Talking Book News Bulletin, Fall 2013

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Director's Report
Holiday Closings

Patron and Master Chef winner Christine Ha
Spotlight on Texas

Upcoming Book Club Meeting
Books Worth Revisiting: More Great Adventure Stories
Talking Book Club Titles for 2014
Donations to the Talking Book Program


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Related Links
Loan Policy
Spotlight on Texas Books
Disability Information & Referral Center
National Library Service for the Blind & Physically Handicapped

Director's Report

Greetings! Here is the latest news:

A new State Librarian:  The Texas State Library and Archives Commission welcomed Mark Smith as its new Director and Librarian (popularly known as the State Librarian) on November 1, 2013. Smith is a native of Austin and worked for the agency back in the 1990s. He also has worked for the Texas Library Association and most recently as Vice-President for West Coast operations of Library Systems & Services, LLC (LSSI), in California. Smith is excited to be back in Texas and has great admiration for the Talking Book Program (TBP). He looks forward to working with staff to boost enrollment and to ensure the best possible services.

The BARD Mobile App is now available:  If you own an Apple iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch (or have been thinking about acquiring one), you now may download an app from the Apple Store that will allow you to download books and magazines directly from BARD onto your device. The app is free, but you must have an active BARD account in order to use the app. TBP patrons who are using the new app report that they are very happy with it. If you would like to learn more about the BARD Mobile App for Apple devices, please call 1-800-252-9605 and ask to speak with a BARD technical support staffer; if you would like to sign up for a BARD account, please follow the BARD link from our website ( or go to to complete a very brief online application. If you use an Android tablet, an app for you is in the works. The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) hopes to release the Android app in the summer of 2014.

If you read printed Braille magazines:  Printed Braille magazines are available both from TBP and NLS.  TBP’s Braille magazines must be returned to TBP.  These magazines will come to you in a zippered cloth bag, a vinyl box with Velcro closures, or in a box with a belt around it.  All of these will have a removable mailing card that can be reversed when sent back. NLS magazines, on the other hand, come in a cardboard box or large paper envelope with an attached mailing address.  You may keep the NLS magazines, or you may recycle them.  Please do not send the NLS magazines to TBP.

Book club news:  Please read the inserts in this newsletter on upcoming book club programs in 2014. Next up is The Fault in Our Stars by John Green on January 23, 2014, at 7:00 p.m.  The next Spanish book club will feature Rumbo Al Hermoso Norte by Luis Alberto Urrea on February 20, 2014. To make a reservation, please call 1-800-252-9605 or send an email to One of our previous book club selections, The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak, has been made into a movie and is now showing in theaters. Reader Services staffers Kathleen and Shannon have seen the new movie, and both give it two thumbs up.

Helpful contact information for the Talking Book Program:

Until next time,
Ava Smith, Director, Talking Book Program


Texas Talking Books will be closed for these holidays.

Tuesday through Friday, December 24, 25, 26, 27 – Christmas

Closing at noon December 31; Wednesday, January 1, 2014 – New Year’s Day

Of course, you can leave a voicemail message or send e-mail on a holiday.

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TBP Patron and MasterChef Season 3 Winner Christine Ha’s Best-selling Cookbook Now Available on BARD and Cartridge

Recipes from My Home Kitchen: Asian and American Comfort Food from the Winner of MasterChef Season 3 (DB 76676) by Christine Ha.  Winner of TV's MasterChef recalls teaching herself to make treasured comfort foods as a teenager after her mother's death, losing her vision to neuromyelitis optica at age 25, and relearning to cook.  Recipes range from appetizers to desserts, chicken pot pie to ginger-coconut tuiles.

