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Women’s March

Posted on March 1, 2019 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: 0

March is women’s month, and even if you’re not a dyed-in-the-wool feminist, let’s celebrate the occasion with 10 gems from our catalogue.

Throughout the ages, there have been women renowned for their achievements. In ancient Greece, poetess Sappho was one of them. Unfortunately, only a few of her poems have survived, but Bliss Carman used what was there and added a few of his own to create Sappho: One Hundred Lyrics.

An enormous achievement was the one of Mabel Annie Stobart and her Women’s Sick & Wounded Convoy Corps. The women went to the Balkans during the 1912/13 war and set up a hospital for soldiers of all colors. Read her memoir War and Women to find out how they fared.

In Defense of Women was meant to elaborate on women’s issues and discuss the relationship between the sexes, but it caused quite an outcry. Its author, H. L. Mencken, was called both “great defender of women’s rights” and “greatest misogynist since Schopenhauer. Read the book and find out where you stand!

Firmly in the middle stands Ansas, right between his soft wife Indre, and the new servant Busze. The latter wants Ansas for herself, and convinces him to kill Indre… What will happen when Indre and Ansas go on Die Reise nach Tilsit in the novella by Hermann Sudermann?

The rich heiress Regina van Berchem walks Langs en omweg in the book by A.L.G. Bosboom-Toussaint. Convinced that everyone is just after her money, she refuses the hand of Eckbert Witgensteyn, friend of her youth. He, in return, swears revenge…

Revenge might have well been the motife for the murder of Agatha Webb. However, she was well-beloved by everyone in the neighborhood, so who could it have been? Follow the twists and turns in another of the perfectly crafted murder mysteries by Anna Katharine Green.

You know when a novel is perfect, if you fell and live with the characters through the story. William Dean Howells presents his favourite Heroines of Fiction, invented by men and women alike, but who have all inspired many readers throughout the ages.

Speaking of age: Juliette is now La Femme de trente ans, and her father’s objections against marrying her first love proved to be correct. However, love comes along again in the novel by Honore de Balzac – with dire consequences for everyone involved.

Hopefully, the outcome of The Parson’s Wedding will be better, although it doesn’t look good at the outset. This fun play by Thomas Killigrew was the first one ever to be performed by an all-female cast, and so did we here on LibriVox!

Only women live in Herland, where, thanks to asexual reproduction, men are not needed at all. however, things do change in the utopia penned by Charlotte Perkins Gilbert, when, quite unexpectedly, three men show up on the scene…

Whether you’re a man or a woman, feminist or not – enjoy!

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What’s so Funny?

Posted on February 1, 2019 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: Comments Off on What’s so Funny?

It’s very cold in February, so we’ll need an extra boost of humour to keep our spirits up. Laugh away the darkness of winter with 10 gems from our catalog.

To survive winter in Canada, one probably needs an extra large amount of Humour of the North. This compilation by various Canadian authors showcases a selection of short funny pieces in poetry and prose.

Careful though, because the type of humour people enjoy tends to be different across countries. Wilhelm Busch found a way to make German humour more widely appealing by using pictures. Have a look, not just a listen at his Bildergeschichten, and you won’t even need to know the language.

Even more cute pictures can be found in the book Sonnets of a Budding Bard. Nixon Waterman assumes the point of view of a schoolboy and writes little introspective poems about Mary and that pet lamb of hers, for example.

Already quite grownup and famous was a certain humourist author when he met the editor William Dean Howells. The two became friends, and eventually, Howells wrote a biography about his friendship entitled My Mark Twain.

More like frenemies are certain retired gentlemen of a particular business who settle down together at Wappin’ Wharf. Unfortunately, retirement does not suit them, really, and so we are treated to A Frightful Comedy of Pirates in the play by Charles S. Brooks.

William Blades harbours many ill thoughts and sentiments. And he lists their targets meticulously in The Enemies of Books. While the contents is serious and spans from fire and water to bookbinders and collectors, the tone is seriously tongue-in-cheek.

Learning grammar rules is usually not much fun, as many of us can attest. However, an anonymous author does his very best to teach the essence of English as She is Wrote in a lively and entertaining way.

GK Chesterton definitely knew his grammar to make fun of the English. Visit England where the current, randomly chosen king only wants one thing: to have fun. Nobody really takes him seriously, except for one: Adam Wayne, the Napoleon of Notting Hill.

Kong Ho is also all alone in England. While he may not have met the king, he is intrigued by the strange customs and dutifully reports them to his father in China. His letters were collected by Ernest Bramah and published in The Mirror of Kong Ho.

Another satirical account, this time of the customs of the 16th century, was written by Francisco de Queveda. In his book Historia de la vida del Buscon he describes the life and travels of a young man from the country who is trying to move up in society.

Enjoy – and always keep smiling!

