Gift of the Magi

O. Henry’s Gift of the Magi is a classic tale of love, of sacrifice, of coming to understand the true value of the things in our lives… and perhaps most of all, it’s a story of relationships, and communication in them.

Amazon.com notes: The classic holiday tale of love, devotion, and the art of giving—written by one of the world’s best-known short-story authors—will delight those both new to and familiar with this timeless narrative.

The Amazon.com listing for a collection of O. Henry writings supplies these further details:  William Sydney Porter (1862–1910), known by his pen name O. Henry, was an American writer. O. Henry’s short stories are known for their wit, wordplay, warm characterization, and surprise endings. Among his most famous stories, Cabbages and Kings was his first collection of stories, followed by The Four Million. The Gift of the Magi is about a young couple who are short of money but desperately want to buy each other Christmas gifts.

A limited number of copies of The Gift of the Magi have been added to the August CheerUp dot Fun eBook Club.  For more info on the eBook Club, and how to join, click here.

A Thank You from CheerUp.Fun

Free eBooks as a thank you for visiting CheerUp dot Fun.

We have a limited number of copies of most of the books that have been recommended so far this month on CheerUp.Fun, if you are interested in receiving free books, directly into your Amazon Kindle account it’s quite simple.

Follow the directions at this link to join our book club.  For each of the books we currently have in the book club there are 70 or more copies available, so the sooner you join, the more likely you are to receive a copy.

Books include:
The Red Badge of Courage
The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg (2 editions)
Bulfinch’s Mythology
Charles Dickens: The Complete Christmas Books and Stories
A Christmas Carol
The Scarlet Letter
Oz: The Complete Collection
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (AmazonClassics Edition)
The Complete Leatherstocking Tales (includes Last of the Mohicans)
The Iliad (AmazonClassics Edition)
The Odyssey (AmazonClassics Edition)
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (AmazonClassics Edition)
Tom Sawyer Collection — All 4 Books
Mark Twain 12 Novels, 195 Short Stories
Dr. Montessori’s Own Handbook
Spontaneous Activity in Education
Montessori Method Scientific Pedagogy
Gods of Mars
Warlord of Mars
Thuvia, Maid of Mars
Chessmen of Mars
Anne of Green Gables Collection
Anne of Green Gables (#1)
Behind the Scenes: or 30 Years a Slave and 4 Years in the White House
Sherlock Holmes: The Collection
Uncle Tom’s Cabin
Slave Narrative Six Pack (includes 12 Years a Slave)
Boy Scouts on Hudson Bay Or, The Disappearing Fleet
Boy Scouts Mysterious Signal or Perils of the Black Bear Patrol
Boy Scouts in the Canal Zone The Plot Against Uncle Sam
Boy Scouts in a Submarine : or, Searching an Ocean Floor

To get copies of books recommended August 2017 by CheerUp.Fun, go to https://whispercast.amazon.com/join/QEYIep2uIkh87x9gC6o4AvnuKFSV3iBD and follow the prompts to join the CheerUp.Fun whispercast BookClub.

The books will appear in your Amazon Kindle Library, and you can go to Manage Content and Devices to send them to wherever you read Kindle Books.

At this time we are ONLY able to offer a Kindle eBook Club.  Thank you for your understanding.

Last of the Mohicans

Another example of a story many have been drawn to by a movie, The Last of the Mohicans, written  in the early 1800s by James Fenimore Cooper, is set in the 1750s, and tells the story of the last members of a dying Native American tribe.

