Letters of Early Explorers and other goodies

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Today I’m doing some more browsing through search engines, and this week the search term I’m using is “book information.” And again I’ve been finding some little things that are interesting. [Author’s Note: the one I think is the neatest is #4 below, so if you don’t want to read anything long, skip to that!]

1) For example, I was amused to see a search result that simply said “Internet Book List.” That couldn’t possibly mean what it sounds like — could it? Someone’s trying to make a list of all books??

Well, no, actually. Just all fiction in English.

Isn’t that great?? So far they’ve got 63,000 books from 19,000 authors. You can register on the site and list books, write reviews, and all sorts of other things. I love the ambition of the site. I think even they know they can’t possibly accomplish their originally stated task, but I love that someone wants to do it. This looks like a site with aspirations perhaps similar to Goodreads.com or LibraryThing.com in their beginnings.

New place for me to register and write reviews. Riiiight. ‘Cause I’ve got all this TIME. 🙂

2) Meanwhile, I also found a really interesting site called BookTrust. It’s a U.K. charity that promotes reading for all ages and to all cultures. They review and recommend books, and send books to people who can’t afford them. They give out prizes, and work in partnership with publishers.

BookTrust is also a co-founder of the Free Word Centre, whose mandate is described like this:

the charity Free Word, whose mission is innovation and collaboration, pushing boundaries to promote, protect and democratise the power of the written and spoken word for creative and free expression. It brings together organisations across literature, literacy and free expression to enhance their work and the profile of their sectors.

Isn’t it great to know such organizations exist?

3) Another interesting information site, which isn’t actually a book but is still really valuable, is The World Factbook from the C.I.A. Yes — the CIA. It provides an outline of basic information for most of the countries of the world, so if you’re looking for something like that, for reference purposes, this is where to start. But it’s just some basic info, from a very American point of view.

For example, looking at Canada, I roll my eyes that they list only two “Transnational Issues” for us. The first one is a very limited summary of border issues, touching on perhaps the most important one at the moment, that of the Northwest Passage. But the second “transnational issue” paints us as a haven for druggies and traffickers. *sigh*

So the phrase “grain of salt” does need to be floating in your mind a bit, at some of the interpretations. But for finding out basic geography, flags, type of government, economy, and so on, it’s a good starting place.

4) Another very cool site that makes me extremely excited is the Hakluyt Society. I’m cheating, because I found this one earlier this week, though I did do it via search engine, so it counts. This society, that’s been around since 1846, publishes the writings of early explorers.

I first discovered this book series at the University of Calgary library. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. The first book I checked out had personal accounts written by some of the people who had sailed with Ferdinand Magellan. I mean, this was serious history!

I read a few, but then moved quite a distance from the library and didn’t get back for a while, and then moved to Toronto. And discovered, to my horror, that the University of Toronto library didn’t have the series. So I’ve been checking off and on over the years to see if any of the books have ever been put online instead.

And! On Thursday I discovered that several of them have. I am over the moon!

For example:

a) Select Letters of Christopher Columbus

b) The World Encompassed by Sir Francis Drake

c) India in the Fifteenth Century: Being a Collection of Narratives of Voyages

And that’s just a small sample. I am so happy, I can’t describe it! If you’re interested in history, there may be stuff in here that will be really interesting or useful to you. After all, nothing like getting it from the people who were there, right?

And that’s my browsing for now. I hope you found something interesting here too. Happy reading this week!


    1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by kashicat, kvn1234. kvn1234 said: fascinating! RT @kashicat: Bookishgal: Letters of Early Explorers and other goodies: http://bit.ly/4yZ4R3 […]

    2. Ryan says:

      Thank you so much for that last link. It sounds like a wonderful site and I think I’m going to have some great reading ahead of me.

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