Spotlight on Texas Books – Digital cartridge only

Dead Soldiers (DT 7035) by Bill Crider.  Carl Burns just wants to be chair of the English department at Hartley-Gorman College, a small liberal-arts school in Pecan Springs, Texas.  But if you solve one crime in a small town, as Burns has done, folks think you can solve them all - as when some collectible lead soldiers disappear, and Carl is asked by his boss, the dean of the college and the owner of the collection, to help find the missing soldiers pilfered at a party at the dean’s house.  But before Carl can investigate the theft, a former teacher at the college is shot and a missing toy soldier is left at the scene, throwing Carl into an uneasy partnership with Boss Napier, Pecan City's police chief and Carl's rival for the affections of the school librarian.  Some violence and some strong language.

How Things Really Work: Lessons From A Life In Politics (DT 7176) by Bill Hobby.

William P. "Bill" Hobby Jr. is a Texas Democratic politician who served a record eighteen years as the 37th Lieutenant Governor during the 1970's and 1980's. Bill Hobby's and his family's era in Texas politics and public service brought progress in numerous areas including public education, mental health, water conservation, fiscal  management, indigent health care, corrections, and public assistance programs.

Kindler of Souls: Rabbi Henry Cohen of Texas (DT 7030) by Henry Cohen II.  Little-known today, Rabbi Henry Cohen was a force to be reckoned with.  A man Woodrow Wilson called “the foremost citizen of Texas,” he also impressed the likes of William Howard Taft and Clarence Darrow.  Cohen’s fleeting fame, however, was built not on powerful friendships but on a lifetime of service to needy Jews – as well as gentiles – in London, South Africa, Jamaica, and, for the last sixty-four years of his life, in Galveston.

Sam Houston (DT 7136) by James L. Haley. In the decades preceding the American Civil War, few figures in the United States were as influential or as controversial as Sam Houston.  Houston (1793-1863) was a Congressman and then governor of Tennessee, he was commander-in-chief of the Texas revolutionary army and served two terms as president of the Republic of Texas. Haley's biography draws on personal papers never before available as well as the papers of others in Houston’s circle. Strong language.

The Sweet and the Dead (DT 7119) by Milton T. Burton.  Manfred Eugene "Hog" Webern, a retired Dallas County deputy sheriff, is talked into going undercover in Biloxi, Mississippi, in a multistate effort to nail a group of traveling criminals who have been tagged by the press with the lurid name "Dixie Mafia."  Violence, strong language, and some descriptions of sex.

Texas, My Texas: Musings of the Rambling Boy (DT 7129 ) by Lonn Taylor.  In a collection of essays about Texas gathered from his West Texas newspaper column, Lonn Taylor traverses the very best of Texas geography, Texas history, and Texas personalities. Taylor writes a very honest, witty, and wise book about Texas past and Texas present.     These essays are stories of legacies; of men and women, times, and places that have made this state what it is today.

Call the Disability Information and Referral Center toll-free at
1-800-252-9605 for information about disabilities and health conditions


 Upcoming Book Club Meeting


All you need to participate in Book Club is a telephone.  Please call 1-800-252-9605 or email to RSVP.  Dates are subject to change.  You can find the 2014 Book Club titles listed in one of the inserts of this newsletter.

Thursday, January 23, 2014, 7:00 p.m. Central (RSVP by January 9, 2014)
The Fault in Our Stars (DB 741152) by John Green.  A miracle drug may have given sixteen-year-old cancer patient Hazel a few more years, but she is still depressed. Then Hazel meets cute Augustus during a support-group meeting and her world shifts in unexpected and inspiring ways.  Some strong language.  2012.


Books Worth Revisiting: More Great Adventure Stories

It’s been a while since this column featured adventure stories. Whether it’s the clash of swords, the hero pitting himself against the elements, or the bravery of one individual overcoming the evil machinations of a heartless villain, readers love the danger, the hairbreadth escape, and the satisfaction that all is well at the end. Here are three classics of the adventure genre that readers still come back to again and again for hours of enjoyment and vicarious thrills.

