HPPR Radio Readers Book Club

Welcome to the 2020 Spring Read – Radio Waves. This is a big year for the HPPR Radio Readers Book Club. In 2020, we will celebrate the 40th year of High Plains Public Radio. Did you know? This year marks the 40th year of High Plains Public Radio broadcasts! The official birthday is in June, but reading the selections in this series will prepare you for a year of celebration.  

2020 also marks HPPR Radio Readers’ fourth year of successful book club series.  We’ve covered a wide range of topics and have heard from Radio Readers across the High Plains and the world. 

Through our theme Radio Waves, we’ll explore the medium of radio from its presence in Paulette Jiles’ Stormy Weather, set on the plains of Texas during the 1930s to the wisdom and perspective found in Bob Edward’s biography of Edward R Murrow to the antics of Border Radio: Quacks, Yodelers, Pitchmen, Psychics, and Other Amazing Broadcasters.  These books define HPPR’s tag, In touch with the world, at home on the High Plains.

If you’re interested in joining the Radio Readers Steering Committee, serving as a book leader or contributing a Radio Readers BookByte, simply contact Kathleen Holt at kholt@hppr.org for more information.  Become an HPPR Radio Reader today! Click here to join the Book Club—and stay informed by liking our Facebook page!

To download materials from previous seasons of the Book Club, either scroll back through previous listings or visit our archive.


HPPR Radio Readers Book Club is made possible in part by a generous contribution from Radio Readers  Lon Frahm of Colby, KS and Lynne Hewes of Cimarron, KS.  Please join us in thanking them for their support!

News of the World Discussion Leader Leslie VonHolten

Aug 12, 2019

Leslie VonHolten lives in Strong City, Kansas, in the heart of the beautiful Flint Hills tallgrass prairie. Her writing interests are in the area of environmental art and culture.

“Our land, the weather, the seasons, and even the night sky dictate the terms of our lives,” she said. “No one knows that better than people who live and work in the High Plains. That’s why I love discussing books for HPPR. Our conversations  always expand my perceptions.”

The Spirit of Girls

Aug 12, 2019
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I’m Leslie VonHolten of Chase County, Kansas, with another HPPR Radio Readers Book Byte.

She throws like a girl. She’s a weak sister. Hey, don’t be such a girl.

Come on. By now most of us know these are garbage colloquialisms, even though we still hear them.

Get Your Books On!

Aug 9, 2019
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Hello, Radio Readers! It’s here – it’s finally here: our Fall 2019 Book Club series! Time for us to get our books on! I’m Jane Holwerda, from Dodge City KS, and, oh man! Is this ever some set of books!  Are you ready? 

We’re starting off with novels set within our High Plains region! The first, News of the World, is a  True-Grit type of Western by San-Antonio based author Paulette Jiles. The story unspools in that tenuous transitional time between open frontier and settlement in Texas back in the late 1800s.   A veteran takes on the challenge of returning a ransomed girl to what he presumes will be her caring family. Will the girl remember her home language, her kin? Will her kin tolerate her tribal ways? Then it’s Brandon Hobson’s Where the Dead Sit Talking.  Set in Oklahoma in the late 1900s, native teens, unable to find within their troubled families any seeds of hope and inspiration for their futures, turn to each other and towards the ghosts that haunt them. Hobson, himself, is an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee nation of OklahomaDescribed  by Publisher’s Weekly as “a smart, dark novel of adolescence, death, and rural secrets,” Where the Dead Sit Talking was a 2018 National Book Award finalist.

A big High Plains Morning thank you goes out to Texas novelist Natrelle Long for stopping by the studio with Eric Meljac of High Plains Poetry Project to tell us about the upcoming reading and Q&A this Thursday night from 7 to 8pm at Burrowing Owl Books (419 16th St., Canyon).

Just a reminder that HPPR's Radio Readers Book Club's 2019 Fall Read starts in August. The theme is "Navigating Uncharted Waters —Past, Present, & Future." Book leaders and texts were selected by HPPR Radio Readers Steering Committee, and they all explore the ways in which our childhood and life experiences inform our world views. Are we products of nature or nurture? Many intriguing questions will be explored. 

