Category Archives: Memoir

The Book Whisperer Enjoys a Memoir


Nine years ago, one of my book clubs chose a series of memoirs. One of those books was Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl. In Tender at the Bone, Reichl describes her early life and learning to cook as a defense mechanism because her own mother was a terrible cook. Eventually, readers learn her mother was bipolar which accounts for her mood swings and her inability to stick to one thing for very long.

In her most recent memoir, Save me the Plums, Reichl describes being offered the job as editor of Gourmet magazine. She describes being courted to take the job despite her reluctance and even belligerent answers of “NO!”

Eventually, Reichl does take the job as editor of Gourmet; Save me the Plums details her beginning at the magazine through to its closing. She had to learn how to be the boss, how to make decisions that affected others, and how to turn Gourmet into a magazine a wide variety of people wanted to read. When Reichl’s young son learned that if his mother took the job at Gourmet, she would be home each evening, he encouraged her to take the job. He missed seeing his mother in the evenings because as a food critic, she was out most evenings.

In Save me the Plums, Reichl gives readers additional glimpses into her early life with her parents.  She describes a winter day when she returned home from school to discover her mother had purchased a “large dead birch tree” which workmen were hoisting up to their eleventh-floor apartment.  She made other extravagant purchases the family could not afford: a house in the country, a boat, a fur coat, and a large painting. When the items had to be returned, Reichl’s mother was heartbroken. She would often take to her bed and stay there for months.

Reichl’s father was the anchor who held the family steady. He loved his wife and stood by her with whatever scheme she devised. Sadly, he could not give her all the money she wanted for fine things.

Reichl moves into her job as Gourmet’s editor by describing the people she works with and the terror she feels at taking over such a massive job. She has an office which she is allowed to decorate with the bright colors she loves. She has a budget she could only have dreamed about and a car, clothing allowance, and travel money.

Save me the Plums is a vivid account of Reichl’s ten years with Gourmet. In the end, as the magazine lost revenue, Reichl knew there would be changes. She writes, “I’d fortified myself against the pain of being fired, but this was worse: They had murdered the magazine.”

Readers can feel Reichl’s pain over the loss especially as they look back over the beginning of Save me the Plums where Reichl recounts her first encounter with Gourmet. That story, in itself, is enough to get readers interested in the rest of Reichl’s memoir. A few recipes sprinkled throughout the book also add to the story.

Ruth Reichl is host of PBS’s Gourmet’s Adventures with Ruth. At her Web site,, discover more about Reichl, her books, and her other work.

From Reichl’s Web site: ” This is one of America’s best-loved fall desserts. And for good reason. Originally published in the New York Times by Marion Burros, it has been tweaked by any number of people. Including me.”

The Book Whisperer Invites Readers to the 2019 Books Sandwiched In series at Central Library


Today’s blog takes a new turn in that I am not reviewing a single book, but I’m promoting the Books Sandwiched In fall 2019 series. The book reviews are held at the Central Library, downtown Tulsa in Aaronson Auditorium. The reviews begin at 12:10 PM on Mondays and end at 12:50 PM. This year, there are two exceptions. The first review will be at Marshall Brewery, 6th & Utica, at 6:00 PM because Central Library (and, in fact, all libraries) is closed for a day of staff development. The second exception occurs on Nov 12 which is a Tuesday since the libraries are closed for Veterans’ Day on Monday, Nov 11. The time remains the same for this review: 12:10 – 12:50 PM. The complete schedule is listed at the end of this blog.

Guests are encouraged to bring their lunch and listen to the book reviews. Bring a friend or two along to enjoy the reviews as well. Starbucks, located on the first floor of Central Library, is the only library-owned Starbucks in the US. Money made over expenses goes to help fund library programs. Thus, purchasing food and drinks from the Central Library Starbucks helps support the library system.

Mon, Oct 14, 6:00 PM, Marshall Brewery: John Carreyou details in Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup the story of Theranos and its founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes. Holmes promoted a radical idea that a single drop of blood could determine any number of diseases. Through the use of a machine installed in pharmacies, people could have a drop of blood drawn to give them quick, accurate test results. Sadly, the idea does not work, but Holmes raised more than $9 billion to fund her project until the whole company collapsed. Carreyou has written a true story that reads like a fast-paced thriller.