The volume selected here is called The Leatherstocking Tales…  written by the American writer James Fenimore Cooper, the Leatherstocking Tales is a classic series of five historical novels featuring the hero Natty Bumppo. This collection includes the following:

The Deerslayer
The Last of the Mohicans
The Pathfinder
The Pioneers
The Prairie

The Scarlet Letter

  Another book among those often assigned in schools, the Scarlet Letter is a story that at first glance might seem to have a dated story line, and a plot that the modern audience finds harder to relate to, after all, it is about a woman who is in almost every sense an outcast because she bore a child out of wedlock.  She is compelled to wear a Scarlet Letter, an A, upon her chest, so all who see her will know her sin.
While it is true modern society does not look upon single parents, and children born out of wedlock in the same fashion they did during author Nathaniel Hawthorne’s lifetime, he lived between 1804 and 1864, there are other aspects of the story that are still quite relevant.  For instance, the father of the child does not wear a Scarlet Letter, in part because of choices Hester Prynne has made, but the fact remains a double standard is revealed within the story.  There is also the topic of emotional guilt, and the burden of carrying a secret, things that every generation can relate to, regardless of what the secret is, or what one feels guilty about.

While there are a great many challenges that await any Hollywood production when they attempt to tackle a creative work that started in another medium, the Scarlet Letter may seem easier than most.  With few visual effects / special effects to take on, the other world that seeks to be created is our very real past, as opposed to a difficult to imagine and bring to life future.  However, I do not recommend those who adore the story of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter watch the 1995 film featuring Demi Moore.  While in several places they captured the Puritan environment, and some of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s descriptions of the New World in beautiful technicolor, the film falls short in delivering the full impact of the story, and in many ways neglects to carry through on the painful all too human dilemmas and consequences these characters were subjected to in favor of what, for lack of a better term, could be described as a Hollywood Happy Ending.  Then again, if you ever wondered what the Scarlet Letter would have been like with a Hollywood Happy Ending, in place of the author’s envisioning of real life turmoil, perhaps the film is for you.

Boy Scouts in Fiction

Recently I became aware of what feels like a sub-genre of books for young adults, and middle school readers.  These books involve the adventures of Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts, something a great many of the readers can relate to from first-hand experience, and for others while they may not have those direct experiences to relate from, they have seen friends wearing the uniforms, or have seen troops in their community, and have a general awareness of what Scouting is.   For those who have never been a Scout, it is possible these books may give them some understanding why, for some individuals, Scouting is an activity they are drawn to, it may help them to see Scouting in a new or different way, and for others it may simply confirm that Scouting is what they thought it was — and is not an activity they need in addition to their already full lives and schedules.

It feels like the most prolific author within this sub-genre is G. Harvey (George Harvey) Ralphson, who lived between 1879 and 1940.

From Amazon.com:

George Harvey Ralphson (1879–1940) was a writer of juvenile adventure books in the early 20th century. Best known for his “Boy Scout” series of adventures,  he was one of the first American Boy Scouts Masters.

This ebook edition is collection of collected works of G. Harvey Ralphson. The edition comes with eleven books, active table of contents, active navigation.

Included Works:

The Boy Scout Camera Club
Boy Scouts In A Submarine
Boy Scouts In An Airship
Boy Scouts In Mexico
Boy Scouts In Southern Waters
Boy Scouts In The Canal Zone
Boy Scouts In The North Sea
Boy Scouts In The Philippines
Boy Scouts Mysterious Signal
Boy Scouts On Hudson Bay
Boy Scouts On Motorcycles

Because the works of George Harvey Ralphson have gone into the Public Domain, some of his stories (including Boy Scouts in the Northwest Fighting Fores Fires) are available, individually, for free.  The edition where the above stories are collected together however, is currently not a free volume.

Maria Montessori and her Handbook

Noticed a Montessori School in your community and wondered just what that is?  Montessori school follow the teaching principles of Maria Montessori, who lived between 1870 and 1952, and opened her first school in Rome in 1907.

Maria Montessori believed in a child’s natural desire to learn, and the sponge like nature of a child’s mind when exposed to new information and materials.

The website for the American Montessori Society notes that youngsters who were unruly at first, soon showed great interest in working with puzzles, learning to prepare meals, and manipulating materials that held lessons in math. She {Maria Montessori} observed how they absorbed knowledge from their surroundings, essentially teaching themselves.