Here are the books to be discussed during the Fall Read of 2019:

"Laugh. Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful though you have considered all the facts...” ― Wendell Berry

Julia Wang, high school student / American Academy of Poets

I am Xánath Caraza, and I today will read one bilingual poem from my book Sílabas de viento  / Syllables of Wind


Que la poesía

Que la poesía se ponga color verde

Que cubra la tierra

Se enrede en los patios 

Las flores blancas se hagan poemas

My Own Introduction To Mystery

Apr 12, 2019
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My introduction to mystery/detective stories came early.

Of course, by the age of 12, like many other American girls, I had amassed an entire set of Nancy Drew mysteries and had read each twice.

An Afternoon Spent With Amarillo

Apr 10, 2019
Camille Corot / Metropolitan Museum of Art

I’m Jane Holwerda, from Dodge City, Kansas.  

Over the weekend, I picked up author Bill Durham’s Amarillo and fell in.

Probably, because you’re listening right now, you’ve had a similar experience: You think to spend, say, an hour or so of reading, a respite from mundane weekend chores and social obligations.

A British Cop in Calcutta

Apr 3, 2019

This is Danny Caine, owner of the Raven Book Store in Lawrence, Kansas, with another HPPR Book Byte. Today I’d like to tell you about one of my favorite fictional sleuths, Sam Wyndham. Sam Wyndham is a British cop stationed in Calcutta in 1919, right when the British Raj is beginning to lose its grip on India for the last time.

Despite his brilliant detective mind, Sam’s personal life is a bit of a mess. He’s an embittered widower; the tragedy of his wife’s death hs chased him all the way to India.

Louisiana Voodoo

Apr 2, 2019
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Hello High Plains Radio. I’m Nina Blakeman and I’d like to explain the Louisiana Voodoo backdrop focused in on Envy Rots the Bones. In the psychological thriller, the hatred Emma Davis has for her step-mother, Faye Davis, takes root in the form of Louisiana Voodoo.

Bluebird, Bluebird

Mar 29, 2019

This is Danny Caine, owner of the Raven Book Store in Lawrence, Kansas, with another HPPR Book Byte.

Last year, The Raven was fortunate enough to receive a pretty high honor in the mystery world—the Raven Award from the Mystery Writers of America.

It’s awarded annually to recognize outstanding achievement in the mystery field outside the realm of creative writing. The award is presented at the Edgars Banquet, MWA’s ritzy celebration of all things Mystery. It had the works—gowns, tuxes, a big hotel ballroom in Midtown New York City.

Envy Rots The Bones - A Psychological Thriller

Mar 27, 2019

Hello, I’m Nina Blakeman. I’m coming to you from Tulia, Texas and I’d like to discuss with you my second book from the Faye Davis series, Envy Rots the Bones.

Now, this title is actually from Proverbs 14. It tells us that a peaceful heart is the life of the body, but it is envy that is corrosive enough to rot bone.

In this book discontentment and want are ever present. But then I asked myself, isn’t it natural to have want companionship, have the things to meet our needs, for us to feel safe and secure?

Writing What You Know

Mar 25, 2019
Phillip Periman

This is Bill Durham, author of Amarillo. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I started reading mystery novels and true crime books. I graduated from Muleshoe High School and received my B.A. degree in Theatre Arts and English, a double major from Texas Tech University.  After graduating from Tech I moved to New York City, and while I was looking for work I started going to the main branch of the Brooklyn Public Library and reading books that I wanted to read, as opposed to the previous four years reading what I had to for school. That’s when I started to read true crime.

IQ Crackles

Mar 22, 2019

This is Danny Caine, owner of the Raven Book Store in Lawrence, with another Book Byte. Today I’d like to tell you about a mystery series that features one of the more memorable murderous conundrums: how do you kill a disillusioned rapper who won’t leave his house? A rapper who’s burned all his jewelry and listens to self-help tapes exclusively? One of the answers—which doesn’t end up working—is apparently a humungous Pitbull named Goliath. Let me tell you: this isn’t even the most outlandish thing in Joe Ide’s winning first mystery, IQ. The book crackles, buzzing with outsize characters and hilarious dialogue on every page. But below it all hums a sense of tragedy that keeps it grounded. It’s one of the most engaging and original mystery series to launch in recent years.