Mon, Oct 21, 12:10-12:50 PM: The Book Whisperer reviewed The Library Book by Susan Orlean on 25 Nov 2018. See the complete review there. Susan Orlean has written a captivating book about the Los Angeles Library fire in 1984. To explain the full extent of the fire and its aftermath, Orlean also provides a history of the library system in Los Angeles and how critical the library is to the well-being of a city and its people.

Mon, Oct 28, 12:10-12:50 PM: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens is another book the Book Whisperer reviewed; this one on 15 Mar 2019. Owens has written a coming of age story combined with a mystery and wrapped in nature. Where the Crawdads Sing is a must read.

Mon, Nov 4, 12:10-12:50 PM: Marie Benedict’s The Only Woman in the Room will be reviewed. Again, the Book Whisperer reviewed The Only Woman in the Room in this blog on 13 Apr 2019. Hedy Lamarr has long been known as a beautiful Hollywood star. In truth, she was a scientist.

Tues, Nov 12, 12:10-12:50 PM: Because the libraries are closed for Veterans’ Day on Monday, Nov 11, the review of Becoming by Michelle Obama and The Matriarch: Barbara Bush and the Making of an American Dynasty by Susan Page will take place on a Tuesday. The review of two books by and about First Ladies is unprecedented. Michelle Obama and Barbara Bush both contributed much to the US during their tenures as First Ladies.

Mon, Nov 18, 12:10-12:50 PM: Meet me at the Museum by Anne Youngston is the kind of novel to read and reread. Told in the form of letters between Tina Hopgood, an English farm wife, and Anders Larsen, a museum director in Denmark, Meet me at the Museum chronicles the growing friendship between two strangers through the letters they exchange. The Book Whisperer reviewed Meet me at the Museum in this blog on 1 Feb 2019.

Mon, Nov 25, 12:10-12:50 PM: Recipient of the 2019 Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award is Stacy Schiff. A review of her body of work will include an overview of such books as The Witches: Salem, 1692, Cleopatra: A Life, and A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America. Such acclaimed authors as David McCullough, another Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author recipient, praise Schiff’s writing as “brilliant from start to finish.”

2019 Books Sandwiched In Book Reviews

12:10-12:50 PM, Aaronson Auditorium, Central Library (two exceptions, noted with **)

Bring your lunch and bring a friend or two to enjoy these book reviews.

Oct 14**: Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou (held in the evening at Marshall Brewery, 6th & Utica. The library is closed for staff development that day.)

Oct 21: The Library Book by Susan Orlean  (Monday marks the beginning of National Friends of the Library Week, so the review celebrates libraries.)

Oct 28: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Nov 4: The Only Woman in the Room by Marie Benedict

Nov 12**: (TUESDAY because the library is closed for Veterans’ Day Nov 11): Becoming by Michelle Obama and The Matriarch: Barbara Bush and the Making of an American Dynasty by Susan Page 

Nov 18: Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngston

Nov 25: Overview of the work of Stacy Schiff, the 2019 Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author recipient

The Book Whisperer Recommends a Humorous Memoir


Zarqa Nawaz was born in London of Pakistani heritage, but has lived most of her life in Canada. Laughing All the Way to the Mosque is her memoir and it is laugh-out-loud funny through much of it.

Nawaz’s parents dreamed of her becoming a doctor, but her grades in science classes kept her out of medical school. This note she wrote on her final physics exam will give a clue about her feelings toward science:

“Dear Physics People, I’m sure there’s a perfectly reasonable mathematical formula for solving this question. Here’s the thing: I don’t remember learning it. Don’t take this personally. I’m sure you taught it. It’s just that I have trouble absorbing things that make no sense. Don’t you want to stare up at the stars and just enjoy them for what they truly are? I know they’re just balls of burning gas to you, but they’re also poetic and can cause people to fall in love and contemplate life. So I’m wondering if there’s a way to make the calculation of the surface of a rotating cube more romantic. I think then I would be able to solve this problem. Yours truly, Zarqa Nawaz.”

