The Library of Congress Wants to Hear from You!

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Beginning in early March, a sample of 10,000 reader/patrons across the country who currently use services provided by the Library of Congress’s National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped–also known as NLS–will be invited to participate in a nationwide survey. The information collected from this survey will guide NLS as they move forward on a variety of projects to enhance and expand the braille and talking- book program. As a part of NLS’s cooperating network of libraries, the Texas Talking Book Program encourages invited patrons to respond to the survey at their earliest convenience. Insights gathered from this survey will help us better understand the needs of all of our patrons. You may receive an invitation by mail, email, or phone. In order to ensure ease of use, readers selected for the survey will be given the option of responding in a number of ways to their invitation. Once you have received your invitation, if you have questions, please feel free to contact Gallup Support at galluppoll@gallupmail.com or call 1-888-297-8999.

Introducing Duplication on Demand–A New Service for TBP Patrons

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The Talking Book Program is now serving patrons with a great new service called Duplication on Demand (DoD). It will allow you to get almost any book that is available on BARD right away. When you order books, or when automatic selection orders books for you, they are recorded on a cartridge and sent to you within a day or two (provided you don’t already have a full quota.) Of course, if you have other requests on your list, you’ll need to tell us if you want new requests first. Otherwise, the computer may send older requests before the new ones. There’s no waiting for other patrons to return a copy; all downloadable books are always available. DoD puts up to 8 books on one cartridge, but you don’t need to be able to use Bookshelf because new programming has simplified the way you move from book to book. You can also get a whole series put on one cartridge– in series order—just let us know if there’s one you would like.

We are starting the process of moving all of our established audio readers to DoD. This will take quite a while, as each reader must be set up individually. DoD settings will be based on your current account profile, but these settings can be changed at your request. We are working through our patron list diligently, but it may be some time before we get to you. If you would like to switch to DoD right away, please contact us, and we’ll set you up.

Here’s what to expect when you start getting DoD cartridges:

• Each reader can have up to three cartridges checked out at once*

• Each cartridge may have as many as 8 books on it* (or a whole series, at your request.)

• Each cartridge will be labeled “TX Talking Book Library: Audio Books.”

• The mailing container will have a folded book card listing the titles that are on the cartridge.

• To return cartridges, simply remove the book card. The container has TBP’s return address permanently on it.

• Once a cartridge gets back to us, we’ll send you another one. It’s very important to send cartridges back right away to prevent gaps in service.

• The loan period for cartridges is 60 days, with an option to renew for another 60 days, so you’ll have plenty of time to read all of the books on the cartridge.

• If you want to reread a book or cartridge, we can send it again.

Questions? Please contact us! We’ll be happy to answer them. You can email us at tbp.services@tsl.texas.gov, or call us at 1-800-252-9605.

*Note to Institutions: Since institutions (schools, nursing homes, etc.) serve multiple readers, you will receive more cartridges, each containing one book. For more information, please contact us.

*Note to Demo Sites: Demo sites will receive 1 cartridge that contains a Spanish book and an English book.

My Heart Is Not Blind Exhibit at the Witte Museum in San Antonio

Witte Museum Logo
Witte Museum Logo

My Heart Is Not Blind is a combination of stunning photographs and insightful audio interviews of people with visual impairments. Seven years in the making, the exhibit was created by photographer and documentarian Michael Nye in order to probe more deeply into the nature of and misperceptions about blindness. Mr. Nye’s website states: “Blindness doesn’t make someone less intelligent, less capable, less competent. Many become more courageous and determined. Perception and adaptation are deeper than we can imagine and much more mysterious.” Leave this exhibit with the knowledge that there are many different ways of seeing. The My Heart Is Not Blind exhibit is included in the cost of admission to the Witte.

My Heart Is Not Blind Exhibit
Dates: January 5, 2019 – March 31, 2019
Times: Mondays 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Tuesdays  10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Wednesdays – Saturdays 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Sundays Noon – 5 p.m.
Location: Witte Museum, 3801 Broadway St, San Antonio, TX 78209
For more information visit:  https://www.wittemuseum.org/heart-not-blind/ or call (210) 357-1900

March 2019 TBP Book Club Title Announced!

