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By: Bill Nye

Comic History of the United States by Bill Nye Comic History of the United States

For American journalist and humorist Edgar Wilson Nye who wrote under the pen name Bill Nye in the late 19th century, facts are not to be presented in their newborn, bare state. They should be properly draped and embellished before they can be presented before the public. Hence, in the Comic History of the United States published in 1894, he gives his readers the facts. But in a bid to make the historical figures more human he describes them as “people who ate and possibly drank, people who were born, flourished and died, not grave tragedians posing perpetually for their photographs...

Comic History of England by Bill Nye Comic History of England

If you thought history was dull, dry and boring, you haven't read Bill Nye's books! He brings wit, humor, satire, irony and sheer nonsensical fun into the subject, making it both entertaining and memorable. The Comic History of England was published posthumously in 1896 after the writer's tragic and untimely death half-way through the project. Hence it remains incomplete and covers the history of the island nation only up to the Tudor period. However, beginning with Julius Caesar, the Roman invasion of Britain, the Druids and Stonehenge, this book is still a rib-tickling ride through the centuries...

Book cover Bill Nye's Funniest Thoughts

Bill Nye was a famous American humor columnist in the middle 1800's. He said "We can never be a nation of snobs so long as we are willing to poke fun at ourselves." And he did exactly that in hundreds of newspaper columns that were later collected into books. This is a selection of just 35 of the most humorous, wry and downright funny cogitations of his, written of course in the somewhat convoluted style common in the 19th century which just adds to their flavor in my opinion. The selection process was rigorous: only those that made me laugh, giggle or snort are included.

By: Montague R. James (1862-1936)

Ghost Stories of an Antiquary by Montague R. James Ghost Stories of an Antiquary

An English tourist in a small, rural town in the South of France discovers an ancient manuscript with a strange illustration on the last page. A young orphan is sent to live with his elderly cousin, a secretive man who is obsessed with immortality. A picture that tells stories that change according to who is viewing it. These and other delicious, goose bump evoking tales are part of Ghost Stories of an Antiquary by Montague R James. A master of his craft, MR James was an academic and administrator of King's College, Cambridge and later of Eton...

The Five Jars by Montague R. James The Five Jars

The Five Jars is the only novel written by James, who is best known for his ghost stories. It is a peculiarly surreal fantasy apparently written for children. While he is out walking, the narrator is drawn to a remote pool, and finds a small box that has been hidden since Roman times. He gradually learns how to use its contents, fighting off a series of attempts to steal it, and becomes aware of a strange world hidden from our own.

By: Saki (1870-1916)

Reginald by Saki Reginald

Saki was the pen name of the British author Hector Hugh Munro (1870 – 1916). His witty, biting and occasionally odd short stories satirised Edwardian culture. Saki is considered a master of the short story and has been compared to O. Henry and Dorothy Parker as well as Noel Coward and Oscar Wilde (who clearly influenced Saki). His first collection of short stories, Reginald, was published by Methuen Press in 1904 though these stories first appeared in the ‘Westminster Gazette’. The stories...

The Chronicles of Clovis by Saki The Chronicles of Clovis

This is the third collection of short stories by Saki, following on from “Reginald” and “Reginald in Russia”. Although some of the stories have characters that do not appear elsewhere in the collection, many of them are loosely centred round the young Clovis Sangrail (effectively a reincarnation of Reginald).

Beasts and Super-Beasts by Saki Beasts and Super-Beasts

Saki (December 18, 1870 – November 14, 1916) was the pen name of British author Hector Hugh Munro. Saki’s world contrasts the effete conventions and hypocrisies of Edwardian England with the ruthless but straightforward life-and-death struggles of nature. Nature generally wins in the end.

When William Came by Saki When William Came

We have had many novels about alternate histories, often of the ‘What would have happened if Hitler had won the war’ type and this is another – except that this one is set in 1913 and the ‘William’ of the title is that old bogeyman ‘Kaiser Bill’. For some reason, at the height of Britain’s power, the fear of invasion was common at that time. (See ‘The Riddle of the Sands’, ‘The Battle of Dorking’, ‘Spies of the Kaiser’ or even ‘The War of the Worlds’)WARNING:- Contains mild anti-semitism and jingoism typical of the period

By: Nellie Bly (1864-1922)

Ten Days in a Madhouse by Nellie Bly Ten Days in a Madhouse

Long before Christiane Amanpour, Frances Fitzgerald and Martha Gellhorn blazed a trail in courageous investigative journalism, a pioneering and intrepid writer and journalist whose pen name was Nellie Bly opened up a whole new field in what had previously been a strictly male domain. Ten Days in a Madhouse was published as a series of articles in the New York World during 1887. Nellie Bly was given the assignment by her editor to have herself committed to an insane asylum in New York with a “view to writing a plain and unvarnished narrative of the treatment of patients therein and the methods of management...