The professor gave her a zero on the exam and suggested that she become a writer instead of pursuing medicine as a career.

Nawaz’s parents are not happy about her decision, well, it’s not her decision to ditch medicine. The decision has been made because of her grades in science. So she persuades her mother to allow her to put off marriage so she can go to journalism school. Her younger brother wishes to marry a non-Muslim, but their mother tells him it is a rule that an older sister must marry first. Perhaps she thinks her son will change his mind about his wife-to-be.

Then Nawaz’s mother becomes insistent about finding her daughter a husband and parades an ever-growing number of young men through the house in an effort to find the man for her daughter to marry. These meetings become more fodder for Nawaz’s humor.

Eventually, Nawaz finds a good Muslim husband, and he is a doctor. Nawaz’s mother has to be satisfied.


Nawaz wrote the popular Canadian TV series Little Mosque on the Prairie. She frequently speaks to groups on Islam with her customary humor. At her Web site,, readers can discover more about Zarqa Nawaz.

The Book Whisperer Previews One Book, One Tulsa 2019


Nicole Chung’s memoir All You Can Ever Know has been chosen for One Book, One Tulsa. Chung will appear at Tulsa’s Central Library 27 September 2019, delivering a keynote speech and signing books.

Nicole Chung was adopted by a white, Catholic family in a closed adoption when she was an infant. She was born prematurely and her adoptive parents told her “your birth parents were very sad they couldn’t keep you, but they thought adoption was the best thing for you.”

Chung’s adoptive parents loved her and gave her an excellent home. Her parents continued to tell her the story that her birth family had loved her but were unable to care for her and that “my parents, in turn, were meant to adopt me.”

One of Chung’s young elementary classmates makes fun of her, pulling the skin around his eyes up and taunting her with racial slurs. She is stunned by his actions. Then she realizes she is often the only Asian person in a group in her school, her church, her town.

As an adult, married and expecting her first child, Chung begins to dig into her birth family. She discovers she has a half-sister, Jessica, and a full sister, Cindy. Her parents are divorced and living in different cities. Her father has remarried and his wife has treated both Jessica and Cindy with love and kindness.

Nicole and Cindy begin by exchanging letters and emails. Cindy tells Nicole their mother is abusive and Cindy had a very unhappy childhood except for the time when she lived with her father and step-mother. The two sisters do meet and Nicole talks with her mother on the phone. Eventually, Nicole meets her father and his wife.

Over the course of the letters, emails, and meetings, Nicole learns about her birth family.

My family has recently discovered a cousin who was given up for adoption. In our case, the white child was adopted by a white family, so the cultural differences were never an issue. Still, only the birth mother and her parents knew about the baby and the adoption. Now, we are getting to know one another and sharing family stories with our newly-found cousin. A cousins’ reunion will take place soon.

Celeste Ng, author of Little Fires Everywhere, describes her reaction to All You Can Ever Know: “This book moved me to my very core. . . . [All You Can Ever Know] should be required reading for anyone who has ever had, wanted, or found a family—which is to say, everyone.”

Nicole Chung,,  has written articles for The New York Times, The Guardian, Slate, and Real Simple. Currently, she is editor-in-chief of Catapult magazine,


The Book Whisperer Reviews an OK Story



This spring, I have participated in Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma, a book club sponsored by the Oklahoma Humanities. The book club meets at the Museum Broken Arrow in the Rose District. The books for this series titled The Oklahoma Experience: The Thirties include Will Rogers: His Wife’s Story by Betty Rogers, The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, Roughneck by Jim Thompson, and The Silver DeSoto by Patty Lou Floyd.

Because of a change in Museum Broken Arrow’s leadership, the interim director chose a series of books that members had read only two years ago. Since I was not in the group until last year, I had not participated in those discussions. The number of people attending the discussions has been severely limited since the people who had just read and discussed the books two years ago did not wish to re-read them so soon. However, those who are attending have found the discussions to be lively and informative.

