Meeting Killers of the Flower Moon author David Grann


As a librarian and lifelong reader, any opportunity I have to meet authors is one that brings me untold joy.

When it was announced that David Grann had agreed to be the guest speaker for our university’s annual endowed lectureship, I knew this would be a big deal, attended by many guests from outside the university.


Grann’s third book, Killers of the Flower Moon, has now been on the New York Times non-fiction best-seller list for 37 weeks, was an top 20 picks of the best books from 2017, and a 2017 National Book Award Finalist in Nonfiction. So, having him come to our mid-size, rural university was especially notable.

However, our university has distinctly proud tribal roots, and since the whole focus of his book centers around the murders of members of the Osage tribe in the 1920s, it was a perfect opportunity for a special spotlight to locally be shone on American Indians and Oklahoma history.

This story of greed and prejudice was expertly told through the lens of a talented journalist and researcher, with it taking 5 years for Mr. Grann to research and accumulate information from various archives and museums to write this book. We were also fortunate to have some Osage descendants in attendance, whose family stories were featured from the murders that took place almost 100 years ago.


For those who have yet to read Killers of the Flower Moon, this tragic story will be one you hopefully don’t quickly forget; a segment of American history from which we all learn and hopefully do not ever repeat.

All photo credits: Peter Henshaw.

To read more about other authors I’ve had the privilege of meeting and books I’ve had signed, check out My autograph collection post.


Read: February 2018


Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks

My goodness, Tom Hanks, just when I thought you couldn’t be more likable, you’ve done it again.

This debut of 17 short stories from America’s favorite actor (at least mine) are filled with hope but tinged with melancholy and all include a mention or plot incorporation of typewriters, Hanks’ passionate hobby. One particular favorite that lingers in my mind is “The Past is Important to Us.”

I began reading this via a digital ARC from NetGalley prior to its release in the Fall, and even though they were quite enjoyable, I stalled out after reading only a handful. However, after discovering Mr. Hanks narrates the audiobook himself, I was sold on finishing this via audio CDs from the public library, which was time very well spent.

Read via: NetGalley & public library audio book


Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

The gals from The Ardent Biblio mentioned Raina Telgemier in an October graphic novels post. I’ve overseen purchasing several of her books during our semi-annual Scholastic Book Fair, including Ghosts, but had never read one until I hit a bit of a reading slump mid-month.

This sweet story of two sisters, the very scary reality of a sick sibling, moving to a new community, and (of course) ghosts was a heartwarming look at fierce love and embracing an unknown future. With the plot incorporation of Día de los Muertos, a great movie tie-in would be Disney Pixar’s Coco.

Read via: youth collection from my academic library

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling, illlustrated by Jim Kay

Photo via my Instagram.

Even though The Optometrist and I began reading this aloud together last fall, over the past few weeks we ratcheted up our efforts to finish Prisoner of Azkaban. This has always been my favorite Harry Potter book and Jim Kay’s illustrations just enhanced the tension, excitement, and pleasure Harry finally receives after so long.

If you’ve curious about Jim Kay’s home studio, this video is wonderfully magical, and here he specifically talks about Dementors, Buckbeak, and Snape drawn in The Prisoner of Azkaban.

Book read via: home library


The Geography of Genius by Eric Weiner

Near the end of 2017 I was approached by friends to be a part of a small book club, and I was the only one who offered a suggestion from my TBR – this one!

When visiting Italy in college I was awed in understanding how when Michelangelo was painting the Sistine Chapel, Raphael was next door painting The School of Athens. This started me thinking about other phenomena of when groups of geniuses arose to change the world.

Not only is the Italian Renaissance featured, but so are genius collectives in ancient Athens and Hangzhou, China, but Edinburgh, Calcutta, Vienna, and Silicon Valley.

For those interested in read-alikes, two that came to mind are: The Know-It-All by A.J. Jacobs and How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World by Steven Johnson, read in October 2016.

Side note: as much as I learned from this book, the pressure of choosing a book, hosting the book club, and feeling responsible for leading the discussion put a damper in the joy out of this reading experience, unfortunately.

