Reading, writing and learning

Looking to broaden your horizons? Here are a few suggestions for ways to read, study or enjoy culture for free. Suggestions for new links welcome!

750 Words
A site that helps you write morning pages – a writing exercise designed to get ideas and creativity flowing throughout your day. More here…
Access to Archives
Brought to you by The National Archives, this database contains catalogues describing archives held locally in England and Wales and dating from the eighth century to the present day. More here…
BBC Books: Free your imagination
Celebrating books, in all their forms, by inviting you to free your imagination through exploration, enjoyment and discussion. More here…
Bookstart
A programme that supports parents who want to enjoy books with their children from as early an age as possible. More here…
Daily Lit
This free service sends instalments of books and stories to your email address (or by RSS if you prefer) at a length and frequency determined by you. It’s a great way to catch up on titles you’ve been meaning to read for a while, or to try something new risk-free. More here…
Cambridgeshire Libraries Online Book Club
An online book club where everyone is welcome. Find out more on its blog, inlcuding how to get a copy of the current book from your local library, more on authors and a list of previous and forthcoming titles. More here…
Find a Read
A free, online, searchable database run by The Reading Agency to help find your next read, in particular for adults who are less confident readers. Choose from mainstream titles and titles specially written for emergent readers (those who can read, but have yet to build reading stamina and experience). More here…
Heritage Open Days
A great scheme that sees historic buildings that are generally not open to the public, or usually have paid access, throwing open their doors for free on one weekend a year. Hertfordshire generally has a very good showing. The 2010 event will be held on September 6-September 9. More here…
National Novel Writing Month
Every November, thousands of people around the world join together in a crazy attempt to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. Crazier still – lots of them succeed. More here…
Open Culture
Billed as “the best free cultural and educational media on the web,” this site offers free and legal access to courses, audiobooks, movies and more – all from creators who are happy to share their work. More here…
OpenLearn
This project from the Open University makes loads of short, free study units available on a wide variety of topics. If you want to learn something new, brush up your skills or explore an interest, it’s ideal. More here…
Open Library
A project to create a web page for every book ever published – a huge job, but it has already gathered more than 20 million records ranging from large catalogues to single contributions. Your contribution will also be very welcome. More here…
PastScape
Discover England’s archaeological and architectural heritage with this website from English Heritage, which opens up access to the National Monuments record. It lets you search nearly 400,000 records to find information on archaeological, architectural and maritime sites. More here…
People’s Network
A great reference and information website that helps you get answers to questions in real time from trained people, search archives and museum collections, find a library, chat about books or find a reading group. More here…
Whichbook
A website that lets you generate suggestions for books to read based on factors like where it’s set, how happy or sad its story is, whether you prefer fantasy or realism, and a host of other things. More here…
Wikipedia Reference Desk
Just like a library reference des, the Wikipedia Reference Desk helps you find the information you need. Search to find out if your question has been answered already – if not, users leave questions on the reference desk and Wikipedia volunteers work to help find the relevant information. More here…
YouWriteOn
A site that allows writers to post their work for review by others, as well as offering the chance for them to comment on others’ work. The most highly-rated win the chance of being read by top publishers. More here…