My ridiculously big eBook Library on Calibre again

Yes it keeps growing with (needless to say) free offerings so tempting me daily! Ridiculous because I will never read them all in the very finite time I have left! Not ridiculous, because clearly I can read some, and browing is also an excellent thing to do

Here is the Calibre interface.

With one added since I made this screenshot! 3,300 books now…

Right now I am revisiting with delight #5 there on that list arranged in order of time added. (You can arrange easily in other ways — author, title, size, publisher….) Yes, the first 1926 outing of Hercule Poirot!

We walked back to the house together. There was no sign of the inspector. Poirot paused on the terrace and stood with his back to the house, slowly turning his head from side to side.

“Une belle propriété,” he said at last appreciatively. “Who inherits it?”

His words gave me almost a shock. It is an odd thing, but until that moment the question of inheritance had never come into my head. Poirot watched me keenly.

“It is a new idea to you, that,” he said at last. “You had not thought of it before—eh?”

“No,” I said truthfully. “I wish I had.”

Now the next one is an absolute delight to browse — and it is amazing who one finds. A well remembered strange character from the streets of Sydney. A childhood neighbour from Auburn Street Sutherland in 1950.

Free from ANU Press. This edition © 2021 ANU Press

I used to see him often in the city, always head down and completely uncommunicative. Trolley Man.

Photography by Raymond de Berquelle. Collection: Powerhouse Museum.

CINDRIC, JOSEPH (1906/08–1994), displaced person, labourer, and homeless person, was born on 9 June 1906 or 1908 at Sastavol in the region of the Austro-Hungarian Empire that later became the state of Yugoslavia. Also known as Josef, Joe, or Joso, he was a forced evacuee to Germany from Yugoslavia in June 1941. He had worked on his father’s farm since childhood, and had no formal schooling; he could not read, could write only his name, and spoke no English. His Australian immigration papers later recorded that he spoke German and Yugoslavian (probably Croatian).

In Germany Cindric became part of the Nazi forced labour program, spending four years in a coal mine, followed by six months in a gas factory and then over a year polishing lenses. Frustrated and bored with life in the Ansbach Displaced Persons Camp at the end of the war, he sought to emigrate to Australia to work as a coalminer.

Cindric arrived in Sydney from Bremerhaven aboard the Charlton Sovereign on 29 October 1948. By then he was a widower and his two children had predeceased him. The following month he was in Nyngan, central New South Wales, working for the State railways. It was here that he began to identify what he believed to be threats by other immigrants against his life. He left the railways and in July 1949 applied for employment at Dubbo. His work on a Coonamble property lasted but a few days before he left without notice.

It is likely that an obsession with walking also began at this time….

What a story!

And the neighbour…

VALLANCE, THOMAS GEORGE (TOM) (1928–1993), petrologist and historian of science, was born on 23 April 1928 at Guildford, Sydney, elder of two sons of New South Wales–born parents Alfred Sydney Vallance, commercial traveller, and his wife Edna Vera, née Taber, who died in 1931. Tom and his father moved in with the boys’ strict non-conformist paternal grandparents at Sutherland; his brother Douglas lived with his maternal grandparents at Menangle. After primary schooling at Sutherland, Tom attended Canterbury Boys’ High School, matriculating in 1945. He studied at the University of Sydney (BSc, 1950; PhD, 1954), turning from an initial interest in chemistry to geology, particularly petrology, under the influence of William Rowan Browne [q.v.13]. He graduated with first-class honours and the university medal, and was awarded the Deas Thomson [q.v.2] and John Coutts (shared) scholarships….

Little did I know of that when I was 7 and constantly bothering him and borrowing his books! Tommy.

After my grandparents and Uncle Roy moved out to their own place around 1949, and I had just begun school where I shocked the Kindergarten teacher by writing “Sydney Morning Herald” and the date on the blackboard but showed no aptitude in craft, I made a new friend. I spent more and more time with Tommy, Old Fred’s son; he had the most wonderful books which he let me borrow. Mostly they were the old Warnes “Wonder Book” series, prewar most of them, but I devoured the lot. Tommy showed me color slides too of overseas places and flying boats taking off. It was wonderful.

He showed me his rock collection, and I decided then and there I would be a scientist. I seem to remember announcing to the family that I would be a professor one day, and once when we drove past Sydney University for some reason said “I’m going there.” No-one in my family had, up to that point.

Well, a bit of it came true. And if you want to know who Tommy was — he died just a few years ago — read the passage just below these paragraphs, and this review of his last work. When I arrived at Sydney University as a sixteen-year-old in 1960, one of the first people I saw was Tommy who greeted me warmly; I was surprised he recognised me and a bit shy to be so addressed by the eminent petrologist Doctor Vallance.

