2016 Book List Thread at LibriVox

Leave a comment

Over at LibriVox, the folks have a thread going in which we are invited to keep a running list of the books we are reading. It’s a great way to keep track of titles that would probably get lost in my increasingly porous memory. Over here on my blog, I’m only writing about a random selection of books, not everything I’ve read. For my complete reading list, here’s the link to that LibriVox thread:

LibriVox 2016 Book Lists Thread  (This should take you directly to my book list. By scrolling up and down the thread, you can also read other folks’ lists, which is a great way to come up with other reading suggestions.)

(Book list last updated April 1st 2016).


Books Read in 2015


As you may have noticed, the sticky-post at the top of this blog has changed. The 2015 LibriVox Book List Thread has been updated for the last time. To avoid having to click over to the LibriVox site to see that list again, I’m posting it here for future reference:

(Meanwhile, the new sticky-post above contains the updated link to the current year’s Book List in progress.)

Totals —
57 print books read in 2015 —
and 52 audio books listened to.

What I Read:

Print Books Read From Library:
1. When Books Went to War (Molly Guptill Manning)
2. Sam Patch, the Famous Jumper (Paul E. Johnson)
3. On Looking (Alexandra Horowitz)
4. Station Eleven (Emily St. John Mandel)
5. Snow in the Cities (Blake McKelvey)
6. Disasters at Sea (Liz Mechem)
7. The Handsome Man’s De Luxe Cafe (Alexander McCall Smith)
8. Encountering Ellis Island (Ronald Bayor)
9. Curse of the Narrows (Laura MacDonald)
10. The Age of Miracles (Karen Thompson Walker)
11. Windswept (Marq de Villiers)
12. The Church of Mercy (Pope Francis)
13. London Under (Peter Ackroyd)
14. A Fatal Grace (Louise Penny)
15. The Zookeeper’s Wife (Diane Ackerman)
16. Disaster: Hurricane Katrina (Christopher Cooper)
17. Imagine the Angels of Bread (Martin Espada)
18. The Warmth of Other Suns (Isabel Wilkerson)
19. All The Men in the Sea (Michael Krieger)
20. Overcoming Katrina (by D’Ann Penner and Keith Ferdinand)
21. Mavericks of the Sky (Barry Rosenberg & Catherine Macaulay)
22. Humans of New York (Brandon Stanton)
23. Flesh and Blood So Cheap (Albert Marrin)
24. The Oregon Trail (Rinker Buck)
25. Silent Leader (Rodney Brown)
26. Nothing Daunted (Dorothy Wickenden)
27. The Wreckers (Bella Bathurst)
28. Sister Wendy on Prayer (Wendy Beckett)
29. 100 Essential American Poems (ed. by Leslie Pockell)
30. The Frozen Water Trade (Gavin Weightman)
31. The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine (Alexander McCall Smith)
32. The Great Good Thing (Roderick Townley)

My Own Print Books Read:
1. Heart Mountain (Mike Mackey)
2. The Princess Bride (William Goldman)
3. Miss Pym Disposes (Josephine Tey)
4. Code Talker (Chester Nez)
6. An Altar in the World (Barbara Brown Taylor)
7. The Franchise Affair (Josephine Tey)
8. The Fellowship of the Ring (J. R. R. Tolkien)
9. The Island of Dr. Moreau (H. G. Wells)
10. The Pushcart War (Jean Merrill)
11. Brat Farrar (Josephine Tey)
12. The Little World of Don Camillo (Giovanni Guareschi)
13. Don Camillo and His Flock (Giovanni Guareschi)
14. Anything Can Happen (George and Helen Papashvily)
15. A Walk in the Woods (Bill Bryson)
16. The Two Towers (J. R. R. Tolkien)
17. God and You (William Barry)
18. The Inner Voice of Love (Henri Nouwen)
19. Kidnapped (Robert Louis Stevenson)
20. That Man is You (Louis Evely)
21. From My Seat on the Aisle (Jack Garner)
22. The Nine Tailors (Dorothy Sayers)
23. View With a Grain of Sand (Wislawa Szymborska)
24. A Child’s Christmas in Wales (Dylan Thomas)
25. The Daughter of Time (Josephine Tey)