Joe Ide’s protagonist is Isaiah Quintanabe, aka IQ. He lives in a Long Beach overrun with gangs and drugs. As an adult, IQ is awkward but intelligent, living quietly and simply in small surroundings. He’s gained a reputation as a neighborhood crime solver, finding solutions to small mysteries in exchange for money sometimes, but occasionally for baked goods too. His Sherlockian intellect makes him a razor-sharp sleuth, and he’s soon drawn into a larger case. Enter Black the Knife, the house-bound rapper. Black the Knife, aka Cal, is pretty sure someone is trying to kill him, and he thinks it’s probably his ex-wife. The case, of course, ends up spinning far beyond the disheartened housebound rapper and the pit bull rampaging after him.

Poison is Everything

Mar 20, 2019
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Hello High Plains Radio Book Club Listeners. My name is Nina Blakeman and I’m the author of the Blow-up Man, a fictional thriller that takes place in a dispirited region of West Texas. I want to discuss with the listeners the scientific angle taken in the book.  Having a doctorate in pharmaceutical science, I’m fascinated in a compound’s ability to first, do nothing. Secondly, possess a moderating or curative effect, or thirdly, be lethal.

In pharmacology, it’s termed the dose response relationship. To further explain, I’d like to share one of my favorite quotes from Paracelsus, a 16th century alchemist and Renaissance physician., “Poison is everything, and no thing is without poison. The dosage makes it either a poison or a remedy.” With this we learn that one acetaminophen tablet kills the headache, 100 tablets kill you. Another quote of the alchemist states,” What the eyes perceive in herbs or stones or trees in not yet a remedy; the eyes see only dross.”

Finding Redemption in Amarillo

Mar 18, 2019
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This is Bill Durham, the author of Amarillo. Since Amarillo was published, the greatest compliment I have received from readers is that the characters are very authentic to the Texas Panhandle and that the Panhandle itself is an essential character.

Mystery Author Bill Durham Speaks of Amarillo

Mar 18, 2019

Native Texan Bill Durham wanted to be three things when he grew up: a writer, an actor, and a cowboy. He has achieved all three goals. His novel achieves the first. As an actor, his specialty is the classics, but as noted, “he also has an affinity for playing folks who are either crazy or evil and sometimes both at once.”

The Raven Reads The Dry

Mar 15, 2019

This is Danny Caine, owner of the Raven Book Store in Lawrence, with an HPPR Book Byte. Reading Jane Harper’s thriller The Dry, you’d never know it was her first book. It’s so well-plotted, so full of twists and clues and red herrings, that it feels like the work of a veteran.

Readers are tossed into the whitewater rapids of the story right away: Aaron Falk, a financial crimes investigator in Melbourne, has been summoned back to the small town of his youth for the funeral of his former best friend.


Listen each Friday, March 15 through April 5 as mystery book store owner Danny Caine of Lawrence, KS, explores four emerging authors.

Radio Readers BookBytes are aired at 7:45 a.m. during Morning Edition and again at 6:44 p.m. during All Things Considered.

Pharmacalogical Researcher Pens Her Own Mysteries

Mar 13, 2019
Nina Blakeman

Listen each Wednesday, March 13 through April 3 to hear Tulia, Texas’ Nina Blakeman explore the life of an author of crime novels, including her own series. Radio Readers BookBytes are heard at 7:45 a.m. during Morning Edition and again at 6:44 p.m. during All Things Considered.

Inspired To Write - 'Blow Up Man'

Mar 13, 2019

Hello High Plains Radio Book Club Listeners. My name is Nina Blakeman and I’m the author of the Blow-up Man, a fictional thriller that takes place in a dispirited region of West Texas.

I always have loved reading, especially suspense and thrillers, but had never considered writing one of my own. Not until the winter of 2014-15, where a move took me to the rural countryside about three miles outside the agrarian town of Tulia, Texas. It was there that I became inspired.

About "Amarillo," From Amarillo

Mar 11, 2019

I’m Joe Lovell, a trial lawyer from Amarillo, Texas, here to tell you about Amarillo, a crime and courtroom novel by Bill Durham, set in -- you guessed it – my town. 

This book is called Amarillo and it’s about a broke, lonely, disenchanted, sober-alcoholic, Jewish criminal defense lawyer from Brooklyn, whose car breaks down in Amarillo on the way to Phoenix, during the middle of a cold, fall dust storm, leaving him to find work so he can fix his car and blow on down the road.

Joe Lovell

Joe Lovell, an Amarillo trial lawyer will open a series exploring Bill Durham’s novel Amarillo.  Although he began his career in banking, he graduated from Texas Tech’s School of Law and began his law career in 1987. 

