are also divided by location, genre and/or topic.
★ Which Book - use the sliders to choose variables such as Happy/Sad, Beautiful/Disgusting and Conventional/Unusual to decide what kind of book you want to read, and the Which Book tool generates a reading list based on your preferences.