Perhaps one of my favorite Maria Montessori quotes shared on the American Montessori Society website is: When a child is given a little leeway, he will at once shout, “I want to do it!” But in our schools, which have an environment adapted to children’s needs, they say, “Help me to do it alone.” And these words reveal their inner needs. [Maria Montessori, The Secret of Childhood, translated by M. Joseph Costelloe, S.J.]

For those interested in discovering more about Montessori schools, and the Montessori method, the Montessori Handbook may be of interest… but this is another situation where it may be of great importance to keep in mind when the book was written – 1914.  A Book over 100 years old is by its very nature bound to sound dated, read a bit awkwardly, add to that the fact it was written by a woman whose native language was not English, and who was approaching the topic from both a medical and an educators perspective.  The intent here is to inform as opposed to amuse and entertain… and hopefully it will open some people’s eyes to another way to teach and learn.

“It is not true,” says Dr. Montessori, “that I invented what is called the Montessori Method. I have studied the child, I have taken what the child has given me and expressed it, and that is what is called the Montessori Method.” [What You Should Know About Your Child: Based on Lectures Delivered by Maria Montessori, transcribed and translated by Gnana Prakasam] (as posted on the American Montessori Society Website)

Bulfinch’s Mythology

Countless students over the years have been advised to pick up a copy of Bulfinch’s Mythology.  Perhaps because so many have turned to this book over the years as their source for myths, it has become known as a definitive source.  Whatever the reason, this book has persisted long after the author’s lifetime, and while some of the writing may feel out of sync with modern ideas (political correctness was invented after his passing for instance) as a single volume to turn to and look up your favorite figures.  Whether you want to read about Zeus, or the Golden Fleece, these pages are likely to hold something that will capture your imagination.

Per Amzon.com Bulfinch’s Mythology was written by Thomas Bulfinch (1796-1867) a Massachusetts-based writer and banker who wrote and collected the first popular English-language retellings of Greek, Roman, Eastern, Scandinavian, Arthurian, and medieval myths.

The Complete Wizard of Oz

When it comes to the Wizard of Oz folks seem to fall into a few different categories.  There are those who have indeed read All fourteen Oz books written by L. Frank Baum, there are those that have read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and in a few cases not realized there were more books to pursue, no matter how much they enjoyed that work,  and then there are those who will vow by any means you request that they can quote the L. Frank Baum work… and when you start asking questions you discover that they are devotees of a movie that catapulted Dorothy to another place, where she introduced a vast audience, and multiple generations to some of the most memorable characters many of us have ever encountered… folks who might just want to spend a little time with the books that started so many on the journey to make the film they first fell in love with, and provided them the route through which they came to the yellow brick road, and they came to know, The Wizard of Oz.

According to Amazon.com, the edition linked to here includes:
Fourteen Complete Works

All fourteen of L. Frank Baum’s Oz books, in order and unabridged. Books included:

1. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)* Includes Original Illustrations by W.W. Denslow!
2. The Marvelous Land of Oz (1904)
3. Ozma of Oz (1907)
4. Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz (1908)
5. The Road to Oz (1909)
6. The Emerald City of Oz (1910)
7. The Patchwork Girl of Oz (1913)
8. Tik-Tok of Oz (1914)
9. The Scarecrow of Oz (1915)
10. Rinkitink in Oz (1916)
11. The Lost Princess of Oz (1917)
12. The Tin Woodman of Oz (1918)
13. The Magic of Oz (1919)
14. Glinda of Oz (1920)

A Princess of Mars

Perhaps the single most significant thing to keep in mind when reading A Princess of Mars / John Carter: Mars Series #1, or watching the Disney film John Carter, is that the Edgar Rice Burroughs novel (and the Barsoom series) came first.  Not simply before the film was made in 2012, but before most of the Science-Fiction and Fantasy works you are inclined to be reminded of as you make your way through the story.

