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The World’s Favourites

Posted on July 1, 2021 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, Books, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: Comments Off on The World’s Favourites

There are stories that have been told and retold so often, they have become universal and known throughout the world. Let’s delve into the world’s collective memory with 10 gems from our catalogue.

Western civilisation is deeply rooted in the stories of ancient Greek and Rome. From Zeus to Venus, from Hercules to Ulysses, you probably know most of Thomas Bulfinch‘s Mythology: The Age of Fable by heart already.

The story of Jesus, as told for example in the Evangelium nach Matthäus, has been equally influential to our modern world. For the German translation, Martin Luther coined a number of new phrases that have found their way into common usage of the language.

When Alexander Afanasyev wrote down a selection of Russian Fairy Tales that before had only been transmitted orally, he didn’t expect to influence Russian culture so heavily. These stories are now known by Russian kids everywhere.

The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood have made everyone who takes from the rich and gives to the poor a namesake. However, this Victorian-age retelling for kids by Howard Pyle hasn’t much to do with the real medieval outlaw…

A similar feat was accomplished by Robert Louis Stevenson. His swashbuckling adventure Treasure Island – here as dramatic reading – has given us a rather romantic view on pirates that is quite far from the truth. We also have this book in a Spanish translation.

The Truth is out there – and aliens too, probably. H. G. Wells‘ idea of hostile aliens on a mission to kill or enslave all humans has a firm place in our consciousness ever since The War of the Worlds, which we also have as Spanish version.

Nobody has done more to explore human (un-) consciousness than Sigmund Freud. His thoughts Über Psychoanalyse influenced generations of psychiatrists and can now be considered general knowledge, even if poeple are still reluctant to discuss mental health. These lectures are also available in English.

Only one topic is more taboo: Sex. And yet, most people have heard of The Kama Sutra. Some may have even tried one or more of the 64 arts of love as written down in detail more than 1400 years ago by Mallanaga Vatsyayama.

Much tamer are Shakespeare’s Sonnets. In these 154 poems, playwright William Shakespeare, who changed theater forever, writes about love, beauty, mortality and other human feelings.

From feelings to logics and the best sleuth ever: Sherlock Holmes, created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The Hound of the Baskervilles is probably his best-known adventure, and the brilliant detective character has become a staple in crime novels all over the world. Our readers love this book too, and we have recordings in German, Spanish, and Polish.

Enjoy – and have fun exploring your own memories!

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Celebrating: Dads

Posted on June 1, 2021 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, Books, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: 3 Comments on Celebrating: Dads

In June, many countries celebrate Father’s Day and they indeed deserve a big “Thank you!” Let’s have a look at what the world owes to dads – and other father figures – with 10 gems from our catalogue

If I had a Father is the cry of sculptor Arthur Gervaise, unawares that his absentee dad aids him from nearby. At the same time, an old man searches for his daughter – was Arthur involved in her disappearance? Find out in the play by George MacDonald.

After 20 years in New Zealand, Harry Trojan puts in an appearance at his old home. There, he finds a grown son and the two have to form a new relationship. Throw in old prejudices and new ideas, and this homecoming may well be the Wooden Horse tearing the family apart in the novel by Hugh Walpole.

This is exactly what Voltaire and the French Enlightenment did to Europe. Ideas like freedom of speech and separation of church and state made Voltaire one of the fathers of modern Europe. Will Durant wrote this biography of the famous philosopher.

Pat Glendon, 22, is no philosopher. But, the Abysmal Brute is a natural fighter, so his father sends him to San Francisco to enter the ring. Since he can’t come along he hires Sam to keep his boy on the straight and narrow of the sports. Will this novella by Jack London have a happy end?

The book by Ernest Poole does, kind of. Read about Roger Gale, NY businessman, whose dying wife implored him to take care of His Family. However, he feels estranged from his 3 grown daughters, and the rapidly changing world of the 1910s only adds to the difficulties.

E = mc2. Doesn’t seem difficult, really. And yet, Albert Einstein’s Relativity: The Special and General Theory remains one of the most complex scientific theories of the world. The above 1916 book is by the master himself – all you need is a bit of perseverance!

Doing a little bit every day beats huge short-term efforts. This is where the little book Flowers from the Garden of St. Francis comes in. It lists 365 short moral admonitions by St. Francis of Assisi and other Franciscan fathers to inspire you every day of the year.

The achievements of great men are always inspirational, and often, they serve as father figures. In the Boy’s Book of Famous Soldiers, J. Walker McSpadden offers biographies of 12 military men. Among them are Washington, Lee, Napoleon, Pershing…

But no worries, you don’t have to be famous to be inspiring or important to somebody. Here are 12 stories centering around Nell and her Grandfather and their friends from a Charles Dickens novel that tell about the influence of a grandfather on his granddaughter.

