7 local authors to keep on your radar + how to get involved in Birmingham’s book scene

Thank You Books
Local bookstores like Thank You Books are a great place to find new favorites. Photo via Jacob Blankenship for Bham Now

My summer plans always include reading new books—ideally while sipping an iced coffee and enjoying the warm weather. Here are seven Birmingham authors whose book you’ll want to add to your reading list. Plus, check out how you can get involved in the city’s book scene.

7 Birmingham Authors You’ll Love

1. Deven Tellis

If you’re looking for children’s books that are empowering for adults and children, you’ll love Dr. Deven Tellis’ new book, Who’s to Say? Part of her children’s book series, readers are given positive affirmations to build their self-confidence.

2. Anna Birch

Anna Birch is a local YA author born and raised in the Magic City. If you love books that feel like home, you’ll love the setting of her new book, I Kissed Alice, which takes place in a fictional Birmingham performing arts school.

3. Kristen Iskandrian

Motherest, Kristen Iskandrian, Birmingham authors
Motherest is at Thank You Books. Photo via Jacob Blankenship for Bham Now

Kristen Iskandrian’s work is in a variety of anthologies, and her debut novel, Motherest, received rave reviews from The New York Times, Vanity Fair and more. The novel features a college freshman’s letters to her mother whose nowhere to be found.

4. Monique Jones

Monique Jones has been published in a wide variety of outlets like Entertainment Weekly, The Huffington Post and The Birmingham Times. Her book, The Book of Awesome Black Americans, is a celebration of Black lives with stories of Black Americans’ achievements ranging from athletic to artistic.

5. John Archibald

Little Professor bookstore - Birmingham authors
You can find John Archibald’s book at Little Professor. Photo via Jacob Blankenship for Bham Now

John Archibald is a name you probably recognize for his Pulitzer Prize-winning columns. In March 2021, he released a new book, Shaking the Gates of Hell: A Search for Family and Truth in the Wake of the Civil Rights Revolution. The book delves into his family’s history and the question of how and when we should speak up.

6. Elizabeth Hughey

If you’re a fan of poetry, you don’t want to miss Elizabeth Hughey’s poetry anthologies. Along with publishing her own poetry, Elizabeth is the co-founder of the Desert Island Supply Co. (DISCO), a literary arts center in Birmingham.

7. Ashley M. Jones

Another favorite local poet, Ashley M. Jones, has expansive experience in the literary community as the director of the annual Magic City Poetry Festival and co-founder of PEN Birmingham. She’s already published two poetry collections, Magic City Gospel and dark // thing, and we’re looking forward to her third book being released in Fall 2021.

How to get involved in the local literary community

Thank You Bookshop, Birmingham authors
Find your new favorite read. Photo via Jacob Blankenship for Bham Now

Whether you’re a writer yourself or just love devouring new books, there are plenty of ways to get involved in Birmingham’s book scene. At Thank You Books, you can join book clubs to meet other lit lovers. You can also check out their events and book launches.

On Tuesday, June 15, Thank You Books hosts a virtual book launch of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s book, In The Heights: Finding Home.

“Come see us! We love helping people find books and hearing about what they’re reading, and also helping to connect them to other readers. We offer various book clubs for fiction, nonfiction, science fiction and food writing, through which many customers have found community.”

Thank You Books

At The Little Professor Bookshop, you can enjoy story times from local guest readers and authors like Irene Latham. If Irene Latham’s name sounds familiar, it’s because she (along with local author Karim Shamsi-Basha) received the 2021 Caldecott Honor for their illustrated children’s book, The Cat Man of Aleppo.

Another way you can get involved in Birmingham’s book community is by volunteering with the Burdock Book Collective in the Alabama Books to Prisons Project.

What’s your favorite book by a Birmingham author? Let us know by tagging @BhamNow on social.

Cecilia Wood
Cecilia Wood
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