Author and actor Bill Durham shares Texas Tech as alma mater and both share a respect for the people of the Texas Panhandle, so it is fitting that Joe opens the series exploring a mystery set in “his town.”

Killers Of The Flower Moon - The Impact

Mar 8, 2019
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Hi, y’all. I am Eli Wilkerson, a Certified Fraud Examiner and US Army Veteran (Afghanistan 10/11). I have served 10 years in Texas Law Enforcement and have earned a Master of Business Administration.


Hello, this is Steve Johnson, and my topic for the Radio Readers Book Club is the original Hardy Boys Mystery Series.  The Hardy Boys series was launched by Edward Stratemeyer of the Stratemeyer Syndicate in 1927 under the author name of Franklin W. Dixon.

The series would be penned by several ghostwriters over the first forty years, but the first, and arguably the best was Leslie McFarlane, a young Canadian who was working as a reporter for a small-town newspaper in Massachusetts in 1926 when he answered an ad in the trade journal "Editor and Publisher" seeking fiction writers to work from publisher's outlines.

Girl Waits With A Gun - Early Woman Crimefighter

Mar 4, 2019

Hi, this is Stacie Frobenius with a BookByte for Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart.  When choosing books for this series, I tried to pick books that I had already read and known were good.  I hadn’t read this book or had it recommended to me. 

It was the result of an Amazon search for books about detectives.  Amy Stewart takes a true news article about one of our nation’s first female crime fighters, Constance Kopp and weaves a story around the events surrounding her time in the spotlight.   

Killers of the Flower Moon - The Prosecution

Mar 1, 2019

Hi, y’all. I am Eli Wilkerson, a Certified Fraud Examiner and US Army Veteran (Afghanistan ‘10’/11). I have served ten years in Texas Law Enforcement and have earned a Master of Business Administration.

Take a trip with me back in time to the 1920’s. To time of booms and busts, to an era of glitz and greed, which built a powder keg of crime, corruption, and murder? We won’t even have to travel to Chicago. Let’s take a short drive to the rolling plains of North Eastern Oklahoma. Let’s turn the pages of “Killers of the Flower Moon.” By David Grann

Like all true crime stories there is the Prosecution …

The 1920’s, Osage County, City of Pawhuska, OK, wealthy members of the Osage Tribe that own oil ‘head rights’, have been dying or escaping death under questionable circumstances. First the Pinkerton and the Burn’s Detective Agencies were contracted to flush out the criminals, but due to the evidence trail getting cold, funds running out, and payoffs both Agencies abandon the investigation. Second the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation made an attempt, but due to corruption the investigation was closed.

The US Government’s Special Agent Tom White and his team with the Bureau of Investigation figured out who the killers were, William K. Hale and Ernest Burkhart. The federal prosecutors and Special Agent Tom White flipped Ernest Burkhart to build a better case against William Hale for murder and conspiracy.

University of Iowa Yearbook, circa 1920 / University of Iowa

Hello, this is Steve Johnson. I live in Garden City, Kansas, and host "Open Range" here at HPPR. I'll be discussing the original Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series as part of

the Radio Readers Book Club Spring read, It’s A Mystery to Me!

The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series were the creations of Edward Stratemeyer, head of the Stratemeyer syndicate which dominated the market for children's and juvenile series fiction from the late 1890s to the 1940s. The Bobbsey Twins, Tom Swift, Rover Boys and Cherry Ames were all products of the Stratemeyer Syndicate. The Hardy Boys series was launched in 1927 and Nancy Drew in 1930. When Stratemeyer set the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series in motion, he was well aware of the cultural

changes occurring in America, including the national obsession with crime. Movie newsreels and newspaper headlines were filled with sensational crimes.

During Prohibition, great fortunes were made by bootleggers. Real hoodlums like Chicago's Al Capone and John Dillinger were transformed by the media into dark

superheroes. A golden age of crime and detective fiction flourished led by writers like Dashiell Hammett. Cheap pulp fiction magazines titillated readers with lurid tales of

private eyes, buxom dames and corrupt cops.

True Crime Addict and Missing Maura Murray

Feb 25, 2019

Hi, this is Stacie Frobenius from Kansas City with my BookByte in the It’s A Mystery To Me series.  I chose True Crime Addict, How I Lost Myself in the Mysterious Disappearance of Maura Murray, by James Renner.