ORSON APP

Digital editions

History of a Pleasure Seeker

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by Richard Mason

read by Dan Stevens


Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens reads Mason’s "glittering confection" (New York Times) about God, sex and overcoming fear in the Gilded Age.


The story comes to life with photos of old Amsterdam, author videos, historical notes, and performances of Chopin, Bizet and Mozart.


Piet Barol, "the fantasy everyman that every man would like to be" (Times Literary Supplement), is hired by Europe’s richest hotelier, a self-made Calvinist who has rolled the dice on the building of New York’s Plaza Hotel.


Maarten’s wife tries not to mind that they never have sex, while his daughters reign as queens over their social set.


From the outside, all is enviable. But the wheels are coming off Maarten’s business empire, and his 10-year-old son refuses to leave the house. The dysfunctions of the glittering family are more than Piet bargained for.


In this "enthralling and perfectly paced novel" (Observer) he walks a tightrope between delight and danger.

Among the Hoods

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by Harriet Sergeant

read by Joanna Lumley


Commissioned in 2008 to write a think-tank report on British gangs, Sergeant discovered firsthand how the government fails its inner-city youth. What began as a conversation outside a chicken take-away shop became a three-year attempt to change the lives of a group of teenaged boys, taking her from job centers and the care system to prisons and failing schools.


Her experiences left her believing that the state has played an integral part in creating gang culture in Britain--and that the entire system must change if we want to help these young men.


The author’s proceeds from the sale of this Orson are being split between her, and the boys featured in the book, and the parents of Swagger, who first introduced her to them.


“What Sergeant conveys, subtly, yet with anger, is how the gang's behavior makes crazy sense.” (Daily Telegraph)


“Sergeant shares George Orwell’s clarity and integrity and his readiness to mix with those he seeks to understand." (Mail on Sunday)


Song for My Fathers

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read by Tom Sancton


Teeming with illustrations, archival photography, 27 sound recordings, and ten short films, the Orson edition of Song for My Fathers is a triumph in digital storytelling.


A young white boy is driven by a consuming passion to learn the music and ways of a group of aging black jazzmen in the twilight of the segregation era. Contemporaries of Louis Armstrong, they called themselves "the mens", and they welcomed the young apprentice into their ranks.


His memoir unfolds against the vivid backdrop of New Orleans, which is perhaps the central player, for this story could not have taken place anywhere else.


"A story with an insider's heart, a reporter's eye, and the pure feeling of a New Orleans musician." (Wynton Marsalis)


"Sancton's prose seduces like a good second-line parade." (Entertainment Weekly)


"Finally, a book about New Orleans music from a totally fresh perspective." (Woody Allen)


Sounding Anni

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by Nicholas Fox Weber

The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation


A preview of the upcoming Orson edition of Sounding Albers, this sample features the drawings and designs of Anni Albers. 


The unique technology of an Orson allows you to combine the experience of listening to well-suited music while looking at the art for which it has been chosen.


Anni Albers delighted in the weaving process almost as soon as she entered the Bauhaus at age twenty-two. The music that accompanies the selections of her work within this Orson provides a delightful progression--from the concerns of everyday living to the realm of artistic beauty, and to what is “universal and timeless,” the goal Anni often stated for her work.


The Great Gatsby (UK only)

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by F. Scott Fitzgerald

read by Shawn Carter Peterson


Includes over 80 images, original musical selections referenced by Fitzgerald, and essays and short lecture films


The ultimate edition of the greatest American classic, curated by leading Gatsby scholar Sarah Churchwell. American magazine covers from the months of 1922 when the novel is set to animate pages to reveal further contemporaneous windows into the context of the story.


The music to which Fitzgerald set Gatsby’s parties accompanies the relevant passages, while Q&A essays and videos with Churchwell will make you unlearn everything your teacher taught you about this classic.


Crossing the Borders of Time

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by Leslie Maitland

read by Leslie Maitland


An award-winning New York Times reporter’s investigation into her mother’s forbidden romance and harrowing flight from the Nazis – and the life she found thereafter in America. 


On a pier in Marseille in 1942, an eighteen-year-old German Jewish girl was pried from the arms of the Catholic Frenchman she loved and promised to marry. Five years later, she would build a new life in New York with a dynamic American husband. 


Maitland grew up enthralled by her mother’s accounts of forbidden romance and harrowing flight from the Nazis. Her book is both a vivid depiction of a world at war and a personal pursuit of her mother's lost love. 


When I Come Around

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by Benj Hewitt

read by Sam Riegl


Clinton still believes in a place called Hope, the dot-com boom is on the horizon, and the nation smells like teen spirit. It’s the early ‘90s, and a recent Harvard graduate figures everything is breaking his way. Until it isn’t.


Childhood begins in Berkeley, California, where “mothers attend women’s groups; fathers prepare dinner; and grandparents are, in general, confused.” 


Enter the era of Gen X, Green Day, and Dr. Dre. Late nights become heated over the merits of Dazed and Confused versus Schindler’s List. But when the narrator’s mother is diagnosed with terminal cancer, he slips into an escapist whirl of romantic liaisons and crystal meth benders.


This début novel blends humor and heartbreak with the realities of what it means to grow up.


A Steinbeck Short Fiction Award Winner


The Belly of Paris

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by Émile Zola

read by Tim Campbell


It’s about filthy-mouthed fruit-sellers and a market full of people “gorging themselves and growing fat”.


Florent Quenu is painfully thin after escaping seven years of imprisonment in French Guiana. Paris in 1858 has abandoned the ideals of the resistance for which he fought and has swallowed Louis-Napoleon’s materialism whole-hog. Nowhere do the consequences of Haussmann's urban reconstruction feel more nauseating than in Les Halles, where rotting food can be sold at a premium, and gossip is a prized commodity.


Zola’s apocalyptic descriptions are for realists, not romantics. His unsweetened account of human nature reeks of today.


This third volume in Zola’s Rougon-Macquart series is illustrated by Ian Sklarsky and includes the photographs of Charles Marville and paintings by Manet and Cézanne.


Macbeth

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This illustrated edition is set to the script for the 2011 L.A. Theatre Works (LATW) radio recording. Images include historic set designs and staged portraits of some of the play's most notable performers. 


Infamously known as the cursed “Scottish play,” Macbeth is perhaps Shakespeare’s darkest tragedy. When three witches tell General Macbeth that he will one day be King of Scotland, Lady Macbeth convinces him to get rid of anyone who could stand in his way. 


As Macbeth ascends to the throne through bloody murder, he becomes a tyrant consumed by fear and paranoia.


Starring James Marsten (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Hawaii Five-O) and Joanna Whalley (The Borgias, Edge of Darkness, Gossip Girl). Directed by Martin Jarvis.