Monthly Picks

Spring

Posted on April 1, 2014 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, Books, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: 0

All over the northern hemisphere it is spring, traditionally the time for the ousting of the old to make place for the new. Celebrate the end of the cold with 10 gems from our catalog.

When, if not now, is the right time to start a Flower Garden? Ida D. Bennett explains all you need to know – from the right soil and fertiliser, to how to grow seeds in window boxes.

In The Enchanted Castle: Fairy Tales from Flowerland, we hear little stories of Spring and what happens when the flowers bloom again, collected for children by Hartwell James.

You don’t have to go far to find exciting stories, rural scenes, and interesting animals, as John Burroughs prooves in his book on natural history, Nature Near Home and Other Papers.

Springtime inspires a young chuck to travel and find a new home. Read about The Adventures of Johnny Chuck in the book by Thornton W. Burgess – especially the one where little Johnny falls in love…

Love – and sex – are the main themes of The Awakening of Spring. Frank Wedekind heavily criticises 19th century Germany in his play, focusing on sexual oppression and the fantasies this breeds.

No fantasy is the sudden appearance of Ben and his dog at a morning tea party Under the Lilacs of Bab and Betty. Read about how the young circus runaway changes their lives in the book by Louisa May Alcott.

The late spring of 218 saw the beginning of the second Punic war. Hannibal set out from Carthage towards Rome – and with a huge army and 37 elephants he crossed the alps. The biography of the great general by Jacob Abbott will tell you the details.

Conrad Aiken
knows the desolation and loss brought upon people by war. He wrote Nocturne of Remembered Spring and Other Poems in 1915 at the height of the First World War.

He is only a small part of a little display for Easter, but still, in Laura Lee Hope’s Story of a Candy Rabbit, he has many exciting adventures with the children he was given to.

Do Lotus Blossom, Our Little Japanese Cousin, and her little brother Taro celebrate Easter as well? Learn about the traditional lives of the Japanese in the little book by Mary H. B. Wade.

Enjoy – and watch the blossoming!

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Carnival

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

Carnival all over the world, time to step out of the usual rut and go a bit crazy. Laugh out loud (or silently) with 10 gems from our catalog.

And what could be better to set the tone than the Laughable Lyrics by Edward Lear. We present 10 little poems, silly, witty, and funny, for kids and adults alike.

A. A. Milne, best known for his Winnie the Pooh, was for a long time an editor of the satirical magazine Punch. Happy Days is a collection of 55 of his essays on various topics.

Not quite so enjoyable a time has Mr. Peaslee in the book by Charles Miner Thompson. A single rash action makes him squirm with guilt and fear from anybody finding out. Oh, had he never met The Calico Cat

Many mistakes can be prevented if you know exactly what not to do. George Fullerton Evans took it upon himself to educate young people about their first time away from home in The College Freshman’s DON’T Book.

Philo Gubb, Correspondence-School Detective, knows exactly how to solve difficult cases. After all, he can check his books on how to become a great detective. Read the stories by Ellis Parker Butler and see if Philo is up for the job.

Books of a different kind keep the owners of a small business occupied. Unfortunately, in Anthony Trollope’s satire, each of the three has a different view on how to run the company, which can only lead to more of The Struggles of Brown, Jones, and Robinson.

Cuey-Na Gael also struggles on his first sojourn in the Netherlands. Having announced that he expects to learn the language within two weeks, he is ultimately surprised at An Irishman’s Difficulties with the Dutch Language, but takes it with humour.

A different kind of humour, containing scatology, chapters full of insults, and not-for-minors language, is the story of the adventures of the two giants Gargantua and Pantagruel. The classic by Francois Rabelais is still an intriguing book, however.

This language would not have been accepted in New York’s upper class, a biting commentary of which comes from Washington Irving. In his Letters of Jonathan Oldstyle, Gent., he makes fun of society, especially of the people he meets in the theatre.

I doubt he would have seen any of Mr. Punch’s Dramatic Sequels performed there though. St. John Emile Clavering Hankin has taken 14 famous plays and elaborates what happened after their final curtain call.

Enjoy – and have fun!

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Together

Posted on February 1, 2014 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Books, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: 6 Comments

This month, the 22nd Olympic Winter Games take place in Russia, and thousands of people from all over the world gather in a celebration of team spirit. More things we can achieve when we work together can be found in 10 gems from our catalog.

