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Ship Ahoy!

Posted on June 1, 2015 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, Books, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: 0

June 8th is celebrated as World Ocean’s Day and June 25th as the Day of the Seafarer. Let’s leave our safe harbours behind and enjoy the sea with 10 gems from our catalog.

10 years ago, Ellida Wangel promised a sailor to marry him, but he disappeared. Now he returns surprisingly and further upsets her already strained marriage. Will Ellida leave her husband and become The Lady From the Sea? Read our production of Henrik Ibsen’s play.

Seafaring is a men’s occupation, but captain Saint Leger takes his whole family on The Cruise of the Esmeralda to search the treasure an ancestor has buried in the Eastern Seas. In the book by Harry Collingwood, they together face storms, pirates, and mutiny.

William Bligh is no stranger to the last either: He was the captain of the Bounty on her Voyage to the South Sea when the probably most famous of all mutinies happened. Nevertheless, he still made it – in a lifeboat – from Tofoa to Timor after the incident.

Jack does not think of that when he joins the Royal Navy as Mr. Midshipman Easy. Coming from a privileged family, he has to deal with bad weather, bullies on his own ship, and murderers on others. One cannot help wonder whether this book by Frederick Marryat is autobiographical…

Certainly so is The Loss of the S.S. Titanic written by Lawrence Beesley. He was one of the only 710 survivors of the disaster that struck the ‘unsinkable’ ship on her maiden voyage from Southampton to America on April 15th 1912.

Drifting in The Boats of the ‘Glen Carrig’, all that the shipwrecked crew want is to get home. On their way there, however, they will encounter strange creatures and lands in the horror story by William Hope Hodgson.

Or maybe that’s just sailor’s yarn? Just like the famous ‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner’, only one of our 17 Sea Poems: An Idiosyncratic Selection by the reader, chosen from various sources and authors.

Almost equally poetic is Robert C. Leslie’s A Waterbiography. The author, who had fallen in love with the sea as a child, was one of the first private people to own a sailboat and go on single-handed-cruising tours.

Much less romantic is the work on The Trawler. The life of a Gloucester fisherman is a hard one, as Simon Kippen will find out when he takes the place of his dead friend. The Story by James Brendan Connolly realistically describes the hardships of men sailing the Atlantic Ocean.

Not wet enough yet? Well, then start with The Mystery of the Ocean Star, the opening story to a collection of 23 short ‘maritime sketches’. These are only a few of the many stories and books involving the ocean written by William Clark Russell.

Enjoy – and set sail!

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Work Force

Posted on May 1, 2015 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, Books, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: Comments Off

It’s May 1st, International Worker’s Day! We will celebrate this not with marches, but – of course – with 10 work-related gems from our catalog.

The first line of the May marches would find US labour organiser Mary Harris Jones. She was a founding member of Int. Workers of the World, only one of her contributions to the worker’s cause detailed in The Autobiography of Mother Jones.

For a long time, the sole work women were deemed fit for was the one in the household. Nan is having none of that, she wants to become A Country Doctor. Read about a woman’s plight in the late 19th century in the novel by Sarah Orne Jewett.

A rather interesting field of work for women emerged together with the film industry. Pearl White was an American film actress who started acting already at age 6. She writes about her life, her work, and the rise to stardom in Just Me.

Two artists are the topic of a short story by Henry James. A French poet and a German composer decide to write an opera together. As this Collaboration takes place right after the Franco-Prussian War, this will not be without difficulties.

This description also holds true for the work on Calumet “K”, an enormous grain elevator. A young engineer is called upon to solve problems with union representatives and supplies – will he be able to turn the tides in the book by Samuel Merwin and Henry K. Webster?

College graduate Jimmy Torrance cannot find work. With his friend’s help he is finally able to become The Efficieny Expert of a factory. However, in the novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs, he has to fight hard for job security…

Strictly speaking, Bartleby, the Scrivener of a law firm, is not putting up a fight. One day, he simply prefers not to do a certain job. Herman Melville describes the downfall of a man who nowadays would likely be diagnosed with clinical depression.

Work, as it is seen and defined, has always had an impact on society – and vice versa. In Hamilton Wright Mabie’s Essays on Work and Culture he writes about topics like Training, Work as Self-Expression, but also Relaxation and Recreation.

No such thing for the King of Navarre! He and three of his men will spend the next three years studying, and vow not to see any women in this time. Were this so easy, Shakespeare would not have made this into a comedy… Listen to our production of Love’s Labour’s Lost.

Surely you can work and have fun at the same time. Wallace Stevens worked as a lawyer all his life. On the way to and from the office he composed poetry, for which he received the Pulitzer Prize in 1955. Read the first volume of his Collected Public Domain Poems.

Enjoy – and may your work always be a labour of love!

