January, 2014

Role Models

Posted on January 1, 2014 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Books, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: Comments Off

A New Year prompts many people to changes, big and small. If you don’t really know what to aspire to, why not look at famous people for inspiration with 10 gems from our catalog.

The story of a big personal change is told by W. Somerset Maugham in his novel The Moon and Sixpence. Follow stock broker Charles Strickland who leaves everything behind to become an artist in France and Tahiti, like the painter Gauguin on whose life the story is based.

Great changes for innumerable people are brought about by inventors. Did you know that, among other things, the telephone, microphone, electric motors and lights were invented by a single man? Frank Lewis Dyer and Thomas Commerford Martin wrote the autobiography of Edison, His Life and Inventions.

It is often hard to see famous people as mere mortals possessing virtues and flaws alike. Lytton Strachey made no such mistake and his biography of Queen Victoria reveals the normal woman behind the admired monarch.

Decidedly more tongue-in-cheek – what else to expect from John Kendrick Bangs – is The Autobiography of Methuselah, who purportedly lived to the age of 969 years and witnessed a large part of the Old Testament up to Noah’s flood.

Henry V, another monarch, brought a new era of relative peace to England – while waging war in France. William Shakespeare recounts the King’s life in his eponymous drama.

Shakespeare himself is maybe the world’s best (known) dramaticist. John A. Joyce wrote a fictional biography of the famous writer’s life, from the point of view of a life long friend in Shakspere: Personal Recollections.

Let’s stay in England for one more great person: Alfred the Great. How he fought to defend Christianity against the invasion of the Danish is beautifully told by G. K. Chesterton in his epic poem The Ballad of the White Horse.

A great leader on the other side of the ocean was Geronimo. Written towards the end of his 23 years as prisoner of war, Geronimo’s Story of His Life is an account of his entire life, his battles, victories, and the final defeat against the US government.

The life of Elizabeth Keckley went the other way. Born a slave, she was able to use the money she earned as a seamstress to buy her freedom. Behind the Scenes describes her life and gives an interesting glimpse into the work she did for the First Lady Mary Lincoln.

Andrew Carnegie was one of the wealthiest men in the US. A poor immigrant from Scotland, he became a well know steel industry leader before turning into a philanthropist in order to improve society. The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie, just finished before his death, gives more details.

Enjoy – and have A Happy New Year!

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