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas.  Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870) was the king of adventure stories and was France’s best-selling author in his day. In the very first of these columns, we profiled Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo (DB 56946), his most famous work. The Three Musketeers (1844) runs a close second. Set in the 1620s in the court of Louis XIII of France, the story revolves around the adventures of a young man from the country named D’Artagnan, who comes to Paris to enter the king’s service. Within a few hours of entering the city, he finds himself engaged to fight duels with three of the king’s musketeers, and so starts both his career and his friendships with those three extraordinary men. D’Artagnan soon comes to the notice of the king’s chief minister, the powerful Cardinal Richlieu, as well as the cardinal’s beautiful and treacherous agent, Milady, one of literature’s greatest villainesses. D’Artagnan also finds love in the person of his landlord’s wife, Constance Bonacieux, faithful seamstress to the queen. And it is the queen, Anne of Austria, around whom the story swirls, and whose slightest action has such an impact on all the characters. Finally, there are the three musketeers--Athos, Porthos, and Aramis--whose secret lives are wrapped up in the life of their young friend. This is a book packed with high-stakes adventure, danger, treachery, and death, and in the end, a terrible secret laid bare that forever changes everyone connected with it. To order this book, call 1-800-252-9605 and ask for DB 64277. Also available for download from the BARD site.

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy. Most adventure stories are, admittedly, about men. The Scarlet Pimpernel (1905) by Baroness Orczy (1865-1947) centers around a woman, Marguerite St. Just, a celebrated Parisian actress who marries the richest man in England. Though very French, Marguerite is glad to leave Paris, which is convulsed by the Revolution and the early days of the Reign of Terror. Even in England, she cannot escape these horrors as she is pursued by the sinister Chauvelin, an agent of the French government. His real aim is to force Marguerite into helping him discover the identity of the fabled Scarlet Pimpernel, an Englishman whose success in rescuing condemned French aristocrats from under the very blade of the guillotine is causing the French government much embarrassment. Chauvelin threatens to arrest Marguerite’s beloved brother Armand if she does not help him. When she realizes the extent of her “help,” she sets out for France to prevent Chauvelin from carrying out his malicious plans. Read this story for a true understanding of the phrase, “hiding in plain sight.” To order this book, call 1-800-252-9605 and ask for DB 47449. Also available for download from the BARD site.

The Sea-Wolf by Jack London. Jack London (1876-1916) is one of this country’s most beloved authors. He is best known for The Call of the Wild (DB 49486) and White Fang (DB 51689), but The Sea-Wolf (1904) is one of the great classic seafaring adventures. Humphrey Van Weyden is a pampered and sheltered scholar who is shipwrecked at sea. Picked up by a sealing schooner, he finds himself in a different kind of danger when Captain Wolf Larsen refuses to put into a port so Humphrey can return home. Humphrey is faced with the choice of joining the crew or being thrown overboard. Over the next few months, he slowly and painfully develops into a competent sailor, both fascinated and repelled by the monster who is his captain. Humphrey finally finds his destiny when another group of shipwrecked passengers is rescued by Larsen. The presence of poetess Maude Brewster changes the dynamics of all relationships and pits Humphrey against Larsen in a deadly struggle for mastery of the ship. To order this book, call 1-800-252-9605 and ask for DB 22855. Also available for download from the BARD site. 

Talking Book Program Book Club Titles for 2014

The Talking Book Program Book Club will have six bi-monthly discussions in 2014.  The only technology you need to join the Book Club is a telephone! We will give you a phone number to call and join us via conference call. 

When you are ordering a title for TBP Book Club, let us know so we can get the book out to you as soon as possible.  All selected titles are also available for download from BARD.  Whether ordering or downloading, please let us know in advance if you plan on joining our book club discussion.