Read via: home library


Love Poems by Nikki Giovanni

Mentioned in Dear Fahrenheit 451, I had previously not heard of the poet Nikki Giovanni, but this was the perfect collection to accompany me throughout month, especially with Valentine’s Day in the mix. My personal favorites were “Love Is” and “A Happy Reason.”

Read via: academic library


The Alice Network by Kay Quinn

On my radar since this summer from the Modern Mrs. Darcy Summer Reading Guide under the History+ category, I enjoyed the interconnected stories of Eve, a British spy from WWI, and Charlie, a young American woman, on a dual mission to seek answers about their pasts in post-WWII France.

Read via: public library Overdrive


Two Across by Jeff Bartsch

This was another book brought to my attention by Dear Fahrenheit 451. The Optometrist and I often work crosswords together (one of the things saving my life right now), so this  smart, quirky, unique love story made me feel all.the.feels. Spelling bees, crossword puzzles, youthful mistakes, genuine but confused love, forgiveness, maturity, and redemption elevates this to my favorite book of 2018 so far!

Read via: academic library InterLibrary Loan


Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

A highlight of the month was watching the live stream of this year’s ALA Youth Media Awards on February 12th, when the best-of-the-best children’s and young adult books were announced. As the librarian for our university’s youth collection (the favorite part of my job), and a lover of children’s and young adult literature, I soaked up the opportunity to witness authors and illustrators achieve well-deserved prestige and notoriety.

Evidenced by the cover (above), Long Way Down was selected as a Newbery Honor book, an Odyssey (audio) Honor book, a Printz Honor book, and a Coretta Scott King author Honor book.

Told in prose, the plot addresses gun violence and is a story that, sadly, could apply to many young people’s lives across our fractured and hurting country. Read over the span of a couple of hours, themes include the lies we believe for our preservation, the choices we have (to break destructive cycles), and the interconnectedness of our lives with others unbeknownst to us.


Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly

Although this was the recipient of the 2017 Newbery Medal, the plot didn’t overwhelm me. What it did well was create diverse characters, with a mission surrounding friendship and kindness, along with bravery, family, acceptance, and standing up for yourself.

What was your favorite book read in February and/or what are you currently reading? I’m currently reading another ALA award-winning book, The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater, and also look forward to taking Chief Inspector Gamache on Spring Break with me in a few weeks.

Knit: Faded baby hats

Near the end of January, I evaluated my sock yarn stash and decided it was time to use up as much as possible. I had already incorporated each of these into my Granny Stripe Afghan, so it was time to see them be transformed into a new project. Some were bits and scraps, some had enough yardage to be used in multiple projects, and with the popularity of “fades,” my creative solution was to knit faded baby hats!

So far I’ve knit 8!

Pattern: Basic Baby Hat
Cost: Free!
Size: Newborn
Needles: US 6, 16″ circular Knit Picks Rainbow fixed circular needles & US 6, 5″ Brittany birch DPNs
Recipients: TBA

Yarn combinations were held double and I used a Magic Knot to connect yarn in the middle of a round to create a fade.
(Photos begin in order from “9 o’clock,” moving clockwise.)

  1. “Blushing” ~ Hedgehog Fibres Sock – Bramble, Ella Rae Lace Merino – 00 Natural, Koigu KPM – 1112 Light Peach
  2. “Purple Pastel” ~ ? Acrylic purple, Koigu KPPPM – 703P, Koigu KPM – 1112 Light Peach, Koigu KPM – White (this was the only one knit in the Preemie size)
  3. “Mellow Yellow” ~ Koigu – white, Ella Rae Lace Merino – White, Tosh Merino Light – The Radness, Phentex – Yellow
  4. “Professor Plum” ~ Hedgehog Fibres Sock – Pheasant, Gale’s Art – Valentine’s sock blank, Ella Rae Lace Merino – red
  5. “Ocean Deep” ~ Premier Yarns Wool Free – rainforest, Cascade Venezia Sport – teal, Koigu – coal mine, Cascade Heritage Solids – marine
  6. “Berries Jubilee” ~ Premier Yarns Wool Free – berry bush, Hedgehog Fibres Sock – dragonfly
  7. “Grey Hunting” ~ Rock and String Creations Jitterbug Sock – A hunting we will go, Ella Rae Lace Merino – taupe
  8. “Patchwork” ~ Patons Kroy – blue stripped ragg, Cascade Heritage Solids – marine, Knit Picks Hawthorne Kettle Dye – delphinium, Hedgehog Fibres Sock – salty tales, Cascade Heritage Silk – marine blue

For all you knitters and crocheters out there, what are some stash busting projects you’ve made?

