Staff Pick – John – IN THE GARDEN OF BEASTS: LOVE, TERROR, AND AN AMERICAN FAMILY IN HITLER’S BERLIN, DB 73470

The Talking Book Program’s Phone-in Book Club recently discussed THE BOYS IN THE BOAT: NINE AMERICANS AND THEIR EPIC QUEST FOR GOLD AT THE 1936 BERLIN OLYMPICS (DB 77138).  While the focus of the book was on the University of Washington crew that rowed its way to a Gold Medal, it also provides glimpses of life in Nazi Germany under Adolph Hitler.

Not for the first time, I asked myself how good, decent people could fall under the influence of the likes of Hitler, Göring, and Goebbels.  While there are no truly “good” answers to that question, Erik Larson’s IN THE GARDEN OF BEASTS: LOVE, TERROR, AND AN AMERICAN FAMILY IN HITLER’S BERLIN offers a compelling and unique account of Germany’s descent into “savage darkness.”

A master of narrative nonfiction, Larson is the author of ISAAC’S STORM: A MAN, A TIME, AND THE DEADLIEST HURRICANE IN HISTORY (DB/DX 48811), DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY DB/DX 55748), and DEAD WAKE: THE LAST CROSSING OF THE LUSITANIA (DB 80936).

Larson spotlights William Dodd, the U.S. Ambassador to Germany from 1933-1937.  Dodd is a modest History professor and native Virginian who courageously confronted Confederate Civil War veterans early in his academic career.  Dodd’s adult daughter, Martha, is an intriguing complementary figure.  At first enamored by the energy of the Nazi revolution, Martha is soon gripped by “deepening revulsion” at its brutality.

Dodd was one of the few diplomats or politicians who had both the foresight to recognize what Hitler would become and the courage to speak about the evils of Nazi Germany.  However, his superiors in the State Department ridiculed Dodd at every turn as a crude maverick, and he was eventually replaced by a career diplomat who stressed the “positive aspects of Nazi Germany.”

From the “Night of Long Knives” to Kristallnacht, IN THE GARDEN OF BEASTS casts Dodd as a “lone beacon of American freedom and hope in a land of gathering darkness.”

NLS Annotation: Follows the lives of U.S. ambassador William E. Dodd and his family, who moved to Berlin, Germany, in 1933. Discusses their attitudes toward the Nazi Party, obliviousness to Hitler’s true character, and naive reactions to the persecution of Jews and Americans and the enforcement of stringent laws. Bestseller. 2011.

Movie buffs should note that a film adaptation of IN THE GARDEN OF BEASTS is in the works, with Tom Hanks rumored to play the role of Ambassador Dodd.

To learn more about IN THE GARDEN OF BEASTS, and Hitler’s rise to power, listen to a 2012 interview with Larson on NPR’s “Fresh Air”: http://www.npr.org/2012/05/04/151378813/the-u-s-ambassador-inside-hitlers-berlin

A master of narrative nonfiction, Larson is also the author of ISAAC’S STORM: A MAN, A TIME, AND THE DEADLIEST HURRICANE IN HISTORY (DB/DX 48811); DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY (DB/DX 55748); and DEAD WAKE: THE LAST CROSSING OF THE LUSITANIA (DB 80936).

Texas Music and Musicians

Austin promotes itself as “The Live Music Capital of the World,” a reference to the many musicians and live music venues within the city, as well as the TV concert series Austin City Limits. However, the entire state of Texas has a long and varied musical history. It is the birthplace of many singers, songwriters and musicians who represent many different types of music. From traditional country musicians like Gene Autry and Tex Ritter to contemporary R & B groups like Destiny’s Child, The Talking Book Program has biographies and memoirs as well as more general books on Texas music in our collection.