Please contact us at 1-800-252-9605 or at with any questions.
The next TBP Book Club selections will be:

Thursday, January 23, 2014, 7:00 p.m. Central (RSVP by January 9, 2014)
The Fault in Our Stars (DB 741152) by John Green.  A miracle drug may have given sixteen-year-old cancer patient Hazel a few more years, but she is still depressed. Then Hazel meets cute Augustus during a support-group meeting and her world shifts in unexpected and inspiring ways. Some strong language.  2012.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014, 7:00 p.m. Central (RSVP by March 4, 2014)
Paris Wife (DB 72814) by Paula McLain.  Ingénue Hadley Richardson falls in love with war hero Ernest Hemingway, eight years her junior, in 1920s Chicago.  After marrying, the couple moves to Paris and becomes part of the literary crowd. Hadley raises their son as Hemingway begins an affair with Hadley's friend Pauline.  Some strong language. Bestseller.  2011. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014, 7:00 p.m. Central (RSVP by May 1, 2014)
Let The Great World Spin (DB 70450) by Colum McCann.  New York City, 1974.  Disparate residents--including Philippe Petit, who performs an illegal high-wire walk between the Twin Towers; the judge who hears Petit's case; and a grieving mother--encounter death, love, and salvation.  Strong language, some violence, and some descriptions of sex.  National Book Award.  2009. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014, 7:00 p.m. Central (RSVP by July 1, 2014)
Secret Life of Bees (DB 55533) by Sue Monk Kidd.  South Carolina, 1964.  Fourteen-year-old Lily rescues her African American housekeeper--and substitute mother--Rosaleen, from the hospital.  Rosaleen had been beaten for trying to register to vote.  They flee to a safe place where Lily's battered late mother, now deceased, had also fled--a beekeeping operation run by three black sisters.  Some strong language.  2002. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014, 7:00 p.m. Central (RSVP by September 4, 2014)
Ready Player One (DB 73772) by Ernest Cline.  2045.  Multibillionaire James Halliday dies, leaving his last will and testament online for the world to see.  His massively multiplayer online game OASIS has a hidden feature--an Easter egg--and the person who finds the egg first wins Halliday's fortune.  Some strong language.  Bestseller. 2011. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014, 7:00 p.m. Central (RSVP by October 30, 2014)
Great Gatsby (DB 16147) by F. Scott Fitzgerald.  The glitter and recklessness of the Jazz Age is the backdrop for this novel about Jay Gatsby's desperate attempt to recapture the past, and along with it, the love of Daisy Buchanan.  Amid extravagant parties at Gatsby's palatial estate, his neighbor narrates the story of his obsession with the American dream. 

Donations to the Talking Book Program

TBP often receives inquiries from patrons and family members of patrons on how to make a contribution to the Talking Book Program. Donations may be made in memory of someone or to simply express appreciation for the program.  Donations and bequests have a tremendous impact on the free library service we provide to Texans who are unable to read standard-print material due to visual, physical, or learning disabilities.  TBP is grateful to receive such gifts, which help us maintain and expand our services.

Follow these guidelines for making a contribution to the Talking Book Program: 
1. Checks should be made out to the Texas State Library.  Credit cards cannot be accepted.
2. Write on the memo line of the check that the money is for the Talking Book Program.
3. If the donor wishes the donation to be used for a specific purpose, instructions should be included. Otherwise, the money will be used in general support of TBP.
4. Mail the donation to:  Talking Book Program, P.O. Box 12516, Austin, TX  78711-2516.

Upon receiving donations, we respond by mailing both a notice of thanks and a receipt that can be used for tax purposes.  Individuals who donate “in memory of” have the option of including the names and addresses of family members so that we can inform them of your gift.

Naming the Talking Book Program as the beneficiary of a charitable bequest is often as simple as adding a few sentences to your will.  Before making any kind of gift, you should consult with your attorney or financial advisor.  An unrestricted bequest¬ — one that allows us to meet the Talking Book Program’s most pressing needs as they arise — will provide the most useful way for us to continue serving our patrons.

Thank you for supporting the Talking Book Program.


Talking Book Program
Texas State Library and Archives Commission
PO Box 12927
Austin TX 78711-2927
1-800-252-9605 (in Texas)
512-463-5458 (in Austin)
512-936-0685 (fax)

Page last modified: July 30, 2014