Learn: Winter 2018

Linking up with Emily P. Freeman and others, sharing the silly and sublime of what I’ve learned throughout this winter.

  1. Dewey Decimal rock star
    Isaac Asimov
     is one of the few authors whose books are featured in almost every classification of the Dewey Decimal System.
  2. Classical music revelations
    One of my colleagues has done extensive research on Leonard Bernstein over the years, which piqued my curiosity into remembering more about this pioneer of American composition and conducting. Plus, 2018 is the centennial of his birth! In my own exploration of Bernstein on the Internet, I found this video that features Bernstein introducing 7 year old Yo Yo Ma as he played for Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy in 1962.
  3. Feed the cat when he’s hungry
    We’re typically home mid-afternoon most weekends and typically Sylvester begins begging for his dinner around 3:00 p.m. (But let’s be honest – I need a snack around this time, too.) Since adopting him almost 3 years ago we’ve tried to appease or scold him when he begins to either a.) meow pitifully or b.) become a holy terror.
    After returning home from our Christmas travels, we fed him a portion of his evening meal mid-afternoon and the rest around the time we eat early evening, which has made all the difference in his comfort and our sanity.
  4. Winter wardrobe and jewelry
    This winter I discovered I have a lot of mix-and-match items in my wardrobe that could be a uniform for Gryffindor house at Hogwarts -maroon and mustard yellow with black, white, and grey. This brings me secret pleasure to wear everyday Harry Potter outfits to work.
    I’ve also discovered that I stick to wearing the same 2 pair of low-profile earrings and bracelets due to the fact I often have a hand-knit scarf or shawl wrapped around my neck or body and don’t want to snag these stitches on protruding jewelry teeth or jagged clasps.
  5. Reading on a deadline
    While I have scads and scores of unread books in my home library, I’ve come to the realization that I would much rather read a book from the library and have a deadline for returning it rather than having it languish by my beside.
  6. Tell people what you need
    At the end of January I attended a mid-day yoga class with my favorite instructor and at the end of class she shared with our small group her birthday was coming up the following week. Without apology she shared her birthday plans for that day and wanted to open cards as a part of her personal celebration.
    She asked us to write down a thought, birthday wish, etc. and either mail it to her or drop it by the studio (she brought her own cards and stamps if we needed them). Not one person in our group batted an eye or said no when this request was asked of us and it reminded me I shouldn’t be ashamed of asking friends for something I need or something that will make me feel loved.

What have you learned this winter? Or maybe there are some lessons still in progress? Feel free to share in the comments below.

Saving My Life: February 2018

As we officially reach the halfway point of winter, today I join Anne, Allison, Katie, and many others to share a handful of things saving my life right now.

Morning tea & crossword puzzle

The Optometrist and I have lived in our pretty little town for several years now (~10 for him, ~8 for me), but we have never had a subscription to our local newspaper. So for Christmas I decided a 3 month subscription would be a gift we could share (online for him, print for me). Lately we’ve found ourselves awaking early, feeding the kitty, fixing a cup of tea, crawling back in bed with the previous day’s paper, and enjoying a few quiet moments to have our bodies and brains awaken with local news and a mental challenge.

Photo via my Instagram.

Covered tea cups

Speaking of tea, the quotation, “Where there is tea there is hope” is a mantra by which we live. And while we have a lot of mugs, we didn’t have any that were particularly “Christmassy,” so when we found this little beauty at our local grocery store, it just had to come home with me. “Peace on Earth” is found on one side, a little bird on the other, a loose tea strainer inside (removable), and pine boughs create a ring around the lid and on the saucer. It’s adorable and brings me joy.

I wasn’t specifically looking to find a mug with a lid but, since I’m such a slow tea drinker, the ability to cover my tea and keep it warmer longer has been such a help! (And we’ve also found one other stray lid (my mom somehow still has the mug) so now we interchange these two every time we fix two cups of tea.)