Texas Talking Book patrons: please join us on Tuesday March 26th at 7 pm (Central Time) for our book club discussion of LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE by Celeste Ng (DB   89018, BR   22149)

Book Cover for Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Our book club meetings are hosted via toll free conference call,so all you need is a telephone to participate.  To RSVP call the TalkingBook Program at: 1-800-252-9605 (RSVP preferred by March 5th) or email us at: tbp.ral@tsl.texas.gov.  Please indicate if you would like us to mail you the digital cartridge or if you prefer to download it from BARD.

NLS Annotation:

 Elena Richardson andher family lead an orderly existence in Shaker Heights, Ohio, until Mia and herdaughter rent a house from them. When a neighbor tries to adopt a baby, Elenaand Mia end up on opposing sides of the custody battle. Some strong language andsome descriptions of sex. Commercial audiobook. Bestseller. 2017.

 We request that everyone remember the following:

  • Keep external distractions to a minimum.
  • Be courteous. Try not to interrupt or talk over others; give everyone a chance to talk; be respectful of differing opinions.
  • Keep discussion points concise and relevant to the book.
  • If comfortable doing so, please preface your comments with your first name.

We look forward to having you join us on Tuesday, March 26!

David Bowie’s Must-Read Books

David Bowie was an original. The world will never see another musician like him. On January 2019 it will be two years since he passed, and the world will continue to remember him by listening to the music he left behind. It’s no surprise that in addition to being an ultra-original musician he was also an avid reader, and left behind an extensive reading list. A year ago, Bowie’s son and film director Duncan Jones, launched the “David Bowie Book Club” through his Twitter feed. He invited folks to visit one of his dad’s favorite books each month. He chose the titles from the official list of Bowie’s Top 100 Must-Read Books, curated by Bowie’s official archivists. You’ll be glad to know that many of Bowie’s recommended books are available on BARD. They are listed below, sorted by publication date from newest to oldest.

  • The Age of American Unreason by Susan Jacoby, 2008. DB 66150
  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz, 2007. DB 67964
  • Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, 2002. DB 56184
  • Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder by Lawrence Weschler, 1997. DB 41918
  • A People’s Tragedy: The Russian Revolution 1890-1924 by Orlando Figes, 1997. DB45238
  • The Insult by Rupert Thomson, 1996. DB 43935
  • Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon, 1995. DB 42023
  • The Bird Artist by Howard Norman, 1994. DB 38663
  • Kafka Was The Rage: A Greenwich Village Memoir by Anatole Broyard, 1993.       DB 37861
  • Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson by Camille Paglia. DB 34102
  • Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm and Blues and the Southern Dream of Freedom by Peter Guralnick, 1986. DB 73053
  • The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin, 1986. DB 26608
  • Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd, 1985. DB 24458
  • Nowhere To Run: The Story of Soul Music, by Gerri Hirshey, 1984. DB 23848
  • Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter, 1984. DB 23564
  • Money: A Suicide Note by Martin Amis, 1984. DB 22896
  • White Noise by Don DeLillo, 1984. DB 23512
  • The Life and Times of Little Richard by Charles White, 1984. DB 22861
  • A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn, 1980. DB 76953
  • A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, 1980. DB 50482
  • Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler, 1980.  DB 16347
  • Earthly Powers by Anthony Burgess, 1980. DB 16527
  • The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels, 1979. DB 60458
  • Metropolitan Life by Fran Lebowitz, 1978. DB 11794
  • Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews, ed. Malcolm Cowley, 1977. DB 09853
  • The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov, 1967. DB 37107
  • In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, 1965.  DB 22726
  • Herzog by Saul Bellow, 1964. DB 22553
  • The American Way of Death by Jessica Mitford, 1963. DB 36324
  • The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin, 1963.  DB 12439
  • A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, 1962.  DB 15213
  • The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark, 1961.  DB 69464
  • The Leopard by Giuseppe Di Lampedusa, 1958.  DB 18177
  • On The Road by Jack Kerouac, 1957.  DB 31675
  • Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, 1955.  DB 67388
  • Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, 1948. DB 73474
  • Black Boy by Richard Wright, 1945. DB 20415
  • The Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker, 1944. DB 17658
  • The Stranger by Albert Camus, 1942.  DB 40902
  • The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West, 1939. DB 12925
  • Mr. Norris Changes Trains by Christopher Isherwood, 1935.  DB 54128
  • The Bridge by Hart Crane, 1930. DB 10148
  • Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh, 1930. DB 12881
  • As I lay Dying by William Faulkner by 1930. DB 11553
  • The 42nd Parallel (Book #1 of U.S.A Trilogy) by John Dos Passos, 1930. DB 42698
  • Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Döblin, 1929.  DB 91015
  • Passing by Nella Larsen, 1929.   DB 40702
  • Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence, 1928.  DB 44295
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1925. DB 55714
  • The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot, 1922.  DB 19566
  • McTeague by Frank Norris, 1899. DB 12689
  • Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert, 1856. DB 13249
  • Inferno, from the Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, circa 1308-1321. DB 76353
  • The Iliad by Homer, circa 800. DB 6635

