Book Review: ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ an important story

The Osage murders is another chapter in U.S. history that isn’t part of the education system. We have author David Grann to thank for bringing this disturbing history to light in his book “Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI” (Doubleday 2017).

Savages are what Indians were called. Truth is white people need to look in the mirror to see the true savage.

Grann takes readers on a journey through Oklahoma during the oil boom. The Osage Indians had obtained the mineral rights on their land from the federal government before anyone knew what lurked below. In the 1920s, the Osage were some of the wealthiest people in the United States.

Then the murders started occurring. To this day many have not been solved. It’s not even known how many of the Osage died during this multi-year killing spree. Many of the deaths were not investigated, let alone labeled as murder.

White people wanted the rights to the oil. Marrying into the tribe or overseeing an Indian’s financial affairs (another white man-government policy) was one way to get to the money. Instead of waiting for death to occur naturally, poison, bullets and bombings sped up the process.

While non-fiction books written by journalists are some of favorites, this one fell flat. It was dry, almost like reading court documents. While the writing left me unimpressed, it is the story that is the reason to read this book.

Grann also delves into the role of the FBI, which at the time was in its infancy. The latter chapters of the book point out how the FBI left so much evidence behind and that there is still more to know.

5 tidbits about Mexico — from tourism to voting to recipes

  • In the wake of Mexico closing its tourism board, tourist hot spots in Baja have taken on the responsibility of marketing. Check out this Los Angeles Times story.
  • A grandmother in Mexico has created a YouTube channel to share traditional homemade recipes. Read more in the Mazatlán Post.
  • The Travel website ranks the safest cities in Mexico, with Todos Santos being in the top 10. Read the story here.
  • Mexicans living abroad could cast their vote online for the first time in 2021, according to this San Diego Union Tribune.
  • NPR reports in this story that apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border declined for the fourth consecutive month.

Tiny libraries bring books to neighborhoods throughout the world

If libraries are a gift, then the Little Free Library movement is like the icing on the cake.

It has been 10 years since Todd H. Bol started the concept by placing a tiny library outside his Wisconsin home as a tribute to his mom who had been a teacher.

A tiny library in a South Lake Tahoe, California, neighborhood has two shelves full of books. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

He wanted to share books with others. To make it easy, free, no need for a library card, no questions asked. People could take any book, or even more than one. The idea was others would leave a book, maybe return the book they had taken after they were done with it.

It was so successful in Bol’s neighborhood that he started to give them away to family and friends. The concept spread rapidly. Bol began to envision these tiny libraries being more than a regional phenomenon. He and friend Rick Brooks used philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, who built 2,509 libraries from 1883-1929, as an inspiration. They did even better.

Today, there are more than 90,000 little free libraries in every state and in 91 countries.

In 2012, Little Free Library became a nonprofit. People don’t have to belong to it to have a library. A useful tool on the website is that it has a map of libraries, making it easier to find one.

Each library seems to have its own personality, with some owners adding personal flare. Most are about the size of a fancy dollhouse. They are essentially a tiny house for books.

While I have never taken a book from one of these libraries, I have deposited books. Quite a while ago I stopped keeping every book I ever read. Having downsized my possessions in 2018, I own even fewer books. Being able to repurpose the ones I’m done with feels wonderful. Even the books I didn’t like, well, ideally they fall into the hands of someone who will like them.

On the website, Bol says, “I really believe in a Little Free Library on every block and a book in every hand. I believe people can fix their neighborhoods, fix their communities, develop systems of sharing, learn from each other, and see that they have a better place on this planet to live.”

One day I’d like to have a little library outside my home to share with my neighborhood – wherever that might be. For now, at Casa Luna where I live part time in Todos Santos, Baja California Sur, there are a couple shelves of books open to Airbnb guests. It’s fun to see what they take and what they leave.

2 ‘Dirt Around Lake Tahoe’ book events in October

As hiking season at Tahoe slowly comes to a close, so do the 2019 events for “The Dirt Around Lake Tahoe: Must-Do Scenic Hikes.”

A presentation with slide show and talk will be Oct. 3 from 6:30-8pm at the REI in Roseville (1148 Galleria Blvd.) To register for the free event, go online. Books will be $15, cash or Venmo.

Next up will be Local Authors Day at Sundance Books in Reno (121 California Ave.) on Oct. 12 from 1-3pm. Books are $14.99.

If you can’t make it to one of these events, and still want a book, click here to find out how to purchase a copy.

Book Review: ‘The Last Season’ delves into life/Death in a national park

The problem with reading a book that is based on an event from more than 20 years ago is that you might think you already know all there is to know. Fortunately, I knew nothing about “The Last Season” (the book or the premise) except what my friend Jill said in recommending it to me.

The title holds no mystery in what the book is about – “The Last Season: Randy Morgenson was legendary for finding people missing in the High Sierra. … Then one day he went missing himself” (HarperCollins, 2006). Author Eric Blehm is a master storyteller. This could have been a bland story about happens to a seasonal backcountry national park ranger. Instead, it is a page turner.

