July 2018 TBP Book Club Title Announced!

Texas Talking Book patrons: please join us on Tuesday July 24th at 7 pm (Central Time) for our book club discussion of MY GRANDMOTHER ASKED ME TO TELL YOU SHE’S SORRY by Fredrik Backman (DB 83204)

Our book club meetings are hosted via toll free conference call, so all you need is a telephone to participate. To RSVP call the Talking Book Program at: 1-800-252-9605 (RSVP preferred by June 26st) 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.

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.

NLS Annotation:
Seven-year-old Elsa is acknowledged as weird. The grandmother she lives with is flat-out crazy, but she shares tales of the fairyland of Miamas. When her grandmother dies, Elsa is entrusted with delivering letters of apology and learns about her place in the world. Translated from the original 2013 Swedish edition. 2014

Staff Pick – Laura Jean– BLACK RIVER by S. M. Hulse: BR 20669, DB 80695

Do you enjoy psychological fiction with flawed but sympathetic characters set amidst the backdrop of the modern West? You might enjoy BLACK RIVER, by S. M. Hulse. Leisurely paced with a strong sense of place, Black River won the 2015 Reading the West Book Award and was nominated for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize in 2015.

NLS Annotation: Wes Carver has not returned to Black River since he was held hostage in a prison riot while serving as a corrections officer. Now his former captor, Bobby Williams, is up for release, and Wes must consider what he believes and whether he can let Williams walk away. Some violence and some strong language. 2014.

If you have already read this book, or simply enjoy modern westerns told in a lyrical style that delve into the thoughts of the characters, you might also enjoy The Plainsong series by Kent Haruf.

Books About Wildlife and the True Meaning of Spring

Winter is over, and spring is finally here. People are starting to plan trips to parks, hiking spots, public pools, or just making time to sun themselves in their back yards. Spring fun also has a lot to do with experiencing wildlife, but even if we’re outdoor-types there are only so many kinds of animals we get to have contact with, especially if we live in a city. Most of us don’t get to pet a littler of wolf-pups or witness a band of wild horses, but thankfully we can read about them. Experience spring fully by checking out these wonderful books about animals, their life-cycle, and their environment.

WILD THINGS, WILD PLACES: ADVENTUROUS TALES OF WILDLIFE AND CONSERVATION ON PLANET EARTH by JANE ALEXANDER  DB   86016

Actress, conservationist, and author of Command Performance (DB 51526) examines the field of animal conservation. Discusses scientists researching the animals and their environments, her own travels to locations, and efforts to preserve conditions for the flourishing of future generations, both human and animal. Commercial audiobook. 2016.

FASTEST THINGS ON WINGS: RESCUING HUMMINGBIRDS IN HOLLYWOOD by TERESA E. MASEAR        DB   85238

Hummingbird rescue-and-rehabilitation organizer recounts a five-month period in 2008 when she took in 160 birds. Describes the lessons she learned from individual birds, particularly Gabriel and Pepper, male and female Anna’s, who came in a month apart and developed a bond. 2015.

CALL OF THE OSPREY by DOROTHY HINSHAW PATENT       DB   82388

Follows a crew of scientists who are involved in the Montana Osprey Project–which studies the effects of mercury pollution on wildlife and humans. Highlights observations from spying on the raptors with several strategically placed webcams and the continuing research efforts aimed at better understanding of environmental problems. For grades 6-9. 2015

SECRET WORLD OF RED WOLVES: THE FIGHT TO SAVE NORTH AMERICA’S OTHER WOLF by T. DELENE BEELAND       DB   82537

Examination of conservation efforts for the red wolf. Discusses the status of the red wolf population in the early twenty-first century, their natural history, and a prognosis for their future. Profiles research studies and the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Red Wolf Recovery Program in North Carolina. 2013.

WILD HORSE SCIENTISTS by KAY FRYDENBORG         DB   76337

Discusses wild horses that reside on Assateague Island National Seashore, a barrier island between Virginia and Maryland. Details their diet, physical characteristics, life cycles, and behavior, including their interactions with humans. Explains the steps taken to control overpopulation. Contains a glossary and resources. For grades 5-8 and older readers. 2012.

ELEPHANT WHISPERER: MY LIFE WITH THE HERD IN THE AFRICAN WILD by LAWRENCE ANTHONY    DB 85906

Conservationist relates his experiences caring for a rogue herd of elephants on his South African game reserve. Describes his misgivings in accepting them, challenges faced with both the herd and local communities, lessons learned from individual elephants, and the joys and sorrows he encountered. 2009.

