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The Arabian Nights: Their Best-Known Tales

3.65  ·  Rating Details ·  362 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews
For more than five hundred years the Arabian classic Tales of a Thousand and One Nights has fascinated readers all over the world. Early in this century the popular novelist Kate Douglas Wiggin and her sister, Nora Smith, selected and edited twelve favorite tales from the collection, including the stories of Ali Baba and the forty thieves, Aladdin and his wonderful lamp, a ...more
MP3 Book, 0 pages
Published November 9th 2004 by Blackstone Audio, Inc.
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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April (Aprilius Maximus)
DNF - I read around 5 of the stories and have concluded that fairytales just aren't for me.

Around the Year in 52 Books Challenge Notes:
- 30. A fairytale from a culture other than your own
I'm not sure why so many people think the tales in the Arabian Nights are fairy tales. Fairy tales are easily distinguished by otherworldly characters such as goblins, dragons, ahem, fairies, and always have a moral bent. While some of these stories do have a few witches and a genie, none of these tales are really moralistically driven, unless you sincerely believe a woman's silence and immobility while she's continually being raped is consent (I'm looking at you, Gulnare!). Instead, these are f ...more
Powder River Rose
Tales of incredible strength and perseverance, faith in and love of God, travel, wealth and contentment; and who knows, maybe there's even a bit of truth and history. Eight named stories but be assured there are many more amazing accounts of some length on the various travels or situations by an individual. No story fails to hold one's interest and while I have several favorites each has been a joy to listen to.

Narrator Joanna Ward has a lovely voice and reads the stories without error. There wa
Nick Lenz
Apr 03, 2017 Nick Lenz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A truly amazing compilation of wonderful Islamic stories! They give an insight into the glory days of the Islamic Caliphates, and the wondrous minds of Muslim storytellers.
This book like a lot of fairy tales is full of really stupid people. Who would believe people who came to them and said their wife gave birth to a dog, a cat, and a log? Seriously how stupid can you be? Its also full of idiots who can't follow directions like, "Don't open the golden door."
I know that it wouldn't have a story if they weren't so stupid but sometimes I am just frustrated with the complete absurdity of it all.
Kelsey Hanson
These stories are pretty interesting. I definitely like some of the stories better than others (Some of them can drag a bit) but they were interesting and featured a different culture. I really liked the different characters and the fact that the girls were just as smart and adventurous as the boys.
May 26, 2017 Rachel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible
I just couldn't seem to finish this one. I have been listening to it on audible and it is quite repetitive. So much so that I loose interest and stop listening. And before I know it I've no idea what's happening in the story. I did enjoy a couple of the stories. The fisherman story was cute and I enjoyed Aladdin and the Lamp. If you're looking for a book of classic fairy tales this is not it. These are more folk stories that have likely been passed down orally.

Another note: if you like audible
Pato Myers
These are stories I've heard about because they are so popular but never got around to reading before. Characters are quick to murder, but otherwise good stories.
David Doyle
Jan 05, 2017 David Doyle rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
This book contained about 10 of the Arabian Tales, some of which I'd heard of--(1) Aladdin (2) Ali Babba and the 40 Thieves, and (3) Sinbad the Sailor. Truthfully, I had trouble getting through a number of them, maybe it's because these fairy tales are from a different culture and weren't crafted for children, but simply for entertaining. For instance, it's odd to read fairy tales where the main characters aren't heroic or don't experience some sort of growth in understanding or disposition. Con ...more
Heather Browning
Perhaps I would have enjoyed this more in the context of reading it with children. It was essentially a big book of fairy-tales, but without any of the interesting depth or nuance of, say, Andersen. I'm not sure if this is just a function of the stories chosen for this collection (only 10 of them), or representative of the larger set as a whole. The protagonists were driven almost entirely by greed and vanity, and this was clearly a linking theme as so much descriptive space was taken up on pala ...more
Nov 04, 2007 Jenn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: topshelf
I must have read some of these when I was younger, because some of the stories seem rather familiar, but I'm glad I'm (re)reading them. a) It's an interesting look into that culture, and b) the pictures (what's offered in the book and what's painted in your mind) are really nice. Some of the tales I literally could not put down until I was finished with them. It's nice just to escape into that rare land of story-telling where you actually find yourself almost a kid in how engrossed you are in th ...more
Apr 10, 2009 Melinda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read the 1909 edition and seen the beautiful Maxfield Parrish illustrations. It's because of this book that I went on to do a little research into color illustrations in books and can now identify Maxfield Parrish's work when I see it elsewhere (such as in the ladies' restroom of a very nice restaurant). Knowing the history of book illustration helps because Parrish's work tends to look dated, but it was cutting edge then.

The tales are very good, too. I think there's about the right number
Mar 04, 2013 Al rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful book in every way. Reprinted from the original 1909 version, with the Maxfield Parrish illustrations to brighten the proceedings, these famous stories are told in courtly, but not stilted language. They relate marvelous events and quests, and constantly reflect the courtesy and high character of the heroes. Caliphs and sultans, grand viziers and emeers, common people and slaves, rocs and serpents, flying carpets, genies, fabulous riches and miraculous deliverance -- it's all here. A ...more
Tim Inak
Aug 19, 2013 Tim Inak rated it really liked it
I don't know why it took a fantasy addict like myself so long to read these tales. Maybe all the cheesy movies I saw growing up that were supposed to be based on the Arabian Nights made me feel like I already knew the stories.

News flash: Hollywood never gets it right. If you like magic and adventure, the Arabian Nights is for you.

