Posts Tagged ‘Librivox’

Changing by choice

Monday, 31 January 2011

NaBloPoMo Jan2011So, it’s the end of January, and I’ve completed the month for NaBloPoMo, and am a month on track for PostADay2011. It’s been basically all books this month, but I have some ideas for getting crafts back in for February, and will make myself do some crochet stuff for March ItCroMo, although I still haven’t come up with a pattern or game for the blog as yet. Hopefully I still will…

Cover of Speech in the English Novel

Cover of Speech inthe English Novel

14. Speech in the English Novel (2nd ed.) by Norman Page

If someone had told me I had to read this book I’d probably have been very annoyed indeed, but when I chose to do so I found it very interesting, and a fairly quick read, for non-fiction. (I tend to read non-fiction a page or two at a time, whereas I devour fiction when I enjoy it.) I didn’t think I liked literary criticism in school, perhaps because it generally seemed to entail focussing on details to the detriment of the story, and without any explanation of how or why this analysis might enhance our understanding and enjoyment of the novel/play/poem/essay under discussion.

However, coming to this book for myself, and bringing my linguistic training to a developing interest (through this blog) in really thinking about what I’m reading beyond whether or not I enjoyed it, I found it both revealing and intriguing.

While the focus of the book is the place and use of dialogue in novels, the scope goes far beyond this, discussing types of speech and speech-like narrative; stylistics and realism within written speech; differentiation between different speakers and what this portrays to the reader, and more. There are plenty of snippets and sections quoted from novels published over approximately 250 years. The author suggests that the focus of this particular work is unusual, and that his purpose is to open up a discussion by setting out various features and definitions.

I’m not sure I’m ready to look into how much this topic has flourished over the past few decades, but I do appreciate that I may now occasionally notice more about the use of speech within all novels, not just English ones (or even ones in English, since Page only tangentially mentions world literature at all). I don’t think I’ll be doing so all the time, nor would I want to, since I still feel that focussing too much on the craft takes me out of the story being told, but I do think I want to follow up and read at least one of the books discussed in some level of detail here, Our Mutual Friend, by Charles Dickens. I’m dithering about simply listening to one of the three different versions on LibriVox only because after learning about the techniques Dickens used I’m inclined to want to see them on the page this time. We’ll see. I could read it on Gutenburg too, seeing as we don’t currently have a physical copy, nor is there one available locally on BookMooch at the moment.


Wednesday, 26 January 2011

NaBloPoMo Jan2011Like Clover, its immediate predecessor in the What Katy Did series (although Katy is barely present in this volume at all), which I discussed a few days ago, this was well read for LibriVox by Elli. I’ve heard this reader on other things as well, and she’s generally very good indeed, with expression and obvious care and understanding for what she’s reading. My two (very minor) quibbles with her reading are that she can be a bit quiet and that a few words are pronounced a little unusually. I’m quite happy to listen to more of her narration, however.

12. In the High Valley by Susan Coolidge

So,  we’re a few years after the close of Clover; the eponymous heroine of that book now having been Mrs Geoff Templestowe a few years, with the third sister, Elsie, having in the meantime married their cousin Clarence, Geoff’s partner in the High Valley ranch. At the start of this book Imogen and Lionel Young are on their way to join those living there. In England they are neighbours to the Templestowe family, and have met Geoff and Clover on a visit the couple made ‘home’. Lionel is back in England temporarily, to bring his sister to the High Valley where he is to become a third partner, with his sister to keep house for him. Unfortunately, she doesn’t rave about America, Americans, or Clover in particular the way those around her do, and she doesn’t quite have the social graces to hide the fact, either. She does her best, but perhaps isn’t quite cut out for rural Colorado

Free Books!

Tuesday, 25 January 2011
Eight Hamodia books

Eight Hamodia books

We just got our prize from a Chanuka raffle, and it’s a nice one. Expect reviews of at least some of these in the next few months.

As for free books for the rest of you, I just learned of new ways to access the cornucopia of material available on Project Gutenberg, Librivox and elsewhere. (I’ve recommended both of those sites here many times before.)

E.C. recently recommended a freely downloadable Kindle application for the PC, which you may find useful for paid products or free ones.

Somehow I missed it three months ago when it apparently started, but is now offering random rateable chapters of Librivox books to listen to. Each chapter has a link to the work’s info and download page so that ifwhen you find something you like you can listen to the whole thing. This seems like a great way to find new audiobooks (the RSS feed of what’s newly published is another), which I believe is the intention, but I also enjoyed just listening to what came up, hitting “Next” if I wasn’t interested in what came up. For me, poetry and chapters of old favourites were best for this, but some new random chapters were good to, even without knowing what came before. (This works better with non-fiction than novels, in my opinion.)

Old Friends

Friday, 21 January 2011

NaBloPoMo Jan2011It’s nearly a year since I said I wanted to listen to this, but it finally became available on Librivox, and I decided not to relisten to the three What Katy Did books first, since I do know those quite well.

10. Clover by Susan Coolidge

The story didn’t really come back to me from the one previous time I’d read it, but the ending was reasonably predictable (the invalid recovering and an engagement). What was fun, beside learning more of the lives of characters I’d known all my life, was the less predictable middle, with new characters like the irrepressible Mrs Watson. I wouldn’t have minded a bit more depth and detail on the adult topics, but that’s partly because we’re now discussing adults (the youngest character we see more than once is Phil, now well into his teens), whereas this is the continuation of a series for children.

I’m listening to In the High Valley still, so will talk more about this with that one, since I’m low on time right now.

