Monthly Picks

A Spiritual Time

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

December is the month to slow down a bit (in between hectic shopping sprees, at least). Here are 10 gems from our catalogue dealing with spirituality – and with Christmas, of course.

In today’s world, it can be difficult to let mind and body come to rest. Why not find inspiration in The Spiritual Exercises by St. Ignatius Loyola. Written in 1548, he gives a plan of contemplation to be carried out over a month.

Frances Ridley Havergal does something similar with her own book except that it’s for kids this time. Wake up your little ones with little devotional Morning Bells every day.

A German tradition beloved by kids and adults alike is the Adventskalender. Every day until Christmas, you open one door of it to see what’s behind. Usually, you’ll find chocolates, but ours is filled with poems, short stories, songs…

Speaking of tradition, one of the best loved recordings for Christmas here on LibriVox is E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Nußknacker und Mausekönig, which we have in several translations (into English and French). Add the adaptation by Alexandre Dumas (in French and Spanish) on which Tchaikovsky’s ballet was based, and you know why you shouldn’t miss reading this story!

At Sir John’s Penlyon Castle, something is found missing during the preparations for Christmas. But his friend Mr. Danby has an idea – and this is how three kids turn into The Christmas Hirelings. Find out what this job entails in the story by Mary Elizabeth Braddon.

A young newspaperman gets the job to interview his wealthy neighbor who lives alone and just started the habit of talking to himself… Booth Tarkington tells a story full of mystery leading up to Mr. Beasley’s Christmas Party.

Even if you’re not religious, you may agree with Hugh Black that “Friendship in its essence is spiritual.” He elaborates for example on the importance of friends, how to choose them, and what the limits of friendship are.

Christmas is the time to surround yourself with friends and family, but sometimes, this is not possible. In the short story The Dead, James Joyce tells about how people who are long gone may still affect our lives.

The Ancient Egyptians were concerned with the opposite: How the living could aid the deceased in their journey to the underworld. Their Book of the Dead – here translated by E. A. Wallis Budge – prescribes exactly what to do.

Another “How-to” goes back to Shinran, the founder of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism. See what is still valid today in the philosophical play The Priest and His Disciples by Hyakuzo Kurata, where Shinran encounters a poor family and discusses with them how to lead a good life.

Enjoy – and Merry Christmas for you all!


Lurking in the Dark…

Posted on November 9, 2019 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, Books, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: Comments Off on Lurking in the Dark…

The nights are getting cooler in November, and it’s best to stay home when it’s dark. Who knows what may wait for you out there – maybe the creatures from the following 10 gems from our catalogue…

It all starts with a Dream, which is not bad as such, except that all monks in the Swiss monastery have the same one. Led by it to a buried corpse, things suddenly go downhill very quickly in the drama by goth queen Joanna Baillie.

When Karl moves in with Lilith’s father to become his student, things look bright at first. But soon, The Cruel Painter shows his true colors, and it takes the efforts of both lovers to thwart him… Find out whether they have the upper hand in the spooky novella by George McDonald.

Don Ruy also needs help when he falls into a trap set by beloved Dona Lenor’s husband, and he receives it from an eerie source… Set in medieval Portugal, Jose Maria de Eca de Queiros weaves a tale of love and death and fear in O defunto. We also have a recording of an English translation.

Speaking of fear, Arthur Christopher Benson wrote a whole book about it, from the different types we encounter throughout our lives to how famous authors deal with it. Read his interesting psychology book Where no Fear Was: A Book About Fear.

Now you know what fear is – how to deal with it? Well, hypnosis may be a solution for crippling fear. In A Practical Guide to Self-Hypnosis, Melvin Powers gives an in-depth how-to manual, with hints as to practical applications.

Now that you’re properly prepared, you can delve into Black Magic. Follow Marjorie Bowen’s ultimate gothic novel into the middle ages to meet a real witch and watch her dealings with the devil and the Antichrist unfold…

Certain things should not be meddled with! Two brothers are in love with the same girl, but when one gets killed and does not remain dead for long, drastic measures must be taken. El Vampiro by Alexandre Dumas is one of the earliest vampire novels, already set in the Carpathians.

Photography was brand new when two girls from Cottingley, England, claimed they had banned fairies onto film. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was called upon to settle the ensuing dispute, and he wrote The Coming of the Fairies stating his (later proven wrong) beliefs.

Even today, many people do believe in ghosts, and for them, the verdict is still out on this matter. Theodore Parkes tells about ghosts and ghouls and other scary things in his delightful poetry collection The Spook Ballads.

Time to call it a day and to take the train home. If you’ve ever been on a night train cutting through the darkness, you will understand why Stefan Grabinski was inspired to write a railway-related collection of ghost stories: Wybrane opowiadania.