General
Title: NEVER HEARD OF ‘EM: AUSTIN’S MUSIC EXPLOSION, 1994-2000
Author: DONAHOE, SUE
DT 07268 DBC 04845 (BARD)

Title: TEXAS RHYTHM, TEXAS RHYME: A PICTORIAL HISTORY OF TEXAS MUSIC
Author: WILLOUGHBY, LARRY
DT 03981

Gene Autry
Title: BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN
Author: AUTRY, GENE
DB 16849

Rodney Crowell
Title: CHINABERRY SIDEWALKS
Author: CROWELL, RODNEY
DB 73893

Kirk Franklin
Title: CHURCH BOY
Author: FRANKLIN, KIRK
DB 70436

Buddy Holly
Title: BUDDY HOLLY: A BIOGRAPHY
Author: AMBURN, ELLIS
DT 07070

Sam Lightnin’ Hopkins

Title: RAGGIN’ THE BLUES: LEGENDARY COUNTRY BLUES AND RAGTIME MUSCICIANS
Author: WILDS, MARY
DR 04188

Waylon Jennings
Title: WAYLON: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Author: JENNINGS, WAYLON
DB 43334

George Jones
Title: I LIVED TO TELL IT ALL
Author: JONES, GEORGE
DB 42850

Title: THREE OF US: GROWING UP WITH TAMMY AND GEORGE
Author: JONES, GEORGETTE
DB 76171

Janis Joplin
Title: JANIS JOPLIN: RISE UP SINGING
Author: ANGEL, ANN
BR 19426, DB 73764

Scott Joplin
Title: KING OF RAGTIME: SCOTT JOPLIN AND HIS ERA
Author: BERLIN, EDWARD A
DB 42223 (BARD)

Beyonce Knowles & Kelly Rowland
Title: SOUL SURVIVORS: THE OFFICIAL AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF DESTINY’S CHILD
Author: KNOWLES, BEYONCE
DB 55896 (BARD)

Willie Nelson
Title: FACTS OF LIFE AND OTHER DIRTY JOKES
Author: NELSON, WILLIE
DB 58592

Title: ROLL ME UP AND SMOKE ME WHEN I DIE: MUSINGS FROM THE ROAD
Author: NELSON, WILLIE
DB 75901

Title: IT’S A LONG STORY: MY LIFE
Author: NELSON, WILLIE
DB 81617

Title: WILLIE NELSON: AN EPIC LIFE
Author: PATOSKI, JOE NICK
DB 66762

Tex Ritter
Title: TEX RITTER
Author: Ritter, Tex
DBM 00878 (BARD)

Selena
Title: SELENA! PHENOMENAL LIFE AND TRAGIC DEATH OF THE TEJANO MUSIC QUEEN
Author: RICHMOND, CLINT
Bilingual
DB 44470

B. J. Thomas
Title: HOME WHERE I BELONG
Author: THOMAS, B.J
DB 14755 (BARD)

Tanya Tucker
Title: NICKEL DREAMS: MY LIFE
Author: TUCKER, TANYA
DB 48356

Townes Van Zandt
Title: TO LIVE’S TO FLY: THE BALLAD OF THE LATE, GREAT TOWNES VAN ZANDT
Author: KRUTH, JOHN
DT 07063 DBC 04839 (BARD)

Bob Wills
Title: LONE STAR SWING: ON THE TRAIL OF BOB WILLS AND HIS TEXAS PLAYBOYS
Author: MCLEAN, DUNCAN
DB 48652

Staff Pick – Laura Jean– THIRTEEN REASONS WHY by Jay Asher, DB 70544

The recent release on March 31st of Netflix’s series 13 Reasons, has generated new interest in the book on which it is based. THIRTEEN REASONS WHY. Character-driven with an emotionally intense tone, this book tells the story of Hannah Baker, through a series of audio cassettes recorded for the 13 different people who impacted her life…and in her opinion…precipitated her death.

Cover of Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Winner of multiple state book awards for young adults as well as a recipient of a coveted five stars from Teen Book Review, this book is author Jay Asher’s debut novel.

NLS Annotation Clay Jensen receives a box of audiocassettes in the mail with no return address. Hannah Baker–a girl he barely knew but secretly liked, who committed suicide–recorded a final message for thirteen people to listen to and then pass on to the next person. For senior high readers. 2007.

If you have already read this book and enjoy realistic young adult fiction that deals with coping with the suicide of an acquaintance try LOOKING FOR ALASKA by John Green, DB 61873. Or if you’d prefer the point of view be from the person contemplating suicide, try FORGIVE ME, LEONARD PEACOCK by Matthew Quick, DB 77255.

June 2017 TBP Book Club Title Announced!

