Monthly Picks

A Man’s World

Posted on April 1, 2019 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, Books, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: 1 Comment on A Man’s World

In the true spirit of equality, we celebrate the other half of the population this month! Let’s have a look at all kinds of men with 10 gems from our catalogue.

It all begins with the most important relationship, the one between Father and Son. In this memoir, the poet Edmund Gosse describes his childhood in a fundamentalist Christian home which, unfortunately, did not have a happy ending.

Find out for yourself if there’s a happy ending for The King of Ireland’s Son. Just when he had won Fedelma, the enchanter’s daughter, she is kidnapped by the King of the Land of Mist… This is an old Irish fairytale, retold by Padraig Colum.

Deep down, orphan Eddie of Jackson’s Gang also hopes for a fairytale, and his case this means finding his parents. But he’s only 9 and just got “adopted” into a group of thieves, so it doesn’t look good for him in the book by Brother Ernest Ryan.

It doesn’t look good for the American Mr. Jones either, who find himself in London with a mere 10 $ in his pocket. But then he meets a British Earl who has it all, status, money – and Jones’ face… What happens next to The Man Who Lost Himself can be found out in the book by H. De Vere Stacpoole.

When a young and single doctor ends up in a small town in the countryside, his future is quite predictable: The ladyfolk endeavour to make him a part of their social circle and try to find him a wife in the process. But when the time comes for Mr. Harrison’s Confessions, nothing is what it was before in the novel by Elizabeth Gaskell.

There’s not much to confess, really, for Richard Barlow, who was one of the most accomplished cricketers of the late 19th century. In his autobiography Forty Seasons of First-Class Cricket he describes highlights of his career and gives hints to umpires and young cricketers alike.

Henry James describes another teacher-pupil relationship in his novel The Lesson of the Master. A young and very promising writer meets his idol, and the old man is ready to share his wisdom about women. however, things sound good in theory, but everything changes when they need to be applied in practice…

Two men with lots of practice are George and Robert Stephenson, the former being known as the Father of the Steam Locomotive. Born in abject poverty, he worked his way up to becoming one of the foremost engineers in the 19th century railway world. Read this interesting biography written by Samuel Smiles.

Another man of excellence is John Lomax, who built the core body of work for the Library of Congress Archives and is one of the big names in American Western & Country music. The collection Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads contains more than 150 song lyrics collected all over the country.

Of all the men described above, the best kind is definitely The Good-Natured Man, like Honeywood who is generous to a fault to friends and foes alike. However, his uncle tries to cure him from what he perceives as foolishness, which does not turn out the way he intended in the fun play by Oliver Goldsmith.

Enjoy – and celebrate the men in your life!

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Women’s March

Posted on March 1, 2019 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: Comments Off on Women’s March

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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