A cozy nook and some silence—two things that make the ideal spot for cuddling up with a good book. The question is, are any of the books you read written by local authors? We took our love of reading to bookstores and libraries in the Greater Birmingham Area to discover books by locals who are masters of words.
Ashley M. Jones
Creative writing and poetry are the name of the game for Birmingham author Ashley M. Jones.
Currently, Jones lives in Birmingham, where she is founding director of the Magic City Poetry Festival, board member of the Alabama Writers Cooperative and the Alabama Writers Forum and co-director of PEN Birmingham. She is also a faculty member in the Creative Writing Department at the Alabama School of Fine Arts (ASFA).
If you’re a pros fan, here are three of Jones’ books filled with her must-read poetry:
- Magic City Gospel: (2017), Debut poetry collection.
- Dark // Thing: (2018), Second book
- REPARATIONS NOW!: (2021), Third collection
Want more poetry? Find inspirational Birmingham poets who need to be on your radar.
As a bookseller in Birmingham since the age of 16, Drew Williams is an avid fan of the written word. And he definitely enjoys sci-fi space plots. If you do, too, you’ll want to take the time to read his three published books:
Though Gail Godwin currently lives in Woodstock, New York, she has Alabama roots being born in Birmingham in 1937.
From non-fiction books to novels and short stories, Godwin writes a bit of everything. Five of her books are even New York Times BestSellers. They are:
Want to discover more books by Gail Godwin? Click here.
Born in Montgomery, Alabama and a graduate of Birmingham-Southern College, Gin Phillips is another author to have on your reading radar.
Author of five novels, her debut novel The Well and the Mine, won the Barnes & Noble Discover Award in 2009.
The story portrays a small mining town in Alabama during the Great Depression and the people who populate it.
Phillips’ latest release is Fierce Kingdom, which analyzes the mother-son bond as a happy trip to the zoo turns into chaos leaving the mother to struggle against the instinct to survive versus her duty to protect her son.
Meet Randi Pink, native and resident of Birmingham and published author of two novels—Into White and Girls Like Us. Pink’s writings focus on her own unique experience with southern roots, and we all know that combo is sure to result in some seriously interesting literature.
Be on the lookout for her third novel, Angel of Greenwood, which hits stores in winter 2021.
Karim Shamsi-Basha + Irene Latham
You may have heard about Karim Shamsi-Basha and Irene Latham. The Birmingham locals recently received the 2021 Caldecott Honor for their illustrated children’s book, The Cat Man of Aleppo.
The book is based on the true story of Syrian Ambulance Driver and Paramedic, Mahammad Alaa Aljaleel. In the midst of the Syrian Civil War, which broke out in 2012, this courageous man decided to help the abandoned cats of the city of Aleppo, Syria by offering them a safe haven.
Illustrated by New York City illustrator Yuko Shimizu, the words of Shamsi-Basha and Latham are brought to life, capturing the kindness of humanity in a city far from our own.
More books by Karim Shamsi-Basha:
- Marriage Advice from a Divorced Guy
- The Beauty Box: A Tribute to the Legendary Beauty Parlors of the South
- Home Sweet Home Alabama
More books by Irene Latham:
T.K. Thorne’s passion for storytelling took off when she became a police officer in Birmingham. Now, a retired police captain, she spends her time writing novels that involve The Magic City.
Her latest book, Behind the Magic Curtain: Secrets, Spies, and Unsung White Allies of Birmingham’s Civil Rights Days will be available in April 2021.
If you’re on the blogging/social media block in Birmingham, you’ve probably heard or seen Wade Kwon’s name pop up at some point. A Birmingham native, Kwon’s known as a top influencer in social media.
Ever wondered what the future holds for Birmingham? Find out from writers, bloggers, photographers and standouts from across Birmingham who are asked the question, “The future of Birmingham is____.”
Birmingham may be home to many talented authors, but there are many more to discover with roots in Alabama. Here are some:
Author and Film Director Ben Rains is a journalist, filmmaker, and environmental activist in the state of Alabama. He’s won over two dozen awards for his coverage of environmental issues and natural wonders in Alabama and on the Gulf Coast.
This past December, he took part in Water is Life, a Zoom Conference with Alabama River’s Alliance. Here he discussed his recent book Saving America’s Amazon: The Threat to Our Nation’s Most Biodiverse River System, which explores the most biodiverse ecosystem in our nation, the Mobile-Tensaw Delta.
Yaa Gyasi is another Alabama-based author worth knowing about.
Born in Ghana and raised in Huntsville, Alabama, Gyasi’s debuted her writing talents in her debut historical fiction novel Homegoing in 2016. At the age of 26, the novel won Gyasi the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Award for the best first book.
Transcendent Kingdom is the follow-up to Homegoing and follows the story of a Ghanaian family living in Alabama.