Talking Book News Bulletin, Summer 2013

TBP Home
Back to Newsletters

Internal Links
Director's Report
Holiday Closings

Titles You May Enjoy
National Book Festival Selection

Upcoming Book Club Selection
Books Worth Revisiting: Three Big Books
Spotlight on Texas - Digital Cartridge


 (TXT), (PDF), (MP3)


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:

Overdue magazines:  NLS began sending out magazines on digital cartridges a few months ago, and we’re already seeing big problems with overdues.  Please return your magazines within one week of receiving them!  You cannot keep magazines because the contract producers need the cartridges back in order to produce the next cycle of magazines.  In the case of Texas magazines, we only have a limited number of cartridges and only produce a set number of copies of each issue.  If you do not return the magazines mailed to you, then two things are going to happen: 1) there won’t be enough magazines for everybody to read; and 2) you will be dropped from the magazine mailings because you have overdues.  Please read your magazines as soon as possible after you receive them in the mail.  Please don’t set them aside, thinking that you’ll read them, later.  “Later” comes around a lot faster than you realize, and then, you’ve got overdue items on your account.  If you have access to a computer and the Internet, you can download your magazines from BARD.  Downloading from BARD allows you to keep your magazines for as long as you like and read them whenever you want to.

Do you have loose containers and cartridges?:  If you have any containers and can’t find the cartridge that goes in it, or, if you have a cartridge and can’t find the container, please send those individual pieces back to us!  If you have the odd container, you can turn over the mailing card so that our address is showing and then put it in the mail.  If you can’t find the mailing card, we can send you another mailing card—just call 1-800-252-9605 and ask a reader consultant for a replacement mailing card.

If you have a cartridge and cannot find the container, just call 1-800-252-9605 and ask for a mailer for a loose cartridge.  We’ll send you one with the mailing label already affixed.  Put your cartridge in the mailer and put it in the mail.

Remember, mail these items separately.  When they arrive at our Circulation facility, staff will know that individual pieces need to be processed in a certain way.  Please do not put a lonely cartridge into a lonely container, because what appears to be a mismatched book is processed in a different way, and staff will be calling you to send back the other pieces.  Likewise, do not put a lonely cartridge in with another cartridge in its container.  Putting more than one cartridge into a container warps the container, making it unusable. 

Commercial audio books are now available on BARD:  NLS recently signed an agreement with a major publishing group to have the group’s audio books added to BARD; some of these books already are available for download.  All of these books will contain “commercial audiobook” in the summary blurb on BARD.  NLS hopes to make similar agreements with other publishing groups.  The major advantage to such agreements is that these books will be available for download much sooner than if NLS produced the recordings.  Some of these commercially-recorded audio books, however, may not be reviewed for sexual content, strong language, and violence.  If you read the description of the book on BARD, “unrated” will appear in the summary.  If you download one of these books, just be aware that it may contain content that you do not want to read.

Once on BARD, these commercial audio books can be transferred to digital cartridge. If you request one of these books through our Reader Services department, the reader consultant who assists you may not be able to advise you as to what levels of sex, language, and violence are in any of these books.  If you are on automatic selection and have requested that your selections be screened for sex, language, and violence, you may still receive any of these “unrated” audio books until we are able to determine what those levels are and code them for the designated levels.

If you read these magazines…:  If you read the large print versions of Guideposts and Reader’s Digest, or if you listen to the audio versions of Texas Monthly, Texas Highways, and Texas Parks & Wildlife, be advised that TBP has had problems with the subscriptions to all these magazines.  In the case of Guideposts, issues for September 2012 through May 2013 were not received, and unfortunately, we will not be able to get any copies of the back issues.  The same case applies to January 2013 through May 2013 issues for Reader’s Digest.  In the case of the Texas audio magazines, we did not receive some of the June, July, and August 2013 issues but have been able to find donated copies to record from; these issues will be delayed.

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.

Monday, November 11 – Veterans Day

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

Return to Top

Titles You May Enjoy

Great A and P and the Struggle for Small Business in America (DB 73932) by Marc Levinson.  Author explores the history of the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company--popularly known as the A and P--and its impact on American business and culture. Discusses the lives of founders George and John Hartford and the controversies surrounding the supermarket chain.

