Posted tagged ‘non-fiction’

The World’s Lumber Room by Selina Gaye

October 2, 2012

As the author, Selina Gaye (1840 – 1914), writes in her preface: “The object of this volume is to give, in popular form, an account of some of the many ways in which refuse is made and disposed of, first and chiefly by Nature, and secondly by Man.” So, yes, it is nine hours of rubbish. 😉

This recording is a little out of the ordinary for me, but I found the book enthralling, and having recorded it, I do indeed look at dust and rubbish with new eyes, though it doesn’t in truth make housework any more pleasurable.

In the midst of this recording, I wasn’t very well for some time and couldn’t do much, so I spent many hours in front of the television. I discovered many interesting programmes that dealt with the natural world, in particular geologist Prof. Iain Stewart’s excellent documentaries Earth: The Power of the Planet and How Earth Made Us.

To my surprise, there seems to be little in Selina Gaye’s book that has actually been disproved more than a century later. She admits herself that the science of the day did not yet provide the answers to some questions (the cause of earthquakes, for instance), but this is unsurprising as plate tectonics had not even been thought of when the book was written in 1885.

Miss Gaye clearly consulted many scientific authorities of the day, using as her sources works such as Elements of Chemical and Physical Geology by Gustav Bischof, Darwin’s Journal of Researches, Coral Reefs and Vegetable Mould and Earthworms, Dana’s Coral Reefs and Islands, Maury’s The Physical Geography of the Sea, and the Earl of Dunraven’s The Great Divide among many other books and scientific journals.

I really enjoyed recording this. I learned a lot, and it made me much more curious about the natural world than I had ever been before. I do hope you find the same.

Here it is: http://librivox.org/the-worlds-lumber-room-by-selina-gaye/

New LibriVox recording: The Human Machine

September 28, 2012

After a long hiatus owing to poor health I am back, and have at last released my latest LibriVox recording. This time it is The Human Machine, another shortish work by Arnold Bennett (1867-1931).

In this Olympic year in particular, much has been made about the benefits of physical excellence. Nobody has mentioned the importance of mental excellence, and indeed the ability even to use one’s brain seems to be sadly neglected in this brave new world of ours.

Those of us whose bodies are not capable of athletic prowess (and in my current state, I certainly include myself in that), can still improve our lives by training and controlling our own ‘human machine’. However frustrating we find aspects of our lives, all is not lost. 😉

Bennett speaks to me. I hope that he speaks to you, and that the listener too, as Bennett wrote, “will be surprised at the miracles which lie between his collar and his hat, in that queer box that he calls his head.”

And, as always, Bennett writes so beautifully, so mellifluously.

Here it is:
http://librivox.org/the-human-machine-by-arnold-bennett/

You may also be interested in my earlier Arnold Bennett recordings:

Mental Efficiency
The Feast of St. Friend
Self and Self-management: Essays about Existing

Soon to come: 310 pages, or nearly 10 hours, of… rubbish. You will be enthralled. 😀

LibriVox and Charles Dickens

February 8, 2012

I may be a day late as Dickens’s birthday was yesterday, but we at LibriVox will be working away throughout the 200th anniversary year to bring you as many of Dickens’s lesser-known works as possible.

Already, there are LibriVox recordings of all his great novels – many have a choice of recordings. Now, we are working our way through his other works, including short stories, magazine articles, letters, speeches and poetry.

Volume 1 of our Charles Dickens 200th Anniversary Collection was released yesterday on the great man’s birthday, and we have several more volumes in progress.

This volume has short stories, articles, speeches and poetry. If you have never managed to get to grips with one of his vast novels, do try listening to some of his shorter stories, or one of his rants about the many things that he disagreed with. He is remarkably funny at times.

http://librivox.org/charles-dickens-200th-anniversary-collection-vol-1-by-charles-dickens/

You may also be interested in the short Dickens-flavoured podcast that I hosted this week. Lucy Perry, Martin Geeson and Andy Minter tell us why they have come to like Dickens, and there are short excerpts of some recordings too, to give you an idea of what there is to enjoy.

http://librivox.org/2012/02/02/librivox-community-podcast-123/


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