And sometimes, it’s the other way around. When a young orphan girl is brought to her grandfather, nobody knew how much she would change his life – and him. The rest is literary history, written by Johanna Spyri in Heidis Lehr- und Wanderjahre. We also have this famous children’s book in English and French.

Enjoy – and do say “Thanks” to your dad or father figures!

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Celebrating: Moms

Posted on May 1, 2021 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, Books, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: Comments Off on Celebrating: Moms

In May, many countries celebrate Mother’s Day, and after the last 12+ months, an extra big “Thank you mom!” is in order. Let’s have a look at what the world owes to moms – and mother figures – with 10 gems from our catalogue.

In the old days, large families like in the novel by Kathleen Norris were not unusual. Margaret has no fewer than six siblings and she does sometimes wonder how her Mother can handle it all each and every day.

She might have taken hints from Betje Wolff, who was way ahead of her time. Already in the 18th century she advocated for an upbringing with a focus on the child’s developmental stages in her book Proeve over de opvoeding.

When it comes to raising kids, teachers are as important as parents. Clare and Alwynne teach at a girls’ school and Clare also takes on a mothering role to Alwynne, something the latter’s aunt does not like at all. Find out who will remain victorious in this Regiment of Women penned by Clemence Dane.

As housekeeper, Ruth Rolt swings the sceptre at #3 Brain Court. Her daughter, Sweet Lavender grows up amidst all the quirky characters inhabiting the house. But wait for the secrets to be revealed in this comedy by Arthur Wing Pinero…

Life at the tenements in 19th century Rio de Janeiro is no laughing matter. Júlia Lopez de Almeida describes in Memorias de Martha the life of a poor mother who is ready to sacrifice everything to raise and educate her daughter.

Something similar happened in Elizabeth Stern’s family, Jewish immigrants from Poland. In My Mother and I, she describes how her mother surreptitiously thwarts her father’s wishes for a traditional education, and how they eventually lose each other when Elizabeth leaves for college.

Edith Wharton tells an opposite story in The Mother’s Recompense. Kate Cephane had left her daughter Anne when she was only three. She returns when Anne gets engaged – only to find that the fiance is familiar. Should she reveal her secret and risk losing her daughter forever?

St. Therese of Lisieux is not afraid to share her innermost thoughts and feelings. Although she became a nun at the age of 15 and never had children, she became a role model for thousands through her writings. The Story of a Soul is her autobiography.

Whether real or fictional, Elizabeth Cooper shows you the secluded world of a Lady of the Chinese Courtyard. The book is composed of letters, first to her husband, then to her mother-in-law, which detail the joys of a bride, the sorrows of losing a child, and the solace of a new found religion.

Equally beautiful sentiments can be found in Augusta Webster’s sonnet Mother and Daughter. It tells of the joy and love between a mother and her only child, but also of mortality – especially since the sonnet remained incomplete.

Enjoy – and do say Thanks to your mom or mother figures!

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In Short

Posted on April 1, 2021 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, Books, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: Comments Off on In Short

Life seems to pick up speed again, leaving less time to read. Short Works to the rescue! Take a time-out – a brief one – with 10 gems from our catalog.

Nothing shows better that “brevity is the soul of wit” than George W. Foote’s Flowers of Freethought. The founder of “The Freethinker” lays down his – often scathing – views on Christianity in 51 essays.

Guy de Maupassant was a master of the short story, but may not have held his fellow man in the best esteem. Les contes de la bécasse are 17 stories about human weakness and character. We also have all his 184 short stories in English translation.

Also rather critical is Catherine G. Hartley in her essays on Women, Children, Love and Marriage. Already in 1924 she talked about topics that are still controversial like birth control, sex instruction, and marriage reform.

Thankfully, not all short pieces are serious. Henry W. Phillips was the master of the off-beat humor, and he proves it in Trolley Folly. Laugh with these 11 absurdist pieces centering on city life.

Xun Lu brought the vernacular to old-fashioned literary circles and thus became one of the leading figures of modern Chinese literature. His first piece in vernacular Chinese is just one in his collection 呐喊 (Call to Arms).

In neighboring Russia, Aleksandr Kuprin was called the last exponent of realism in literature. His diverse short stories draw on his experiences as circus worker, hunter, fisherman… Sasha is just one of them.

Many real historical figures are brought to life in Tradiciones Peruanas. Read these little fictional stories by Ricardo Palma and learn a bit of the history of Peru at the same time!

People like you and me, often called Stille Existenzen, populate the one-act plays of Jeanne Marni. She was a keen observer of human nature and a master of natural dialogue.

Who hasn’t had conversations that didn’t go anywhere? Hilaire Belloc is not ashamed to admit it in his essays On Nothing and Kindred Subjects. Belloc, as one of the most prolific writers of 20th century England, probably had a lot to say.

Equally chatty was fellow essayist and critic Alice Meynell, who put her gift to use as a leading suffragist of her time. However, she could also be very brief, as shown in A Father of Women and Other Poems, mostly religious in nature.

Enjoy your short break!

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