Hope Unseen: The Story of the U.S. Army’s First Blind Active-Duty Officer (DB 71909) by Scotty Smiley.  Account of U.S. Army Captain and Ranger Scotty Smiley, who after losing his sight during a suicide-bomber attack in Iraq, became the first active-duty blind officer.  Covers Smiley's post-injury accomplishments, including earning an MBA, winning an ESPY, climbing Mount Rainier, and teaching leadership at West Point.

Racing While Black: How an African American Stock Car Team Made Its Mark on NASCAR (DB 71670) by Leonard T. Miller.  History of the African American-owned Miller Racing stock car team.  Recounts the efforts of the author and his father, Leonard W. Miller, to turn their love of NASCAR into a company that offered opportunities for black drivers in a sport rooted in rural southern culture.  Some strong language.

Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain: The Surprising Talents of the Middle-Aged Mind (DB 71825) by Barbara Strauch.  Health and medical science editor examines the workings of the middle-aged brain.  Uses studies conducted by neuroscientists to demonstrate that, even though certain capacities--such as remembering names--diminish, the aging mind gains more flexibility, organization, and efficiency from developing its ability to use both sides of the brain.


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


Texas Selection for National Book Festival Available for Check-out

The Library of Congress National Book Festival will be held September 21 and 22 in Washington, DC. The National Book Festival is held annually on the National Mall, and features authors, poets and illustrators in several pavilions. Festival-goers can meet and hear firsthand from their favorite poets and authors, get books signed, hear special entertainment, have photos taken with storybook characters and participate in a variety of activities.


This year’s book selection for Texas is Goodbye to a River (DT 2908) by John Graves.  Graves leads readers through an exciting three-week trip down the Brazos River in this classic narrative.  An excellent history of the early inhabitants along the river is well woven into this engrossing book, with memories of events in Texas history that took place along that river.


Did You Know?

BARD users can download the Bible on a 2GB or larger USB flash drive.


 Upcoming Book Club Selection

The Book Club is in a phone-in format; all you need to participate is a telephone.  Please contact Shannon at 1-800-252-9605 or by email at to RSVP.  Dates are subject to change.

November 14, 2013 (Thursday), 7:00-8:00 p.m. Central

Blind Contessa’s New Machine by Carey Wallace.  It is early nineteenth-century Italy.  Contessa Carolina tells her parents and fiancé she is going blind, but they won't listen.  Only local eccentric Turri believes her.  He invents a machine—a typewriter—for her, and the two fall in love.  Based on a true story.  2010.

You can always contact TBP by email at: Also, visit our new blog at for up-to-date information.


Books Worth Revisiting: Three Big Books

Many of us remember having to read something for a school book report. Of course, we wanted the shortest book we could find and really did not care if the book was enjoyable, as long as we could zip through it.  As we grow older, however, we want to savor our reading time. What better way than to dive into a really big book that promises many hours of reading pleasure?  Here are three big books, all more than 40 hours each.

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. When it was published in 1936, Gone with the Wind became an instant literary sensation and won a Pulitzer Prize.  It’s been criticized as overblown and presenting a too-romanticized picture of the Southern way of life and the institution of slavery.  And yes, it’s been criticized as being too long. For all that, people still come back to Gone with the Wind for a good read. The landmark 1939 film of the novel is itself so well known that some feel no need to read the book, but like most film adaptations, much in the book is left out of the film. In Scarlett O’Hara, Margaret Mitchell (1900-1949) created a vividly exasperating heroine counterbalanced by Rhett Butler, that most romantic of rogues. Ignorant, vain, and selfish, Scarlett also has courage, determination, and a strong pragmatism that carries her through the horrors of civil war and reconstruction. Scarlett is the New South—defeated but not broken, casting off the past and scrambling for the future. Here also is the history of Scarlett’s parents, how the Tara plantation came to be, what made Rhett turn renegade, the hold that frail, gentle Melanie Wilkes has on everyone around her, and the rebirth of the city of Atlanta. Even before her tragic death, Mitchell was emphatic that she would not write a sequel, declaring that even she had no idea what happened to Scarlett and Rhett in later years. The last few pages of the novel give a few tantalizing clues, and of course, there is Scarlett’s determination to take on and win yet another battle. To order this book, call 1-800-252-9605 and ask for DB 33082.  Also available for download from the BARD site.