Lit candles in the evening

It started during Advent when we made sure to place tea lights into our Christmas tree and angel crystal votive holders (see covered tea cup photo above). These on our dining room table along with two tea light wall sconces, created a gently flickering reminder of the birth of Jesus being the embodiment of light out of the darkness. Even now, as the days stay lighter longer, the routine of lighting our evening candles continues to bring me comfort.

Daily journaling

Most nights before falling asleep The Optometrist and I ask one another, “What are three good things that happened to you today?” As 2018 began, I ventured on a more thoughtful approach and began journaling these three things (before bed), along with what I read, knit, and any other noteworthy moments of the day (quotations, blessings, prayer requests, etc.)

At the end of January I filled up this compact journal from Inkwell’s Press gifted to me by the artist’s sister (my dear friend Brooke) a few years ago, but also love the new pack of Rifle Paper Co. journals I picked up at World Market over the weekend to continue these daily reflections.




For Christmas, our big gift to one another (that actually came in October because it was on sale) was a Roomba. We have appropriately christened our vacuuming robot “Scoop.”

With two humans and quite a large cat living in our home, the ability to vacuum the house, keeping it consistently cleaner than it’s ever been before, while doing something else a few times a week (i.e., fixing dinner, taking a shower) is worth every penny we spent.

Brené Brown – Washington National Cathedral

A few weeks ago researcher, author, and speaker Dr. Brené Brown spoke at the Washington National Cathedral and the conversation with her via this Forum afterwards spoke deeply to my heart. A few takeaways:

  • “God, give me the courage and strength to delight in your will and walk in your way with gladness and singleness of heart.” (adapated from The Book of Common Prayer)
  • Am I choosing comfort over God? Am I choosing my own human comfort over making a decision that is aligned with our beliefs?
  • Choose courage over comfort.
  • More vulnerable, less venerable.
  • Contribute more than criticize.

It’s also been interesting to look back on what was saving my life in 2016 and 2017, all of which remain a constant.

What are some things saving your life right now? Feel free to share in the comments below.

Read: January 2018

January has brought about a new year and lots of new reads!

Origin by Dan Brown

I have such strong and fond memories of reading The DaVinci Code in 2003 and Angels and Demons shortly thereafter. The subsequent Robert Langdon mysteries have fallen a little flat to me, including Origin, but I still enjoy this recurring character and his code-breaking, globe-trotting adventures.

Langdon once again returns in Dan Brown’s newest novel as he travels to Spain to reunite with Edmond Kirsch, a former Harvard student, now a computer scientist millionaire who is about to globally reveal the answers to humanity’s greatest questions, “Where do we come from? Where are we going?” But before Edmond can share his findings, tragedy strikes. Now Langdon must find a way to retrieve Edmond’s research and help make his findings public before the backlash catches him in the crossfire.

Book read via: public library

by Jennifer Mathieu

My high school experience in the late 90s is a long way from what many young women face in public schools today. Even though Mathieu’s Moxie is a work of fiction, the realities of teenage boys harassing girls are all too real. And yet, when young ladies like protagonist Vivian and her friends decide enough is enough, this collectively empowered voice makes a difference, proving once again, that we are so much stronger together than when we are divided.

My thanks to NetGalley for access to the digital ARC


Still Me by Jojo Moyes

Third in the trilogy of Me Before You and After You, Still Me just released yesterday! For a more thorough book review, check it out here.

My thanks to NetGalley for access to the digital ARC


Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks by Annie Spence

I kept hearing about this epistolary memoir throughout the end of 2017, so as a librarian and lover of Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, this was at the top of my must-read list in 2018.

Filled with irreverent snark, Spence pens short letters, as if writing to books she encounters in her public library, home, and other peoples’ homes. I don’t work with the public nearly as much as she does, with a different patron base on the academic side of things, so these quirky collection development encounters allowed me to be a bystander in my own profession.

I particularly enjoyed her musings on books I also have read and enjoyed: The Time Travelers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, the Big Stone Gap series by Adriana Trigiani, Matilda by Roald Dahl, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, Holidays On Ice by David Sedaris, and Belle’s dreamy library in Beauty and the Beast.

