Monday, July 2, 2012

Five Foot Shelf Classics Highlighted in 2009 Memoir about Reading through Pain

As I was scanning some old emails, cleaning out my inbox, I found a link to a New York Times book review someone had sent me when we first started re-publishing the impressive 51-volume Five-Foot Shelf of Classics. The review--for Christopher Beha's The Whole Five Feet: What the Great Books Taught Me about Life, Death, and Pretty Much Everything Else--discusses not only the premise of the book, but also the history of the Five-Foot Shelf.

Christopher was a young, struggling writer, barely employed and in mountains of debt, when he decided to quit his job, move into his parent's Manhattan apartment, and dedicate a year to reading copies of the Harvard Five-Foot Shelf of Classics that were moldering in the attic. What follows is a year fraught with illness, death, depression, and learning. Beha read the books through a favorite aunt's bought with leukemia and subsequent passing, his own battle with Lyme disease, and a torn meniscus. Beha shows how the books helped him through a difficult time in his life, providing candid and thought-provoking reviews of the some of the world's most well-known books.

The Five-Foot Shelf is a collection of books compiled by Harvard president Charles Eliot as a way for people who couldn't attend Harvard to get a literary education with some of the best and most well-known classics around the world. The collection includes titles such as The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, The Complete Poems of John Milton, Ben-Hur, The Origin of Species, Don Quixote, The Odyssey, and Beowulf. Now anyone can own the set for themselves, to further their education, enrich their mind, and make their own assessment, like Beha. Cosimo offers this unique 51-volume series in paperback and hardcover at attractive pricing, if you don't already own the set or would like a newer version than the one in your parent's basement. You can also order books in the set individually if you simply need to complete your series.

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