Staff Pick — John — THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US: A MEMOIR, by Reyna Grande, DB 85006

National Hispanic Heritage Month was September 15-October 15.  It recognizes the contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.  One such person is author Reyna Grande, who describes her tumultuous journey from Mexican immigrant to American citizen in THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US: A MEMOIR.

Grande tells of being left behind in Iguala, Mexico by her father when he leaves for the United States, or El Otro Lado.  Later, her mother follows him to “The Other Side.”  Reyna and her older siblings, Mago and Carlos, are left in the care of their neglectful and mean-spirited paternal grandmother.

Three years later, Reyna, Mago, and Carlos cross the border with their father and join him in Los Angeles.  Years of hardship and resiliency follow.  At turns aspirational and callous, their father pushes his children to succeed in their new country, and Reyna becomes the first person in her family to graduate from college.

Flavored with a sprinkling of Spanish words and phrases, this is a direct, no-frills memoir.  Grande doesn’t diminish or romanticize the poverty she endures in Mexico, describing bellies bloated with roundworms and scorpions crawling the walls of her family’s shack.

Nor does she shy away from detailing the emotional and physical abuse they suffer at the hands of their alcoholic father.  Grande has a profoundly complicated relationship with her father, one that continues to evolve even when he’s on his deathbed.

Grande’s father told his children that “just because we’re illegal doesn’t mean we can’t dream.”  Her journey from Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico to Santa Cruz and beyond, reveals the truth behind those words.

What makes THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US memorable is the unrelenting bond between Reyna and her siblings.  They refuse to let any distance come between them.

 

NLS Annotation: The author recounts her childhood, when her father left her, and her siblings, and her mother behind in Mexico to cross the United States’ border.  Years later he summons his wife to join him, but Reyna and her siblings are left behind with their stern grandmother.  Some violence.  2012.

LA DISTANCIA ENTRE NOSOTROS (DB 79963) is the Spanish language version.

Meet author Reyna Grande at www.reynagrane.com.

Enjoy an October 2015 BookTV interview with Reyna Grande: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Rv-hP6hflU.

If you’d like to read other accounts of migration from Mexico and other Latin American countries, sample these titles:

WAITING FOR SNOW IN HAVANA: CONFESSIONS OF A CUBAN BOY, by Carlos Eire (DB 57745), offers a starkly different perspective on the immigrant experience.  Born in privilege in Cuba, Eire and his brother fled Cuba when Fidel Castro came to power.  However, a child’s longing for family left behind crosses all cultural and socio-economic lines.

Travel THE DEVIL’S HIGHWAY: A TRUE STORY, by Luis Alberto Urrea (DI 03701), and enter the “complicated, dangerous world of the border.”

ENRIQUE’S JOURNEY (DB 62628), by Sonia Nazario, recounts a young Honduran boy’s harrowing journey to rejoin his mother in America.  (TRAVESIA DE ENRIQUE, DB 76963).

SPARE PARTS (BR 20681 / DB 80725) is the astonishing story of four undocumented Mexican immigrants in Arizona who won the 2004 National Underwater Robotics Competition.

The dangers of life—and travel—in Mexico are explored by Richard Grant in GOD’S MIDDLE FINGER: INTO THE LAWLESS HEART OF THE SIERRA MADRE, DB 67469.

Grande was born in Iguala, Mexico, which made international headlines in 2014 when 43 male college students were kidnapped and murdered.  Although the kidnapping occurred some 30 years after Grande left Iguala, it speaks to the danger and desperation the drives people to “El Otro Lado.”

The Los Angeles Times revisits the mystery of the 2014 Iguala mass kidnapping: http://www.latimes.com/world/mexico-americas/la-fg-mexico-ayotzinapa-20160926-snap-story.html.

Learn more about the notorious Iguala mass kidnapping: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_Iguala_mass_kidnapping.

