LV 10th AnniversaryLibriVox 10th Anniversary Collection

Every year on August 10th, LibriVox has celebrated the occasion by releasing the annual Anniversary Collection. These are very eclectic potpourris of fiction, poetry, memoirs, essays, history, science articles, even occasional songs, some only two or three minutes long, others nearly an hour long. The only thing these pieces have in common is that each title must include the number of the anniversary year — eight, nine, — and now — ten.

The number of individual items in each collection has grown each year — eighty for the 8th Anniversary, ninety for the 9th — and thus this year, to celebrate the 10th, we have a collection of a full 100 items.

I was a newcomer, a greenhorn, when the 8th Anniversary Collection was assembled. I read five items for the project that year —

  • “Shall Our Presidents Be Elected For Eight Years?” by George Polen (a political essay from 1898)
  • “Eight Hour Strike” by Billy Pastor (a popular union song from 1872)
  • “When Hannah Var Eight Yar Old” by Katherine Girling (a short story from 1915, recounting the tragedy that drove a Swedish girl to America)
  • “Eight Years in a British Consulate” by Zebina Eastman (an 1872 memoir of an American Consul in London during the American Civil War)
  • Excerpt from Eighty Years and More by Elizabeth Cady Stanton (a chapter from the memoir of the woman’s suffrage leader)

The next year, for the 9th Anniversary Collection, I contributed these eight items–

  • “In New York With Nine Cents” by Abraham Mitrie Rihbany (1914 memoir of a Syrian immigrant)
  • “Nine Lost Minutes” (a brief news item from 1911 about standardizing time zones)
  • “99 Linwood Street” by Edward Everett Hale (a sweet and funny short story about an Irish girl’s arrival in 1899 Boston)
  • a chapter from The Nine-Tenths by James Oppenheim (a 1911 novel about labor uprising)
  • Ninth Census, 1870: Instructions (a handbook for the census-taker of 1870)
  • “Nine Elections in One Year” (from 1909, a brief discussion of local election matters)
  • “The Nine-Hour Law” (a 1908 news item about labor law limiting hours for railroad engineers)
  • Nine Months in Rebel Prisons by George Weiser (Union soldier’s 1890 memoir of his Civil War experiences)

And so now we have arrived at the 10th Anniversary Collection. This year, I was more ambitious, and contributed ten items to the collection. I was particularly pleased with the variety of material in this batch. Each item was satisfying to read, solid and interesting, sometimes surprising.

My Contributions to the 10th Anniversary Collection:

  • The Bill of Rights: The First Ten Amendments to the Constitution
    It never hurts to get back to basics now and then. I memorized these in Mrs. Reiss’s AP History class when I was in high school. Nice to know they’re still stuck in my head.
  • Excerpt from Ten Days in a Mad-House by Nelly Bly
    I had a book about intrepid Nellie when I was in junior high, and I remember being riveted by the chapter in which she proved to the editors that she could get the tough stories by infiltrating the asylum on Blackwell’s Island in the guise of an inmate, then writing an expose that brought a flood of inspectors down on that place. For LibriVox, I read two good chapters of this 1887 book.
  • “Ten-Twenty-Thirty” by Arthur Ruhl
    Daddy loved this one, and listened to the recording with pleasure as my in-house proof-listener. This little 1914 essay is a warm nostalgic look back at the world of summer stock theater in the early 1900’s, and the life of those who kept the show going for audiences who paid between 10 cents and 30 cents for a seat to see everything from Shakespeare to melodrama.
  • Excerpt from Ten Years Among the Mail Bags by James Holbrook  
    A quirky little memoir written in 1855 by a postal inspector, recounting an odd assortment of postal scams, frauds, and other shenanigans which he was employed to ferret out and thwart.
  • Sonnet No. 10 from Sonnets from the Portuguese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
    One of the classic sonnet cycles, probably second only to Shakespeare’s in popularity. If you’ve never read the whole cycle, you ought to. Meanwhile here’s just one of them to whet your appetite.
  • Excerpt from The Nine Tenths by James Oppenheim –
    Another chapter from the same novel which I’d read from last year. (Since it has both “nine” and “ten” in its title, I could use it in both collections!) The 9/10ths referred to in the book’s title is the 1911 equivalent of what today would be called the 99% — the folks who do all the work on which the 1/10th (or 1%) get rich.
  • Excerpt from A Ten Year War by Jacob Riis
    This 1900 book opens with the dedication “To the faint-hearted and those of little faith this volume is reproachfully inscribed by the author”. As a follow-up to his earlier work, Riis here looks back on what success and failure has come in the ten years of battle against the tenement house landlords in New York City.
  • “The Tenth of January” by Elizabeth Stuart Phelps
    This 1869 short story tells the tragic tale of a blighted romance and a horrific industrial accident in a bleak New England mill town.
  • “The Ten Blowers” by Abbie Farwell Brown
    A pleasantly whimsical children’s folk tale from 1904, about the miller’s gifted sons who make their fortune as they progress from blowing the sails of windmills to blowing up a wind for the king’s ships.
  • “Longitude Ten Degrees” by Robert Leighton
    From an 1899 collection of seafaring short stories, this one is a rousing account of a plague-stricken ship, an enterprising cabin boy, and an infestation of pirates.

This year’s collection has ninety other items that I haven’t heard yet, recorded by other LibriVox readers. It just hit the catalog this morning, so I haven’t had a chance to explore yet. But I know where I’ll be looking for bedtime stories for the rest of this week! There’s bound to be good stuff in there!

Also –

Don’t forget to check out the LibriVox 10th Anniversary Podcast. Here are interviews with several LibriVox readers and coordinators, as well as two — (yes two!) — fun and lively group sing-alongs (“Boom-de-Yada” and “Ten Years, Ten Years”) in which you may be able to pick out my warbling off-key notes at times. I was in both of the earlier anniversary podcasts, but my bits there were frankly dull. This year I decided that anything is better than being boring — and so you will hear me go to some fairly silly extremes of vocal shenanigans in my tribute to “My Inner Barking Mad Fairy Godmother” for 10th Anniversary Podcast. I’m not the only one who had too much fun on this podcast. Frankly, I can’t get through the first nine minutes of the broadcast without falling off my chair laughing at a cat named Bachelor Number One, the choicest selections from the blooper thread, and chocoholic’s terribly funny lament on recording in a noisy household. So please, listen and laugh!

And remember — we are always looking for new volunteers! Don’t be afraid to come on over and see us on the LibriVox forum!