VOICES IN THE OCEAN: A JOURNEY INTO THE WILD AND HAUNTING WORLD OF DOLPHINS by SUSAN CASEY   DB 82327

Recounts author’s two-year global adventure exploring the nature of dolphins and their interactions with humans. Examines the careers of others who work with dolphins and communities in which dolphins play interesting roles. Discusses how they are mistreated by the captivity industry. Commercial audiobook. Some violence, some strong language, and some descriptions of sex. 2010.

TIGER: A TRUE STORY OF VENGEANCE AND SURVIVAL by JOHN VAILLANT      DB 74579
Nature writer follows a government tiger-control team as it pursues an endangered Siberian tiger, which had killed a poacher, through Russia’s far east in the winter of 1997. Explores the beauty of the setting, the tiger’s strength, and the political and geographical forces that shaped this remote region. 2010.

ELEPHANT TALK: THE SURPRISING SCIENCE OF ELEPHANT COMMUNICATION by ANN DOWNER   DB 73966
Discusses elephant evolution, society, and body language. Explains field researchers’ use of observation and high-tech recording equipment to shed light on the role communication plays in the herd. Includes facts about the elephant’s status as an endangered species. For grades 5-8 and older readers. 2011.

Books to sharpen your self-reliance skills

When we need something — food, clothes, tools, fuel -pretty much anything, we go buy it or we order it on-line. As a society we buy enormous amounts of stuff to cover every necessity and satisfy every desire. Have you asked yourself: what if we were suddenly unable to purchase the things we want or need? Our great-grandparents probably did not see that as an insurmountable problem because they had skills that made them, if not completely autonomous, a lot less reliant on having to buy things; but most of us have forgotten that knowledge.

Fortunately, we can still get some of that information from books, and we have some of them at TBP. Our titles instruct on forgotten skills like surviving in the wild, growing and preserving food, keeping animals, and making some of your own stuff. Check out these titles and you’ll never ever need to purchase anything again! Just kidding; you’ll still need to buy stuff, but you’ll learn useful info and maybe you’ll save some bucks in the process.

SELF-SUFFICIENT GARDENER: A COMPLETE GUIDE TO GROWING AND PRESERVING All YOUR OWN FOOD by JOHN SEYMOUR    DB   21141

Includes vegetables, fruits, and herbs and provides information on soil, climate, cultivation, pests and diseases, harvesting, and storing. Also explains how to salt, dry, pickle, can, or freeze produce.

WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH AN OLD RED SHOE? A GREEN ACTIVITY BOOK ABOUT REUSE by ALTER, ANNA   DB   69070

Suggests projects kids and adults can do together to recycle everyday objects–a leftover flip-flop; a worn-out T-shirt, blanket, or shower curtain; tin cans–and turn them into something new. An old red shoe becomes a flower-pot container. Includes general tips on reuse and recycling to prevent waste. For grades 2-4.

MADE FROM SCRATCH: DISCOVERING THE PLEASURES OF A HANDMADE LIFE by JENNA WOGINRICH      DB 68581

Woginrich, a young web designer and homestead blogger, provides suggestions for adopting a self-sufficient lifestyle. She discusses keeping chickens, bees, and rabbits; putting house dogs to work; growing and making food; acquiring old, but useful, items; and making clothing and music. Includes recipes.

LOST ART OF READING NATURE’S SIGNS: USE OUTDOOR CLUES TO FIND YOUR WAY, PREDICT THE WEATHER, LOCATE WATER, TRACK ANIMALS–AND OTHER FORGOTTEN SKILLS by TRISTAN GOOLEY           DB 83474

Professional navigator and travel company executive shares the tips and tricks he has learned over his twenty years of experience about orienting yourself in both urban and rural environments using nature’s clues. Includes information on using your senses, identifying landmarks big and small, and ways different environments affect indicators.

HOW TO SH*T IN THE WOODS: AN ENVIRONMENTALLY SOUND APPROACH TO A LOST ART by KATHLEEN MEYER  DB   31791

The author, a long-time outdoors-woman, offers advice on how to relieve oneself when conventional restrooms are unavailable.  Meyer explains not only how to do it with dignity and comfort, but also with environmental awareness.  She includes a chapter especially for women.

ABOMAN’S GUIDE TO SURVIVAL AND SELF-RELIANCE: PRACTICAL SKILLS FOR INTERESTING TIMES by JOSEPH A. BIGLEY     DB 56439

Advice on how to deal with challenges presented by unexpected equipment breakdowns, weather disasters, and other such events. The manual contains information on preparing for emergencies, troubleshooting household problems, and maintaining health through alternative medicine and herbal remedies. Also highlights wilderness survival skills.