 

Goodreads 2018 Choice Awards Announced

Goodreads Choice Awards 2018 Logo

The social cataloging website for book lovers, Goodreads, has just announced their readers’ Choice Awards for 2018. The Texas Talking Book Program has a good number of them in our collection. Are you looking for a story that takes place in the past? Goodreads members chose The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (DB 90090) as their favorite historical fiction book for this past year. Are you more interested in non-fiction? Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover (DB 90188) was chosen as the best memoir. Perhaps you’re in the market for a new author to explore. Goodreads readers awarded Tomi Adeyemi the honor of Debut Goodreads Author for her young adult fantasy novel, Children of Blood and Bone (DB 90928). No matter which genre you enjoy, the bibliophiles at Goodreads have chosen a favorite book published this year. Contact us and we can help you find your next favorite book.

For more information: https://www.goodreads.com/choiceawards/best-books-2018

Staff Pick — John — THAT TERRIBLE TEXAS WEATHER: TALES OF STORMS, DROUGHT, DESTRUCTION, AND PERSEVERANCE, by Johnny D. Boggs, DT 07156

It’s been said that Texas has four seasons: drought, flood, blizzard, and twister.

There’s some truth in that.  But like root canals and head cheese, bad weather is something I’d rather read about than experience.

That’s the beauty of Johnny D. Boggs’ THAT TERRIBLE TEXAS WEATHER: TALES OF STORMS, DROUGHT, DESTRUCTION, AND PERSEVERANCE (DT 07156).  Boggs puts the reader in the middle of stifling droughts, deadly floods, and fearsome storms—but firmly out of harm’s way.  Just the way I like it.

Boggs shares true-life stories of calamitous Texas weather, from the 1882 Ben Ficklin flood and the blizzard of 1886 to the heartbreaking 1987 Saragosa tornado.  Weathering frigid blue northers and dodging softball-sized hail, Boggs highlights unsung Texans who meet death and devastation with courage and heroism.

THAT TERRIBLE TEXAS WEATHER is spiked with delicious nuggets of Texas history.  We meet the utopian namesakes of Reunion Tower in Dallas.  We learn why San Angelo, not Santa Angela, is the seat of Tom Green county.  And we discover the blessings—and the curses—of drift fences.  Boggs even explores the U. S Department of Agriculture’s “concussive” 1891 rainmaking experiment.

Boggs writes award-winning western novels, but he cut his teeth as a sportswriter in Dallas and Fort Worth.  His experience as a reporter is evident in his tight writing and eye for telling detail.  Boggs also displays a novelist’s gift for infusing his narrative with incisive slivers of humanity.

An undercurrent that flows through THAT TERRIBLE TEXAS WEATHER is the certainty that no matter how dire the circumstances, Texans don’t lose faith in the future.  They find the resilience and grit to rebuild and recover.  Resilience and grit are still core Texan attributes.  Even in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Texans continue to persevere despite that terrible Texas weather.

NLS Annotation:  Through a collection of newspaper reports and eyewitness accounts of victims caught up in some of the most devastating weather Texas has ever produced, this is a sampler of Texas weather through the years.  From the hurricanes of Indianola and Galveston to the tornado at Wichita Falls to the drought and heat wave of 1998, these are the stories of the people who perished and the people who endured, and of their Texas-sized courage and heroism.  Contains some violence.

A sampling of Johnny Boggs’ western fiction includes HARD WINTER: A WESTERN STORY (DB 72627); ONCE THEY WORE THE GRAY (DB 80003); SPARK ON THE PRAIRIE: A GUNS AND GAVEL NOVEL (DB 64703); and PURGATOIRE (DB 73519).

More information about author Johnny D. Boggs is at: http://www.johnnydboggs.com/

A classic account of terrible Texas weather is THE TIME IT NEVER RAINED (DB 49217), by the incomparable Elmer Kelton.  Although a work of fiction, it’s rooted in Kelton’s lived experiences during the 1950s drought.  (Kelton makes cameo appearances in THAT TERRIBLE TEXAS WEATHER.)

ISAAC’S STORM: A MAN, A TIME, AND THE DEADLIEST HURRICANE IN HISTORY (DB 48811), by Erik Larson, is a riveting account of the Great Galveston Hurricane of 1900.

Larson discusses ISAAC’S STORM at the 1999 Texas Book Festival: https://www.c-span.org/video/?153573-1/isaacs-storm.

Al Roker of “The Today Show” offers a fresh look the Galveston Hurricane in THE STORM OF THE CENTURY: TRAGEDY, HEROISM, SURVIVAL, AND THE EPIC TRUE STORY OF AMERICA’S DEADLIEST NATURAL DISASTER: THE GREAT GULF HURRICANE OF 1900 (DB 85045).

