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Looking for a spring getaway? UAB suggests books to sweep you away

  • March 28, 2012

From a new book of poetry by UAB assistant professor Adam Vines to stories by Southern writers to a novel about a woman working at an alligator-wrestling theme park, these books will move you. 

Have the billowing clouds of pollen got you hemmed up in the house instead of out basking in the sun? Or, does your razor-thin budget slash any hopes of taking a spring-cation anytime soon?

NYCU_spring_books_storyNo worries. You can still enjoy the spring season and travel clear across the country, hobnob with aristocrats or carry on a made-for-TV romance — all without leaving your home.

Books can transport you to your destination of choice, University of Alabama at Birmingham literary experts say.

Springtime — when days are longer and work holidays are more frequent — is the perfect time to catch up on old reading lists or venture out and try some new literary digs. UAB creative writing professors suggest some books that will have you lost among the pages in no time.

Kerry Madden-Lunsford, assistant professor of English and award-winning author of several widely-read children’s books, offers a reading list that includes heartwarming southern stories, a modern-day battle of David and Goliath and a moving collection of poetry.

  • Bill Bryson’s At Home: A Short History of Private Life, is a fascinating historical read on how living places became homes and the history of spices, scullery maids, scurvy and everything, she says. “It’s incredibly absorbing ... a great book of historical stories of why we do what we do today from salt and pepper to hallways to bricks and lots of good gossip too.”
  • Southern Selves, edited by James H. Watkins, is a must-read, Madden-Lunsford says. This collection of autobiographical writing by iconic authors like Mark Twain, Eudora Welty, Maya Angelou and Kaye Gibbons feature stories of Southern childhood.
  • Grace and Grit by Lilly Ledbetter and Lanier Isom is a non-fictional account of a woman’s fight to gain equal pay for equal work from the Goodyear tire company in Alabama that eventually led to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act of 2009. It’s a story “of learning how not to take any more crap from the good-old-boy network,” she says.
  • The Coal Life, a book of poetry by UAB assistant professor of English Adam Vines, was just published by University of Arkansas Press and is a finalist for the Miller Williams Prize. “Adam knows the South and writes of it with such eloquence and beauty,” Madden-Lunsford says.
  • Lingering Tides and Other Stories by Latha Viswanathan is “a beautiful Indian writer’s first collection of stories that Margot Livesey calls ‘tender and intelligent, a loving, generous collection.’”

            James Braziel, assistant professor of English and award-winning author of several novels, suggests stories that run the gamut — from gators at a theme-park to interactive storytelling and an insightful look at pain.

            • The Illumination by Kevin Brockeier is at the top of Braziel’s recommended list. It is a “lyrical novel about the sudden illumination of wounds and bruises, making each person’s pain visible to everyone else,” he says.
            • Swamplandia! by Karen Russell will have you laughing out loud. This humorous novel gives insight into a young woman’s life on a gator-wrestling theme park in Florida.
            • The Spot by David Means is an imaginative collection of stories, Braziel says. It asks readers to rethink what a story should hold and what a story should do.
            • Come, Thief by Jane Hirshfield is a must-read book, according to Braziel. “Each poem in the collection is a meditation on life, making you see the familiar through a new, unexpected, and vibrant lens.”
            • Just like Lunsford-Madden, Braziel, too, suggests reading The Coal Life by UAB’s Adam Vines. It is “a wonderful and deeply felt collection of poems that gives voice to Birmingham and its industrial past,” he says.