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Space Odyssey

Posted on April 1, 2015 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, Books, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: 2 Comments

April 12 is dedicated in memory of the first manned space flight in 1961 as the International Day of Human Space Flight. Let’s celebrate this scientific milestone with 10 gems from our catalog.

Long before humans tried to fly to the stars, astronomy was busy classifying all the Curiosities of the Sky. In the book by Garrett P. Serviss we hear about them all: stars and their constellations, nebulae, meteors, aurorae…

The universe has served as inspiration for mankind since ancient times. Clark Ashton Smith has written The Star Treader and Other Poems, a number of beautiful poems about the nightly skies: The Summer Moon, Lament of the Stars, Song of a Comet…

36 people of different nations get a closeup view of the latter, when they are taken Off on a Comet that hits the Earth and takes a chunk with it. For two years they are travelling through space in one of the earliest sci-fi stories, written by Jules Verne.

In that story, a scientist plays an important role in helping to solve the mysteries of the solar system, just like in the real world. Read Robert Stawell Ball’s biographies of Great Astronomers from Ptolemy to Galileo, from Copernicus and Kepler to Newton and Halley…

Not quite so famous is Gulliver of Mars. During his vacation, US Navy Lt. Jones is transported to the red planet and promptly falls in love with a Martian princess. Check out the book by Sir Edwin Arnold, which served as inspiration for the Barsoom series.

A group of student astronauts from Minnesota is not waiting for luck, and are ready to do anything to leave Earth. When they finally succeed, they are not prepared for what’s in store for them though… Find out more in The Planet Strappers by Raymond Z. Gallun.

From space travel to space colonisation it is just a small step, but, as has been found out in Murray Leinster’s story, the human race needs special conditions: a replica of those on Earth. When the first people land, they soon notice that something has gone wrong on terraformed Planet of Dread

In any case we have to solve the problem of the enormous amount of time it takes to cross space. Enter philosopher John McTaggart who argues for The Unreality of Time by saying that our descriptions of time are either contradictory, circular, or insufficient.

It is likely that robots will play a large role on our long space travels. The more human, the better they can serve us – but when do they deserve human rights? This question is explored in Karel ńĆapek’s famous play R.U.R. – Rossum’s Universal Robots.

More advanced machines can cause more problems. Robot Snookums is a rather Unwise Child when he learns how to build bombs. Thus, he is being shipped off to a distant planet, but scary things occur on the trip… Is Snookums really to blame in the story by Randall Garrett?

Enjoy – and look at the stars tonight!

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Good Times

Posted on March 1, 2015 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, Books, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: Comments Off

March 20th is the UN-proclaimed International Day of Happiness in recognition of the relevance of happiness and well-being as universal goals and aspirations in the lives of humans around the world. Let’s get in the mood with 10 gems from our catalog.

Not sure how to do this? Self-help guru James Allen gives profound advice for beginners – or, at least, on how to lay the Foundation Stones to Happiness and Success. From there, it’s up to yourself.

The choice is up to Harriett: She has fallen in love with the man engaged to her best friend. Will she seize what people think is the one chance to happiness for a women of her time? Read all about the Life and Death of Harriett Frean in May Sinclair’s novel.

In The Blue Bird For Children, adapted by Georgette Leblanc from Maurice Maeterlinck’s play, Tyltil and Myltil must find the Blue Bird of Happiness to cure Fairy’s granddaugher. Will they succeed with the help of inanimate things?

The search for happiness is the one thing the nine short stories by Henry van Dyke, which are collected in The Blue Flower, have in common. It’s nice to see how people, no matter when and where, are essentially the same…

Happiness is also the ultimate goal in the fourth, final epistle of An Essay On Man. In this philosophical poem, Alexander Pope tries to find man’s place in the endless chain of being.

If everyone ultimately strives for happiness, then why are we not already living in A Modern Utopia? This proposal for social reform that would in the end lead to a happy life for everyone comes from an unexpected source – H. G. Wells.

Pollyanna’s approach to reform herself and all around her is simple: It’s called glad game; finding something to be glad about in every situation. Learn how infectious this can be in our dramatic reading of Eleanor H. Porter’s novel.

Whether Michael O’Halloran ever met Pollyanna we cannot tell, but the newsboy certainly knows how to play her little game. The optimistic orphan spreads his sunny nature far and wide in the book by Gene Stratton Porter.

Surely equally likable is our next protagonist; after all, what can you expect from somebody called Happy Jack? Follow the squirrel of the Green Forest and his friends through their adventures in another of Thornton W. Burgess‘ nature books.

Final happiness overload? Arthur Schopenhauer obviously had it too. Follow the 19th century German philosopher’s Studies in Pessimism and make your own choice of whether the glass is half full or half empty.

Enjoy – and be well and happy!

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