The History of Tom Jones by Henry Fielding. Often cited as the first true novel to be written in English and to have the most perfect plot, The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling was published in 1749. Henry Fielding (1707-1754) already was a well-known writer, dramatist, and satirist when he published his most famous work; he would go on to become a respected magistrate and co-founder with his half-brother John of the Bow Street Runners, England’s first police force.  (John Fielding, also a successful magistrate, was blinded as a young man in a naval accident; he reputedly could recognize thousands of criminals by the sounds of their voices and was called the “Blind Beak.”)  Tom begins his adventures as a baby found in the bed of Squire Allworthy.  Adopted by the good man despite serious concerns about his parentage, Tom is raised as a gentleman over the protests of many inhabitants in the good squire’s household.  By a combination of his own carelessness and the machinations of his enemies, Tom is disowned and cast out to find his own way in the world. After a series of adventures and the meeting of many interesting people, Tom finds himself in London where things really get complicated.  After many travails (including nearly being hanged), Tom is vindicated, the mystery of his parentage is solved, and he wins the hand of the beautiful Sophia Western (modeled after Fielding’s beloved first wife Charlotte). To order this book, call 1-800-252-9605 and ask for DB 65165.  Also available for download from the BARD site.

Les Misérables by Victor Hugo. Victor Hugo (1802-1885) published Les Misérables in 1862. For over 150 years, Hugo’s tale about the poor and downtrodden French masses has had an incredible hold on the reading public, as well as inspiring film and musical adaptations. For escaped convict Jean Valjean, the struggle is not only to elude recapture and a return to the galleys, but to have a meaningful life through good works that ease the sufferings of strangers even worse off than himself.  Relentlessly pursued by the cold-hearted Inspector Javert, Valjean still manages to amass a fortune and quietly live in the heart of Paris for many years.  Dedicated to his adopted daughter Cosette, Valjean is disturbed by the attention Cosette receives from a handsome suitor named Marius.  When Paris is engulfed by the Revolution of 1832, Valjean saves both Javert and Marius from certain death, with surprising consequences for all. To order this book, call 1-800-252-9605 and ask for DB 35363.  Also available for download from the BARD site.

Return to Top

Summer 2013 Spotlight on Texas Books – Digital cartridge only

Brown-on-Brown: A Luis Montez Mystery (DT 7147) by Manuel Ramos.  Denver attorney Luis Montez reluctantly agrees to take on a case for a local low-life's cousin and soon finds himself embroiled in an old struggle over water in Colorado's San Luis Valley.  Heavy profanity, violence, and some descriptions of sex.

Brush-Off: A Hair Raising Mystery (DT 6910) by Laura Bradley.  Alluring hair stylist Reyn Marten Sawyer becomes involved in an uneasy alliance with sexy detective Jackson Scythe to track down a killer when she becomes a suspect in the murder of her mentor, Ricardo, San Antonio's hair salon king.  Some strong profanity.

Cowboy for a Rainy Afternoon (DT 7113) by Stephen Bly.  In 1954, six men, who spent their young lives as cowboys in the Southwest, now gather at the Matador Hotel in downtown Albuquerque, New Mexico, for weekly games of cribbage.  One rainy afternoon, one of the men brings his ten-year-old grandson with him to the cribbage game.  The boy has on his straw cowboy hat, his cap gun, and leather bullet belt with the silver-painted wooden bullets.  They play cribbage and tell stories, and the boy listens while they pass down a way of life and western tradition that is quickly becoming extinct.   Many years later, the boy looks back and remembers the stories he heard and the lessons he learned on that day.