And now I have even more book recommendations to consider, including Love Poems by Nikki Giovanni, Attachments by Rainbow Rowell, Love in Lowercase by Francesc Miralles, Two Across by Jeffrey Bartsch, and In the Stacks: Short Stories About Libraries and Librarians by Michael Cart.

Read via: public library


Courage is Contagious: And Other Reasons to be Thankful for Michelle Obama edited by Nick Haramis

Read over a weekend, this brief collection of essays looks back on the important, culture-shifting role Michelle Obama played as First Lady of the United States: educated professional, advocate of children’s health, working mom, supportive wife, and style icon, just to name a few.  Some of these accounts are written by people you’ve likely heard of, but many are not, proving how she was, and continues to be, a woman of aspiration for so many men and women in our country (including yours truly).

Read via: academic library InterLibrary Loan (ILL)


Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

As mentioned at the beginning of the month, my words for 2018 are LEAN IN. While I’m wanting to apply this concept in all areas of my life, this manifesto from Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg was a helpful rallying cry to jumpstart my year of living with intentionality and bravery in my professional and personal life.

Book read via: academic library


Need to Know by Karen Cleveland

I love spy stories and this is a good one! Released January 23, check out my book review for more details.

My thanks to Edelweiss for access to the digital ARC.


Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann

Recommended to me by a colleague in the spring, I kept this on my radar throughout the rest of the year and at the end of 2017 I continued to see this on several “best-of” lists, along with nominations for numerous prestigious book awards. But the tipping point for me to buckle down and read (listen) came when it was announced the author, David Grann, is coming to our campus to speak in February!

Living in Oklahoma for less than a decade I’m still very much a student of its geography and Native American history. Thankfully, this book gave me a crash course in all of these areas, and more!

Centered around a string of Osage Indian murders in the 1920s, this is a story of white man’s deception and greed for Osage tribal members’ oil money and the founding of the FBI as agents came to Oklahoma to investigate these murders.

The one challenge I encountered in listening to this vs. reading it in print was keeping track of all the characters (since I couldn’t flip back pages to re-read), but this forced me to pay attention and keep moving forward, which I may not have done if I had been reading this visually.

Overall, this was a terrifically well-researched, narrative non-fiction, true crime novel; well deserving of the accolades it continues to receive.

Read via: public library audio book

Books I’m currently reading that I will likely finish in February: The Geography of Genius by Eric Weiner, The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien, and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (illustrated edition by Jim Kay).

Book Review: Still Me by Jojo Moyes


Fans of Jojo Moyes, rejoice! Louisa Clark, the plucky heroine from Me Before You and After You, returns in Still Me. Following up from the plot in After You, Louisa has been contacted by her friend and former colleague Nathan, who also worked with Will in Me Before You, about the possibility of working for a wealthy family in New York.

Despite her newfound love with Ambulance Sam, Louisa needs a fresh perspective and an opportunity to let go of the past, so she agrees to the offer and proceeds to move from London to New York. And not just anywhere in New York, but to 5th Avenue, as the live-in assistant to Agnes, the immigrant (younger, second) wife of an American millionaire businessman.

There are fun parallels to The Devil Wears Prada as Louisa transitions to being a girl about the city, learning how to anticipate Agnes’ needs and helping her navigate obligations inherent with her posh lifestyle. But as her personal assistant, Louisa is also privy to family secrets and when her loyalty causes Agnes’ wealthy husband to question Louisa’s actions, the predictability of the book’s plot becomes less so. Louisa is now faced with the opportunity to reinvent herself again and have the opportunity to embrace her true love: vintage fashion.

As she explores New York City, it becomes a supporting character all on its own – Central Park, the neighborhoods, libraries, and diners she visits all enhance the overall atmosphere of the book.

The character of Louisa is entirely relatable to me with her desires of putting others ahead of herself, living a full and passionate life, and embracing her creative and quirky tendencies. She would definitely be the kind of gal I would want to befriend in real life.

As is typical of Moyes’ writing, she infuses “all the feels” into Still Me: sweetness, humor, longing, sadness, grief, courage, living life to the full, and, of course, love. For those who have loved this ongoing story line, Still Me is not to be missed.

My thanks to NetGalley for access to the digital ARC.