The Proud Reader™is a free audiobook web series hosted by John Ecks. Enjoy recordings from Western Literature, poetry, fables, short stories, historical texts, speeches, articles, monologues and more. Recordings are available on various video platforms, such as YouTube, BitChute, Rumble, and Odysee. Currently, 4k video is only available through YouTube and Rumble.

In addition is website, where you can download the text of most of these works for free, and learn more about the authors who wrote them.

We’re not literature gurus, professors or experts of any kind. We just love to read and the texts we choose to share with you are chosen for various reasons. We try to read works on a variety of topics and from different viewpoints.

If you enjoy The Proud Reader™, find it interesting, entertaining, educational, humorous, or you just like listening to someone read, please support us by subscribing or making a donation. Subscribing via Patreon or SubscribeStar provide you with additional benefits and access to our Discord server (above the entry level tier).

Keygen™ (Keygen Ltd LLC) is a new entertainment company based in Savannah, GA, USA. We focus on projects for web delivery—including audio/visual works, post-production, design, and music—with more things coming down the pike as time goes on.

We primarily focus on producing our own projects, such as The Proud Reader™, but will occasionally take on client projects that interest us. If you’re interested in our services, visit our website at or message us on our contact page.

We hope you enjoy The Proud Reader™ and look forward to producing new and interesting content for you regularly.

~ your friendly, neighborhood creative misfits at Keygen™

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John Ecks

Writer. Musician. Madman.

John Ecks is a writer, artist and musician. He is the narrator and host of The Proud Reader™.

“Hello. I'm your average, somewhat-demented creative lunatic and narrator of The Proud Reader™.

“I love reading in general and enjoy many of the texts posted here. I also believe that more people need to be exposed to literature in positive ways instead of seeing reading as just an uncool school annoyance. Knowledge is power. Embracing the wealth of knowledge that exists in the form of text is not a weakness. Anyone who tells you to reject reading and books is either an idiot or doesn’t have your best interests in mind.

“The only thing I can promise is that I will work hard to make these recordings as good as I can with the means at my disposal, try to capture the essence of each text, present it in a modern, unique or interesting way, and I’ll try hard not to blow smoke up your ass... unless I’m joking, in which case, all bets are off.

“You can follow me at my website, or at Gab, Minds, BitChute, YouTube, Rumble and Odysee.

“Thanks for visiting.”

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Using This Site

Our site is currently in beta. We’ve done our best to cobble the code together to make it functional and it will be improved over time, but there may be some bugs, such as small display issues in certain browsers. To those who’ve helped us along the way, your work is greatly appreciated. To those who’ve impeded us... we’ll get to you later.

There is currently a font bug in Windows browsers where characters are shifted slightly up and down at random. This is a problem with the font and we are waiting for the foundry that created it to fix it.

This site requires javascript to function properly.

This site uses CSS variables. Old browsers will not render colors or load images properly.

Some older versions of Safari will not display flexbox correctly, which we use for author page headers, the homepage, and listing things in grids.

Our site does not support Internet Explorer. It has reached its End Of Life, and good riddance to that bucket of bolts. We’ve included minor fallbacks for fonts and some CSS, but if you decide to browse our site with it, it probably won’t look right or function correctly. Please seek help if you use that browser.

This site is made for modern browsers. It’s geared toward desktops (first), laptops, and tablets, since most of the content is for reading. We’ve done our best to make things legible for mobile devices, but if you decide to read pages and pages of text on a phone... old image of a man's head with 'why?' printed on his forehead besides needing your eyes examined, you may want to have your head checked out as well. If you only have a phone, do yourself a favor and print out one of the PDFs (even if you have to do it at your cranky mother-in-law’s house or the local library) and read from there. Your retinas will thank you.

For the best experience, download a modern browser made by semi-competent humans, such as Brave, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or anything that fully supports HTML5 and CSS3. Reptilians will not invade your chakras because you use modern tools. At least, as far as we know...

If you do find any problems with the site, please let us know and we’ll fix them as soon as possible.

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To help support The Proud Reader™, we will be running banner ads on content pages of this site.

