If you like your literature bite-sized, Daily Lit could be the answer. It will send you a five-minute passage of a selection of public domain books by e-mail or rss every day (or on request). War and Peace, for example, comes in 675 parts, so you could finished it up in a couple of years, reading five minutes a day. So if you are long-lived and read your e-mails regularly you could make your way through as many as two or three dozen books of that length in your lifetime. Then again, you could knock off the Daode jing in just a couple of weeks.
The Daode jing (Tao Te Ching) is an interesting case. Daily Lit’s web page for that book shows an image of the cover of the Stephen Mitchell edition. If you click on the book it takes you to the book’s Amazon page. But the Mitchell rendering is not public domain. The sample text Daily Lit shows begins like this:
Ch. 1. 1. The Tao that can be trodden is not the enduring and unchanging Tao. The name that can be named is not the enduring and unchanging name.
2. (Conceived of as) having no name, it is the Originator of heaven and earth; (conceived of as) having a name, it is the Mother of all …
That doesn’t sound much like Stephen Mitchell to me. The Mitchell version starts this way:
The tao that can be told
is not the eternal tao
The name that can be named
is not the eternal name
The unnameable is the eternally real
Naming is the origin
of all particular things.
For comparison, here the version I published, by Red Pine:
The way that becomes a way
is not the Immortal Way
the name that becomes a name
in not the Immortal Name
the maiden of Heaven and Earth has no name
the mother of all things has a name
Why does Daily Lit link to a copyrighted version of the book from which they are offering public domain snippets? I suppose they monetize their site through the Amazon Associates program, figuring after a few months of e-mailed bits of a book you might be hooked enough to actually buy the book. Why you would do so by clicking through from Daily Lit isn’t clear to me, but I imagine the link is included in the feeds and e-mails. Is that a viable business model?