Texas Talking Book patrons: please join us on Tuesday June 6th at 7 pm (Central Time) for our book club discussion of ONE-HUNDRED-YEAR-OLD MAN WHO CLIMBED OUT THE WINDOW AND DISAPPEARED by Jonas Jonasson (DB 75820)

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 May 16th) 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:
Sweden. On his one-hundredth birthday, former demolitions expert Allan Karlsson escapes from an old folks’ home, steals a suitcase filled with money, and begins a madcap adventure running from criminals and the police. Originally published in Swedish in 2009. Some strong language. 2012.

Staff Pick – Laura Jean– IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS by Rebecca Skloot, DB 70661

The imminent release of HBOs The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, featuring Oprah Winfrey on Saturday April 22nd has generated new interest in the book on which it is based. THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS explains the origins of HeLa cells, which were ultimately used in developing vaccines, medical treatments, and many other scientific breakthroughs. These cells were harvested from a young African American woman in Baltimore, Maryland, Henrietta Lacks, who was suffering from a particularly virulent form of cervical cancer. This book not only explains the impact HeLa cells have had on the evolution of medical research, it also delves into the way that the medical establishment treated Mrs. Lacks and her family and their fight for compensation and acknowledgement.

Written in a thought-provoking and journalistic manner, Ms. Skloot, does a brilliant job of explaining fairly complex scientific processes and medical procedures in a way that anyone can understand. In addition, she interviews Mrs. Lack’s family with compassion, yet maintains her journalistic neutrality. She skillfully sets their personal story against the backdrop of the racial and medical culture of the latter half of the 20th century. Winning best book awards from organizations such as The National Academies of Science and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks remained on the New York Times Bestseller List for over two years.

NLS Annotation: Science journalist chronicles the life of African American Henrietta Lacks, who in 1951 had cervical tissue removed and grown in culture–without her permission–producing the first continuously replicating human-cell samples for research. Discusses subsequent medical breakthroughs, including the polio vaccine and AIDS treatment. Explores bioethical concerns involving tissue ownership. Bestseller. 2010.

If you have already read this book or would prefer a book that looks at the broader issue of medical ethics and race, try MEDICAL APARTHEID: THE DARK HISTORY OF MEDICAL EXPERIMENTATION ON BLACK AMERICANS FROM COLONIAL TIMES TO THE PRESENT by Harriet A. Washington, DB 66297.

Staff Pick – Laura Jean– HOMEGOING by Yaa Gyasi, DB 84732

If you enjoy historical family sagas that feature a host of complex characters set amidst a sweeping storyline, you may enjoy Yaa Gyasi’s debut novel. Nominated for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize, Dylan Thomas Prize and Goodreads Choice Award for Historical Fiction, HOMEGOING tells the history of both Ghana and the United States through the eyes of multiple generations of a family as they encounter the racial, religious, and political tensions that permeated both countries from the 18th century until the present day.

NLS Annotation for HOMEGOING by Yaa Gyasi (DB 84732): In the 1700s, half sisters Esi and Effia are born in Ghana without knowing each other. Effia marries a wealthy Englishman, while Esi is imprisoned in the dungeon of the castle where Effia lives, before she is shipped to America and sold into slavery. Their descendants witness history. Unrated. Bestseller. Commercial audiobook. 2016.

If you have already read this book or enjoy African American family sagas, try ROOTS: THE SAGA OF AN AMERICAN FAMILY by Alex Haley (BR 17794, DB 53160). Or if you’re more interested in reading about a contemporary family bound to both the United States and Ghana, try GHANA MUST GO by Taiye Selasi (DB 76458).

Staff Pick – John – THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE by David Finkel, DB 77869

Texas Center for the Book, via Read Across Texas, is encouraging Texans to use books to engage in tough but important conversations about what happens when veterans come home. More information about Read Across Texas is at https://www.tsl.texas.gov/readacrosstexas.

To help launch Read Across Texas, the Texas State Library hosted best-selling author Ben Fountain for a discussion on his critically acclaimed work, BILLY LYNN’S LONG HALFTIME WALK. (https://www.tsl.texas.gov/readacrosstexasresources.)

In addition, the Talking Book Program’s Phone-in Book Club tackled YOU KNOW WHEN THE MEN ARE GONE, by Siobhan Fallon (DT 07103).

Fountain and Fallon use fiction to explore what happens when soldiers return stateside. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Finkel offers an intense but moving nonfiction account of veterans coming home in THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE (DB 77869).