Read for LibriVox:
Solos – (I recorded the entire book):

1. They Who Knock at Our Gates (Mary Antin)
2. San Francisco Earthquake as Reported in the Newspapers

Read for LibriVox:
Duets – (I recorded half of the book, GregG recorded the other half. Listened to entire book when finished):
1. The Secret Service (Albert Richardson)
2. History of the Earthquake & Fire in San Francisco (F. Aitkin & E. Hilton)
3. Christmastide (William Sandys)
4. Unknown London (Walter George Bell)
5. The Life of Abraham Lincoln (Ward Hill Lamon) 

Read for LibriVox:
Group Projects – (I recorded some chapters, among multiple other readers. Listened to entire book when finished):
1. BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Report (National Committee Report) 
2. Fathers of Confederation (A. H. U. Colquhoun)
3. Extermination of the American Bison (William Hornaday)
4. All Afloat (William Wood)
5. The Day of Sir Wilfred Laurier (Oscar Skelton)
6. Magna Carta Commemoration Essays (ed. by Henry Malden)
7. The Railway Builders (Oscar Skelton)
8. Final Report of the Committee to Investigate Hurricane Katrina (U.S. House of Representatives)
9. More English Fairy Tales (ed. by Joseph Jacobs)
10. LibriVox 10th Anniversary Collection (Read ten items out of 100. Listened to just about 50 others when cataloged.)
11. Some Eminent Women of Our Times (Millicent Garrett Fawcett)
12. Good Cheer Stories Every Child Should Know (ed. by Asa Don Dickenson)
13. Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule (M. K. Gandhi)
14. Cinderella (George Calderon) (Dramatic work. Read role of Aunt Judy, listened to whole play when done)
15. Helen of Troy and Other Poems (Sara Teasdale)

Listened to from LibriVox:
As Proof-Listener (or editor):

1. Tish: Chronicle of her Escapades and Excursions (Mary Roberts Rinehart)
2. Dot and the Kangaroo (Ethel Pedley)
3. Pillars of Society (Henrik Ibsen)
4. Brewing (Alfred Chaston Chapman)
5. Pearls (William J. Dakin)
6. Confessions (Saint Augustine of Hippo)
7. The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft (George Gissing)
8. Dramatic Reading Scene & Story Collection (as editor of four stories)

Listened to from LibriVox:
Just Plain Listened:
1. A Negro Explorer at the North Pole (Matthew Henson)
2. Three Times and Out (Nellie McClung)
3. The American Rivals of Sherlock Holmes (Various Authors)
4. Nurse and Spy in the Union Army (Sarah Emma Edmonds)
5. The Girl at Central (Geraldine Bonner)
6. The Winning of Popular Government (Archibald MacMechan)
7. The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (Version 3) (Charles Dickens)
8. More Tish (Mary Roberts Rinehart)
9. Selected Classics of Washington Irving (Washington Irving)
10. The Day of Sir John MacDonald (Joseph Pope)
11. The Poetry of St. Teresa of Avila (St. Teresa of Avila)
12. The Autobiography of Mother Jones (Mary Harris Jones)
13. Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (James Weldon Johnson)
14. Washington Irving in London (Washington Irving)
15. My Discovery of England (Stephen Leacock)
16. Selected Essays of Samuel Johnson (Samuel Johnson)
17. The Mounties in the News (New York Times)
18. The Call of the Wild (Jack London)
19. The Amateur Emigrant (Robert Louis Stevenson)
20. Men, Women, and Guns (Sapper)
21. Kings, Queens, and Pawns (Mary Roberts Rinehart)
22. Christmas Books (Charles Dickens)
23. Christmas Short Works Collection

LibriVox 10th Anniversary Collection


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!