A book post I dithered about

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Being March, it’s pretty much crochet all the way, in terms of blogging, but I do have a book left from 2009 to discuss. As the post title suggests, I dithered about putting it on the 2009 list at all, because it’s a play, that could be argued to have been performed (with an actor per part) rather than simply read. However, this is a Librivox recording, with the parts read, and I let in Pygmalion, which had the same issues, plus this was relevant to a 2010 book I’ve already discussed, so here it is:

75. Hamlet by William Shakespeare

The first thing to note is that I studied this play in my last two years of secondary school, so I know it reasonably well. Still, there are always new aspects to a classic (or indeed any good) work, and that was several years ago, so it was time to revisit this one.

The second is that this recording has some very good readers in it. (A few good enough that I’ve noted their names, and the fact that they’ve done a recording ups its likelihood of me choosing to listen to it, like Andy Minter, Kara Shallenberg and Karen Savage. Others were good too, but haven’t come up enough for me to have paid attention to who they are yet.)

The editing together of the individually and separately read parts has been beautifully done, so that if you didn’t know that’s how LV play readings were done, you wouldn’t guess it from much of this. Very occasionally the tone of two speakers in a conversation doesn’t match, but this only really seemed to come up where very minor characters were involved. I can’t be sure, but at a guess, the major players conferred over what tone to take for their joint scenes.

So what did I gain from this version of the play? Well, an easy way to revisit it, for one. I generally dislike reading whole plays in print, as it rather belies the point, but at the same time I don’t get to the theatre all that often, nor do I have a television to see them there.

I’d never blame my very good English teacher, but I seem to have rather glossed over the play-within-the-play in the past, and not realised quite how pointed the references (nay, insults) were. I also realised that it’s not just the characters from The Merchant of Venice that I don’t really like (no, none of them), but these, either. Shakespearean characters can be ones I am interested in, and even occasionally care about for the course of the play, without my thinking much of their principles, or liking them much as people.

Anyway, definitely worth a listen!

Not something I’ve done before

Saturday, 27 February 2010

So, thanks to Heather on Craftlit – which has just started Persuasion, one of Jane Austen’s lesser known novels, with one of the five Librivox recordings – I just found out that Librivox is having a fundraiser. They’re trying to raise $20,000 to upgrade their website, hardware, and pay for their hosting costs. As my readers must know, I listen to a whole lot of Librivox content, so I’d like to help them out if I can. Since they haven’t advertised the fundraiser much, I thought some of you might like to know about this too.


Monday, 22 February 2010

I’m up to the second-last book from 2009. I really need to read some more for 2010, and crochet more, and stuff like that, but at least the blogging is going better this month…

74. Jailed for Freedom by Doris Stevens

I know a reasonable amount about the women’s suffrage movement in the UK, but I hadn’t really come across any discussion of the movement in the USA (or anywhere else, really), so this was a very interesting book indeed, for both the differences and similarities between the campaigns and what they were actually fighting for and against. This particular book does not in any way claim to be neutral on the topic – Doris Stevens was prominent in the particular fight (picketing of the White House for national, federally mandated women’s suffrage, and its consequences) she describes herein – but she gives enough sources that I would accept most of the facts, with the knowledge that the ‘other side’ might well have represented them differently.

Stevens doesn’t pull too many punches about the politicians who promised support to the cause when it was politically expedient, but then didn’t do much of anything to help. (President Woodrow Wilson is brought up on this charge repeatedly.) She is plain spoken about the rights and wrongs of events discussed, as she saw them. Still, this is historical account as well as well-argued polemic.

It is also generally well-read by the Librivox crew. Since there are several readers, there are bound to be some you’ll like better than others, but none made me outright cringe, so that’s okay. This would make excellent source material for any student of the topic/period, especially school students, since it is very clear and easy to understand, both in content and bias. The general reader/listener is recommended to it as well.


Wednesday, 17 February 2010

I have a friend coming over later, so want to get today’s post in relatively early, so as not to miss it.

72. Mary Cary, Frequently Martha by Kate Langley Bosher

I can’t find any information about the author online, but this is an interesting book. It’s set in the orphan asylum of a relatively small town and is the first person tale of Mary Cary, a memorable (she gets into more than her fair share of scrapes) and influential inhabitant of the asylum. She distinguishes her moods as feeling like Mary or Martha, which suggests a strong Christian influence, and yet I couldn’t quite place this book at all. I may have been distracted while listening to it, but although the story worked, on some level it just didn’t hang together for me. The ending was all a bit fairytale-ish for my liking.

While making supper

Monday, 15 February 2010

2009: 70. Told after Supper by Jerome K. Jerome

I don’t have very much time left to get a blog post in today, so while the food is cooking, I’ll reminisce about this audiobook. Three Men in a Boat and its sequel Three Men on the Bummel have long been favourites of mine, so I thought it well worth trying out this collection of stories (often ghostly, always extremely humorous) from the author. Like many of the classic story anthologies, these are loosely woven together in an entertaining framing story of how these are told at a gathering one evening. Recommended.

This machine nearly stopped

Sunday, 14 February 2010

(Our router reset itself this evening, and had it taken too much longer to sort out, I mightn’t have got a blog post in tonight, which would have put me out of NaBloPoMo again. However, here I still am, for now!)

More from 2009:

69. The Machine Stops by E. M. Forster

I had a bit of déjà vu listening to this, so it is possible I had previously read or heard this, but if so it was a long time ago. I don’t think of Forster as a science fiction author, being more familiar with A Room with a View and his other turn of the (nineteenth) century novels. This is a well-plotted and thought out sci-fi story, however, and I may have to seek any more such of his. It warns of the dangers of becoming so dependent on machine interventions with the world that we lose the point in life, and is a timely occasional reminder!