Category Archives: News

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.

Erase $5 off of Your JCLC Library Fines

Next week, April 9-15, 2017, is National Library Week. The entire Jefferson County Library System in and around Birmingham, AL will be observing the week with various programs and highlighting library services.

One of the highlights this year is this coupon that erases $5 worth of your library fines:

Erase Your Library Fines

All you have to do is print out the coupon and present it at any of the 40 JCLC branch locations around town and they’ll take $5 off of your account.

But make sure you do it next week. The coupon is only valid next week April 9-15.

It’s no secret I’m a fan of the entire JCLC system. It’s almost magical how you can reserve/request books, cd’s, dvd’s, games, eBooks, etc. from the website, from ANY library in the system and they’ll delivery that book to your local branch AND notify you when it’s ready for pick up. So cool. And that’s just the items in the catalog!

All of the online database research sources, free theater events, after school programs, community kids programs, movie nights, etc. are all in their own universe of awesomeness.

So if you’re in and around Birmingham, AL, it’d be worth your time to learn all about the JCLC system and what they can help you with.

New Erik Larson Book

Erik Larson has signed the papers and will publish his 6th book in 2019. This time he’s diving deep into Sir Winston Churchill’s first year as Prime Minister. The working title is The Splendid and the Vile.

Larson’s unique narrative nonfiction style consistently lands him on bestseller lists as well as at the top of recommended reading lists.

Erik Larson In the Garden of BeastsMy book group just finished reading In the Garden of Beasts and it was fantastic. Erik  Larson has a way of lining up all of the diaries, letters reports, and news of the day in a very conversational way. One that truly paints a picture of how things happened  and of the personalities involved.

I hear Dead Wake, about the sinking of the Lusitania, is really good as well. It’s on my list. But now, so is The Splendid and the Vile.

Man Booker 2016

This is one of my favorite Man Booker short lists in recent years. Such a great crop of authors and books. The Man Booker Podcast is also back up and running this season. I always look forward to it and it’s usually worth a listen. Also, The Guardian has a good write up with the authors of the books, if you want more. These six books make a great lineup:

  1. Paul Beatty (US) The Sellout 
  2. Deborah Levy (UK) Hot Milk 
  3. Graeme Macrae Burnet (UK) His Bloody Project 
  4. Ottessa Moshfegh (US) Eileen 
  5. David Szalay (Canada-UK) All That Man Is 
  6. Madeleine Thien (Canada) Do Not Say We Have Nothing 

I have just started Szalay’s All That Man Is and haven’t read enough to form an opinion yet.

manbooker_allthatmanismanbooker_thesellout

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The only one I have read all the way through is Beatty’s The Sellout. I thought it was absolutely fantastic. Satire is one of the hardest things to write and Beatty nails it! Every single page is dripping with it. But be warned – it is not for the faint of heart. It’s brutal in so many ways. I think you’ll be better off reading where Beatty is coming from before you start reading the book. So Google around a bit.

The only downside is that I read an interview with Beatty that said he was a little disappointed the humor was so well received, as he felt it distracted from the message he was trying to get out there. The message is certainly there and will slap you in the face. But it can be a rough read folks.

Two of the six, in the Man Booker Shortlist, are from Penguin-owned imprint/publisher Johnathon Cape. They have more Man Booker wins under their belt than any other publisher. So it’s another good run for them.

It doesn’t always work, but I think that the award’s opening to a global pool of entries has paid off. I usually prefer when things specialize, but for some reason this really really works.

The final winner of the Man Booker Prize 2016 will be announced October 25, 2016.

Have you read any of these books?