The San Francisco Earthquake


San Francisco Newspapers Cover PictureThe San Francisco Earthquake of 1906
by a number of nameless but intrepid newspapermen

A few months ago, I began working on a LibriVox recording with my usual LV team — (GregG and AnnB) — A History of the Earthquake and Fire in San Francisco by Aitkin & Hilton, written in 1906 just a few months after the events described in the book. In the course of working on that project, I became particularly interested in the work of the newspapermen of that city. The headquarters of all the major newspapers were destroyed, along with their printing presses, and yet the reporters still managed to collect and publish news of what was happening around them. On the Library of Congress website, I found this collection of historic newspapers, including several issues of the San Francisco Call from the days following the earthquake. That led to my most recent solo project, The San Francisco Earthquake and Fire as Reported in the Newspapers of that City.

Reading these newspapers, more than a century old, felt surprisingly familiar. It connected in my mind with the reading I do at Reachout Radio, where we do live readings from today’s newspapers. In the Aitkin & Hilton book, even though it was written shortly after the event, the story was told in the past tense, as something already beginning to pass from “news” to “history”. In the newspaper readings, everything is happening in the present tense, in the immediate here and now. If only radio had existed in 1906, I might have been a Reachout Radio reader, turning the pages of the papers, looking for the articles that would be most informative to the listeners on the other end of the airwaves.

We would have to begin with the leading articles, the ones which pull together the big picture of what’s happening. Where are the present fire lines and which way is the fire moving? Where are the civic leaders meeting and what is their game plan? Where are people to go for safety, and how are they to get there? Before the internet, before television, before radio, the printing press was the clearing house for everything people most desperately needed to know.

Then there are the small and personal items. A wealthy woman lost all her property in the fire, but announced that she was giving half of what she had in the bank to the relief fund. Two men in what appeared to be a Red Cross wagon stole blankets and jewelry from the homeless camped in Golden Gate Park. Enrico Caruso got a black eye during an altercation over luggage at the ferry boat wharf. A University of California professor rescued the paintings at Hopkins Art Institute by cutting them out of their frames as the flames surrounded the building, rolling up the canvases and taking them to safety.

The reporters diligently collected data and more data, and devoted full pages to making it available. People seeking friends and relatives checked the hundreds of names and addresses published in the papers. Lists of people hospitalized at various locations were available, with a brief description of their injury. Locations of relief stations and food distribution stations were published in the paper. Businessmen, driven out of one location, turned to the newspapers to announce new temporary locations and to ask their employees to check in.

Even the “Personals” were fascinating little glimpses of small human details in the larger story. Herb asked Eve in a classified ad, “Where are you?” Mr. Monteverde published an ad asking for information on the whereabouts of the children of the Mexican Vice President, who had been staying with a Miss Velasco. Our Lady of the Sacred Heart announced that their building had escaped unharmed and that school would resume Monday. An enterprising Oakland real estate broker advertised “an earthquake-proof 5-room cottage” and advised the reader to “Grab it quick!”

The San Francisco newspapermen were working under serious disadvantages. All three major papers in the city lost their buildings to the fire on the first day. But being true news hounds, they weren’t about to give up when they were standing in the middle of a big story. Reporters from the three rival papers pooled their stories on the first day, located a borrowed press across the bay in Oakland, and put a small 4-page edition on the streets of San Francisco the next morning. By the following day, each paper had organized a temporary location of its own and was ready for some serious reporting. By the third day, the San Francisco Call was putting out eight pages of fine print, including stories from surrounding towns like Santa Rosa and Mendocino.

Of course, the newspapermen couldn’t help including an article about themselves. “Call Distributed Free to the People from Automobile — Crowds Rush Frantically to Secure Paper Wherever Stops are Made” announced a headline of pardonable pride.  Yes, we did a good job, the boys of the press told themselves and their readers. It was true; they did a job of notable importance and they did it well. And to top it off, they temporarily waived profit for the sake of their deeper mission — the perennial mission of the press, yesterday and today and always — keeping the people informed.

2015 Reading List on LibriVox Forum

Leave a comment

Over at LibriVox, the folks have a thread going in which we are invited to keep a running list of the books we are reading. This year I’m participating, because it’s a great way to keep track of titles that would probably get lost in my increasingly porous memory. Over here on my blog, I’m only writing about a random selection of books, not everything I’ve read. For the complete reading list, here’s the link to that LibriVox thread:

LibriVox 2015 Book Lists Thread  (This should take you directly to my list. By scrolling up and down the thread, you can also read other folks’ lists.)