We will not host ads with sounds, popups, pop-unders, and anything that we see as annoying, jarring, or inappropriate. You should only be served normal banner ads in between content sections which are clearly marked, “Advertisement.” If you notice any other type of ad—such as popups, page redirects, pop-unders, etc., please contact us and let us know.

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Are You Easily Offended?

The works posted on this website are primarily in the public domain and were written by people who are long since dead. As such, they’re old—sometimes ancient—and perhaps they make dirt seem fresh. They were written in different times, in different cultures. Some of these writers had terrible viewpoints. Others may have used language that no longer seems “proper.” Just because we read their works, DOES NOT mean we support their personal views or outmoded ideas. Their work may be posted here due to popular demand or because of historical significance.

The language used in some of these texts may be considered offensive, even if the context isn’t derogatory. Some works may contain profanity, and if they do, we will not omit the profanity from the text itself, but will produce an explicit and non-explicit recording if deemed necessary. Some content may even be innocuous, but the author was a detestable person. Instead of burning books, banning words or certain works of literature in an effort to erase history, we are of the firm belief that you can separate the art from the artist, or simply discuss their bad ideas to learn how not to be.

Texts are chosen for a variety of reasons, such as the style of writing, the plot, the creativity or taboo nature based on the time period, the humor, the cultural or historical significance, etc.. Reasons vary, and we purposefully make recordings from texts that contain differing viewpoints, be they social, political or religious.

In certain cases, we include disclaimers. This is primarily for when we post something by an author that we find to have objectively detestable ideas, even if they’re not being expressed in the text itself.

In a nutshell: We do our best to remain neutral. If you’re easily offended, hit the road.

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The Site Content

How text is formatted

The formatting of textual excerpts on the homepage is slightly different at times. You may have noticed some excerpts contain red forward slashes “/ //” in between phrases. Single red forward slashes (/) denote line breaks and double red forward slashes (//) denote paragraph breaks. Typically this is used for poems or else they would end up looking like run-on sentences.

Most audiobooks we release will also be uploaded to the website as text: HTML text, a PDF for reading, a PDF for printing, and a raw text file—unless we have obtained the rights to record something that is copyrighted and are not permitted to post the text. Unless otherwise specified, the text for the works in these documents is in the public domain and may be downloaded, printed and reused freely. Pages in the PDF documents containing public domain text have, “the text on this page is in the public domain,” printed in the page footer. See the Legal page for the specifics of what you can and can’t do with these files and their content. The Proud Reader™ and Keygen™ (Keygen Ltd LLC) provide no warranty as to the accuracy or validity to the content of these textual works. They are provided “as-is” and are for entertainment purposes.

Downloads can be accessed below the main text on their respective pages of this web site.

The formatting in some documents will vary from the website or the plain text based on the type of document it is and the quality of the sources we could access. We try our best to verify the content for accuracy based on the earliest version we can find prints or book scans of.

You may notice that some punctuation differs from the original text or a specific printing, and possibly even the words themselves. The reason for this is that it’s often hard to find consistency between printings. At times we may have only located a single digital copy (or just the raw text) and have no access to an original scan or print for comparison. Others are terribly formatted, riddled with errors and we just do our best to clean them up. Others may be reformatted for legibility. We do provide links to the original text, so if you’re a purist, you can download those files and read it from there, or drop the text in your own doc and style to your heart’s content.

If you find any discrepancies in the texts and wish to point it out, that’s great. Just don’t do it like a lunatic. We’d be happy to make corrections if it seems necessary, but may not have the time or the means to fix audio recordings. If you send us crazy, ranting messages about how some poem had a comma with an extra space before it, we’re simply going to ignore you, or block you, and go about our day. We don’t have time for nonsense. Be polite and we’ll do our best to accommodate you.

Free Downloads in detail

All of the texts we upload are free... well, most of them, and their copyright status is easily viewable on their respective pages on this website. They’re all in English (foreign works are translated into English) and they’re formatted as standard US 8.5" x 11" pages. There’s no special reason for the size, other than it’s the standard size our printer uses. Perhaps in the future we’ll make A4 or other sizes available, but for now, this is how it is.

