One of the things I've greatly missed, since switching my home machines to Linux, was the program NaturalReader. It sounded fairly realistic and had decent integration with the OS. And it was the program that got me thru college.
Needing to do more reading than normal, I started to see what sorts of options there are for ArchLinux. I've dabbled with things like Orca before, but it was too heavy and didn't do the one thing I wanted, which was the ability to highlight the text and have the computer read it to me. So I decided to roll my own.
UPDATE: I've switched to Mimic, https://github.com/MycroftAI/mimic, and a voice provided by http://www.festvox.org/flite/packed/flite-2.0/voices/cmu_us_slt.flitevox.