(Book list last updated January 1st 2016).

They Who Knock at Our Gates

Leave a comment

They Who Knock Cover PictureThey Who Knock at Our Gates
by Mary Antin

The stories of my immigrant great-grandparents were woven all through the years I spent living in the same house with Grandma and Grandpa. Maybe it’s because of that, but whenever I hear anyone speaking dismissively of today’s immigrants, I want to rush to their defense. When I came across a copy of this little book, written a hundred years ago, I wanted to shout “Yes! That’s it!” to the author.  Mary Antin hit the target and put her finger on exactly the point that has bothered me, the sore spot that I’ve never quite been able to name in words.

This is what burns — that we’re missing the point. Those who want to restrict immigration because “they take away jobs” and those who want to encourage it  because “they do jobs no American wants to do” are both equally missing the point. They are both talking as though it’s merely a utilitarian issue. The hollow empty place inside me, the place that hungered for a satisfaction, found something solid in Antin’s discussion. The real point is that we have an unacknowledged, unexamined moral question that lies at the root of the whole tree. Who are we, and what is America? If we can’t answer that question, then we are chasing shadows, arguing trivia.

Mary Antin takes us back to the foundation, back to the Declaration of Independence, back to the roots of the American experiment. What follows, one way or another, must grow from that root, or else it is just dead wood.

I read this little book for LibriVox.  Here’s the audiobook version, if you want to listen.

In 1914, over one million immigrants arrived in the United States, following in the footsteps of approximately ten million others who had arrived in the preceding decade. Faced with so many newcomers, many of them from backgrounds new to the American mix, voices in government and in the press had begun arguing in favor of more severely restrictionist immigration policies. In They Who Knock at Our Gates, Mary Antin broke down the discussion into three basic questions. First, the ethical question — Where do we discover a right to restrict new arrivals, in light of all men’s equal natural rights as declared by our founding documents? Second, the factual questions — Who are these new immigrants, what sorts of gifts and qualities do they possess, what are their strengths and weaknesses, and what biases do we bring to our assessment of them? And third, the slippery question of individual interpretation — How shall we decide without prejudice whether immigration is good for us, as a nation and as individual citizens? Written a century ago, Mary Antin’s analysis of the “immigration question” still speaks to current readers.

The Secret Service, the Field, the Dungeon, and the Escape

Leave a comment

Secret Service Cover PictureThe Secret Service, the Field, the Dungeon, and the Escape
by Albert Richardson

Last summer, I read Junius and Albert’s Adventures in the Confederacy by Peter Carlson and wrote about it in a post on this blog.  Afterwards I looked online for copies of the original memoirs of the two subjects, and after browsing them to see which one appealed to me as the more interesting, settled for this one by Albert Richardson.  Over the course of about six months, a team of three LibriVoxers have produced this audiobook version of Richardson’s memoir.  (GregG and I split the reading of the chapters, and AnnB was our coordinator/prooflistener.)

Here I’ll simply quote the book summary which I wrote for the LibriVox catalog listing:

  • Albert Richardson was a reporter for Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune when he volunteered to hazard an undercover journey through the American south, reporting incognito on the growing secession crisis in that region. With the outbreak of the Civil War in April 1861, he attached himself to the Union armies as a war correspondent, sending dispatches from the fields of battle for the next two years. Then, in May 1863, while attempting to pass a Confederate battery outside Vicksburg, Richardson found himself thrown from a burning barge into the Mississippi River, swimming for his life with a squad of Union soldiers and several other reporters. Captured as a prisoner, he was at first confident that as a civilian newspaperman he would be quickly exchanged. Instead, he was to spend the next 18 months in various prisoner of war camps. Seizing at last an opportunity for escape, he set out to cross the snowy Appalachians in the dead of winter, heading for Union lines in Tennessee, assisted by a secret network of slaves, Unionists, and bushwhackers. Albert Richardson’s own personal memoir of his wartime adventures, published in 1865, offers readers a rousing historical narrative presented with a journalist’s eye for detail.

Older Entries