The only problem I had with this version is that being compiled by two British women from the turn of the 20th century, they left most of the sex out while adding their
Sugandha Garg
downloaded this book from glutenberg project. i did like a few stories which i had already heard or read when i was a child. i particularly did like aladin and the lamp , the fountain talking bird and singing tree, sindbad,but their were a few stories which i felt to be monotonous maybe cause of the way they were translated or maybe i found them incomplete(my own take on stories).i did leave one story though.but overall a nice book which draws one into its fantasy world.
Dec 27, 2012 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
I was going to donate this book to my classroom library until I actually went through the book and read it. I was pleasantly surprised to see lovely color pictures along with the text that makes for a very nice book to have for my personal library.

The book contains the more well-known Arabian Nights tales and was actually put together originally back in 1909. The publishers of this book have re-printed it with full color pictures from Maxfield Parrish, which was quite enjoyable.
Jul 19, 2013 Megan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked some stories more than others (I skipped one because I couldn't get myself to care) but it was fun finding out what the original stories of Aladdin and Sinbad were all about, and I enjoyed the Cododad and the Singing Tree tales. The storytelling style was quite different from western folktales, naturally, but very cool. May need to look up a few more stories sometime, particularly that of Schezerazade. I was surprised it wasn't included among the "most famous!"
Dec 30, 2008 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book, it wasn't great but it was good enough that it made me want to read a more comprehensive set of the Arabian Nights Tales. My understanding is that the complete Arabian Nights stories are set in a whole series of frame stories, you get a bit of the feel for that in this book but I'm guessing the complete tales does a better job.

Having said that, this book seems appropriate for older children, with some commentary about differences in cultural understanding today.
Nov 22, 2008 Jeff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
The stories are charming and memorable, but it is the Maxfield Parrish illustrations that really make this edition stand out among other collections of The Arabian Nights. The dovetail so nicely, in expression, mysticism, and tone, with the stories in the book that the paintings almost seem integral to the book, as if they were created at the same time as the story. Choose this edition above another!
Mar 01, 2014 Catherine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
I don't get why this is so British seeming, culturally. Especially the early stories.

My favorites were the one about the talking bird, the singing tree, and the golden water (although it was very British, like I said.); and Ali baba and the 40 thieves which I totally didn't know the true story of all this time. Aladdin was decent too, the Disney version is worlds better though--the storytelling of it is legitimately better.

I listened to this and it was fine.
Mar 21, 2015 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was fun to read. Some of the stories I remember like Aladin, but knew the Disney version was off, but not much really. The 40 thieves was a great one to read again. But the Sinbad story was a great find as I remember the sotries from the movies only and this was the first time reading them. Always a good idea to revisit childhood stories and see how they hold up when you are older, before you read them to your kids that is.
Jan 24, 2011 Mallory rated it did not like it
Shelves: j-fic, classic, audio-book
Even knowing when the Arabian Nights were originally written, the stories were still surprisingly racist! None of the characters seemed to learn anything, and there was no real reason to be on the 'hero's' side. I definately prefer Disney's version of Aladdin as he was actually kind and good natured.
Apr 07, 2015 Jackie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookclub
Finally I heard the details about adventures of Ali Baba and Sinbad the Sailor. I also learned that Alladin originated from China, and that it is better, in these tales, not to be black nor a Jew. God, or Allah, has a phrase following His Holy Name such as The Merciful, or the use of His Name is honored with Blessed be His Name. That sounds very gentle.
Sarah Rice
Sep 07, 2011 Sarah Rice rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My dad gave me this edition as a kid and I love it, yellow pages and everything. The Talking Bird, The Singing Tree and The Golden Fountain (cover illustration) is my favourite story, unsurprising since it's the only one with a strong female character in it. I wish they had included something about Periezade and Sheherazade for that reason, but I still love it to pieces.
Nov 29, 2013 Booklover rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book, but was frustrated that again I only got some of the stories (abridged). Of course I knew that when I picked it up, but it's still my complaint.

Warning: This was originally published in 1909 and does include not very PC language. I wasn't horrified by this like some others but it's worth mentioning.
Monica Tilley
May 18, 2014 Monica Tilley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book a lot, but readers should be aware that this text was written in the 19th century. Many villainous characters from sorcerers to cannibals to monsters are described as black, the darker, the more pernicious. Only the 6th Voyage of Sinbad at the end of the book describes a group of 'negros' as kind and prosperous.
Apr 09, 2009 Geri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While this book would still be nice as a reissued copy or even, *shudder* a paperback, the one I've read is an original 1909 edition, complete with yellowed pages, ancient color pictures, and a note to Mary Jane from Grandpa, Christmas 1931. It's very easily the most imposing book I own, nicely written and gorgeously illustrated.
Feb 22, 2012 Hilary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Classic storytelling. I'd forgotten about certain stylistic elements, and this really reminded of other myths and fairy tales I need to re-read!

I ran out of time to finish this one. Will definitely come back to it.
Jan 02, 2015 Tim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: myths-legends
I have to say I did not get all the way through this. I found the author's prose to be irritatingly stilted, particularly the dialogue. The stories however are magnificent, and I look forward to exploring them more in another edition.
Sep 09, 2012 Keyton rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This felt more like a dose of cultural medicine than entertainment. The Arabian Nights tales that everyone has heard of are famous for good reason and it was fun to read the full, original stories. But most of the others never managed to break above mildly interesting.
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Kate Douglas Smith Wiggin

Kate Douglas Wiggin, nee Smith (1856-1923) was an American children's author and educator. She was born in Philadelphia, and was of Welsh descent. She started the first free kindergarten in San Francisco in 1878 (the "Silver Street Free Kindergarten"). With her sister in the 1880s she also established a training school for kindergarten teachers. Her best known books are Th
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