Our family is the closest group of people we ever know. In Five Little Peppers and How They Grow, Margaret Sidney tells the story of the Pepper family that, although very poor, goes through life together and meets all adversities with spirit and good humour.

Sometimes however, you need more than one family to accomplish things – raising a barn, for example requires the help of the whole neighbourhood. Read the Recollections of Life in Ohio from 1813 – 1840 by William Cooper Howells for more insight into neighbourly help and friendship.

Friendship is not all about mutual aid, but also about having fun. In Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s book of poetry, a group of friends spend the night in a tavern telling each other a number of Tales of a Wayside Inn.

Sometimes, people need to join forces to help those who cannot help themselves. In 1837, An Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women did exactly that, and in An Address to Free Colored Americans they stated their intentions for the abolitionist movement of the time.

Similarly, The Dog Crusoe and His Master and two of their friends take on a journey through the prairies to bring about peace between the White and Red races. Read all about their adventures in the book by R. M. Ballantyne.

Much greater distances and even more nations are covered in The Story of the Atlantic Telegraph. The father of Henry M. Field spent 13 years of his life to connect Europeans and Americans by a cable laid through the ocean, the beginning of a world wide network.

From a connected Earth we move into space – where meeting The Aliens is inevitable. So seems war, but a small accident brings both sides together trying to avoid destruction. Read the story by Murray Leinster and find out whether they will succeed.

Wouldn’t you want to spend as much time as close as possible with your beloved? Imagine a Ten-Foot Chain binding you together for three days and nights – would your love survive that? Four authors have been asked the same question, and each of them came up with another story…

The last two books on this month’s list are two of the most prominent examples of what LibriVox volunteers can achieve together:

The Scarlet Pimpernel
by Baroness Emmuska Orczy took almost five years until completion – and 40 readers for all roles of this dramatic reading of the famous spy story set during the French Revolution.

In a similar league is our recently completed second version of James Joyce’s masterpiece Ulysses: More than 80 readers – the majority of them for the dramatized section “Circe” – took on this difficult book and brought it to completion in less than four years.

Enjoy – and read together!

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Role Models

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

A New Year prompts many people to changes, big and small. If you don’t really know what to aspire to, why not look at famous people for inspiration with 10 gems from our catalog.

The story of a big personal change is told by W. Somerset Maugham in his novel The Moon and Sixpence. Follow stock broker Charles Strickland who leaves everything behind to become an artist in France and Tahiti, like the painter Gauguin on whose life the story is based.

Great changes for innumerable people are brought about by inventors. Did you know that, among other things, the telephone, microphone, electric motors and lights were invented by a single man? Frank Lewis Dyer and Thomas Commerford Martin wrote the autobiography of Edison, His Life and Inventions.

It is often hard to see famous people as mere mortals possessing virtues and flaws alike. Lytton Strachey made no such mistake and his biography of Queen Victoria reveals the normal woman behind the admired monarch.

Decidedly more tongue-in-cheek – what else to expect from John Kendrick Bangs – is The Autobiography of Methuselah, who purportedly lived to the age of 969 years and witnessed a large part of the Old Testament up to Noah’s flood.

Henry V, another monarch, brought a new era of relative peace to England – while waging war in France. William Shakespeare recounts the King’s life in his eponymous drama.

Shakespeare himself is maybe the world’s best (known) dramaticist. John A. Joyce wrote a fictional biography of the famous writer’s life, from the point of view of a life long friend in Shakspere: Personal Recollections.

Let’s stay in England for one more great person: Alfred the Great. How he fought to defend Christianity against the invasion of the Danish is beautifully told by G. K. Chesterton in his epic poem The Ballad of the White Horse.

A great leader on the other side of the ocean was Geronimo. Written towards the end of his 23 years as prisoner of war, Geronimo’s Story of His Life is an account of his entire life, his battles, victories, and the final defeat against the US government.

The life of Elizabeth Keckley went the other way. Born a slave, she was able to use the money she earned as a seamstress to buy her freedom. Behind the Scenes describes her life and gives an interesting glimpse into the work she did for the First Lady Mary Lincoln.

Andrew Carnegie was one of the wealthiest men in the US. A poor immigrant from Scotland, he became a well know steel industry leader before turning into a philanthropist in order to improve society. The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie, just finished before his death, gives more details.

Enjoy – and have A Happy New Year!

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