 

 

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Epic Resolutions

Posted on January 1, 2019 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: Comments Off on Epic Resolutions

Happy New Year 2019! Any New Year’s Resolutions? “Reading more books” is on your list, right? But sometimes, reading a single book can be enough of a challenge, as the following epic 10 gems from our catalog will show.

What is the longest book you can think of? War and Peace, of course! Leo Tolstoy depicts Russian society in the Napoleonic Wars from 1805 to 1820. He needed 17 volumes for that – and our volunteers needed 64 hours to read it all.

Even longer than this – 66 hours –  is Henry Gray’s textbook on the Anatomy of the Human Body. First published in 1858, it is still used by medical students to this day, although our 1918 edition may be not 100% up-to-date.

LibriVox is very much up-to-date and brings you the complete version of Historias de Herodoto in Spanish. The nine books of ancient history of the Middle East, Persia, and Greece, written by Herodotus around 440 BC was completed only a few days ago, and a single soloist read all 36 hours of it!

Equally long (38 hours even), equally daunting, and packed into a single volume is Middlemarch. It is a study of provincial life in the Midlands of the 1830s, with a hint of social commentary, masterfully written by George Eliot.

Ms. Eliot apparently had a liking for long tomes, since she translated David F. Strauss’ book The Life of Jesus Critically Examined into English. This book about the historical person Jesus clocks in at 58 hours and cost the original author his job.

Much more than that was at stake for Edmond Dantes in the famous novel by Alexandre Dumas. It took him years to become Le Comte de Monte-Cristo, and it takes more than 51 hours to tell the story.

Another life story (in two parts) is that of the scholar Faust. At a mere 11 hours 40 minutes, it seems pretty tame on this list, but don’t forget that Johann Wolfgang Goethe wrote this as play to be performed on stage!

No mere childs play is the story of The Virginians, two brothers who end up at different sides of the American War for Independence. In some 40 hours, William M. Thackeray explores what can happen if you fall for the wrong woman.

Well, not every woman can be a Faerie Queene. With a runtime of 32 hours, Edmund Spenser produced one of the longest poems in English. And he didn’t even complete his goal to “fashion a gentleman in virtuous and gentle discipline”.

Don’t worry, not everything that is long has to be dead serious. Although, in a sense, our longest book on this list – 67 hours in 3 parts – is exactly this: Varney the Vampyre started as a “penny dreadful” serial by Thomas Prest, and became the mother of all vampire stories ever written.

Take your time and enjoy – and we hope that you’ll read more than one book this year! ;-)

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There’s Always Hope!

Posted on December 1, 2018 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, Books, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: Comments Off on There’s Always Hope!

It’s December, and at the end of the year, many people hope for things to improve in the year to come. Let’s have a look at 10 gems from our catalogue, filled to the brim with hope.

For the Feland Family, there is nothing better than a holiday in Switzerland. However, at this occasion, their younger daughter, Little Miss Grasshopper, gets unexpectedly into trouble… Read the lovely story by Johanna Spyri and find out what happens next.

Mercy’s trouble is that she is living on the streets, without class or connections. When she volunteers in the Franco-Prussian War, a fellow nurse is killed, and Mercy takes her name to become The New Magdalen. Will she get the better life she was hoping for in the novel by Wilkie Collins?

Penelope Delta was not concerned with names, she wrote Παραμύθι χωρίς όνομα (Tale Without Name). There, the kingdom of Moirolatres is doing so badly, even the heir to the throne wants to leave for good. However, something happens that gives him hope to stay and turn things in this story for kids and adults alike.

Dick Whittington and His Cat have just arrived in London, where the “streets are paved with gold”. This is not really true, but Dick is determined to make the best out of his plans. This hilarious pantomime by E.L. Blanchard is a perennial favourite of British audiences.

For a long time, African-American kids had no role models to look up to. In 1920, the inspirational book The Upward Path: A reader for Colored Children was published, counting 67 entries by Various African-American writers, educators, and activists to make a brighter future for those kids.

Helena Swanwick took it one step further to and speaks of The Future of the Women’s Movement. In her book she talks of women’s aim of a better understanding and cooperation with men – something we’re still striving for to this day.

Another place where there is room for improvement still are humanities aspirations for Perpetual Peace, even though we made progress since Immanuel Kant brought forth his views in this philosophical essay on international laws and how lasting peace has to be worked for. We also have a recording of the German original.

Around December, Santa’s workshop is extremely busy producing toys for children on Earth. But what happens to them after they are unwrapped on Christmas Day? Laura Lee Hope has investigated and tells us The Story of a Nodding Donkey.

Probably the biggest story told around this time of the year is the Christmas Story. Nowadays, the essentials may have been buried under presents and fairy lights, but George MacDonald goes back to the roots with his book The Hope of the Gospel.

No matter who you are, where you live, and what you believe, no matter what you are aspiring to, rest assured that It Can Be Done! Listen to more than 200 inspirations poems by various well-known authors from all over the world and improve the world – or just your own tomorrow – just a little bit at a time.

Enjoy – and Happy Holidays to all of you!

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