CHEAPSKATE NEXT DOOR: THE SURPRISING SECRETS OF AMERICANS
LIVING HAPPILY BELOW THEIR MEANS by JEFF YEAGER DB 72384

Provides practical advice and tips on ways to live on less than you earn. Suggests a change in attitude about money, possessions, and life.

MARCH 2018 BOOK CLUB TITLE ANNOUNCED!

Please join us on Tuesday, March 20 at 7 pm (Central Time) for our Book Club discussion of HILLBILLY ELEGY: A MEMOIR OF A FAMILY AND CULTURE IN CRISIS, by J. D. Vance (DB   85796, LB   08948).

Cover of Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance

We host our Book Club meetings via toll free conference call.  All you need to participate is a telephone!

To RSVP call the Talking Book Program at 1-800-252-9605.  or email us at tbp.ral@tsl.texas.gov.  (RSVP preferred by January 4.)

HILLBILLY ELEGY is available by mail in digital cartridge or large print formats.  It is also available to download on BARD.

Please indicate if you would like us to mail you the digital cartridge, large print book, or if you prefer to download it from BARD.

HILLBILLY ELEGY: A MEMOIR OF A FAMILY AND CULTURE IN CRISIS

J. D. Vance

DB 85796, LB 08948

Memoir of growing up in the Ohio Rust Belt in a family culture rooted in Scots-Irish Appalachia. Explores political themes affecting these community cultures through the lens of personal and familial experiences. Discusses what it took to go from nearly failing high school to graduating from Yale Law School. Some strong language.  Bestseller.  2016.

We look forward to having you join us on Tuesday, March 20th!

Staff Pick – Laura Jean– AGAINST THE TIDE by Elizabeth Camden, DB 77493

Do you enjoy Christian Historical fiction with a romantic twist? You might enjoy AGAINST THE TIDE by Elizabeth Camden. Winner of both the RITA Award for romantic fiction and the Christy Award for Christian fiction, this suspenseful and atmospheric novel follows immigrant and translator, Lydia as she struggles with her beliefs and the persistent problems caused by her tumultuous childhood. She also wrestles with her growing attraction to Lieutenant Banebridge, “Bane”, a man with a difficult past of his own.

againstthetide

NLS Annotation: Boston, 1891. Lydia Pallas works as a translator for the Navy Yard. When Lieutenant Alexander Banebridge requires Lydia’s skills for a case, she becomes his assistant. As Lydia is drawn deeper into Bane’s mission to end the opium trade, a relationship develops between them. RITA Award, Christy Award. 2012.

Set in Boston during the last decade of the 19th century, Ms. Camden describes the role that the legal opium trade played at this time in the United States. It was a fascinating backdrop against which to set Lydia and Bane’s story.

If you already read this book or simply enjoy gentle historical romances with an independent female lead in an urban setting, you might try the RITA Award winner for 2016, TIFFANY GIRL by Deeanne Gist, DB 83138.

THE USES OF PHILOSOPHY IN EVERYDAY LIFE

Does philosophy only belong in the halls of academia? Nope. It belongs in the lives of everyone. It helps us solve our problems -mundane or abstract, and it helps us make better decisions by developing our critical thinking (very important in the age of disinformation). But it’s boring, you say. It’s hard to understand, you say. As it turns out, philosophy does not have to be a big snooze-fest. It can actually be stimulating and fun. Check out one of these five titles where authors make Philosophy 101 approachable, interesting, and most importantly, relevant to your life.

BREAKFAST WITH SOCRATES: AN EXTRAORDINARY (PHILOSOPHICAL) JOURNEY THROUGH YOUR ORDINARY DAY by ROBERT ROWLAND SMITH        DB 71181

Former Oxford Fellow posits that the questions raised by renowned philosophers relate directly to daily life. It illustrates by linking influential ideas to mundane activities, such as waking up with Descartes and going to the gym with Heidegger. Some strong language and some descriptions of sex. 2009.

WHAT WOULD ARISTOTLE DO? SELF-CONTROL THROUGH THE POWER OF REASON by ELLIOT D COHEN        DB 58882

Philosophical counselor’s commonsense approach to overcoming self-destructive thoughts, emotions, and actions by harnessing innate powers of reason and critical thinking. Uses real-life scenarios to demonstrate how Aristotelian logic can be used to combat everyday maladies like guilt, loneliness, grief, anger, social anxiety, and depression. 2003

CONSOLATIONS OF PHILOSOPHY by ALAIN DE BOTTON         DB 51489

University of London philosopher finds practical advice on coping with life’s challenges in the writings of some of the world’s renowned thinkers. Each of the six sections poses a problem and suggests a source of inspiration. For example, Socrates offers consolation for unpopularity, and Epicurus, for poverty. 2000

HEART OF PHILOSOPHY by JACOB NEEDLEMAN            DB 19136

A philosophy professor offers a compelling and thought-provoking study in which he attempts to reconcile philosophical concepts with day-to-day life. Needleman draws upon childhood memories, teaching episodes, and recollections of friends’ deaths to illustrate the relevance of philosophy.

