Category Archives: Book Column

Oh to be a fly on the wall of this bookshop. 

I just finished reading A Passion for Books compiled and edited by Harold Rabinowitz and Rob Kaplan.

The book was a fun read. Really fun. It was full of crazy book collectors and crazy book collector stories. One of my favorites is where A.S.W. Rosenbach is sharing stories from his time around his uncle’s bookstore / publishing house: his Uncle Moses’ Shop on Commerce Street.


Can you imagine a bookstore like this? A bookstore where Edgar A. Poe, James Fenimore Cooper, WC Bryant, Webster, and Melville, all frequent and hang out? What a storied childhood! No wonder Rosenbach landed where he did in the pantheon of bookmen.

So cool.

Alabama Book Festival 2017

This weekend book lovers and writers from around the Southeast will be in Montgomery, AL for the 12th annual Alabama Book Festival. Here is the full schedule.

This free event is held at Old Alabama Town, which really sets it apart from other book festivals in the region. It’s a great location with interesting buildings and lots of front porches on which to chat up authors.

The Alabama Book Festival officially opens at 8:00 a.m. and will close around 5:00 p.m. The lineup is quite extensive this year with more panels and poetry folks than I remember from years past.

With more than 50 authors present this Saturday, it’s a fully loaded schedule. There are  some authors that I am very excited have made it to Alabama. The ones I am most excited about are:

  • Joe Haldeman (Venue C at 3p-3:45p) – this guy is a legend in the sci-fi circles. He’ll be on a panel discussing graphic-novel adaptations of books. His book The Forever War is one of my all-time favorite sci-fi reads.
  • The Outdoors Panel discussion (Venue C at 11a-11:45a) – I recognize a couple of the travel writers here. They’ve done some good books.
  • Kyle Stevens (Venue B at 10a-10:45a) – Stevens is heading up the Social Justice Panel discussion. So many good books in this category over the past two years. The discussion is going to be worthwhile.
  • Cassandra King (Venue E at 11a-11:45a) – Her works include The Sunday Wife and The Same Sweet Girls.
  • Winston Groom (Venue E at 3p-3:45p) – Best known for writing Forrest Gump.

There are other panels throughout the day including Cozy Mystery, Dark Mystery, Kid’s Picture Books, Comics, Romance, Military History, Food and Spirits, and more.

There are also a few workshops for writers. I think these are all free as well, but you do have to register online as the seating is first-come, first-served.

The only thing really missing this year is Capitol Books. They closed down last year and won’t be there cheering on the authors and manning the Bookshop Tables. Books will still be available for sale though, as Barnes and Noble will be stocking the tables this year.

If the weather is anything like the past two weekends, it’s going be a great day for a book festival.

“In Such Good Company” – Book Review

These days the celebrity memoir is usually soething to be avoided. However, Carol Burnett’s In Such Good Company is a breath of fresh air to the category and one not one for fans to miss.

I grew up watching the Carol Burnett Show with my family and there are a still a handful of lines that get mentioned and quoted at various family events. Some of the sketches from the show have achieved iconic status and it was fun to read the stories behind these moments.

The book reads almost as if Carol herself stopped by the house for a visit and is just swapping stories. Because, if you watched the show, you will remember every episode, every character and every actor she brings up.

I’m not sure what the difference is between this show and the funny shows I watch on tv these days. I mean I still laugh at what’s on, but while I was reading In Such Good Company I was smiling so big and laughing at just the memories of laughing. I have to admit, it was a little weird, but so good.

The book was really about the show and stories behind the episodes they did. So there’s no ‘tell all’ or drama or gossip, which is quite refreshing. It’s charming, classy and full of memories.

I don’t think they make television stars and personalities like Carol Burnett anymore, which is a shame. I’m glad there are re-runs and I’m glad to have read this book. I know a few folks in my family that will enjoy it too.

(Please note: this book was sent to me to review.)

 

SJBC – Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward

A few month’s ago the internet birthed a funky cool little group reading big important thought provoking books. You can click over to Entomology of a Bookworm and get the whole back story of the Social Justice Book Club (who doesn’t love an origin story?).

This month the Social Justice Book Club is reading Jesmyn Ward’s Men We Reaped and I’m all in. I have my copy and ready to get started. I have no idea what to expect, but based on the SJBC’s past picks, this will be a worthwhile read.

Men We Reaped

Most of the folks reading Men We Reaped are doing an introductory post. So I hope this post qualifies.

1. Where do you plan on discussing this book the most?
I’ll probably be the most chatty here on my blog, though I am on Twitter and follow the #sjbookclub hashtag there. Also, I will definitely find a conversation and talk about it on LibraryThing.

2. Where in the world are you reading?
I am in Birmingham, Alabama.

3. Why did you decide to join in on the reading and/or discussion of this book?
This is the first SJBC choice that I have not already read and I’m ready to give it a go. Most of the ‘social justice’ books I pick up tend to be analytical and history driven. Not dry, just rooted squarely in cause/effect and pattern issues. Men We Reap sounds to be a very personal story, which is a welcome change from what I’ve been reading.

4. What, if anything, are you most looking forward to about this book?
I can say with 100% certainty that I would not have picked up this book browsing on my own. Ward’s experience sounds horrific and I want to hear her first-hand account of what’s happening around the country.