Texas figures prominently in THE WORST HARD TIME: THE UNTOLD STORY OF THOSE WHO SURVIVED THE GREAT AMERICAN DUST BOWL (DR 01742), by Timothy Egan.

Dig deeper into the American Dust Bowl with author Egan: https://www.c-span.org/video/?200420-1/the-worst-hard-time.

Experience “Surviving the Dust Bowl”: https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/dustbowl/

WHAT STANDS IN A STORM: THREE DAYS IN THE WORST SUPERSTORM TO HIT THE SOUTH’S TORNADO ALLEY (DB 83439) is a nonfiction weather thriller.  Author Kim Cross chronicles the swatch of 757 tornadoes that ravaged the South in April 2011.

Staff Pick — John — A WALK IN THE WOODS: REDISCOVERING AMERICA ON THE APPALACHIAN TRAIL, by Bill Bryson, DB 46519

I recently spent a week in northern Minnesota.  When I wasn’t not-catching fish, listening to loons, or feeding the mosquitoes, I spent quite a bit of time walking in the woods.  It was wonderful.  Breathing air that didn’t taste like car exhaust was different, but I got used to it.

Spending time in nature—whether walking in the woods, puttering in the backyard, or strolling in a park—is good for the body.  And the mind.  And the soul.  Being outdoors activates what’s known as the “happiness effect.”

Even a 15-minute walk in the woods—or on the prairie—helps you relax and offers a much-needed break from the chaos and noise of the “real” world.  John Muir got it right when he said, “of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.”

Travel writer Bill Bryson takes Muir at his word.  Having hiked a good bit of England, Bryson stumbles upon an outcropping of the Appalachian Trail (AT) near his home in New Hampshire and decides to tackle “the granddaddy of long hikes.”

Stephen Katz, a ne’er-do-well friend from Des Moines, volunteers to accompany Bryson, and the “waddlesome” duo hit the trail at Springer Mountain, Georgia, intent on hiking the Trail’s rugged 2,190 miles to Mount Katahdin, Maine.

it’s immediately clear that they have no business on the AT.  Woefully unprepared for its rigors, they come to their senses in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and abandon the lunacy of hiking the entire Trail.  They hopscotch their way via cab and rental car to Virginia, where they hike a more agreeable stretch of the Trail in the Blue Ridge Mountains, before suspending their odyssey.

Smitten with the AT, Bryson continues hiking abbreviated stretches of it on his own.  He samples the Trail in Pennsylvania (home of the meanest rattlesnakes on the AT), climbs Kittatinny Mountain, and survives the deceptively deadly slopes of Mount Washington.

Months later, Bryson and Katz resume hiking the AT in the notorious Hundred-Mile Wilderness of Maine.  Katz gets hopelessly lost, and they mercifully decide to call it a hike.  Later, mellowed by cream soda, they conclude that although they didn’t hike the Appalachian Trail, they DID hike the Appalachian Trail.

By turns whimsical, scholarly, cantankerous, and philosophical, Bryson paints a thoughtful portrait of the Appalachian Trail, recounting its curious history and uncertain future.  He mourns the passing of the “massively graceful” American chestnut and marvels at the astounding biological richness of the Great Smoky Mountains.  Bryson even knits together earthquakes, Alaskan glaciers, and swimming pools in Texas.

Like the best guides, Bryson leads us on surprising and offbeat detours.  We glimpse Stonewall Jackson, meet house proud loons, and explore the strange, sad town of Centralia, PA.  We also meet some of the Trail’s abundant wildlife, from hellbender salamanders to “dopily unassuming” moose.

Zoologist Desmond Morris observed that “the city is not a concrete jungle, it is a human zoo.”  A WALK IN THE WOODS is an invitation to escape that zoo, and Bryson is a worthy companion.  Just don’t get him started on cabbies in Gatlinburg, TN.

 

NLS Annotation: Bryson relates the adventures and misadventures of two totally unfit hikers as he and longtime friend Stephen Katz traverse the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail.  Returning from more than twenty years in Britain, he set out to rediscover his homeland, but the two men find themselves awed by the terrain and stymied by the unfamiliar local culture.  Bestseller.  Some strong language.  1998.