According to Wikipedia It was first serialized in the pulp magazine All-Story Magazine from February–July, 1912.  So, as you make your way through the novel, or watch the movie, each time you are tempted to think, “I’ve encountered this before” stop yourself for a moment, and rephrase that thought… instead of being disappointed in a Darth Vader like moment, wonder instead if the folks who brought your Darth Vader in the 70s, did not perhaps encounter John Carter, the Barsoom series, and the Princess of Mars on their way to making the Star Wars films.  When John Carter is taking a giant leap for Mankind, consider for a moment how many members of NASA, from those who never leave the Earth, to the Astronauts who have sent us messages from their trips to the stars, were inspired by Science Fiction, and the works of authors like Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Homer’s Odyssey

Where Homer’s Iliad  is a story of battle and valor and heroic men fighting the great fight, Homer’s Odyssey is a very different tale.  This is the story of Odysseus return home from the Trojan War.  Many refer to this as the love story that counterbalances the epic battle story that is the Iliad, and while both are born of the old Oral History tradition, they carry their own tone and flavor.

As Amazon.com says about this edition:

After enduring the Trojan War, Odysseus begins the treacherous journey home to Ithaca. On the way, he faces ravenous monsters and vengeful gods. But the real battle awaits, as his kingdom is under siege by unruly suitors vying for his wife’s hand—and his son’s head. To reclaim his throne and save his family, Odysseus must rely on his wits…and help from the unpredictable gods.

Homer’s The Odyssey was composed around 700 BC. It is one of the earliest epics in existence and remains one of the most influential works of literature today.

Revised edition: Previously published as The Odyssey, this edition ofThe Odyssey (AmazonClassics Edition) includes editorial revisions.

Homer’s Iliad

Put into writing long after the story originated as part of a tradition of Oral Histories, Homer’s Iliad not only tells the story of the Battle of Troy, but readers who take a deep dive can begin to discover some of the techniques oral storytellers used to make their tales both captivating and easier for themselves to recall and thus repeat time and again.  The story unfolds with an inviting rhythm as repetitive descriptions lead the reader to anticipate what is coming next, and or perhaps more often, who is about to enter a scene, or act in some important or meaningful manner.

Here is the Amazon.com description of this edition:

After nine years fighting the Trojan War, the Greeks sense imminent defeat. The gods have cursed them with a plague; the Trojans have set their ships on fire; and their best warrior, the impenetrable Achilles, has turned his back on them. But when the Trojans go too far and kill Patroclus, his beloved brother-in-arms, Achilles returns to the battlefield with a vengeance so terrible that it shocks even the gods.

Written by Homer more than twenty-five hundred years ago, The Iliad is among the oldest extant works of Western literature—the seminal epic narrative of infantry combat, the scars of battle, and the inevitability of fate.

AmazonClassics brings you timeless works from the masters of storytelling. Ideal for anyone who wants to read a great work for the first time or rediscover an old favorite, these new editions open the door to literature’s most unforgettable characters and beloved worlds.

Revised edition: Previously published as The Iliad, this edition of The Iliad (AmazonClassics Edition) includes editorial revisions.

Anne of Green Gables

I can’t give this e-book credit for my all time favorite cover, but what it does have going for it is the advertised contents… not only does it contain the oft talked about, and recommended Anne of Green Gables, but this edition is a collection / anthology containing not just the original story that a family member sent to me as a teen when she was looking for a story we could both enjoy, despite the miles separating us, but also several of the subsequent tales as well.

The Amazon description remarks, these classic novels follow the adventures of the spirited redhead Anne Shirley, who comes to stay at Green Gables and wins the hearts of everyone she meets.  The Anthology contains:

Anne of Green Gables
Anne of Avonlea
Anne of the Island
Anne of Windy Poplars
Anne’s House of Dreams
Anne of Ingleside
Rainbow Valley
Rilla of Ingleside

If you are looking for an ebook that only contains the original Anne of Green Gables, try this book cover instead, it should direct you to the Amazon Classics Edition.

