World Tour 2020: South and Central America

Posted on February 1, 2020 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, Books, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: 1 Comment on World Tour 2020: South and Central America

On the second leg of our LibriVox World Tour, let’s stay in the southern hemisphere. Further to the east from Australia, we encounter South and Central America, which we’ll explore with 10 gems from our catalog.

Speaking of explorations, this is exactly what Cândido Mariano da Silva Rondon did in 1913/14, when he followed the “River of Doubt” in the Amazon basin with another famous person. Read his memoir of The Roosevelt-Rondon Scientific Exhibition and the Telegraph Line Commission.

While tramping through the jungle, it is likely that the 19 men met many animals like tigers or monkeys. No wonder that they feature prominently in Fairy Tales From Brazil, collected by Elsie Spicer Eells.

Our collection of short works by authors from Latin America comes with a hidden bonus: The readers chose authors of their own countries! So, you can hear our Antología de Cuentes Hispanoamericanos read in authentic local Spanish accents!

We can assume that Harry A. Franck spoke his Spanish with an accent, although he travelled extensively in South America. For three months he even worked as Zone Policeman 88 in Panama during the interesting time when the great canal was built.

Bartolomé Mitre tells of the equally interesting times of The Emancipation of South America. From 1778 – 1830, many states of South America turned into republics, but their freedom did not come without bloodshed and war.

When Raimundo returns from Europe, he faces unexpected difficulties in the novel by Aluísio Azevedo. Although Raimundo has now become a doctor, all the Brazilian high society sees in him is a slave’s son – O Mulato.

Thomas Southerne also depicts the endless fight between black and white in Oroonoko. The titular black prince turned slave and his white wife Imoinda unfortunately do not live to see a happy ending in this tragedy set in Surinam.

Often, the value of somebody’s life is only discovered after the person’s death. This is why the Memórias Póstumas de Brás Cubas were written by himself after his death – or possibly by Machado de Assis as medium?

Stranger things have happend, at least in the stories dealing with the mysterious and science fiction by Leopoldo Lugones. A dozen or so of them are collected in Las Fuerzas Extranas.

Definitely an “outside force” is the devil and gaucho “La Pollo” has even seen him – in a theater in Buenos Aires! Listen to him tell his story to a friend in Fausto, a narrative poem by Estanislao del Campo.

Enjoy a summer in South and Central America!


World Tour 2020: Australia, New Zealand and thereabouts

Posted on January 1, 2020 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, Books, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: Comments Off on World Tour 2020: Australia, New Zealand and thereabouts

Happy New Year 2020!

The world will come together to celebrate the Tokyo Olympics this year. What better time to go on another LV world tour! And with New Zealand and Australia being among the first countries to welcome 2020, let’s start there with 10 gems from our catalog!

First to celebrate the New Year, but last continent to have been explored. George and Alexander Sutherland give an overview of the History of Australia and New Zealand from 1696 – 1890. Find out about discoveries and early white settlements and the often difficult relationships with the native Aborigines and Maoris.

“Difficult” is also a good description of the brand-new marriage of Biddie and Colin, who fell in love with an image they had of the other. When an old suitor of Biddie’s shows up on their Australian farm, things get even more complicated… See how the life of Lady Bridget in the Never-Never Land turns out in this novel by Rosa Campbell Pread.

Equally mismatched are Alice Roland and her husband Tom. Add to that the dreary logging settlement where they live, and things could hardly be worse. Jane Mander tells The Story of a New Zealand River with much love for her wild country.

Not everything is meant to be and sometimes it’s best to call it quits. The Gladstone Colony was a failed settlement in North Australia, which, after an initial gold rush, saw many disappointed diggers. Read a detailed account of the ill-fated experiment by James Francis Hogan.

Steele Rudd is one of Australia’s best-known writers. In his most famous work On Our Selection, he tells the story of the Rudd clan who try to settle in the Australian Wilderness. Contending with famine, bush fires, and unsympathetic wildlife, they rely on their humour – and a large portion of luck.

If you could ask Roald Amundsen about his 1910 – 1912 expedition to The South Pole, he would tell you that “luck had nothing to do with it.” Meticulously prepared, he pioneered a brand new route to the pole and returned to tell the tale in this memoir.

Aussie poet Henry Lawson conjures up memories of days long past in the poetry collection In the Days When the World Was Wide and Other Verses. Among the 51 poems are other gems like “The Star of Australasia” or “City Bushman”.

In the capital city, the premier has set his mind on an important task: He wants to find himself a wife. Being unsure on how to go about this, however, he enlists the help of his stenographer… Let’s see where this is going in the fun play Mrs. Pretty and the Premier by Arthur Adams.

Harry Heathcote of Gangoil, a huge sheep station in Queensland, has more pressing matters to attend to: Disgruntled ex-workers set fire to his property, and only the unexpected help of neighbor Medlicott prevents a disaster. This incident sets the stage for Anthony Trollope’s novel.

