Monthly Picks

In Short

Posted on April 1, 2021 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, Books, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: 0

Life seems to pick up speed again, leaving less time to read. Short Works to the rescue! Take a time-out – a brief one – with 10 gems from our catalog.

Nothing shows better that “brevity is the soul of wit” than George W. Foote’s Flowers of Freethought. The founder of “The Freethinker” lays down his – often scathing – views on Christianity in 51 essays.

Guy de Maupassant was a master of the short story, but may not have held his fellow man in the best esteem. Les contes de la bécasse are 17 stories about human weakness and character. We also have all his 184 short stories in English translation.

Also rather critical is Catherine G. Hartley in her essays on Women, Children, Love and Marriage. Already in 1924 she talked about topics that are still controversial like birth control, sex instruction, and marriage reform.

Thankfully, not all short pieces are serious. Henry W. Phillips was the master of the off-beat humor, and he proves it in Trolley Folly. Laugh with these 11 absurdist pieces centering on city life.

Xun Lu brought the vernacular to old-fashioned literary circles and thus became one of the leading figures of modern Chinese literature. His first piece in vernacular Chinese is just one in his collection 呐喊 (Call to Arms).

In neighboring Russia, Aleksandr Kuprin was called the last exponent of realism in literature. His diverse short stories draw on his experiences as circus worker, hunter, fisherman… Sasha is just one of them.

Many real historical figures are brought to life in Tradiciones Peruanas. Read these little fictional stories by Ricardo Palma and learn a bit of the history of Peru at the same time!

People like you and me, often called Stille Existenzen, populate the one-act plays of Jeanne Marni. She was a keen observer of human nature and a master of natural dialogue.

Who hasn’t had conversations that didn’t go anywhere? Hilaire Belloc is not ashamed to admit it in his essays On Nothing and Kindred Subjects. Belloc, as one of the most prolific writers of 20th century England, probably had a lot to say.

Equally chatty was fellow essayist and critic Alice Meynell, who put her gift to use as a leading suffragist of her time. However, she could also be very brief, as shown in A Father of Women and Other Poems, mostly religious in nature.

Enjoy your short break!


Into the Future

Posted on March 1, 2021 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, Books, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: 1 Comment on Into the Future

With the vaccinations for COVID-19 starting up all over the world, we may look into the future a bit more optimistically! Let’s take a glimpse into what may lie ahead of mankind with 10 gems from our catalog.

Already in 1871, Edward Bulwer-Lytton speculated about The Coming Race in one of the very first sci-fi novels. An ante-deluvian civilisation lives underground, but once they’ll run out of space there, they will return to the surface and wipe out mankind…

Sadly, it’s much more likely that we’ll do that by ourselves – with the invention of androids. Auguste Villier de l’Isle-Adam writes about L’Eve Future, a female android made by Edison, that (who?) ends up with an English lord.

Don Sindulfo, the inventor of the Anacronópete, is not giving it up. Instead, he takes it to Granada in 1492, to Pompeii before the eruption, and many other places of historic importance. This delightful novel by Enrique Gaspar y Rimbau was the first novel about a time machine.

Time is often called The Fourth Dimension, additionally to the three spacial dimensions. In this 1912 book, Charles H. Hinton explores this idea: that there is a 4-D universe passing through and thus creating our 3-D universe… Just imagine that!

Speaking of imagination, Percival Lowell, upon looking at the Mars through his telescope, thought he saw familiar patterns. In Mars and its Canals, he details his discovery and how this likely is proof for an intelligent civilisation.

In Poul W. Anderson’s short novella, a Star Ship from Earth is in orbit around the planet Khazak. The crew however, got stranded below in a civilisation on the level of the Stone Age. What will they do, with space flight thousands of years away?

Our own space flight capabilities only date back some 60 years. Yet, with the retirement of the Space Shuttle imminent, the US is already Seeking a Human Spaceflight Program Worthy of a Great Nation.

Aviator Anna discovers another great nation on an expedition to the North Pole. A race of telepathic giants inhabits the underground and they teach Anna the secrets of God and the universe. Read the novel Arqtiq by Anna Adolph to find out what these are…

But what is real and what is not? According to Calderón de la Barca, the only reality is the invisible and the eternal. He explores this philosophy in his play La vida es sueño (Life is a Dream), which we have in the original Spanish and in an English translation.

Noted translator F. S. Flint, after dropping out of school, taught himself 10 languages. However, his first love was poetry. In the Net of the Stars is a collection of almost 50 of his poems, published when he was only 24.

Enjoy – and let’s hope for a bright future ahead!


