Solo: English Non-fiction


Birds in the Calendar by F.G. Aflalo

The Diary of a Dead Officer by Arthur Graeme West

The Feast of St. Friend by Arnold Bennett

History of London by Walter Besant

How to Sing (Meine Gesangskunst) by Lilli Lehmann

The Human Machine by Arnold Bennett

Mental Efficiency and Other Hints to Men and Women by Arnold Bennett

Self and Self-management: Essays about Existing by Arnold Bennett

The Story of Electricity by John Munro

The World’s Lumber Room by Selina Gaye

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Short Non-fiction

Introduction to English Madrigals in the Time of Shakespeare
Extract from Eight Pillars of Prosperity by James Allen: Eighth Pillar – Self-reliance
Gardening in the Eighteenth Century by George Henslow
Sculling Fours and Eights by Frederick James Furnivall
Booksellers’ Sales in the Eighteenth Century by William Henry Peet
Number Seven by William Sidney Gibson
William Harvey and the Discovery of the Circulation of the Blood by T. H. Huxley

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Speeches

The Locust Years, speech by Winston Churchill, 1938
Never Flinch, Never Weary, Never Despair, speech by Winston Churchill, 1955

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Birds in the Calendar by Frederick G. Aflalo
Total running time: 2 hrs 30 mins

Delightful sketches of British wild birds – a bird for every month of the year from the pheasant in January to the robin in December. This collection of articles, reprinted in book form from the periodical The Outlook, is full of fascinating information about bird behaviour and habitat, as well as many interesting anecdotes.

Out of date in some respects, particularly in its reference to the (now illegal) collecting of birds’ eggs, this book brings home forcefully how the populations of some British wild birds have declined since it was written.

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The Diary of a Dead Officer by Arthur Graeme West
Total running time: 3 hrs 43 mins

Published posthumously in 1919, this collection of diary entries presents a scathing picture of army life and is said to be one of the most vivid accounts of daily life in the trenches. It chronicles West’s increasing disillusion with war and his move toward pacifist and atheist beliefs. The final part consists of his powerful war poems, including God, How I Hate You, You Young Cheerful Men, and Night Patrol. West was killed by a sniper in 1917. In view of some of his poems, one wonders if death was not unwelcome.

This was a very hard read, and certainly not to everyone’s taste to listen to. I understand that.

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The Feast of St. Friend by Arnold Bennett (1867-1931)
Total running time: 1 hr 30 mins

In The Feast of St. Friend, a Christmas book, Arnold Bennett shares his views on Christmas as the season of goodwill. As always, Bennett’s writing includes some thought-provoking ideas liberally spiced with his wry sense of humour, and as always too, you can barely believe it was written so long ago. This was published in 1911.

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The History of London by Walter Besant (1836-1901)
Total running time: 8 hrs 35 mins

This book is an overview of London’s entire history for the period from prehistory until the 19th century. It appears originally to have been written for boys, and, indeed, the chapters are called “Lessons”, but I found it very readable, and I learned a great deal.

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How to Sing (Meine Gesangskunst by Lilli Lehmann
Running time: 5 hrs 24 mins

Lilli Lehmann, born Elisabeth Maria Lehmann, was a German operatic soprano of phenomenal versatility. She was also a voice teacher.

She wrote: “Every serious artist has a sincere desire to help others reach the goal—the goal toward which all singers are striving: to sing well and beautifully.” This is the 1915 second (expanded) edition of her book, and the accompanying online book scan includes many illustrations and diagrams, both physiological and musical, which the listener will find useful.

This book is not for everyone. Much of Lilli Lehmann’s advice is complex and demanding – the standards which she set for herself were beyond the highest aspirations of most professional singers. However, there is still much in this book that is enlightening to all those who are interested in using their voice to best advantage, both in song and the spoken word. I found it extremely valuable, and it made me really think about how my voice works.

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The Human Machine by Arnold Bennett (1867-1931)
Total running time: 2 hrs 48 mins

First published in 1908, this is the 6th edition published in 1913. Bennett asks us to consider our brains as the most wonderful machine, a machine which is the only thing in this world that we can control. As he writes: “I am simply bent on calling your attention to a fact which has perhaps wholly or partially escaped you — namely, that you are the most fascinating bit of machinery that ever was.”

As ever, his prose is honeyed, his thoughts inspired, and his advice as relevant today as when it was written.