Finkel chronicles the lives of soldiers from the 2-16 Infantry Battalion readjusting to civilian life—and families readjusting to soldiers. As the soldiers battle the physical and emotional aftereffects of war, we develop a deeper understanding of the price soldiers pay for serving their country—and a fuller accounting of the debt we owe.

Discover why Ben Fountain calls THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE “one of the best and truest books I have ever read.”

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE by David Finkel (DB 77869):

NLS Annotation: Journalist who was embedded with the U.S. Army in Iraq describes what life was like for some of the veterans from THE GOOD SOLDIERS (DB 70623) after they returned stateside. Portrays issues the men and their families dealt with, including suicide, PTSD, and financial strains.  Violence and strong language.  2013.

Listen to an October 2013 NPR interview with author David Finkel:

http://www.npr.org/2013/10/01/224493078/thank-you-for-your-service-follows-americas-soldiers-home

Dream Works Pictures is currently producing a movie adaption of THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE. Jason Hall, who wrote the screenplay for “American Sniper,” is both its screenwriter and director.  Due for release in 2017, information about the movie version of THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE is here:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2776878/?ref_=nv_sr_1

Staff Pick – Laura Jean– BEAUTY QUEENS by Libba Bray, DB 85432

Do you enjoy humorous young adult novels that involve absurd situations and over the top characters? If so, you might like BEAUTY QUEENS. Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award for Young Adult Novel for 2011, BEAUTY QUEENS describes the trials and travails of several beauty pageant contestants, surviving in the wild. Written with a witty and offbeat tone, I quite often found myself laughing out loud at the outrageous adventures these talented ladies encounter. If you’re a proud Texan, you’ll be excited to note that Miss Texas leads this band of intrepid and inventive ingénues.

NLS Annotation: After their plane crashes and strands them on an island, the fifty beauty contestants for the Miss Teen Dream Pageant channel their talents into surviving. But the arrival of some hot reality-television pirates adds new complications. Descriptions of sex and some strong language. For senior high and older readers. 2011.

If you already read this book or simply enjoy humorous young adult books with feminist adventures and subtle romance, you might try I’D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU, BUT THEN I’D HAVE TO KILL YOU by Ally Carter (DB 66621).

Staff Pick – Laura Jean– BLACK WATER RISING by Attica Locke, DB 72177

If you like legal thrillers such as those written by John Grisham and Lisa Scottoline, you might try the Jay Porter Series by Attica Locke, starting with BLACK WATER RISING (DB 72177). Nominated for a 2010 Edgar Award, a 2010 NAACP Image Award, and a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, this story, set in Houston, Texas, follows lawyer Jay Porter as he becomes embroiled in a murder investigation and the labor disputes and racial turmoil of the early 1980s.

BlackWaterRising

Recent winner of the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction, Attica Locke, is a native of Houston, Texas and her knowledge of the area reveals itself in her detailed descriptions of the city as well as the social issues that dominated the area in the early 1980s. Her writing is gritty and compelling and she has created an intricately detailed plot with a well-developed protagonist in Jay Porter.

NLS Annotation: Texas, 1981. African American lawyer Jay Porter rescues from the bayou a white woman he later suspects is involved in a murder. Despite his racially charged criminal past and impending fatherhood, Jay investigates and finds links to Houston’s political elite and big oil. Some violence and some strong language. 2009.

If you’ve already read this book and enjoy a good legal thriller series with a suspenseful tone set in the urban south, try the Penn Cage series by Greg Iles, starting with QUIET GAME (DB 49340). If you’d prefer a legal thriller series with a female protagonist, try the Carole Ann Gibson series by Penny Mickelbury, starting with CAROLE ANN GIBSON, BOOKS 1-3 (DB 84707).

February 2017 TBP Book Club Title Announced!

Texas Talking Book patrons: please join us on Tuesday February 7th at 7 pm (Central Time) for our book club discussion of ME BEFORE YOU by Jojo Moyes.

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 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:
Working-class English girl Louisa “Lou” Clark is hired as an aide to wealthy Will Traynor, a former mogul who has been paralyzed since a road accident. Lou tries to keep the embittered Will engaged with the world, while Will encourages Lou to expand her horizons. Some strong language. Bestseller. 2012.