Tommy was, as you might gather, a bit older than I; I seem to recall my parents apologising to him if I was making a nuisance of myself, but apparently he didn’t mind my frequent visits. I still remember an argument Tommy had with Old Fred, though this may have been later, when I was living in Vermont Street but used to go back to Auburn Street every now and again. The Vallances were strong Methodists, but old Fred apparently (and surprisingly) had a liking for Alexander Pope, and the argument was about Catholics. “Well,” said Tommy to Fred, “that Alexander Pope you are so fond of was a Catholic.” “Pope by name and Pope by nature, eh,” replied Fred. A bonus in visiting Tommy was that Mrs Vallance was always making cakes and let me lick out the mixing bowl. She was a Scot who reminded me of the Queen (no, not that one–the Queen Mother; George VI was still alive at this point.)

My Uncle Roy kept in touch with the Vallances; he was a regular visitor to Old Fred up until Fred died at a very advanced age; I can remember Roy bringing Old Fred down to Wollongong to visit my mother some time around 1973 or 1974.

The Vallance collection, purchased from the private library of the late Professor Tom Vallance, contains between 10,000 and 15,000 volumes as well as 3,000 offprints and 1000 maps, as well as some long runs of geological journals. The collection contains major works in mineralogy, petrology, palaeontology, natural philosophy, geology and geography from the 19th century and selected works from the early 20th century. ( )

About the Whitfields: Wandering Willie’s Tales

Here is one I have lined up to read:

1959 — from Project Gutenberg

Goodreads shows how this book divides people.

One of the funniest, cruelest, and most savagely revealing books about American life ever written, The Magic Christian has been called Terry Southern’s masterpiece. Guy Grand is an eccentric billionaire — the last of the big spenders — determined to create disorder in the material world and willing to spare no expense to do it. Leading a life full of practical jokes and madcap schemes, his ultimate goal is to prove his theory that there is nothing so degrading or so distasteful that someone won’t do it for money. In Guy Grand’s world, everyone has a price, and he is all too willing to pay it. A satire of America’s obsession with bigness, toughness, money, TV, guns, and sex, The Magic Christian is a hilarious and wickedly original novel from a true comic genius.

And about yesterday evening

Not like 8th October!

Moments in my eBook Library — 17 — a Scottish family byway

Looks impressive, eh!

You will find that under the surname Christison.

And here as you have seen more than once before is my grandfather, Roy Hampton Christison, as a young child in the late 1880s.

My cousin Ray Hampton Christison has written an excellent history of Roy’s father, John Hampton Christison, with detailed background. I received a copy in 2020. In that book Ray mentions that the Christisons are part of Clan Farquarson.

Just the other day Ray posted on Facebook some music — a lone piper at this cairn by the River Dee, not far from Balmoral — where once, according to possible but not certain story, great-grandfather John (on the cover of Ray’s book) danced, perhaps before Queen Victoria.

According to this Farquarson site:

The Clan Farquharson existed primarily along the River Dee in the western portion of Aberdeenshire. Yet it was active in the northeast parishes of Perthshire, the Strathdee parishes of western Aberdeenshire, the Strathdon parishes of western Aberdeenshire, and the northwestern parishes of Angus. 

Throughout its history it was a fierce protector of the Stuart Dynasty in Scotland, including after it was supplanted as the royal family of Scotland and then the United Kingdom.

One of the most common question for non-native Scots is how to pronounce Farquharson. The closest way to pronounce the Clan name is “farkerson.”  

It so happens that I have an 1875 2-volume history of the clans and regiments of Scotland in my eBook Library — as you might expect!

Here is the title page — a screenshot on my laptop of it sitting over the Rampant Scotland account of the Farquarsons.

My Calibre eBook reader is of course searchable and this background to the famous Battle of Culloden (1746) says:

Each clan had a stated place of rendezvous, where they met at the call of their chief. When an emergency arose for an immediate meeting from the incursions of a hostile clan, the cross or tarie, or fiery-cross, was immediately despatched through the territories of the clan. This signal consisted of two pieces of wood placed in the form of a cross. One of the ends of the horizontal piece was either burnt or burning, and a piece of linen or white cloth stained with blood was suspended from the other end. Two men, each with a cross in his hand, were despatched by the chief in different directions, who kept running with great speed, shouting the war-cry of the tribe, and naming the place of rendezvous, if different from the usual place of meeting. The cross was delivered from hand to hand, and as each fresh bearer ran at full speed, the clan assembled with great celerity. General Stewart says, that one of the latest instances of the fiery-cross being used, was in 1745 by Lord Breadalbane, when it went round Loch Tay, a distance of thirty-two miles, in three hours, to raise his people and prevent their joining the rebels, but with less effect than in 1715 when it went the same round, and when 500 men assembled in a few hours, under the command of the Laird of Glenlyon, to join the Earl of Mar.