History in Black and White

Posted on February 1, 2021 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, Books, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: Comments Off on History in Black and White

February marks Black History Month in the US, and together with the Black Lives Matter movement, LibriVox has risen to put out more books by African Americans. Delve into a truly black part of world history with 10 gems from our catalog.

To understand the root of the evil, let’s follow British actress Fanny Kemble as she moves to the American South after her marriage. Growing sensible to the plight of slaves, she published her Journal of a Residence on a Georgian Plantation after the end of the Civil War.

Paul Laurence Dunbar had many tales to tell, and 20 of his short stories are collected in The Strength of Gideon and Other Stories. They are written in a dialect used by African Americans of that time and provide interesting insights.

Some things take time, as a black Homesteader in the Dakotas finds out. In love with the white Agnes, he still marries a black woman. However, when the marriage fails and he returns to Agnes, things have changed drastically in the novel by Oscar Micheaux.

When a young man finds out that he is of mixed race after all, his whole world falls apart. In the novel The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, James W. Johnson leads his protagonist onto a trip of self-discovery during the Reconstruction.

Fast forward to the US in the 1950s where prejudice against black people was still rampant in much of the country, especially in the South. J. Saunders Redding tells his very own story On Being a Negro in America.

After race riots in 1967, President Johnson installed the Kerner Commission to conduct an investigation. The Commission’s Report finds that “our nation moves towards a black and white society, separate and unequal…” but ends on the positive note that this “is not inevitable.”

Not to be negative, but can you write a comedy about slaves, kidnapping, rape? Terence, himself a slave in ancient Rome, definitely thought so when he penned Eunuchus: The Eunuch back in 200 BC. Different times, different places…

… and yet, everything’s the same. Antonio de Castro Alves wrote about slavery and the exploitation of the black race in Brazil. Os Escravos is a collection of 34 of his poems.

Alice Dunbar Nelson sees slavery through the eyes of women. Violets and Other Tales is a collection of 22 poems and short stories, and sone of them have a decidedly feminist outlook.

We don’t know if Pauline E. Hopkins was a feminist or not. But Hagar’s Daughter was groundbreaking: Maid Venus Johnson becomes the first black female detective as she investigates the murder of a white woman in this first African American mystery novel.

Enjoy – and let’s make the world a good one for everyone!


Silver Linings

Posted on January 1, 2021 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, Books, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: 1 Comment on Silver Linings

Happy New Year 2021!
With 2020 finally over, we can start to make new plans for the coming year, which will hopefully be much better… Let’s look into a brighter tomorrow with 10 gems from our catalog.

All Things are Possible was the creed of Lev Shestov. Even when he was driven out of his native Russia, he firmly believed that you’re invincible when you really believe in yourself and nothing else.

In contrast, many people believe in The Hope of the Gospel. In this book, George MacDonald goes deep beneath the surface and meditates on what Christ came to accomplish on Earth.

The teachings of Christ gave people the strength to embark on The Enterprise of the Mayflower. Amice MacDonell took the narrative of the first American settlement and turned it into a play.

When the Californian settlers on the other end of the continent heard of cities filled with gold, they left their orchards in search of riches and a better life. Find out more in George Fenn’s novel The Peril Finders.

As The Charwoman’s Daughter, Mary is used to the perils of the Dublin slums where she lives. However, the unbound enthusiasm of youth coupled with teenage love feeds her desire to escape. James Stephens tells her story in this novella.

The grass is always greener on the other side for lookalike exiles Sir Dominey and Baron von Ragastein, who swap places. But Dominey’s wife is about to see through The Great Impersonation… Read this pre-WWI spy novel by E. Phillips Oppenheim to see what else is uncovered.

Claims adjuster Wills is content working for The Company in the scif-fi joint work by Frederik Pohl and Lester del Rey. But when he meets a mysterious couple, putting all of mankind’s happiness on the line suddenly seems like a Preferred Risk

Much more predictable is the life of Baroness Tilling, who is dedicated to her husband’s legacy of creating peace on Earth. A good start is to pass on the thoughts to Martha’s Kinder, in the second book by Nobel Peace Prize winner Bertha von Suttner.

After WWI, lasting peace was on everybody’s minds. H. G. Wells was at the front lines of the creation of the League of Nations. In the Fourth Year: Anticipations of a World Peace, is a collection of 11 of his essays penned at the time.

After a year like 2020, it is important not to lose sight of All That Matters. In this collection of 53 poems, Edgar A. Guest writes about moms, dads, and all that’s needed for a happy family life.

Enjoy – and may this year turn out much better than the last one!


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