The books include a mixture of fiction and nonfiction. For some reason, when I began reading The Silver Desoto by Patty Lou Floyd, I thought it was a memoir. That assumption left me a bit confused when Ethel, the woman who always appears to help the family when a death is near, keeps calling the narrator Betty when her name on the book is clearly Patty.

After reading a bit further, I realized Patty Floyd has fictionalized her story by changing the names of people and the town where she grew up. She grew up in Duncan, OK, but she calls the city Dixter in The Silver Desoto.

Floyd tells the story through a series of vignettes. They are not in chronological order either, but mixing the order did not interfere with the reading of the book. The first story opens with Ethel showing up at the door. Eighteen-year-old Betty is ready to graduate from high school and go to college. Nana, her maternal grandmother, is her last near relative still living.

Little Auntie, Betty’s mother’s only sibling, dies when Betty is five. She does not understand what has happened and blames herself for Little Auntie’s death—or disappearance. Betty thinks she has misbehaved once too often and now the punishment is the loss of her beloved Little Auntie. Her mother and grandmother do not do well in telling Betty about death and loss; thus, the little girl is left to figure it out on her own.

Little Auntie’s death is only one of the secrets in the household. Mother has divorced and returned home to live with Betty, much to Nana’s chagrin. Divorced women are restricted in what they can do, were, and say, according to Nana.

Grandfather is the next family member to die, leaving the house of women: Nana, Mother, and Betty. Then Mother develops breast cancer. After Mother’s death, Nana and Betty live in their two bedrooms and the kitchen while Nana keeps the rest of the house locked and unused.

Betty does write about funny moments. She describes town characters. Those who have grown up in small towns will recognize the people in Betty’s stories.

Finding information about Patty Lou Floyd is difficult. She is not listed in the Oklahoma Historical Society’s encyclopedia about Oklahoma. A search on Google yields only where her two books can be purchased, all used bookstores online. On the book jacket, readers learn that Patty Floyd “is a Phi Beta Kappa with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Oklahoma and a Master of Arts degree from the University of Tulsa. She is a trustee of Grinnell College in Iowa. She lives and works in Tulsa, Oklahoma.”




The Book Whisperer Discovers a Useful Writer’s Device


A Senior Lecturer in Northwestern University’s English Department, Brian Bouldrey has written three novels, three nonfiction books, and has edited a number of anthologies. In 2000, he published The Autobiography Box which is literally a book in a box.

The box contains The Autobiography Box Owner’s Manual: A Step-by-Step Kit for Examining the Life Worth Living and four sets of cards: Discover, Remember, Dramatize, and Structure.

One of the exercises on a Discover card reminds writers to excise dead language. Bouldrey knows “words that don’t really mean as much because they are overused and tired.” He gives concrete ways to locate and remove that dead language.

Turning over a Remember card, I discovered this prompt: “Write about the first time you went away from home alone.” These remember cards give writers specific ideas from which to start writing. Oftentimes, just knowing where to begin allows a writer to start the creative juices flowing. Then other ideas follow.

The first prompt I read on a Dramatize card provided an excellent idea for writing about a memory. It suggests writing “a memory as an exchange of letters between you and a friend or you and your mother.” That idea appealed to me, especially since I just read a delightful novel written in the form of letters between two people: Meet me at the Museum by Anne Youngson.

The final stack of cards is titled Strucure. The first card I read recommends shuttling “between past and present.” Bouldrey goes on to explain that a writer might see a pattern that “keeps repeating itself.” If that’s the case, the writer could “juxtapose a series of events from one time [the writer’s] life against a more recent series, to compare and contrast how much [the writer] has learned.”

The Owner’s Manual, the book in the box, begins by asking the writer to fill out a family tree. Then it goes on with other questions and prompts. It continues with suggested resources and a space for journaling. Bouldrey includes quotations from famous writers as inspiration. The Autobiography Box is an entirely useful and user-friendly way to begin writing about one’s life.



The Book Whisperer Takes a Look at an Oklahoma Writer


James Myers (Jim) Thompson was born in Anadarko, OK, shortly before statehood on September 27, 1906. In Roughneck, published in 1954, Thompson gives readers an inside look at the trials of this life, not holding back on his foibles.