Every clan had its own war-cry, (called in Scottish slogan,) to which every clansman answered. It served as a watch-word in cases of sudden alarm, in the confusion of combat, or in the darkness of the night. The clans were also distinguished by a particular badge, or by the peculiar arrangements or sets of the different colours of the tartan, which will be fully noticed when we come to treat of the history of the clans.

When a clan went upon any expedition they were much influenced by omens. If they met an armed man they believed that good was portended. If they observed a deer, fox, hare, or any other four-footed beast of game, and did not succeed in killing it, they prognosticated evil. If a woman barefooted crossed the road before them, they seized her and drew blood from her forehead.

The Cuid-Oidhche, or night’s provision, was paid by many tenants to the chief; and in hunting or going on an expedition, the tenant who lived near the hill was bound to furnish the master and his followers a night’s entertainment, with brawn for his dogs.

There are no sufficient data to enable us to estimate correctly the number of fighting men which the clans could bring at any time into the field; but a general idea may be formed of their strength in 1745, from the following statement of the respective forces of the clans as taken from the memorial supposed to be drawn up by the Lord President Forbes of Culloden, for the information of government. It is to be observed, however, that besides the clans here mentioned, there were many independent gentlemen, as General Stewart observes, who had many followers, but being what were called broken names, or small tribes, are omitted.

Argyle, 3000
Breadalbane, 1000
Lochnell and other chieftains of the Campbells, 1000
Macleans, 500
Maclauchlans, 200
Stewart of Appin, 300
Macdougals, 200
Stewart of Grandtully, 300
Clan Gregor, 700
Duke of Athol, 3000
Farquarsons, 500
Duke of Gordon, 300
Grant of Grant, 850
Mackintosh, 800
Macphersons, 400
Frasers, 900
Grant of Glenmorriston, 150
Chisholms, 200
Duke of Perth, 300
Seaforth, 1000
Cromarty, Scatwell, Gairloch, and other chieftains of the Mackenzies, 1500
Laird of Menzies, 300
Munros, 300
Rosses, 500
Sutherland, 2000
Mackays, 800
Sinclairs, 1100
Macdonald of Slate, 700
Macdonald of Clanronald, 700
Macdonell of Glengary, 500
Macdonell of Keppoch, 300
Macdonald of Glencoe, 130
Robertsons, 200
Camerons, 800
M’Kinnon, 200
Macleod, 700
The Duke of Montrose, Earls of Bute and Moray, Macfarlanes, M’Neils of Barra, M’Nabs, M’Naughtons, Lamonts, &c. &c. 5600

Which is not to suggest any Christison was there…. But it is exciting stuff.

Balmoral Castle — from the 1875 clan history in my eBook Library.

Wikipedia has a Farquarson page.

Cousin Ray also posted this on his Facebook:

Moments in my eBook Library — 16 —  more random choices

Australian readers would once have instantly known who the author is:

Henry Lawson (1867-1922).

The next one you won’t have heard of — self-published in 2012:

The Polish Experience


Nicholas Westerby

This book is dedicated to my son Alexander. Let’s hope that you cause me more problems than I cause you

© 2012, Nicholas Westerby

Nothing much to add…. I’m afraid the folk on Goodreads were not all that impressed.

I have read other works by Sheridan Le Fanu (1814-1873) but not this one. It does look promising and is a recent addition to my eBook collection.

ANU Press has a splendid policy of allowing their latest publications FREE as eBooks. Who can resist? I now have quite a few and the random read app in my Calibre eBook Reader threw up two which I must confess I have yet to read in full. I really must as both look fascinating.

This edition © 2021 ANU Press

This edition © 2010 ANU E Press

Plenty of food in those two! Finally a period piece indeed from the USA — when enthusiasm for the Bolshevik Revolution was at a height in the West.

Of considerable historical interest still.

Moments in my eBook Library — 15 —  more random choices

Do note that thanks to the tag eBook moments you can see this series as a separate chain of posts. 

The first one today is an early Project Gutenberg rendering of Shakespeare’s Richard III — which I have taught many times, the last using the rather wonderful updated production starring Ian McKellen.

That was to Year 11 at Sydney Boys High in 1999.