For information about the 2015 movie adaptation, “A Walk in the Woods,” starring Robert Redford and Nick Nolte: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1178665/?ref_=fn_al_tt_3

Hike back in time and enjoy a June 1998 book talk by Bill Bryson at Olsson’s Books and Records in Washington, DC: https://www.c-span.org/video/?105484-1/walk-woods

An amazing and altogether different real-life tale of hiking the Appalachian Trail is GRANDMA GATEWOOD’S WALK: THE INSPIRING STORY OF THE WOMAN WHO SAVED THE APPALACHIAN TRAIL, by Ben Montgomery:

Biography of Emma Gatewood (1887-1973), who left her family in Ohio in May 1955, saying only that she was going for a walk.  Four months later she completed a solo hike of the Appalachian Trail, from south to north—the first woman to do so.  Details her trip and subsequent celebrity.  2014.  BR 21504 / DB 80502

Tom Ryan covers heartwarming New England terrain in FOLLOWING ATTICUS: FORTY-EIGHT HIGH PEAKS, ONE LITTLE DOG, AND AN EXTRAORDINARY FRIENDSHIP (DB 74367).

The Appalachian Trail’s treacherous West Coast cousin is the star of WILD: FROM LOST TO FOUND ON THE PACIFIC CREST TRAIL, by Cheryl Strayed.  (DB 80502).

 

Staff Pick — John — JUNCTION BOYS: HOW TEN DAYS IN HELL WITH BEAR BRYANT FORGED A CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM, by Jim Dent, DT 07156

Are you ready for some Football?

Of course, you are.  The only thing bigger than Football in Texas is Texas itself.

Football season is finally here.  Fans have lots of options when it comes to reading about gridiron glory.  A hard-nosed, old-school book about Football and Texas is JUNCTION BOYS: HOW TEN DAYS IN HELL WITH BEAR BRYANT FORGED A CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM, by Jim Dent.

Hired in 1954 to revive Texas A&M’s moribund football program, Paul “Bear” Bryant decided to “separate the quitters from the keepers.”  In the midst of an historic drought, Bryant took 115 Aggie football players to the Hill Country town of Junction for preseason training camp.  10 days later, only 35 players remained.

Brutal doesn’t being to describe what the players endured.  The practice “field” was a rock-strewn, goathead-encrusted patch of sunbaked dirt.  Temperatures soared well beyond 100°, but Bryant forbade water breaks.  One player nearly died of heatstroke.

After returning to College Station, the survivors battled through a 1-9 season. Two years later, they were undefeated Southwest Conference champions.  Bryant not only revived the football program, he may have saved the University itself.

After the 1957 season, Bryant left Texas A&M and returned to his alma mater, the University of Alabama.  The rest is history.  Bryant won six National Championships at Alabama and is considered the greatest college football coach of all time.

But despite all those glorious Crimson Tide championship teams, that gritty 1954 Texas A&M squad was his favorite.  Bear loved the “Junction Boys.”

With cameo appearances by Bonnie & Clyde,the Chicken Ranch, Elvis Presley, and a hay bale stuffed with $10,000 in hundred-dollar bills, JUNCTION BOYS: HOW TEN DAYS IN HELL WITH BEAR BRYANT FORGED A CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM is a treasure for college football fans and Texas History buffs alike.

NLS Annotation: The story of Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant’s legendary training camp in 1954 in the small town of Junction, Texas. In a move that many consider the salvation of the Texas A&M football program, Coach Bryant put 115 players through the most grueling practices ever imagined. Only a handful of players survived the entire ten days, but they turned a floundering football team into one of the nation’s best. Strong language.  1999.

If you view football through burnt orange glasses and prefer a 24-letter alphabet (no A&M, please), turn your Eyes of Texas toward THE DARRELL ROYAL STORY (DT 02830) by Jimmy Banks; or BLEEDING ORANGE: TROOULBE AND TRIUMOH DEEP IN THE HEART OF TEXAS (DT  5515), by John Maher.  Another amazing story of Texans and football is TWELVE MIGHTY ORPHANS: The Inspiring True Story of the Mighty Mites Who Ruled Texas Football (DT 07025), also by Jim Dent.

Elmer Kelton’s novel, THE TIME IT NEVER RAINED (DB 49217; LB 03803), is a superb account of the of the 1950s drought that ravaged west Texas.

Catch a peek of the 2002 television movie, “The Junction Boys,” starring Tom Berenger as Bear Bryant, here: http://www.espn.com/eoe/junctionboys/index.html.