In her delightful collection of personal stories, Recent Studies Indicate, Sarah Bird includes a colorful description of a bizarre teacher she had in high school: “One did not require an advanced degree from Vienna to hear the squirmy cuckoos chiming out from this guy’s clock.”

Readers who followed Bird’s columns in Texas Monthly magazine for several years will especially enjoy revisiting some of her finer moments in this collection from the University of Texas Press ($18.95 paperback). Half of the 40 essays, columns and speeches in the book initially graced the magazine’s pages.

She groups the pieces into four sections — Womanhood, Texas, Motherhood and Writing — and you can open the book to just about any story and enjoy a few minutes of good reading and, more likely than not, a hearty laugh.

In the section on writing, one hilarious piece tells about how she popped two sleeping pills — thinking they were her blood pressure tablets — just before she was supposed to lead a panel at the 2012 Texas Book Festival. She conked out and completely slept through the session — and the rest of the day.

Another essay, written in 2005, deals with book clubs. “Which of these clubs is most likely to be fun? Quill and Swill; Wine, Women, and Diphthong; Happy Bookers; Reading Between the Wines; The Book Bags; Overreaders Anonymous ... or the East Wickinsham Literary Society? If you picked the last one, prepare to hear phrases like ‘underlying theme’ and ‘character development.’ ”

I’m sure librarians applauded vigorously when she spoke at the 2017 Texas Library Association convention. Bird said when she was asked by Good Housekeeping magazine, “What are you most grateful for?” she answered: “My library card.” She explained: “Every hurdle I have ever faced in life, I have researched my way over at a library. I am deeply and eternally grateful for that part of the American spirit that believes every citizen should have access to books.”

Bird has written 10 novels and one other non-fiction book, A Love Letter to Texas Women. Read more on her website,

Austin landmark

“Barton Creek is one of the most cherished little creeks in America,” writes Austin journalist Ed Crowell in his book titled simply Barton Creek (Texas A&M University Press, $27 flexbound).

With the help of photographer Alberto Martinez, Crowell explores the creek from beginning to end, or rather the other way around. He starts at the popular public end — Barton Springs Pool — and works his way back to the creek’s beginning, a trickle in a cow pasture 50 twisting waterway miles from where it ends at the Colorado River.

Along the way, the author tells stories about the creek’s history, its political and environmental struggles and successes, and the people who enjoy and appreciate its beauty.

Barton Creek is part of A&M Press’ impressive River Books series, sponsored by the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University.

Glenn Dromgoole writes about Texas books and authors. Contact him at

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