SCENE: England
King Richard the Third

London. A street


  GLOUCESTER. Now is the winter of our discontent
    Made glorious summer by this sun of York;
    And all the clouds that lour’d upon our house
    In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
    Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths;
    Our bruised arms hung up for monuments;
    Our stern alarums chang’d to merry meetings,
    Our dreadful marches to delightful measures.
    Grim-visag’d war hath smooth’d his wrinkled front,
    And now, instead of mounting barbed steeds
    To fright the souls of fearful adversaries,
    He capers nimbly in a lady’s chamber
    To the lascivious pleasing of a lute.
    But I-that am not shap’d for sportive tricks,
    Nor made to court an amorous looking-glass-
    I-that am rudely stamp’d, and want love’s majesty
    To strut before a wanton ambling nymph-
    I-that am curtail’d of this fair proportion,
    Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,

Deform’d, unfinish’d, sent before my time
    Into this breathing world scarce half made up,
    And that so lamely and unfashionable
    That dogs bark at me as I halt by them-
    Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace,
    Have no delight to pass away the time,
    Unless to spy my shadow in the sun
    And descant on mine own deformity.
    And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover
    To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
    I am determined to prove a villain
    And hate the idle pleasures of these days.

The next is still in the realm of English Literature, but a complete contrast.

The illustrations are delightful.

The next is intriguing.

It is by Algernon Blackwood, a name I had heard of but knew nothing about. First published 1909.

I must line that one up for a read!

Sometimes a self-published effort proves worth reading or skimming, even if a bit rough. An example:

Published FREE in Smashwords 2011.

Author’s notes

This book was the result of me wanting to turn a short story I made about the last day of someone’s life and make it into a full length novel. I am currently a member of the writers workshop on and the said short story I mentioned was posted into the forum. I loved it anyways so it was really reassuring to have so many people give me positive reviews on it. It got me to thinking that if I can please that crowd then maybe there was some potential in making it into a full length novel. I hope you enjoyed it on some level, sucker took the life out of me writing it!

I don’t know how many times I have to repeat this, no, many of the events described in this book did not happen to me, and if there is any truth to certain scenarios then they’ve been greatly exaggerated! I haven’t lived the best life but I hold no qualms about my past and I really can’t think of any way I could of [sic] done it better other than maybe I should of [sic] stayed away from drugs and went [sic] to college a little sooner.

A lot of what goes on in Brian’s head could be considered gay bashing so I need to explain that…. I am gay myself and I still have weirdness associated with it from being brought up Southern Baptist. I’ve been where Brian is. I’ve come to terms with myself but I remember what it was like wanting to blow my head off because of who I am. I wanted to show this mindset in Brian so I could help the reader further understand his mental state of mind.

Does he die in the end? I honestly don’t know. I’ve had that same ending in mind for the longest time and to be truthful the outcome changed so many times over the course of writing this that I just said “FUCK IT!” and left it the way I did. So your guess is as good as mine. Deep down I think Brian wanted to be found and rescued, but seeing the predicament he put himself in I’m not all that optimistic he got out of it alive. Who knows?

The oddest things have come my way over the years via Project Gutenberg. I finish this post with one of them:

Of the present King of Cande.

The Government of this Island.

Hitherto I have treated of the Countrey, with the Provisions and Wealth of it: Our next Discourses shall be of the Political Government there exercised. And here Order will lead us to speak first of the King and Matters relating to him.

Antiently this Countrey consisted of Nine Kingdoms, all which had their several Kings; but now by the vicissitude of Times and Things, they are all reduced under one King, who is an absolute Tyrant, and Rules the most arbitrarily of any King in the World. We will first speak of him as to his Personal Capacity, and next as to his Political….

Moments in my eBook Library — 14 —  more random choices

Do note that thanks to the tag eBook moments you can see this series as a separate chain of posts.

The first takes us back again to World War 1 and Australia in a lavishly illustrated book that would have sold well back in 1919 I’m sure.

Indeed there is more to this book than I had realised: “Many contributors, includes a record of the ‘achievements the horsemen of Australia, and of the Flying Corps, and the Anzac Section of the Imperial Camel Corps.  These books were given as gifts by Australian Light Horse soldiers and are now quite rare and sought after. Includes 2 folding panoramas of the fields of battle for Richon le Zion, and Beersheba.”

“Australia in Palestine” should prove of great interest to the people of Australia, and especially to those whose lives have been spent outside the great cities, for it includes a record of the achievements of their “very own”—the horsemen of Australia, and of the Flying Corps and the Anzac Section of the Imperial Camel Corps, which were recruited from them, and co-operated with them in the greatest war yet known to history.