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Mental Efficiency and Other Hints to Men and Women by Arnold Bennett (1867-1931)

In this light-hearted yet thought-provoking collection of articles, Bennett offers his thoughts on exercising your mind, organising your life, marriage, books and happiness, and other pocket philosophies.

The book stands the test of time, and much is still relevant and amusing – perhaps even more so, with nearly 100 years of hindsight, than when it was originally written.

The book “X” to which Bennett refers in Chapter 5 is An Essay on the Principle of Population by Thomas Malthus, of which there is also a Librivox recording.

Review by PH: Very good reading!

This book provides hints for a better life and successful personal growth. The book covers the topic of mental efficiency, expressing one’s individuality, breaking with the past, settling down in life, marriage, books, success, the petty artificialities and the secret of content. Ruth Golding did it again and as well as usual! Many thanks for your valuable reading.

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Self and Self-management: Essays about Existing by Arnold Bennett (1867-1931)
Total running time: 1 hr 57 mins

Bennett’s essays always provide food for thought and bring a wry smile to the lips. Human nature, it appears, changes little over the ages, and Bennett’s writing stands the test of time, though in the case of some of the essays in this eclectic collection, it is well to remember that they were written at the time of the First World War and the fight for women’s suffrage.

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The Story of Electricity by John Munro
Total running time: 6 hrs 27 mins

In the book’s preface, the author writes: “Let anyone stop to consider how he individually would be affected if all electrical service were suddenly to cease, and he cannot fail to appreciate the claims of electricity to attentive study.”

In these days when we take for granted all kinds of technology – communications, entertainment, medical, military, industrial and domestic – it is interesting to learn what progress had been made in the fields of electricity and technology by the beginning of the 20th century.

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The World’s Lumber Room, a Gossip about Some of its Contents by Selina Gaye (1840 – 1914)
Total running time: 9 hrs 03 mins

If this book were written today, it would be called “The Story of the World’s Rubbish”.

That may not sound a promising subject for a book, but we are taken on a journey all over the world (and beyond) to explain the many varieties of dust and refuse – animal, vegetable and mineral – how it is made both by man and by nature, what happens to it, and why we need it. We find that recycling is nothing new: man has been doing it for centuries, and nature has been doing it for billions of years. As every schoolboy knows, ‘matter is neither created nor destroyed’, so it stands to reason that every particle of it must be somewhere.

This study of our knowledge of the earth was written for the layman before most of the -ologies were even a twinkle in a professor’s eye. Geology, meteorology, hydrology, biology, glaciology and even sociology and anthropology all have their place in this readable and enjoyable tour of the earth’s ‘lumber room’.


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Short Non-fiction

Introduction to English Madrigals in the Time of Shakespeare by F.A. Cox
Total running time: 49 mins

  • Visit Internet Archive page to listen online, to download other file formats and to see other readers’ recordings in this Non-fiction Collection.
  • Download 64 kbps MP3 file (23.5 MB)

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Visit Internet Archive page to listen online, to download other file formats and to see other readers’ recordings in the LibriVox 8th Anniversary Collection, or download individual files here:

Extract from Eight Pillars of Prosperity by James Allen (1864 – 1912): Eighth Pillar – Self-reliance
Running time: 23 mins

Gardening in the Eighteenth Century by George Henslow (1835 – 1925)
Running time: 7 mins

Booksellers’ Sales in the Eighteenth Century, by William Henry Peet (1849 – 1916)
Running time: 9 mins

Sculling Fours and Eights, by Frederick James Furnivall (1825 – 1910)
Running time: 3 mins

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Visit Internet Archive page to listen online, to download other file formats and to see other readers’ recordings in this Short Non-fiction Collection, or download individual files here:

Number Seven, by William Sidney Gibson (? – 1871)
Running time: 16 mins

William Harvey and the Discovery of the Circulation of the Blood, by Thomas Henry Huxley (1825 – 1895)
Running time: 54 mins

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Speeches

Visit Internet Archive page to listen online, to download other file formats and to see other readers’ recordings in this Collection of Churchill’s Speeches, or download individual files here:

The Locust Years, speech by Winston Churchill, 1938
Running time: 38 mins

Never Flinch, Never Weary, Never Despair, speech by Winston Churchill, 1955
Running time: 38 mins

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