The South Sea Islands between Europeans looking for a new life and ancient superstitions are the stage for three short stories by Robert Louis Stevenson. “The Beach of Falsea”, “The Bottle Imp” and “The Isle of Voices” provide interesting Island Nights’ Entertainment.

Enjoy – and have fun on our World Tour 2020!


A Spiritual Time

Posted on December 1, 2019 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, Books, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: Comments Off on A Spiritual Time

December is the month to slow down a bit (in between hectic shopping sprees, at least). Here are 10 gems from our catalogue dealing with spirituality – and with Christmas, of course.

In today’s world, it can be difficult to let mind and body come to rest. Why not find inspiration in The Spiritual Exercises by St. Ignatius Loyola. Written in 1548, he gives a plan of contemplation to be carried out over a month.

Frances Ridley Havergal does something similar with her own book except that it’s for kids this time. Wake up your little ones with little devotional Morning Bells every day.

A German tradition beloved by kids and adults alike is the Adventskalender. Every day until Christmas, you open one door of it to see what’s behind. Usually, you’ll find chocolates, but ours is filled with poems, short stories, songs…

Speaking of tradition, one of the best loved recordings for Christmas here on LibriVox is E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Nußknacker und Mausekönig, which we have in several translations (into English and French). Add the adaptation by Alexandre Dumas (in French and Spanish) on which Tchaikovsky’s ballet was based, and you know why you shouldn’t miss reading this story!

At Sir John’s Penlyon Castle, something is found missing during the preparations for Christmas. But his friend Mr. Danby has an idea – and this is how three kids turn into The Christmas Hirelings. Find out what this job entails in the story by Mary Elizabeth Braddon.

A young newspaperman gets the job to interview his wealthy neighbor who lives alone and just started the habit of talking to himself… Booth Tarkington tells a story full of mystery leading up to Mr. Beasley’s Christmas Party.

Even if you’re not religious, you may agree with Hugh Black that “Friendship in its essence is spiritual.” He elaborates for example on the importance of friends, how to choose them, and what the limits of friendship are.

Christmas is the time to surround yourself with friends and family, but sometimes, this is not possible. In the short story The Dead, James Joyce tells about how people who are long gone may still affect our lives.

The Ancient Egyptians were concerned with the opposite: How the living could aid the deceased in their journey to the underworld. Their Book of the Dead – here translated by E. A. Wallis Budge – prescribes exactly what to do.

Another “How-to” goes back to Shinran, the founder of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism. See what is still valid today in the philosophical play The Priest and His Disciples by Hyakuzo Kurata, where Shinran encounters a poor family and discusses with them how to lead a good life.

Enjoy – and Merry Christmas for you all!


Lurking in the Dark…

Posted on November 9, 2019 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, Books, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: Comments Off on Lurking in the Dark…

The nights are getting cooler in November, and it’s best to stay home when it’s dark. Who knows what may wait for you out there – maybe the creatures from the following 10 gems from our catalogue…

It all starts with a Dream, which is not bad as such, except that all monks in the Swiss monastery have the same one. Led by it to a buried corpse, things suddenly go downhill very quickly in the drama by goth queen Joanna Baillie.

When Karl moves in with Lilith’s father to become his student, things look bright at first. But soon, The Cruel Painter shows his true colors, and it takes the efforts of both lovers to thwart him… Find out whether they have the upper hand in the spooky novella by George McDonald.

Don Ruy also needs help when he falls into a trap set by beloved Dona Lenor’s husband, and he receives it from an eerie source… Set in medieval Portugal, Jose Maria de Eca de Queiros weaves a tale of love and death and fear in O defunto. We also have a recording of an English translation.

Speaking of fear, Arthur Christopher Benson wrote a whole book about it, from the different types we encounter throughout our lives to how famous authors deal with it. Read his interesting psychology book Where no Fear Was: A Book About Fear.

Now you know what fear is – how to deal with it? Well, hypnosis may be a solution for crippling fear. In A Practical Guide to Self-Hypnosis, Melvin Powers gives an in-depth how-to manual, with hints as to practical applications.

Now that you’re properly prepared, you can delve into Black Magic. Follow Marjorie Bowen’s ultimate gothic novel into the middle ages to meet a real witch and watch her dealings with the devil and the Antichrist unfold…

Certain things should not be meddled with! Two brothers are in love with the same girl, but when one gets killed and does not remain dead for long, drastic measures must be taken. El Vampiro by Alexandre Dumas is one of the earliest vampire novels, already set in the Carpathians.

Photography was brand new when two girls from Cottingley, England, claimed they had banned fairies onto film. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was called upon to settle the ensuing dispute, and he wrote The Coming of the Fairies stating his (later proven wrong) beliefs.

Even today, many people do believe in ghosts, and for them, the verdict is still out on this matter. Theodore Parkes tells about ghosts and ghouls and other scary things in his delightful poetry collection The Spook Ballads.

Time to call it a day and to take the train home. If you’ve ever been on a night train cutting through the darkness, you will understand why Stefan Grabinski was inspired to write a railway-related collection of ghost stories: Wybrane opowiadania.

Enjoy – and sweet dreams! ;-)


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