The Australian Light Horseman—and under this name I include the Field and Signal Engineers and Medical Services connected with him, who come from the same stock—is of a type peculiarly his own and has no counterpart that I know of except in his New Zealand brother. His fearlessness, initiative and endurance, and his adaptability to almost any task, are due to the adventurous life he leads in his own country, where he has been accustomed to long hours in the saddle, day and night, and to facing danger of all sorts from his earliest youth. Perhaps these qualities are inherited from his pioneer parents. His invariable good humour under the most adverse conditions comes from the good-fellowship and camaraderie which exists in the free and open life of the Australian Bush. His chivalry comes from the same source, and it is one of his strongest points. In other words, the life he has been accustomed to lead has fitted him to become, with training and discipline, second to no cavalry soldier in the world.

As far as Australia is concerned, the Palestine Campaign may be said to have commenced with the crossing of the Suez Canal by the Anzac Mounted Division at Kantara on the 23rd April, 1916, to re-occupy Romani and the western end of the Katia Oasis Area. The mounted troops of Australia and New Zealand had already proved their extraordinary adaptability to circumstances as infantrymen in the hard school of Gallipoli, but it yet remained for them to show their value as cavalry. The occupation of Romani was followed by long and trying marches in the Desert of Sinai, during the hottest summer known in Egypt for many years, after an elusive enemy who did not appear in any force until July, 1916, when he advanced on Romani preparatory to his second attack on the Suez Canal. The disastrous defeat inflicted on the Turkish arms at Romani, and the pursuit which followed, not only demonstrated the inestimable value of the horsemen of Australasia as cavalrymen, but opened the way for the advance to the Eastern Frontier of Egypt which ended the enemy’s menace to Egypt. The systematic advance of the British Force from Romani to the Egyptian Border was covered by Australian and New Zealand horsemen, British Yeomanry and the Imperial Camel Corps, ably assisted by the reconnaissance of the R.F.C. and Australian Flying Corps. The victories of Magdhaba and Rafa completely cleared the enemy from Egyptian territory and opened the way for our advance into Palestine. The operations which began with the capture of Beersheba and concluded with the capture of Damascus and Aleppo, and eventually led to the complete surrender of the Turkish Forces, are dealt with in this volume, and I will say no more of them than that the brilliant part in those operations played by the Australian and New Zealand mounted troops has more than upheld the reputation they established on the battlefield of Romani.

The splendid record of the 1st Squadron of the Australian Flying Corps speaks for itself. It was formed in Egypt and has grown with the campaign to a state of efficiency which places it second to none of the same arm.

The casualties in action in this campaign have been light compared with the results achieved. In a very large measure this was due to the dash of the troops, which saved heavy losses on many occasions; but many brave fellows have given their lives through diseases contracted in areas which the exigencies of the service required to be occupied and fought in.

Before concluding, I would like to say a word for the Medical Services, which have endured the same hardships as the combatant arms, and always performed their duties cheerfully and efficiently under the most adverse conditions.

The great re-enactment of Beersheba filmed in 1940 in the Cronulla sand hills! Directed by Charles Chauvel, the nephew of General Sir Harry Chauvel who led the Australian Light Horse Brigade.

History of other eras may be found in the next two random books.

That name intrigued me!

That Short History of Scotland is by a writer very famous in his day, Andrew Lang, whose work is still well worth looking at. There is web site devoted to him.

The next book is also by someone famous in his day — Sir Walter Besant. There is a memorial to him in St Paul’s Cathedral.

There are many magazines and journals to be found on Project Gutenberg which often publishes individual items of note. From this 1926 magazine they chose a D H Lawrence story.

by D. H. Lawrence
Author of “Women in Love”

There was a little snow on the ground, and the church clock had just struck midnight. Hampstead in the night of winter for once was looking pretty, with clean, white earth and lamps for moon, and dark sky above the lamps.

A confused little sound of voices, a gleam of hidden yellow light. And then the garden door of a tall, dark Georgian house suddenly opened, and three people confusedly emerged. A girl in a dark-blue coat and fur turban, very erect; a fellow with a little dispatch case, slouching; a thin man with a red beard, bareheaded, peering out of the gateway down the hill that swung in a curve downward toward London.

“Look at it! A new world!” cried the man in the beard ironically, as he stood on the step and peered out.

“No, Lorenzo! It’s only whitewash!” cried the young man in the overcoat. His voice was handsome, resonant, plangent, with a weary, sardonic touch.

As he turned back, his face was dark in shadow.

The girl with the erect, alert head, like a bird, turned back to the two men.

“What was that?” she asked, in her quick, quiet voice….

Finally a writer very popular in the early to mid 20th century: W Somerset Maugham.