Updated: May 24, 2022
While our summer plans may up in the air, we can always rely on a slate of new books to pass the time. Of course, we’re keeping things local. Here are 10 books written by Birmingham authors to add to your reading list. Have you read any of them?
Bham Now Article Posted May 25, 2020 by Chaise Sanders
“Becoming Mrs. Lewis” by Patti Callahan Henry
Patti Callahan Henry is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author. She has also dabbled in the world of podcasts with a seven-part series called “Behind the Scenes of Becoming Mrs. Lewis Podcast Series”.
“Becoming Ms. Lewis” is based on the real-life love story between literary icon, C.S. Lewis and the poet, Joy Davidman. After writing letters to Lewis for spiritual advice, Joy never expected to fall in love. She embarks on an adventure from England to America to find a love that even death couldn’t destroy. Joy soon became the inspiration for some of C.S. Lewis’ most beloved stories. Buy the Book
“Girls Like Us” by Randi Pink
Randi Pink is a Birmingham novelist who doesn’t shy away from hard-hitting topics. She studied creative writing at UAB and is currently working on her third novel, “Novel of Greenwood”.
“Girls Like Us” is Pink’s second book. It is a historical nonfiction that addresses weighty subjects. It follows the lives of four young girls who are pregnant pre Roe v. Wade. It weaves four lives into a larger story about women’s rights and stark contrasts of unplanned pregnancies in differing socioeconomic statuses.
"The Leo Maxwell Series" by Lachlan Smith
Smith practices law right here in Birmingham. He specializes in civil rights and employment law. He intertwines his expertise into his Shamus-award winning series of mystery novels.
This award-winning series dives headfirst into the life of Leo Maxwell as the plots maneuvers suspenseful detective work with a hint of who-done-it. It follows two brothers as they maneuver burgeoning scandals, near-death accidents and solving crime.
“Big Fish” by Daniel Wallace
Daniel Wallace was born in Birmingham. He currently lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina where he directs the Creative Writing Program. He is the author of six novels including a coloring book.
You probably recognize the title “Big Fish” from several places. It could have been on a school reading list. Maybe you’ve seen the 2003 film adaptation directed by Tim Burton and featuring a young Miley Cyrus. It even became a Broadway musical in 2013. The tale examines a son’s exploration into his elusive father’s life after he passes.
"The Well and the Mine” by Gin Phillips
Of course, I had to include a fellow Birmingham-Southern College grad. Gin Phillips has five novels and her first, “The Well and the Mine” won the 2009 Barnes & Noble Discover Award.
“The Well and the Mine” takes place in the early 1930s in Carbon Hill, Alabama. After the main character, Tess, witnesses a terrifying crime, she attempts to unravel the mystery behind the motive. In her search for answers, she slowly begins to realize the complications of life beyond her household during the Depression.
“Ahab’s Wife” by Sena Jeter Naslund
I’m including another Birmingham-Southern alum! I’m just really proud to see the talent coming from my alma mater. Sena Naslund was born in Birmingham and has written two novels that were named New York Times Notable Book of the Year.
Naslund’s 1993 novel, “Ahab’s Wife”, is inspired by the brief passage in Moby Dick that examines the story of Una. It follows a young woman who sets sail while disguised as a cabin boy. It’s a family drama, romantic adventure and unique perspective of a woman navigating life.
"The Newspaper Boy: Coming of age in Birmingham, Alabama during the Civil Rights Era” by Chervis Isom
Chervis Isom helped spearhead the creation of “The Four Spirits” sculpture that honors the four little girls killed in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing. After growing up in Norwood, he went on to practice law. He now serves on the Board of Directors of the Norwood Resource Center.
“The Newspaper Boy” is an intimate collection of memories and reflections of a young newspaper delivery boy in Birmingham. So who is this little boy growing up in racial discord? It’s Chervis Isom himself. After meeting Helen and Vern Miller, Isom learns to question the negative cultural attitudes and biases towards African-Americans. Isom shares his coming of age in a difficult time and place in history.
“Leaving Gee’s Bend” by Irene Latham
Irene Latham, a winner of the 2016 ILA Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award, is the founder of the Big Table Poets. She moved to Birmingham from Covington, Georgia in 1984. She now serves as the poetry editor for the Birmingham Arts Journal.
Set in 1932, “Leaving Gee’s Bend” follows a young girl’s quest to find medicine for her ill mother. It’s her first time beyond Gee’s Bend so you can imagine just how courageous this little girl is. If you’re looking for something for your child, check out her historical fiction story about Birmingham’s beloved elephant, Miss Fancy.
“House of Rose” by T.K. Thorne
T.K. Thorne has two award-winning historical novels that follow the backstories of important yet often overlooked women—the wives of Noah and Lot. Besides writing, she also happens to be a black belt in martial arts.
“House of Rose” is the first book in The Magic City trilogy. It follows Rose, a rookie detective, in Birmingham. Thorne combines mystery with magic. While unraveling the mystery around a suspect she killed, Rose discovers she is a witch. Now she must figure out what happened and who she truly is.
“Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe” by Fannie Flagg
Fannie Flagg is a comedian, actress and author of nine novels. Her passion for literature began in the fifth grade when she wrote, directed and starred in her first play. She hasn’t stopped since and is a winner of the Harper Lee Prize.
“Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe” is a classic novel that takes place at the iconic Whistle Stop Cafe—now known as the Irondale Cafe. Mrs. Threadgoode tells her life story about running the cafe in the 1930s. They served great barbecue, coffee and even saw an occasional murder.
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