Staff Pick – Shannon – Girl With a Pearl Earring

On this morning’s commute into work I heard a story on NPR about two Vermeer paintings that are touring the US right now ‘Woman in Blue Reading a Letter’ and ‘Girl With a Pearl Earring’.  ‘Woman in Blue Reading a Letter’ is at the J. Paul Getty Museum until March 31st. ‘Girl With a Pearl Earring’ will be making stops in San Francisco at the DeYoung Museum, The High Museum in Atlanta and The Frick Collection in New York.

I read the novel Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier a few years ago. It is the story of a girl named Griet who becomes a maid in Vermeer’s home. She starts by helping with the babies and the housework, then assisting in the studio cleaning brushes, dusting the objects he’s painting, and helping mix the paint. One of Vermeer’s patrons takes an interest in Griet and she is asked to sit for a painting. There is a lot of tension in the studio when Vermeer is painting Griet. Even though she is fully clothed, it is clear that the painting experience is an intimate one and it does not escape local gossip.

I like the idea of imagining a story based on what is going on in a classic painting. This book’s descriptions of the winding canals in the city of Delft and descriptions of Vermeer’s work had me wishing I knew more about the Netherlands and art. I read this book several years ago, but listening to this story on NPR this morning definitely had me thinking to myself, “I liked that book”.

To listen to the story on NPR about ‘Girl With a Pearl Earring’:

There is also a story on NPR about ‘Woman in Blue Reading a Letter’:,1104,1105

Title: GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING                                           

Author: CHEVALIER, TRACY                                  Original Date: 2000

A fictional account of how the seventeenth-century artist Vermeer came to paint a portrait of a young woman wearing a pearl earring. When sixteen-year-old Griet, a Protestant, becomes a maid in Vermeer’s  Catholic household, the drudgery of her duties is offset by working in the artist’s studio. Some descriptions of sex. Bestseller.                                                                                 

BR   13360         DB   50258        DX   50258

Staff Pick — Shannon — When Angels Sing

I look forward to the South by Southwest Film and Music Festival each spring in Austin, TX. This year, the Austin author, Turk Pipkin’s book When Angels Sing is being released as a movie starring Harry Connick Junior and Connie Britton. Other cast members in the movie include Lyle Lovett,  Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson.

With that kind of line up and many Texas familiar faces and I’m a sucker for Christmas no matter what time of year, I look forward to seeing this movie (but first I’m going to read the book!!)

I am currently reading:

WHEN ANGELS SING: A CHRISTMAS STORY                                  

PIPKIN, TURK                                      Original Date: 1999

When Michael Walker was a child, he’d wished that every day could be Christmas. But that was thirty years ago, before a tragic accident changed his life one Christmas morning. He still can’t muster any spirit for the holidays. For him, it will always be a time of pain, a memory of that day. But when his young son faces a sadness as profound as his own, Michael is the only one who can save him. It takes nothing short of a miracle to give Michael the courage to make peace with his past and find the hope, joy, and spirit he lost.                 

CT   06703

January Book Club Podcast – No End in Sight

Cover image of No End in Sight with a picture of rachael scdoris in a hate, and the silhouette of a racing dog team and musher inthe background.We had a great book club with author and dog sled musher Rachael Scdoris in January.  She joined us for discussion of her book, No End in Sight: Life as a Blind Iditarod Racer.  

You can read the transcript of the discussion (text format) at the following link or click on the play button below to listen to our discussion with the Rachael.

Help with Tax Return Preparation

The DIRC has responded to a few calls recently from individuals needing assistance in preparing tax returns. Here are some links for more information:

AARP Foundation Tax-Aide Locator
Use this site to find a location near you.

Central Texas Free Income Tax Preparation
Lists six locations in Austin, one in Round Rock, and Austin Community College mobile locations during February.

Houston Area Neighborhood Centers
Click on the “Location Information” button to view addresses and hours of operation.

San Antonio VITA sites:
VITA stands for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance.

Waco Area Tax Assistance
Five locations are listed.

You can also call 211 Texas to find free tax help in your area. Just dial 211; it is a free call.

The Library of Congress needs your input!

From March 11 – May 10, the Library of Congress National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) will conduct a survey to understand how to better serve readers of talking books and braille. NLS is looking to improve their program that provides free talking books and braille to anyone who meets their qualification requirements. The survey can be taken online by going to or over the phone by calling 1-866-545-1618 to schedule a phone interview. NLS wants to learn what types of services and materials you are looking for and what they can do to get you interested in the talking book and braille program. You do not have to currently use the NLS program to take the survey.  Take the survey now to help Library of Congress NLS better serve you!