Destined to be a writer, Thompson sold his first story to True Detective when he was only fourteen. Over his career, he wrote twenty-nine books including Roughneck, a memoir. In addition to his novels, he co-authored two screen plays for Stanley Kubrick: The Killing and Paths of Glory. Both American and French directors have made Thompson’s novels into films including The Killer Inside Me, After Dark, and The Grifters.

Library Journal reminds readers that Roughneck is “another of Thompson’s autobiographical titles and supposedly true; fans know that half of [Roughneck] is inseparable from his crime writings.”

Jim Thompson had too many jobs to mention here. He tried his hand at a number of jobs from newspaper boy to plumber’s helper. He lived paycheck to paycheck and often had a few cents to no money in his pocket. In Roughneck, readers can follow Jim as he moves from OK to TX to NE and back to OK.

One of his best jobs came when William Cunningham, director of the Oklahoma Writers’ Project, hired Jim. It was not only a steady job, but it also involved his first love, writing. Thompson and his team published a Guide to Tulsa and a Calendar of Annual Oklahoma Events. As always, though, disagreements and arguments haunted Thompson and the projects he wished to complete. Because Thompson had joined the Communist Party, he lost the job when Gov. Leon Phillips rooted out the Communist members of the writers’ project. Still, Thompson had tried to resign four times before that, so he simply moved on to the next job.

As part of the federally funded writers’ project, Thompson taught workers who were “poorly educated” and “others who had no work experience.” He taught classes after work: spelling, typing, shorthand, and business etiquette. He proudly explained that many “unemployables” then found jobs.

Roughneck is an entertaining look at Jim Thompson’s life. He does not gloss over his struggle with alcoholism. In fact, some of the benders he describes would certainly have killed many other people. He writes about eating at soup kitchens and about “signs offering new shoes for a dollar, complete men’s outfits (slightly used) for two-fifty, and clean hotel rooms for five dollars a month.” Often, however, he did not have even a quarter in his pocket, so he had to be resourceful in finding food and lodging. He always landed on his feet, however.

I found myself wondering how Thompson lived to be 71 years old because his early life certainly was difficult.  His difficulties about finding and holding onto employment, his smoking and alcoholism make it is easy to see that he could have died a young man. Roughneck is an honest ad open portrait of a writer not afraid to take a hard look at himself.

The Web site Biography offers an extensive look at Jim Thompson:

To learn more about Jim Thompson, read about him at The Oklahoma Historical Society:





The Book Whisperer Looks Ahead


As an avid reader, I frequently read about books, check reviews, and otherwise seek books to read and to recommend. I read eclectically and choose from fiction for adults as well as YA and juvenile books, along with the occasional nonfiction. My to be read list continues to grow. Some of the books that currently have my attention and that are on the list are found in this blog.


The Last Equation of Isaac Severy by Nova Jacobs promises to be a riveting read. It involves a mystery and a bookstore. What more could a book lover choose? Some readers might be put off by the addition of mathematics to the story. Isaac, mathematician, dies and the death is ruled a suicide. However, Hazel, his adopted granddaughter, receives a letter from Isaac in the mail a few days after his death. Isaac gives Hazel specific instructions to give the letter to one of Isaac’s colleagues. Before she can deliver the letter, however, she must discover a “bombshell equation” Isaac has uncovered. Hazel must put her powers of observation and careful thought to work to uncover the equation to avoid disaster to her family.


Jamil Jan Kochai has written 99 Nights in Logar with twelve-year-old Marwand as the main character. Marwand has visited Afghanistan six years earlier and now he is going to be living there. The stories from the Arabian Nights come to mind since Marwand must search for his family’s dog, Budabash, which has escaped. The quest to locate Budabash takes ninety-nine nights.