Free Reading PDF Downloads are dark versions we use to read from when recording audiobooks. They have dark gray backgrounds, light gray text, emphasized words, poems and quotes, and differently-formatted sections may be emphasized with color. The emphasis may or may not be in the original printing (as bold, italic or caps). We prevent sentences and stanzas from breaking pages for continuity when reading them—in that case you will see the paragraph text justified to the left column instead of being indented on the first line. You may occasionally see something odd in parentheses that was merely a cue for us to say something a certain way or to avoid messing it up. We’re providing them for download since we have them on hand and sharing is a good thing.

Pages in the Reading PDF documents containing public domain text have, “the text on this page is in the public domain,” printed in the page footer. The documents themselves are released under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Free Printing PDF Downloads are monochrome versions formatted specifically for you to print them. They have white backgrounds and black text, but the fonts and graphics are the same as the reading documents. The major difference is that these files don’t contain altered formatting for our reading needs. Sentences and stanzas may break across pages, and we don’t add any extra emphasis. We’ve taken the raw text, added our project fonts, converted the nasty quotes into typographer’s quotes, and added the project info. There may be cases when we change punctuation, but you can always access an original version by using one of the external archive links.

Pages in the Printing PDF documents containing public domain text have, “the text on this page is in the public domain,” printed in the page footer. You have our permission to copy this text and do with it as you wish. The documents themselves are released under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Logos, trademarks, and other copyrighted designs, etc. on other pages are copyrighted, ©Keygen Ltd LLC.

Free Plain Text File Downloads are, as one would imagine, plain text in the .txt format. They have some info about the author, when the work was published and/or written, the content itself and a link to this website and our parent company, as well as links to our social media accounts. That’s it. You may download them and do with the text as you please. We are releasing these files under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International license (CC BY-SA 4.0). If you choose to modify these files, you may keep the links for The Proud Reader™ and Keygen Ltd LLC in the document as the original source if you like, provided you do not misrepresent The Proud Reader™ or Keygen Ltd LLC in any way or imply that we endorse you. If you remove the links, please leave an attribution in the file as per the license.

If you don’t like the formatting of these documents, that’s great! Since We’re giving away the raw text for free, you can simply copy and paste it into your software of choice and do with it as you wish. Get it printed in blood, on goat skin paper, and bind it in thousand-year-old human skin for all we care. Knock yourself out, kiddo.


You may post comments on works pages of this website below the copy if you so choose. Please try and be respectful of other users, even if you disagree with them. We aren’t going to play warden, but will not tolerate flame wars and general insanity. We will edit or delete comments at our discretion and will ban IPs if deemed necessary. All decisions are final.

Currently, we are manually approving all new comments and also have a blacklist setup, so if your comment doesn’t appear immediately, this is why. The site is not broken. Once we approve your first comment, you should be able to post again with the same email without needing approval. If we find our blacklist to be too restrictive to real commenters, we will remove some of the more common words and phrases. We feel this approach will provide everyone with the best user experience until we have a more robust SPAM filtering system in place.

BE ADVISED: By posting in the comments section of the pages on, you are granting Keygen Ltd LLC non-exclusive rights to what you post and to use what you post in any way we see fit—be it in advertising, videos, audio recordings, on social media, or whatever we decide we wish to do with it, both commercially and non-commercially—without any form of compensation provided to you—in perpetuity. Do not post anything in the comment section that you do not want made public, or that you do not own the rights to and do not post yours or anyone else’s personal information.

By clicking the "SEND COMMENT" button, or using any form of software or scripting to do the same—be it with bots or otherwise—you are agreeing to the above terms. If you do not like these terms, do not comment on this website.

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Nerd Info

This website was cobbled together Frankenstein-style using various scripting and markup languages such as PHP, HTML5, CSS3, Javascript, JSON-LD, and various add-ons and crap that makes everything work.

The site and its contents were developed using a variety of commercial and free/opensource/GPL software on macOS, such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects and Indesign, Handbrake, ImageOptim, MAMP, Git/Github, Firefox (dev tools), TextMate2, Fontello, Fontsquirrel, Glyphs, Suitcase Fusion, Kdiff3, Digital Performer, Waves, FabFilter, Audacity, iZotope RX, and Transmit.

The Proud Reader