The Red Badge of Courage

Stephen Crane’s Red Badge Of Courage is another one of those books most American’s of a certain age were assigned to read in school, and for many, because it was assigned reading there was no pleasure to be found in these pages.

It is a shame, and the story is certainly one worth revisiting, with some extra years and experiences behind each of us, and a fresh appreciation for the lead character’s journey as he faces war, adulthood, reality… and finally ends up with that Red Badge of Courage that not only makes the title, but makes this story an American Classic.

Behind the Scenes or, Thirty years a slave, and Four Years in the White House

Behind the Scenes or, Thirty years a slave, and Four Years in the White House

This is one of those books I’ve long heard about, but never had a chance to read, and it is finally making it into my To Be Read stack in a place of note… in part because I can not help thinking maybe a little historical perspective on our Nation’s Capitol, and life within the White House might give a new vantage point when I read glance at head lines, and see news hitting the air waves.

You can learn a little about the fascinating author of this work ( Elizabeth’s biological father, revealed to her late in life, was {her mother} Agnes’ master Armistead Burwell, a planter and colonel in the War of 1812) either at wikipedia here or on the Smithsonian Magazine Website.

On the Amazon.com Page for another edition of this book, the following text can be found:

Elizabeth Keckley’s Behind the Scenes: Or, Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House is both a riveting slave narrative and a fascinating insider’s look at the First Family during the Lincoln administration. Keckley was the First Lady’s seamstress and confidante and the publication of her memoirs in 1868 caused a storm of controversy. The press excoriated Keckley for revealing the intimate secrets of her employers and Mary Todd Lincoln cut off her friendship with Keckley. Lincoln’s eldest son had the book suppressed.

After the White House, Keckley went on to become one of the first successful independent black business owners in America, forming a profitable line in dress-making for the wives of prominent politicians, including the spouses of Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis. She also formed an important charity for black veterans of the Civil War. Supporters of Keckley’s Contraband Relief Association included Frederick Douglass, Henry Highland Garnet, J. Sella Martin, as well as prominent white figures, such as Wendell Phillips.

Includes image gallery with rare shots of Keckley and her contemporaries.

Mark Twain’s Comedy Classics

  Mark Twain wrote short stories and comedic pieces with turns of phrase that stay with readers for weeks, months, even years after they have read them.  It is just one of the many reasons why his works are not only read in schools, but recommended by friends who care about those they like who enjoy a good read.

With Amazon crediting this digital collection as containing over 3100 pages, odds are there is something in here every reader will enjoy.

Other Mark Twain Books currently available at a great price:

The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg

If you are a fan of Mark Twain, you’ve probably already read the Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg… but if you have not already read this classic work by the renowned American Author, take it out for a spin and sit with it for a few minutes.

This is a great story about a man who goes to a town full of people who believe they are beyond temptation… and gives them a chance to see themselves through his eyes.  He does this not to be cruel, but because he was there before, and he found the town did not live up to its reputation, and he has hopes that perhaps, if they have an opportunity to see themselves as he does, they will reconsider… if nothing else, their town motto.

Charles Dickens had more than just A Christmas Carol

Click the cover to be taken to this collection of stories at Amazon (free at the time of posting)

If you thought A Christmas Carol was Charles Dickens only Christmas / Holiday themed work you’d easily be forgiven, it is after all his most well known.   However, in this volume you’ll discover he wrote a great deal more than the one novel with giving season in mind.

Here you will find all the Christmas books and stories written by Dickens.

