Dear Friends…

Posted on July 1, 2015 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, Books, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: 9 Comments

July 30th marks the International Friendship Day. Enough reason – if you need one – to make new friends and remember the old ones. Get in the mood with 10 gems from our catalog.

Can father and son be friends once the son is an adult? Stephen Stratton thinks so and writes him a letter detailing his life-long love to a childhood friend. Read about The Passionate Friends in the novel by H. G. Wells.

Jack and Jill are also childhood friends, but a serious sledding accident keeps them bedridden and apart for months. Find out what their friends and family do to help them recover in the book by Louisa May Alcott.

Everybody needs friends, and Peter Kropotkin even argues that Mutual Aid and cooperation were an important factor driving (human) evolution, just like strife and competition.

A competition arises between the friends Palamon and Arcite when both fall in love with beautiful Emilia. Only one of them will get her hand in the end – find out who in our production of The Two Noble Kinsmen by William Shakespeare and John Fletcher.

Happy endings for everybody can be expected in Old Friends and New Fancies, where Sybil G. Brinton, in one of the earliest examples of fan fiction, brings together the characters from all six Austen novels for new romantic adventures.

D’Artagnan is also looking for adventures when he leaves his village to go to Paris. Soon, he finds himself in an intrigue involving the Queen of France, Cardinal Richelieu and the mysterious Lady de Winter… The famous novel The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas is also available in the original French and in Dutch.

Nello is an orphan who lives with his grandfather near Antwerp. One day they find a badly beaten dog and nurse him back to health. Find out where the deep friendship between Patrasche, A Dog of Flanders, and Nello goes in the famous book by Ouida.

While dogs are often considered man’s best friend, there are just as many cat persons out there who would dispute that. The Kitten’s Garden of Verses by Oliver Herford is a book of delightful poetry for kittens – and all who love them.

Some friendships are made to last. Oscar Wilde: The Story of an Unhappy Friendship is the first of four biographies written by Robert Sherard, who was a close friend of the famous author for more than 20 years.

Probably, only The Friendship of Christ lasts beyond the grave. Robert Hugh Benson, an Anglican priest who converted to Catholicism, preached extensively upon the topic in London and Rome in the years 1910 and 1911.


Ship Ahoy!

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

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!


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!


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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