Enjoy – and sweet dreams! ;-)


Our Best Friends

Posted on October 1, 2019 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, Books, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: Comments Off on Our Best Friends

October 4 is World Animal Day! How boring the world would be without them! Large, small, wild ones or beloved pets – they come to center stage in the following 10 gems from our catalog.

Long before animals became pets occupying a spot in our families (and hearts), they were trained to help people, for example with hunting. Edmund Bert’s Treatise on Hawkes and Hawking explains one of the oldest methods of training birds as such helpers.

Even with young animals, taming them is not easy. In Wilk, psy i ludzie, Adolf Dygasinski tells the story of a wolf cub raised by a man in a small village. Having grown up with stories of werewolves, the neighbors are less than happy about the wolf in their midst…

Equally unhappy about his predicament is Ivan Matveich: He was swallowed whole by The Crocodile of a sideshow. But when he settles in and begins to speak through the animal’s mouth, things take an interesting turn in the story by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

Wouldn’t it be great if we really knew the thoughts of our pets? In Soseki Natsume’s most famous novel I am a Cat, a kitten stumbles into the household of a school teacher, where it promptly starts commenting on the lives of everybody it meets.

The Story of Doctor Dolittle is even more exciting. When his parrot Polynesia teaches him the language of the animals, the doctor’s life is turned upside down. This version is a dramatic reading of the beloved book written by Hugh Lofting.

John Burroughs’ books about wild animals have delighted generations of children and their parents. In Squirrels and Other Fur-bearers, he talks about animals you can meet in the forests, like squirrels, chipmunks, racoons, minks, rabbits, and even porcupines.

Entertainment, not education was the main drive for William Roscoe to write “The Butterfly’s Ball and the Grasshopper’s Feast”. Many poems for children like this one were collected in a magazine, and we present here a Selection From Harris’s Cabinet containing even two versions of Roscoe’s poem.

Many more authors wrote about all kinds of animals, and The Animal Story Book collects 66 stories.Topics are for example what elephants can do, lions and their ways, bears in Paris, or how ravens have a funeral.

No proper funerals were given to the buffalo of the American prairies when they were hunted almost to extinction. That “almost” in that sentence is because of William T. Hornaday, whose 1887 book The Extermination of the American Bison prevented the worst outcome just in time.

But then again, maybe not all would have been lost. The new Bronx Zoo in New York City is determined to find and keep the finest of rare species – and merely extinct animals are not the most unusual ones of their collection. Read In Search of the Unknown by Robert W. Chambers to see what that means…

Enjoy – and give your pet an extra treat on World Animal Day!


Home Sweet Home

Posted on September 1, 2019 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, Books, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: 1 Comment on Home Sweet Home

Whether we like it or not, once summer is over, we all have to get back to our routines again. Let’s have a look at how others deal with their return to normal in 10 gems from our catalogue.

The story of Odysseus contains probably the most famous homecoming of all times. After the Trojan War and years of wandering, he needed to straighten out his home life as well before settling down for good. This edition is a German retelling of the ancient story by Karl Friedrich Becker.

Albert Payson Terhune tells the story of an unusual war hero: As a carrier dog in WWI, former unwanted puppy Bruce had to face many trials before being allowed to go home. Thankfully, his family can hardly wait to have him back again.

Peter’s family is not so eager to hear from him again, after all, Peter is dead and buried. But he stubbornly refuses to behave accordingly in the drama The Return of Peter Grimm, written by David Belasco and performed by a full LV cast.

Much more excitement elicited Charlie Chaplin when he travelled in Europe. Born in England, he had become a Hollywood superstar and tells in My Trip Abroad about his adventures with fans and journalists in England, France, and Germany.

Latvian hero Lāčplēsis is also a superstar, and he is also travelling through Europe, albeit not on vacation. Heroic deeds are his daily life, and only for a short time can he be happy with his wife. His story is told in the epic poem by Andrejs Pumpurs.

Vandyck Jennings has recently married, and the happy couple has decided to return to his home country. However, Ellador is from Herland, where no men live… How she will fare in male-dominated America is told in Charlotte P. Gilman’s novella With Her in Ourland.

The life of journalist Richard Harding Davis was all but ordinary. He has visited many countries and describes his work on four continents and through five international conflicts in Notes of a War Correspondent.

A nuclear war has wiped out humanity 200 years ago, except for people on a few research outposts in space. In the short story The Return by H. Beam Piper and John McGuire, researchers from one of those outposts discover human survivors and their strange religion.

All that Nikhil hopes for is that his friend Sandip would leave… When the revolutionist bursts into Nikhil’s tranquil life, his marriage quickly spirals out of control… Read The House and the World by Rabindranath Tagore to see if peace and quiet will return again to Nikhil’s home.

A peaceful home is something to be proud of, but it’s never good to be bored. Learn something new and try Making a Rock Garden! The short lecture of Henry Sherman Adams tells you the basics you need to get started.

Enjoy – and cherish your (extra-) ordinary life!


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