The Christmas Books:
– A Christmas Carol
– The Chimes
– The Cricket on the Hearth
– The Battle of Life
– The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain

The Christmas Stories:
– A Christmas Tree
– What Christmas is as we Grow Older
– The Poor Relation’s Story
– The Child’s Story
– The Schoolboy’s Story
– Nobody’s Story
– The Seven Poor Travellers
– The Holly-Tree
– Wreck of the Golden Mary
– The Perils of Certain English Prisoners
– Going into Society
– A Message From the Sea
– Tom Tiddler’s Ground
– Somebody’s Luggage
– Mrs. Lirriper’s Lodgings
– Mrs. Lirriper’s Legacy
– Doctor Marigold
– Mugby Junction
– No Thoroughfare

221B Baker Street

There are a few addresses that everyone seems to know… 221B Baker Street being near the top of the list.  And given the caliber of the chief resident of that abode, is it any wonder?

First published in 1892, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is the first and greatest of the short story collections written by Arthur Conan Doyle featuring his famous detective.The twelve Sherlock Holmes adventures included in this anthology:

A Scandal in Bohemia
The Adventure of the Red-Headed League
A Case of Identity
The Boscombe Valley Mystery
The Five Orange Pips
The Man with the Twisted Lip
The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle
The Adventure of the Speckled Band
The Adventure of the Engineer’s Thumb
The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor
The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet
The Adventure of the Copper Beeches

Another bit of Sherlock Holmes’ reading you might want to consider is “The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes”.   According to Wikipedia, The twelve stories (eleven in American editions) of the Memoirs are:

The first London edition of the Memoirs in 1894 did not include “The Adventure of the Cardboard Box”, although all twelve stories had appeared in the Strand Magazine. The first U.S. edition included the story, but it was very quickly replaced with a revised edition that omitted it.

An Incredible Array of Children’s Books…

There is an incredible array of books for young readers, and curious minds available these days.  Two sets that have caught my eye are full of fun facts, and interesting tidbits that can answer a few questions and get eager minds looking forward to learning even more.  They are by Mina Kelly and Jess Roche, and periodically a few of the ebooks in each series are available for free.

 

Uncle Tom’s Cabin and 12 Years a Slave – Free today on Amazon

Click the cover of Slave Narrative Six Pack to go to the book on Amazon (free as of noon July 13, 2017)
Click the cover to go to the book on Amazon (free as of noon July 13, 2017)

The title of this selection / collection may rub some people the wrong way… but for those who want to learn from our past, with an eye towards the future, this collection has some important works in it.

Here’s the Amazon description, including a list of the books included:
The slave narrative is a literary sub-genre that emerged from the written accounts of enslaved Africans in Great Britain and its colonies, including the later United States, Canada, and Caribbean nations. Some of the earliest memoirs of captivity known in England and the British Isles were written by white Europeans and later Americans captured and sometimes enslaved in North Africa, usually by Barbary pirates. These were part of a broad category of “captivity narratives” by English-speaking Europeans.

For the Europeans and Americans, the division between captivity as slaves and as prisoners of war was not always clear. A broader name for these works is “captivity literature.”

Slave Narrative Six Pack presents six of the most famous examples of the genre:

Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup
Journal of a Residence on a Georgian Plantation in 1838-1839 by Frances Anne Kemble
The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Or Gustavus Vassa, The African by Olaudah Equiano
The Life of William H. Furness by William Still
Captain Canot; or, Twenty years of an African slaver: being an account of his career and adventures on the coast, in the interior, on shipboard, and in the West Indies by Brantz Mayer

Includes image gallery and link to free audio recording of Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Tom Sawyer

The Amazon description of Tom Sawyer is a good one, so I’ll share it here:

Whether he’s sneaking doughnuts, mooning over a pretty girl, or snookering the local boys to do his work for him, Tom Sawyer is the consummate schemer—but his charm and easygoing nature keep him from being in anyone’s bad graces for long. However, when Tom teams up with his friend Huck Finn, their sleepy Missouri town had better watch out.

Based on Mark Twain’s memories of growing up along the Mississippi River, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is both an idyllic picture of boyhood and an affectionate satire of adult conventions.

AmazonClassics brings you timeless works from the masters of storytelling. Ideal for anyone who wants to read a great work for the first time or rediscover an old favorite, these new editions open the door to literature’s most unforgettable characters and beloved worlds.