Staff Pick – Laura – ORYX AND CRAKE by Margaret Atwood, DB 56234

Snowman, once known as Jimmy, struggles to survive as the last human in a world destroyed by a bio-engineered plague. Starving and sometimes drunk, he is tormented by flashes of memory of his best friend, Crake, his love, Oryx, and the events that led up to the destruction of humankind. Surrounded by a new race, the Crakers, and genetically engineered animals now running free in the wild, Snowman struggles to remember. He decides to journey back to where the end began. Through a series of flashbacks, the reader glimpses a society obsessed with scientific advancement for profit where dissenters are silenced by mega-corporations. As Snowman travels closer to the compound, he moves closer to the truth of what happened. This is an unsettling, darkly humorous, and engrossing read.

ORYX AND CRAKE is the first book in Margaret Atwood’s MADDADAM TRILOGY.  It is followed by THE YEAR OF THE FLOOD (DB 69893) and concludes with MADDADAM (DB 77487)

NLS ANNOTATION: In the near future, a lone human amidst genetically engineered creatures torments himself with memories of the devastation of the natural world. Calling himself “Snowman,” he recalls the role of his best friend Crake and mourns the loss of their mutually beloved Oryx.  Some descriptions of sex and some strong language. 2003.  DB 56234

NFB BELL (Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning) Program

The National Federation of the Blind’s BELL (Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning) Program is a summer program designed to provide intensive Braille instruction to students ages 4 – 12. Nineteen states, including Texas, are participating this year.

The dates and locations for the Texas BELL program are as follows:
Houston: June 16 – 20
San Antonio: July 14 – 18
Rio Grande Valley: July 21 – 25

The cost of the program is $150 per child. Lunch and snacks are provided each day. For more information, contact Emily Gibb at 586-489-6017 or, or visit

Houston Area Insight Expo

If you have a vision impairment and live in the Houston area, the Houston Area Insight Expo is this Saturday, April 12th, from 9 am – 4 pm. The Expo will feature a keynote address, panel discussions, workshops, and vendors displaying products and services related to low vision and blindness. The Talking Book Program will be an exhibitor at the Expo.

Walk-ins are welcome, but registration is preferred. The Expo is a free event. For more information, view the press release here:
If you have difficulty viewing pdf files, there is some information about the Expo here:
To register, please send an e-mail to

The event will be held at the University of Houston Main Campus, Health and Biomedical Sciences Building, at 4811 Calhoun Road, next to the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center. Parking is free.

Phone scam now targeting JAWS users

If you receive a call from the phone number 347-871-5995 and someone offers to help you remove a virus from your computer, do not follow their instructions. This is a scam.

This particular scam has evidently been in existence for a few months at least. Apparently they are now targeting JAWS users specifically. They are advising individuals to go to a particular web site and input some numbers, which will likely give the scammers remote access to the person’s computer.

Here is some general information about tech support phone scams from Microsoft:

The Disability Information & Referral Center provides fact sheets on sources for computer and assistive technology training, and software manufacturers and vendors, as well as a funding guide. Please call 800-252-9605, or email for more information.

Paratransit Ride Locator

Individuals who use paratransit service in the Texas cities of Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas, and Houston have the ability to track the estimated pick-up and drop-off times, and locations of their rides using the web site

Passengers can log in with their paratransit identification numbers. They will then see a listing of their trips for that day, with estimated pick-up and drop-off times. They can also click on a map which will display the client location with a green dot, the destination with a red dot, and the driver/vehicle location with a blue dot. The map can be refreshed to update the information.

Please be advised that this service is not 100% accurate. Paratransit passengers should not rely solely on this information, and should be at their pick-up locations at the appointed times. However, this web site can help people who use paratransit to manage their daily trip schedule, and to at least have some idea when the vehicle will arrive, as well as when they will reach their next destination.

