In Praise of Public Domain Literature

Posted on 1st of December 2022 | 382 words

I’ve been living in Berlin for under a year, which has made a small dent in my reading habits. Not necessarily anything terrible but something I haven’t been used to before. When I’m reading books here, those tend to be written in English or German, to a smaller extent, while I’m learning the language. But my native language, Finnish, is forgotten on that list. I have always read books regularly in English, but at the same time, I’ve also read those in Finnish. But now, when I’m living abroad, the availability of those books is quite limited. Especially because I mainly read in eBook format due to the practicality of those. I had loads of books when I was still living in Finland, but moving with the number of books I had was painful, to say the least. This was the biggest reason I started reading more and more eBooks. Unfortunately, it also happens that the eBook industry in Finland is not as “booming” as it is abroad, which means that most of the new books written in Finnish don’t make it to that format. So when it comes to new books, I’m pretty out of luck.

But I still want to read in Finnish, so how can I fix this? Sure with some tremendous luck, I might find a shop here in Berlin that sells Finnish books, but that is not a guarantee. Then I realized. I’ve been a big fan of Project Gutenberg , a volunteer effort to digitalize and archive many cultural works around the world focusing on works that have become public domain due to their age or other reasons. While I had been familiar with the project earlier, I had always mainly used it for English literature and works. It wasn’t until recently that I realized they also had a vast library of books in many other languages, including Finnish. Everything is published in plain text and when available in various eBook formats also.

So I wanted to make this small post of appreciation for this project and how they helped me in many ways to continue reading great works of literature in my own native language when those are not so readily available. If you’re willing, please support their project by donating or spreading the word.