Eckhardt: There Once Was a Congressman from Texas (DT 7068) by Gary A. Keith.  In this biography of Bob Eckhardt (1913-2001), Keith tells the story of Eckhardt's colorful life and career within the context of the changing political landscape of Texas.  Renowned for his "brilliant legislative mind" and political oratory as well as for bicycling to Congress in a rumpled white linen suit and bow tie, the U.S. Congressman was a force to reckon with in Texas and national politics from the 1940's until 1980.  A liberal Democrat who successfully championed progressive causes, from workers' rights to consumer protection to environmental preservation and energy conservation, Eckhardt won the respect of opponents as well as allies.

Evil Among Us: The Texas Mormon Missionary Murders (DT 6553) by Ken Driggs. This is the true-crime story of two young Mormon missionary men who were murdered in Austin in 1974 by a man they were trying to befriend and bring into the church.

Flying With Iron Angels: The Diaries and Memories of Navy Carrier Pilots Fighting the Pacific War in 1944 (DT 6769) by Charles Morris Houston.  Using primary sources at the National Archives as well as diary entries, flight logs, personal accounts and memories, Houston has written and compiled an account of Fighter Squadron VF-14 in World War II.  The Iron Angels were Navy fighter pilots who flew the Grumman Hellcat to escort and protect our dive bombers and torpedo planes.  The U.S.S. Wasp and Air Group 14 operated with the Fast Carrier Task Force during the most intensive naval combat of the Pacific War, supporting the invasions of Saipan, Tinian, Guam, Palau, Morotai and all the Philippine Islands.  Here is a collection of personal diary accounts of their daily activities, interspersed with today's memories of these same veterans as they review their adventures of a half-century ago.  Some profanity.

James Bowie: Fighting Man (DT 5620) by Clifford Hopewell.  The first new biography of Texas' most famous fighting man in 50 years, this account is based on original documents, including newspaper accounts from as far back as 1828, court records, and army orders.  The author examines Bowie's relations with the pirate Jean Lafitte, the facts and myths of the famous Bowie knife, his love affairs and marriage, and the restless and sometimes violent nature of the man himself.

The Murchisons (DT 5072) by Jane Wolfe.  Wolfe charts the course of the meteoric rise and catastrophic fall of a notorious Texas dynasty.  Within three generations, the Murchison clan amassed and squandered a colossal fortune launched in the oil        fields of Depression-era Texas.  This is an authentic family saga with enough gossip and scandal to rival the most popular potboilers.

Paper Hearts (DT 7037) by Debrah Williamson.  Wenonah, Oklahoma.  Widowed professor Max Boyle is about to take his own life to avoid assisted living when he encounters Chancy Deel, a teen-aged runaway who is hiding in his garage.  Max hires Chancy as his caregiver--an arrangement that gives both of them a new chance at life.

Tomahawk Canyon  (DT 6997) by Jack Ballas.  In the rough country at the northern edge of New Mexico Territory, Apache war parties still run free.  The settlers and ranchers can’t stop the Indian raiders because they are too busy shooting each other.  Cole Mason comes looking for a good graze and finds war on the range.  A lone rider with a fast gun, he has the bad habit of never backing down.

White Bread Competition (DT 6571) by Jo Ann Yolanda Hernandez.  When Luz, a ninth-grade Latina student in San Antonio, wins a spelling competition, her success triggers a variety of emotions among family, friends, and the broader community.  Luz's younger sister, Justina, struggles to understand her mixed feelings towards her older sister's accomplishment; Luz's grandmother fears her granddaughter's ambition while another generation of Latinas pins its hopes on her; and the Anglo students and parents must come to terms with the increasing visibility of the Latino community.

Year of the Dog (DT 7013) by Shelby Hearon.  When her husband dumps her for an old girlfriend and sets all of Peachland, South Carolina, gossiping, Janey Daniels has to get away for a “sabbatical” year.  She flees to Burlington, Vermont, home of Great Aunt May, her mother’s only living relative.  There she adopts Beulah, a Labrador puppy in training to become a Companion Dog for the Blind.  By the time Janey’s year in Vermont comes to an end, the people whose lives Beulah has linked will discover that healing and reconciliation can come in the most unexpected ways.


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: October 2, 2013