In The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin, another twelve-year old, Suzy Swanson, must come to terms with the loss of her best friend who has drowned in the ocean while on vacation shortly before school begins again. The two should both be entering seventh grade. They have been close friends since they were five and in a swimming class together. Franny, Suzy knows, is an excellent swimmer, so how could she have drowned? On a school trip to an aquarium, Suzy visits the jellyfish exhibit and reads about dangerous jellyfish stings. Irukandji jellyfish, the most dangerous venomous jellyfish lives off the coast of Australia. However, it has begun migrating into other waters. As Suzy reads about the jellyfish, she wonders if Franny could have been stung by an Irukandji jellyfish, thus causing her to die, but the death appears as a drowning. Suzy begins an investigation into the jellyfish to see if Franny’s death has been caused by the poison instead of drowning. To add to Suzy’s sorry, she and Franny have had a falling out not long before Franny’s death, so Suzy thinks she is to blame for her best friend’s death.


On quite another note, Soniah Kamal has written a modern-day retelling of Pride and Prejudice and set it in Pakistan. Alys Binat has decided she will not marry. That promise to herself is all well and good until she meets Mr. Darsee at a wedding, of course. Unmarriageable recounts the story of the Binat family’s five daughters with Alys being the most practical of the girls. Alys is teaching English literature in a girls’ school. Alys focuses on Jane Austen and other literary heroes in hopes of inspiring her students to dream of more than an early marriage and children. Can Alys stick to her plan or does she succumb to Mr. Darsee’s charms?


When I can find excerpts to read of new books, I often then become hooked on finding the book so I can read the whole story. That happened with The Peacock Feast by Lisa Gornick. Gornick has developed a story about the multigenerational O’Connor family. Grace, Prudence’s niece, visits Prudence and thus begins the unscrambling of family secrets including the long estrangement between Prudence and her brother who is now deceased.


After reading about A State of Freedom by Neel Mukherjee, I immediately requested the novel from the library. Mukherjee has received a great deal of praise for writing about “the central, defining events of our century: displacement and migration.” Taking five characters of vastly different backgrounds, Mukherjee has developed a story set in contemporary India and told through various narratives. The characters even include a vagrant and his dancing bear. Who could not wish to at least dip into A State of Freedom?


Dear Mrs. Bird by A.J. Pearce keeps appearing in lists and articles about books. The story takes place in London in 1940. Emmeline Lake wishes to be a journalist. When she sees an advertisement seeking a columnist for the London Evening Chronicle, she thinks she has found her dream job. Instead of being a war correspondent, however, Emmeline lands the job of typist for Mrs. Bird, an advice columnist. Mrs. Bird says all letters containing any unpleasantness must be thrown away. Emmeline becomes intrigued with such letters and begins answering them herself on her own, much without Mrs. Bird’s knowledge.


Finally, a memoir called The Little Bookshop of Big Stone Gap: A Memoir of Friendship, Community, and the Uncommon Pleasure of a Good book by Wendy Welch caught my eye. The last part of the subtitle, the uncommon pleasure of a good book, could hardly be ignored. In her true story, Welch writes about the bookstore she and her husband opened in a small Appalachian coal town. Because of their love of books and their dream of finding a place of their own, they succeed despite many odds against them: a declining US economy, a small town with no industry, and e-books.

Many books, many stories, many choices!



The Book Whisperer Reviews Oklahoma’s Native Son’s Story: Will Rogers


In Will Rogers, Betty Rogers wrote a personal story chronicling Will Rogers’ early life and of their life together. Betty Blake met Will Rogers when she went to Oologah to visit her sister after recovering from typhoid fever. Betty lived in Rogers, AR, “a busy little town with considerable community and social life.” Betty’s sister wrote “the only young people in the town are the daughters of the hotel keeper, and there is one boy, Will Rogers, who lives out a few miles on a ranch.”

This offhand reference to the one boy in Oologah will become significant. Betty’s brother-in-law was the station agent at Oologah on the Missouri Pacific Railway between Fort Smith, AR, and Coffeyville, KS. Betty was in the station when Will Rogers got off a train and walked up to the window where Betty stood. Before she could ask him what he wanted, he turned and walked briskly away. A few minutes later, Betty’s brother-in-law discovered a package addressed to Will Rogers, a banjo. Clearly, that is what he wanted to ask for at the window, but became shy and walked away.