Around the World in Seventy-Two Days by Nellie Bly Around the World in Seventy-Two Days

This is a true account by American woman journalist who, in 1889, set out to see whether she could beat the fictional journey in Jules Verne’s 1873 novel, Around the World in Eighty Days. Wearing one dress and carrying one handbag, Elizabeth Cochrane Seaman (pen name “Nellie Bly”), reported her travels back to avid readers in America.

By: Amelia B. Edwards (1831-1892)

A Thousand Miles up the Nile by Amelia B. Edwards A Thousand Miles up the Nile

Known as the Godmother of Egyptology, Amelia Ann Blanford Edwards traveled through Egypt at a time when archeology was in its infancy in that country and literally anyone with a spade or trowel could go exploring through the magnificent, untouched ruins. She was one of a group of amazing Victorian women who ignored the repressive 19th century attitudes toward female scientists and defied society to follow their passion for history. A Thousand Miles up the Nile was first published in 1877. The title refers to the approximate distance from Alexandria to the Second Cataract of the Nile river, a journey that the author undertook over the course of a year in Egypt...

Untrodden Peaks and Unfrequented Valleys by Amelia B. Edwards Untrodden Peaks and Unfrequented Valleys

Amelia B. Edwards wrote this historical travelogue in in 1873. The book describes her travels through a relatively un-visited area in the South Tyrol district of Italy. The Dolomites are a part of that most famous of mountain chains, the Alps.In this book, the Writer and her friend and companion, L., travel from Southern Italy, having over-wintered there, to visit the Dolomite district. Her chatty style, dry sense of humor, accuracy of facts, and sympathy for humanity set her works apart. The slice of Victorian British life presented is quite captivating...

By: Patrick Henry (1736-1799)

The Anti-Federalist Papers by Patrick Henry The Anti-Federalist Papers

During the period of debate over the ratification of the Constitution, numerous independent local speeches and articles were published all across the country. Initially, many of the articles in opposition were written under pseudonyms, such as “Brutus”, “Centinel”, and “Federal Farmer”. Eventually, famous revolutionary figures such as Patrick Henry came out publicly against the Constitution. They argued that the strong national government proposed by the Federalists was a threat to the rights of individuals and that the President would become a king...

Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death by Patrick Henry Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death

This speech was given March 23, 1775, at St. John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia, and is credited with having singlehandedly convinced the Virginia House of Burgesses to pass a resolution delivering the Virginia troops to the Revolutionary War. In attendance were Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. Reportedly, the crowd, upon hearing the speech, jumped up and shouted, “To Arms! To Arms!”

By: Robert W. Service (1874-1958)

Ballads of a Bohemian by Robert W. Service Ballads of a Bohemian

Ballads of a Bohemian is a collection of poems tied together by the narration of the “author” Stephen Poore. The poems speak of bohemian life in Paris before the war, his experiences during World War I and its aftermath.

Selections from Ballads of a Cheechako by Robert W. Service Selections from Ballads of a Cheechako

These twelve poems are from Ballads of a Cheechako which was Robert W. Service’s third book of Yukon poems, published in 1909. The word Cheechako, from Chinook Jargon, originated in the United States (Alaska) and Canada (Yukon) and was imported into local English during the Yukon gold rush that began in 1896. Cheechako, is a non derogatory word meaning “newcomer” or “tenderfoot.” The derivation looks something like this: chee new cha come ko home.

Book cover Ottawa Folk Festival Robert Service Collection

The Spell of the Yukon by Robert Service with patrons, musicians and organizers. Robert Service is an iconic Canadian poet.

By: Susanna Moodie (1803-1885)

Life in the Clearings by Susanna Moodie Life in the Clearings

If you've read Margaret Atwood's Alias Grace, the historical fiction novel that describes a gruesome double murder in Canada in 1843, you would be interested to know the sources that were used by Atwood during her research. Life in the Clearings by Susanna Moodie was one such reference book in which the author, Susanna Moodie recounts her meeting with the infamous murderess Grace Marks, a young house help who was convicted to life imprisonment for her role in the slaying of her employers. Susanna Moodie was an Englishwoman born in Suffolk...

Book cover Roughing It in the Bush

'Roughing It In the Bush' is Susanna Moodie's account of how she coped with the harshness of life in the woods of Upper Canada, as an Englishwoman homesteading abroad. Her narrative was constructed partly as a response to the glowing falsehoods European land-agents were circulating about life in the New World. Her chronicle is frank and humorous, and was a popular sensation at the time of its publication in 1852.

By: Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951)

Main Street by Sinclair Lewis Main Street

A social satire, Main Street became a best-seller soon after its publication, fascinating readers with its biting humor and realistic portrayal of small-town communities. Published in 1920, the novel follows Carol Milford as she moves to a conventional small town, where she encounters its conceited residents characterized by their ignorance, hypocrisy, and smugness, while simultaneously being the target of their careless ridicule. Furthermore, the novel efficiently exemplifies the dividing line between the sophisticated urban setting and the conventionally governed small-town, as it tackles issues of embracing differences, social class, disillusionment, feminism, and community...

Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis Babbitt

Free Air by Sinclair Lewis Free Air

This road trip novel is set in the early twentieth century and follows the experiences of an aristocratic New Englander and her father as they travel by automobile from Minneapolis to Seattle. She is wooed and won by a noble but simple commoner she meets along the way. Lewis is at his usual wryly humorous self, poking fun at the upper class and treating the common people only slightly better.

The Trail of the Hawk by Sinclair Lewis The Trail of the Hawk

The Innocents, A Story for Lovers by Sinclair Lewis The Innocents, A Story for Lovers

“Mr. and Mrs. Seth Appleby were almost old. They called each other 'Father' and 'Mother.' But frequently they were guilty of holding hands, or of cuddling together in corners, and Father was a person of stubborn youthfulness.” It is only by subterfuge that Seth is able every year to obtain his two week's vacation from the shoe store, and they are off to the farm-house of Uncle Joe Tubbs on Cape Cod. But this year the vacation turns into a full blown scheme to open a country tea room somewhere on Cape Cod, and their life suddenly begins to change. . . . (Introduction by Don W. Jenkins)

Our Mr. Wrenn, the Romantic Adventures of a Gentle Man by Sinclair Lewis Our Mr. Wrenn, the Romantic Adventures of a Gentle Man

"At thirty-four Mr. Wrenn was the sales-entry clerk of the Souvenir Company. He was always bending over bills and columns of figures at a desk behind the stock-room. He was a meek little bachelor--a person of inconspicuous blue ready-made suits, and a small unsuccessful mustache." Mr. Wrenn, however has a rich inner life embellished by his own imagination. When he comes into a modest inheritance, he feels he ought to learn to get out and wander a bit, and then his education begins. He finds life more "interesting", perhaps than he had "imagined". . . (Introduction by Don Jenkins)

The Job by Sinclair Lewis The Job

‘The Job’ is an early work by American novelist Sinclair Lewis. It is considered an early declaration of the rights of working women. The focus is on the main character, Una Golden, who desires to establish herself in a legitimate occupation while balancing the eventual need for marriage. The story takes place in the early 1900-1920’s and takes Una from a small Pennsylvania town to New York. Forced to work due to family illness, Una shows a talent for the traditional male bastion of commercial real estate and, while valued by her company, she struggles to achieve the same status of her male coworkers...

By: Charles Kingsley (1819-1875)

The Water-Babies by Charles Kingsley The Water-Babies

First published in 1863, The Water Babies by Rev Charles Kingsley became a Victorian children's classic along with J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan and Lewis Caroll's Alice books. It is an endearing and entertaining novel that can equally be enjoyed by adult readers as well. However, it fell out of favor in later years since it contained many ideas that are considered politically incorrect and offensive today from a humanitarian perspective. The Water Babies, A Fairy Tale for a Land Baby to give the book its complete title tells the story of Tom, a young orphan chimney-sweep in Victorian London...

The Heroes, or Greek Fairy Tales for my Children by Charles Kingsley The Heroes, or Greek Fairy Tales for my Children

The Heroes, or Greek Fairy Tales for my Children by Charles Kingsley is a collection of three Greek mythology stories: Perseus, The Argonauts, and Theseus. The author had a great fondness for Greek fairy tales and believed the adventures of the characters would inspire children to achieve higher goals with integrity.

Hypatia by Charles Kingsley Hypatia

Charles Kingsley (June 12 1819 - January 23 1875) was an English divine, university professor, historian, and novelist, particularly associated with the West Country and north-east Hampshire. As a novelist, his chief power lay in his descriptive faculties, which are evident in this novel as he pictures the Egyptian desert and the ancient city Alexandria. Hypatia, 1st published in 1853, is set in 5th Century A.D. Egypt. It centers upon a young orphan monk from a desert monastery who feels called to continue his religious life in the city...

Madam How and Lady Why by Charles Kingsley Madam How and Lady Why

Did you ever wish you knew how to explain natural phenomena such as earthquakes and volcanoes to your children? Search no more, this book has all the answers (at least all the ones that were known in 1869) and gives them in a pedagogical way. Listed on the Ambleside homeschooling list.

By: Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)

Summa Theologica, Pars Prima by Saint Thomas Aquinas Summa Theologica, Pars Prima

More than nine hundred years after it was first written, this unfinished work of a scholar saint still has the power to move our minds and hearts and set us thinking on the really important questions of life. Summa Theologica or simply the Summa as it is known, was written some time between 1265-74. It is a work that has had a profound and enduring influence on Western thought and literature. Designed to provide answers to Catholic theologians about the teachings of the Church, Thomas Aquinas' book instead goes far beyond its stated purpose...


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