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Good Times

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

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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Mother Tongues

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

On February 21st is the International Mother Language Day. What a great occasion to celebrate with 10 non-English gems from our catalog.

Let’s start with the latest language addition to our catalog. Three short stories – 단편 소설 – by 현진건 (Jin-geon Hyun), finished only in November last year, mark our very first solo project in Korean.

The Indonesian archipelago with its thousands of islands is the home of numerous languages. Puisi Dari Indonesia is a collection of ancient and modern poems in five of them, written by various authors.

Up for something new? Why not learn Dholuo, one of the Kenyan languages spoken around Lake Victoria, with A Handbook of the Kavirondo language. This phrasebook was collected by the Fathers of St. Joseph’s Society.

Equally interesting, but probably much less useful in daily conversation, is Church Slavonic, used during the services of the Orthodox Church. St. Dimitri of Rostov has written about Жития Святых, т. 06 – февруарий – The Lives of the Saints for February in this language.

Apparently no saint was the man who gave the speech recorded by Plato in Ancient Greek. After all, The Apology of Socrates did not save the man from being condemned to Death. This famous work is also available in English, German, and French.

Death may also be unavoidable for Erik Poulsen, a young Danish chemist who discovered a way to turn any metal into gold. Clearly, people in power are not eager to have his knowledge come out in the sci-fi novel Guld og Ære by Otto Martin Møller.

Historia Apollonii Regis Tyri is the story of another fugitive, Apollonius. Having incurred the wrath of a king, he has to flee and survives many adventures. This is an ancient story of unknown origin, which has been translated into many languages, among them Latin.

Languages usually evolve over a long time, but Esperanto has been designed to be especially easy to learn and has many speakers all over the world. La Aventuroj de Alicio en Mirlando is the translation of Lewis Carroll’s famous Alice in Wonderland, which we also have in German.

Benito Pérez Galdós is famous for is National Episodes, a 46 volume work recounting Spanish history. Everything starts out at the Battle of Trafalgar, in which Gabriel Ariceli plays a role. This novel recounts the life of the then 14 year old up to the battle.

Faust: Der Tragödie erster Teil by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is allegedly the most quoted work in German. We have only recently completed – in a tour the force that took 7 years – a dramatic reading of the original. Our English version took much less time.

Enjoy – and brush up your language skills!

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Bright Lights

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

Happy New Year!
Did you know that 2015 will be the International Year of Light? Let’s get it started properly with 10 gems from our catalog.

Light, especially sunlight, is something wonderful – and mysterious and interesting too! Follow Sir Isaac Newton’s experiments on Opticks, one of the first scientific treatises of light and its properties: reflection, refraction, etc.

Much more simple are the duties of Janet of the Dunes, in her little community of people living round a lighthouse. Her story and how it is intertwined with that of her “Cap’n Billy Daddy” can be found in the novel by Harriet T. Cornstock.

Surely, the people there must have read the Instructions to Light Keepers of the US Lighthouse Board. You can do so too – you’ll never know when there is a summer job on a remote island available.

Even more remote is the moon that Chet Ballard is just passing, but wait – isn’t that a distress signal? Charles W. Diffin describes what happened during The Finding of Haldgren who was not the only inhabitant of that distant place…

The moon and his light play an important part in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, where the wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta occurs at various places and times. Follow them through fairyland in our production of Shakespeare’s comedy.

Both light and darkness are invoked by Novalis in his Hymns to the Night, a mixture of poetry and prose concerned with life, death, and mourning. This recording is also available in the original German.

Another way to face such things is described by James Allen. In his book Light on Life’s Difficulties he explores diverse topics like self-control and -sacrifice, values, individual liberty, and many more.

Dick Heldar’s life – spent mainly in London, but also in India and the Sudan – is not without difficulties. Find out how he deals with losing the most important thing for a painter: his eyesight. Read the novel The Light that Failed by Rudyard Kipling.

Not allowed to fail is Ruth Thorne, who has been invited to spend time with her aunt. But, why is she not there to greet her niece? And why did her aunt insist on Ruth lighting a candle in the attic each night? See how the mystery unfolds in Myrtle Reed’s book Lavender and Old Lace.

Jules Verne presents another mystery, that of Doctor Ox’s Experiment. Doctor Ox offers to install free lighting in the little village of Quiquendone. But is he really acting out of simple goodwill or is there a hidden agenda? We also have a German version of this book.

Enjoy – and shine a light!

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Introspection

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

Towards the end of the year, many people like to stay at home, relax, and do a bit of soul-searching. Get some inspiration with 10 gems from our catalog.

“I think, therefore I am” is probably the best starting point for deep thoughts. A good portion of scepticism will also be useful. Read René Descartes’ famous work Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting One’s Reason and of Seeking Truth.

Monday or Tuesday is a collection of eight short stories by Virginia Woolf. They are an example of her stream-of-consciousness writings and centre around what people may or may not think.

Also Blaise Pascal, a famous French mathematician, has his thoughts – or Penseés – about things. His contemplations about philosophical paradoxes ultimately led him to the formulation of Pascal’s wager.

The Death of Ivan Ilyitch is imminent, and the judge has but a short time to look back at his life. He wondes whether it was truly a moral one. Read Leo Tolstoy’s novella to find out to what conclusion he is coming.

Probably nobody has a completely Untroubled Mind. In the book by Herbert J. Hall, part self-help, part religion, the physician tries to treat the mind of his patients in order to heal their bodies as well.

It would be interesting to know whether that book would have helped the protagonist of Notes From the Underground. In the novel by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, a civil servant writes his ranting memoirs in a poor part of St. Petersburg. This book is also available in the original Russian.

Maybe it would have been good for him to talk to somebody. After all, Everybody’s Lonesome, as Mary Alice discovers when sent to her godmother in New York. The book by Clara E. Laughlin describes what the old lady has to tell.

Maybe the secret is love? At a drinking party, each of the illustrious guests are invited to give speeches in praise of that highest of all emotions. Read our dramatic version of The Syposium by Plato.

Love and destiny, life, death, and God are only some of the feelings and thoughts that Omar Khayyam poured into his Rubaiyat. This is a bilingual Persian-English recording of the famous ancient poem from the Middle East.

What is the secret of The Little Gray Lady? For the last 20 years she has spent Christmas alone in front of a candle, thinking about the one huge mistake she has made. But, this year is different… Find out why, in the short story by Francis Hopkinson Smith.

Enjoy – and have peaceful holidays!

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