Betty and Will do officially meet while she is still in Oologah. She says of their meetings, “I don’t think you would call our meetings there in Oologah incidents in a courtship. We simply became good friends.”  When Betty returned to AR, Will wrote her letters which Betty saved over the years. The first one Will signed “Hoping you will take pity on this poor heart broken Cow pealer and having him rejoicing over these bald prairies on receipt of a few words from you I remain your True Friend and Injun Cowboy. W.P Rogers, Oologah, I.T.”

In another letter, Will tells Betty he will be in Rogers, AR, soon and would like to see her. He does meet her in Rogers, but then two years go by before she sees him again. During that time, Will had traveled around the world.

Betty describes Will as a man who could not be still. He needed to be busy all the time. She says of Will that he “had superb health, great physical energy and mental vitality; and along with this an inner serenity that was seldom ruffled. He was unhurried, and worry was unknown to him.”

Betty describes the many people she and Will met and the many places they went during their marriage. Will and Betty met famous people in show business, business, and politics. Will’s warm and engaging smile drew people to him. His wit was homespun and never malicious. Much of his humor did center on politics. Most people remember the famous lines Will spoke.

One of those is “I don’t make jokes. I just watch the Government and report the facts and I have never found it necessary to exaggerate.”

Will Rogers is truly an American treasure. Betty Rogers wrote a history of their life together. Regardless of how many famous people Will met, he remained “your True Friend and Injun Cowboy.”


The Book Whisperer Reviews The Kindness Effect


The Kindness Effect is a book Jill Donovan never intended to write. Not just that book, Donovan never intended to write any book out of concern that readers might misjudge her reason for writing a book.

James D. Watts, Jr., Tulsa World reporter, interviewed Donovan 14 Feb 2018, In that interview, Donovan explains she did not want write “a book about the success she has achieved with Rustic Cuff which started out as something of a hobby, a way to work out some creative energy that had been building up in her for a while.”

Donovan, a successful attorney and law professor, has always challenged herself whether in her dream of becoming an Olympic gymnast or studying a “formidable language…. I wanted to fluently speak a language nobody else in school was studying – Russian.” Donovan chooses unusual challenges for herself. For example, she spent a year learning to play the harmonica.

On a Southwest Airline flight one December, Donovan played the harmonica for an audience of delayed passengers. She recounts the story: “I found real joy in playing the harmonica for the passengers but not because there was a rationale to pursue a music career and join a band (but don’t count me out yet!). Nor was it because I gave a perfect concert to a perfect audience. The joy in my heart was imply because a little bit of magic happened that morning.”

Donovan goes on to say “that same kind of magic happens every December after I’ve spent the year developing a new skill.”  Every January, Donovan chooses another skill to tackle and accomplish.

At Rustic Cuff, Donovan reports, “It’s not about the cuff. It’s really about giving, of providing a venue to share one’s gifts. And I’m not talking about things. I mean whatever God-given gifts and talents you have. Those are gifts that are meant to be given away, to be shared with others.”

Perhaps the most important part of Donovan’s The Kindness Effect appears in chapter 20: “Don’t Compare Your Chapter I With Someone Else’s Chapter 20.” To illustrate this point, Donovan describes learning to play tennis as an adult and being placed on the lowest-level team. At that point, she realized that she was learning, not only from tennis, but about competition, about learning, and about living. She explains “instead of comparison, I would try to learn everything possible from successful people. I wanted to learn their mistakes and wins and to gather all the information available from the business owners who came before me.”

Donovan has succeeded in the challenges she has set for herself; she also encourages others, especially in giving back and in sharing kindness. In The Kindness Effect, Donovan inspires others to create their own stories and to share their kindnesses. In fact, The Kindness Effect itself is a book meant to be shared.

A friend invited me to attend her book club recently. During the meeting, she passed around The Kindness Effect, offering it to others to read. She also made another suggestion: that readers mark or comment on passages in the book before passing it along to another reader who would add comments. What an excellent way to encourage others and oneself.

Rustic Cuff,, offers colorful, thoughtful jewelry. Customers can join to receive the monthly surprise cuff. They can also create a special cuff for fundraising.