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ALABAMA BOOKSHELF

In this periodic feature, we highlight books either about Alabama people or events, or written by Alabama authors. Summaries are not reviews or endorsements. We also occasionally highlight book-related events. Email submissions to bookshelf@alabamaliving.coop. Due to the volume of submissions, we are unable to feature all the books we receive.

100 Things to Do in Alabama Before You Die, by Mary Johns Wilson, Reedy Press, $18 (travel) This guidebook provides a bucket list that celebrates the top ways to connect with the entire state. From the state’s natural scenic wonders to its favorite eateries and dishes, the book notes many of the historic sites and interesting attractions that make Alabama unique.


The Slave Who Went to Congress, by Frye Gaillard and Marti Rosner, NewSouth Books, $18.95 (young readers) In 1870 Benjamin Turner, who spent the first 40 years of his life as a slave, was elected to the U.S. Congress, the first African American from Alabama to earn that distinction. The authors use Turner’s own words to craft the story of a man who was on a lifetime quest for education and freedom.  


Will the Circle Be Unbroken?: A Memoir of Learning to Believe You’re Gonna Be Okay, by Sean Dietrich, Zondervan Books, $24.99 (Southern memoir) The “Sean of the South” author remembers his father, who was his childhood hero yet took his own life when Dietrich was only 12. The book is the story of what happens after the unthinkable, and the journey we all must make in finding the courage to stop the cycles of the past. 


Sweet Mystery: A Book of Remembering, by Judith Hillman Paterson, first published in 1996 and reissued by The University of Alabama Press, $24.95 (Southern memoir) Paterson was just 9 in 1946 when her mother died of alcoholism and mental illness at the age of 31. Set largely in Montgomery, the author shares the memories of her mother, set against a backdrop of relatives troubled almost as much by Southern conflicts over race and class as by the fallout from a family history of drinking, denial and mental illness. 


Roy, ‘Rocky’ and Red Ryder; Hoppy, Durango and Mo(o)re, by Dr. Jim Vickrey, Dorrance Publishing, $26 (film history) A movie-based memoir about the waning days of the B-Western movie era from the late 1940s to the mid-1950s, and the lessons learned by the author and his peers as they rode together on Saturdays with their cinematic cowboy heroes. The author grew up and lives in Montgomery. 


The Founding of Alabama: Background and Formative Period in the Great Bend and Madison County, by Frances Cabaniss Roberts, The University of Alabama Press, $49.95 (Alabama history) The 1956 dissertation by the author, the first woman to earn a Ph.D. from the University of Alabama’s history department, is a classic text that continues to be cited by Southern historians. This text, edited and introduced by Thomas Reidy, offers one of the earliest accountings of the antebellum Southern middle class.