Staff Picks – Laura – THE MINDFUL CARNIVORE, DB 76169

A lot has been published in the last ten years on the American diet and our relationship with food.  Some of the books focus on how factory farming and industrialized agriculture have changed our health and culture as a nation.  Some speak to the environmental impact of our modern food systems.  Many question the morality of participating in these systems and present alternatives like eating a vegetarian diet or only eating locally grown, organic food.  THE MINDFUL CARNIVORE is a personal account of one man who considers these questions and struggles to find a responsible solution.  Author Tovar Cerulli shares his transition from an omnivorous child, to staunch vegan, and finally to a compassionate hunter and meat eater.   If you like slowly-unfolding personal narratives and examining the relationship between humans and their food, you might enjoy this book.


Author chronicles his dietary journey from his childhood as an omnivore and avid fisherman, to early adulthood as a strict vegan, and later a more thoughtful carnivore. Explores the history of vegetarianism in American culture, and ways his personal relationships affected his thoughts on the acquisition of food. 2012. DB 76169

If you enjoyed THE MINDFUL CARNIVORE, you might also like the author Michael Pollan.  Start with THE OMNIVORE’S DILEMMA: A NATURAL HISTORY OF FOUR MEALS – DB 62557



Video about Voting Rights

Disability Rights Texas has produced a video called “Your Vote Matters: The Voting Rights of People with Disabilities” You can watch the video, with captioning, by clicking on this link:

To learn more about the voting rights of people with disabilities, call the Voting Rights Hotline at 1-888-796-VOTE (8683). You can also access information here:

Staff Pick — Amanda — Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore — DB 75599

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is a story about books, technology, typography, and a secret society. It’s about the intersection of old and new, about friendship, and about the meaning of life. The story is a mystery and a quest – there are plenty of twists and turns but the author’s writing style is easy and straightforward. The characters are interesting, engaging, and by the end of the book seem like real people. Sloan also creates a great sense of place, putting you on the streets of San Francisco and right inside the unusual bookstore. Every place the reader visits – Clay’s apartment, Google headquarters, New York City – are well drawn, and help to transport you into the story. If you like fun and quirky books, give this book a try.

SLOAN, ROBIN, 1979- Original Date: 2012
While hunting for a new job, Web designer Clay Jannon wanders across Mr. Penumbra’s Twenty-Four-Hour Bookstore, which sits next to a strip joint. Hired for the night shift, Clay is soon drawn into a world of mystery, intrigue, and kooky customers. 2012.
DB 75599 BR 19723

Service Animals and the Law

“Veterans and Bootz’s Law: Service Animals and Persons with Disabilities in Texas,” was a 19-minute panel discussion produced by the State Bar of Texas Disability Issues Committee and Disability Rights Texas.

The discussion was filmed, and is now available on YouTube. Bootz’s Law, officially known as Texas House Bill 489, outlines the rights and responsibilities of people with disabilities regarding the use of service animals.

You can view the video by clicking on this link:

For more information, you can contact the State Law Library at (512) 463-1722, or go to You can also visit this link, through the Texas Governor’s Committee for People with Disabilities:

Staff Picks – Laura – LET’S EXPLORE DIABETES WITH OWLS, DB 76599

LET’S EXPLORE DIABETES WITH OWLS is a collection of amusing essays that focus on David Sedaris’ experiences living abroad, his dysfunctional family, and a smattering of other topics told in his distinctive voice.  If you enjoy witty, self deprecating humor that can pack an emotional punch, this collection might be for you.   THE HAPPY PLACE, which recounted Sedaris’ first experience getting a colonoscopy, had me laughing so hard I cried.

NLS Annotation:


Twenty-six essays by the humorist. “Dentists without Borders” describes the nonchalance of his doctor, dentist, and periodontist in France. In “Understanding Understanding Owls” Sedaris shops for a stuffed owl for his boyfriend and is disconcerted by how accurately the taxidermist sizes him up. Some strong language. Commercial Audiobook. 2013.

DB   76599