EXAMINED LIFE: PHILOSOPHICAL MEDITATIONS by ROBERT NOZICK     DB 30651

A philosophy professor at Harvard University shares his views on the search for understanding and illumination.  He discusses the topics of happiness, dying, immortality, creativity, faith, sexuality, good and evil, wisdom, and the gulf between the ideal and the real. Bestseller. 1989

Staff Pick – Laura Jean– BEST TO LAUGH: A NOVEL by Lorna Landvik, DBC 02662

If you like books that have a nostalgic and upbeat tone, similar to FRIED GREEN TOMATOES AT THE WHISTLESTOP CAFÉ by Fannie Flagg, you may really enjoy BEST TO LAUGH by Lorna Landik.

You can get a sense of Ms. Landvik’s sense of humor and writing style from the Bio and FAQ section on her webpage. She explains how she gets ideas for her books with the following quote: “I buy them from the Idea Man; two for a dollar. Early in my career, he tried to sell me an idea about a girl with a dragon tattoo, but I bought the idea for The Tall Pine Polka instead. When he’s out on the road, selling stuff I declined to J. K. Rowling or Suzanne Collins, I scavenge around and find ideas in roadside cafes, in a whiff of pipe smoke or ripe peaches, in an autumn vista, in a song fading out on the car radio, in the stillness of my monkey mind.”

Ms. Landvik brings this same wit and whimsy to the protagonist in BEST TO LAUGH, Candy, who with the help of an ensemble of zany friends and her personal “life saber”, embraces her new life in 1970s Hollywood.

 

NLS Annotation As a child, Candy Pekkala seemed to get unhappy experiences in Minnesota, so when a cousin called with a Hollywood apartment, Candy jumped at it. Her new fellow tenants include a female bodybuilder, a ruined nightclub impresario, and a well-connected old Romanian fortune-teller. Candy figured if she always lived by her wits here, she would have a chance to live with them. There are game show appearances, temp jobs and the allure of stand-up comedy. For high school and adult readers.

If you enjoyed this book or generally like humorous books with a host of quirky characters, you might try BIG STONE GAP by Adriana Trigiani, DB 52742.

Staff Pick – Laura Jean– BOY KINGS OF TEXAS: A MEMOIR by Domingo Martinez, DT 07183

New York Times Best Seller and 2012 National Book Award Finalist for Nonfiction, BOY KINGS OF TEXAS is a memoir about growing up in the rural area around Brownsville, Texas during the 1980s. Written in an engaging and gritty, yet at times lyrical style, Mr. Martinez is unflinchingly and brutally honest about the poverty and abuse he endured during his childhood. However, he is able to see what causes his family’s behavior as well as his own. It results in a fascinating view into the lives of a Mexican American family.

NLS Annotation: Brownsville, Texas. Domingo Martinez lays bare his interior and exterior worlds as he struggles to make sense of the violent and the ugly, along with the beautiful and the loving. Partly a reflection on the culture of machismo and partly an exploration of the author’s boyhood spent in his sister’s hand-me-down clothes, this book delves into the enduring and complex bond between Martinez and his deeply flawed, but fiercely protective older brother. Violence, strong language, and some explicit descriptions of sex. 2012.

If you enjoy this book there is a sequel, MY HEART IS A DRUNKEN COMPASS: A MEMOIR (DB 80854)

October 2017 TBP Book Club Title Announced!

Texas Talking Book patrons: please join us on Thursday October 12th at 7 pm (Central Time) for our book club discussion of ROAD TO CHARACTER by David Brooks (DB   81325, LB   08536)

Our book club meetings are hosted via toll free conference call, so all you need is a telephone to participate.  To RSVP call the Talking Book Program at: 1-800-252-9605 (RSVP preferred by September 21st) 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:

The author of The Social Animal (DB 72914) looks at the lives of ten famous men and women known for having overcome personal weakness to achieve outward success and inner worth. Each exemplifies humility, hard work, and devotion to a cause. Commercial audiobook. Bestseller. Some violence, some strong language and some descriptions of sex. 2015.