This book is so compelling that it would make for a good movie. I didn’t say “great movie” because most movies can never do a book justice. Still, the story is movie-worthy, and I know the scenery of Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks is magnificent.

While Ranger Morgenson is the focus of the book, life as a ranger, the magic of the Southern Sierra Mountains, the people who call this area home – they are all part of the story. The human element mixed with the majesty of the terrain these men and women protected is in part a love story these rangers have for the land.

Blehm is able to weave the good, the bad and ugly into the book. He seems to leave no stone unturned. Life in this rugged terrain takes a toll on people – physically, mentally, emotionally. It’s not all beauty no matter the natural surroundings. By the end of the book I felt an emotional connection to these people I have never met, nor am I likely to meet.

I would have liked to have known Morgenson, to hear his stories. He embraced the need to explore the mountains, to discover the wild, to take it slow, to appreciate what you are experiencing. We share the belief that the journey is more important than the destination.

This book will definitely take you on a journey.

Tahoe hiking book events in Bay Area, Carson Valley

There will be two opportunities in the next week to have me sign your copy of “The Dirt Around Lake Tahoe: Must-Do Scenic Hikes.”

On Sept. 26, I will be at Book Smart in Morgan Hill (421 Vineyard Town Center) from 6-7pm. In addition to a short presentation about this hiking book, wine and cheese will be served. Books will be for sale for $14.99.

On Sept. 30, I will be one of several authors at the Douglas County Library in Minden (1625 Library Lane) from 4-5:30pm. Books will be $15, cash or Venmo.

Both events are free and open to everyone.

If you can’t make either of these events, go here to find where I’ll be next and where to purchase a copy of the book.

5 interesting stories about Mexico and her people

·      Fewer Mexican immigrants are coming to the United States, and those who do are more educated.

·      Apple is opening a flagship store in Mexico this month; the only country in the Western Hemisphere outside the United States that will have such a store.

·      San Diego Border Patrol announces 43 percent drop in arrests from May to August.

·      French auction house sells artifacts against Mexico’s wishes.

·      A ballet dancer changing Mexico through the arts.

Book Review: Trevor Noah nails it with ‘Born a Crime’

It is hard to imagine anyone’s birth could be a crime. The reality is it’s another byproduct of racism.

Comedian Trevor Noah, who now is best known as the host of “The Daily Show,” was born to a white father and a black mother in South Africa during apartheid. While apartheid might be a footnote in history for some, it existed from 1948 to 1994. Just think, that’s only one generation that has grown up without these discriminatory practices. However, just because something ends legally, doesn’t mean it magically disappears. Ask anyone who has been marginalized and then has his or her “freedom.”

Noah’s book “Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood” (Spiegel & Grau, 2016) looks at what his life was like in South Africa as a boy who didn’t belong because of his skin color. He certainly wasn’t the only child to face this dilemma.

This is how Noah describes apartheid, “Apartheid was a police state, a system of surveillance and laws designed to keep black people under total control. In America you had the forced removal of the native onto reservations coupled with slavery followed by segregation. Imagine all three of those things happening to the same group of people at the same time. That was apartheid.”

It’s not that white people were the only skin pigment who were racist. Anyone can be. The problem, though, as a child Noah had to be hidden at times.

“Where most children are proof of their parents’ love, I was the proof of their criminality. The only time I could be with my father was indoors. If we left the house, he’d have to walk across the street from us,” he wrote. There was always a threat of the government finding out about him being racially mixed. “The wrong color kid in the wrong color area, and the government could come in, strip your parents of custody, haul you off to an orphanage.”

Because Noah is a comedian he is able to add humor to a topic and life events that most would find absurd or even callous.

He holds nothing back in describing his mother, her beliefs, quirkiness and love for him. She was determined he would make something of himself. His choices, though, left that reality in jeopardy on multiple occasions.

This book is a glimpse into life in South Africa during apartheid and just after. It’s brutal, but honest. It’s humorous and poignant. It’s educational, but not preachy.

Hopefully, it makes people realize the stupidity in treating people differently (better or worse) because of skin color.

Find ‘Dirt Around Lake Tahoe’ easier; 3 events coming up

While the list of retailers carrying “The Dirt Around Lake Tahoe: Must-Do Scenic Hikes” continues to grow, I don’t actually know where all it is located. This is because it is available through the distributor IngramSpark, which then gets it into various bookstores and libraries.

An easy way to find out which independent bookseller near you has the book is to go online; from there you type in your ZIP code and the nearby bookstores that carry the hiking book will pop up.

Another option is to click here to see retail locations beyond bookstores.

As for events, there are three coming up in the next week. They are:

Sept. 7, 3-4pm: Flashlight Books, 1537 North Main Street, Walnut Creek. Presentation, sales, signing. Books are $15 each.

Sept. 8, 1-3pm: Bounty Books, 877 Merchant Street, Vacaville. Sales and signing. Books are $15 each, cash only, with 10% off at the signing.

Sept. 11, 6:30-8pm: REI, 1790 Expo Parkway, Sacramento. Presentation, signing, sales. Books $15, cash only. Register online.

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