Category Archives: books

TEDxBirmingham brings “Ideas Worth Reading” to Church Street Coffee and Books

September2014 TEDxBirmingham displayVisitors to Church Street Coffee and Books in Mountain Brook’s Crestline Village may notice a new display next to the counter. Organizers of TEDxBirmingham formally announced a partnership with the popular bookstore early Monday morning.  “Ideas Worth Reading” will be a monthly reading list curated by TEDxBirmingham speakers, with those recommended titles being featured in-store.

The current selection is courtesy of  Graham Boettcher, the chief curator at the Birmingham Museum of Art; Chris Hastings, owner and executive chef of the Hot and Hot Fish ClubJan Mattingly, founder and chief education officer at Dynamic Education Adventures; and Laura Kate Whitney, co-founder of Dogtrot Studio.

The three-year old coffee house/bookstore’s co-owner, Cal Morris, shared with us last week that they’d also agreed to set up shop at TEDxBirmingham’s February 28 event, titled “Move Mountains,” to be held once again at the Alys Stephens Center per a report on from late June. Tickets for their September 15 salon, “Ripples,” will be made available starting today (September 2) at 12 p.m are now sold out, though there is a waitlist available via the same link.


Meet someone who’s “Got What It Takes” at beta pictoris

Editor’s note: Sirlin will be signing copies of the book on September 24 at beta pictoris. Check out the event listing over on Signals for more information.

Rights and accomplishments have been at the forefront of our thinking this year in Birmingham. From the commemorations of the events in 1963 to women earning Emmy awards for directing and writing, many have been celebrating how far we have come in America. With all these small steps and milestones, however, we still have a long way to go when it comes to issues of equality – and women are no exception.

We are still at a point in our country where we differentiate so many professions by gender, as if it is a novel concept: women directors, women writers, women artists, women CEOs, and the list goes on and on and on. As much as we’d like to think we have gotten over this, a dialogue is still necessary for women to be taken seriously in a wide variety of professions (I hope I don’t have to remind you that women on average STILL make 76¢ for every dollar a man makes).

Which brings us to Deanna Sirlin’s She’s Got What It Takes: American Women Artists in Dialogue. Inspired by a piece she wrote on a posthumous show of Anne Truitt’s work in 2004, Sirlin felt it was important to not only write about women artists but to also do so within their careers and lifetimes. To that end, Sirlin developed two important criteria to select artists for the book: 1) she had to have known who these artists were when she was in college in the mid-1970s; and 2) the artists had to still be making and showing art.

Based on these specific limitations, Sirlin selected nine women artists – Jennifer Bartlett, Louise Fishman, Jane Freilicher, Joyce Kozloff, Elaine Reichek, Ursula von Rydingsvard, Joan Snyder, Pat Steir, and Betty Woodman. Not only have each of these women influenced Sirlin, but they all have a place within the modern history of art. These women, and many others of their cohort, worked with each other, showed together, and helped make the way for the next generation of women artists.

After completing this book, Sirlin notes that in general, things are better for women artists, but there is still a ways to go. Sales still favor male artists, as do many museums and collectors. She explains that there is still “not enough written about women artists.” A lot was written about women artists during the 1970s when there was a focus on the feminist movement, but as the years have progressed, less and less seems to get written.

The majority of the artists featured in She’s Got What it Takes live and work in New York, but even that has changed. Many of them split residences between a more quiet studio location (upstate New York, Italy, etc.) and somewhere in the city. While New York is still a draw for artists, Sirlin has found that New Mexico has become a place for women artists, especially in Santa Fe and Albuquerque.

Dialogue is critical to art. In 11 essays, Sirlin brings that dialogue to the forefront with these women discussing their historical importance, their lives and work, and the value of their work to up and coming artists then (as with Sirlin) and now.

She’s Got What it Takes: American Women Artists in Dialogue by Deanna Sirlin. (2013. Milan: Charta Art Books). Hardcover. 122 pages. List price $37.50 US. ISBN 978-8881588671.


Night, Night, Birmingham shows city off to kids of all ages

Laurel, Maddie, and Michelle. Photo by Buddy Roberts.While Laurel Mills and Michelle Hyde collaborated on their first children’s book – the whimsical bedtime lullaby Night Night Birmingham – they fretted a little about how it would be received by members of its target audience.

Such as Hyde’s two-year-old daughter.

“What if Maddie didn’t like it?” she said. “I hesitated to show it to her at first. She’s shut down some really good books.”

Mills had similar concerns about her four-year-old cousin. “He’s very straightforward with me.”

They needn’t have worried. Reviews from children have been overwhelmingly favorable, and they haven’t been bad from parents, either.

“It’s great,” said Hyde, whose vivid illustrations complement Mills’ concise rhyming text. “People are excited about it. There’s been a lot of support. Birmingham is really nice.”

Take a listen to Laurel and Michelle reading from the book:


The support may reflect Mills’ and Hyde’s love for the Magic City. Mills is a third generation Birmingham resident who returned to her hometown after spending time in Chicago and Washington, D.C., while Hyde relocated here from Pennsylvania. They first worked together at the now-defunct Lipstick magazine and developed the idea for Night Night Birmingham after Hyde received a children’s book about the landmarks of Philadelphia as a baby shower gift.

“There was nothing like it in the Birmingham market,” Mills said. “So we chose to highlight places that are iconic to Birmingham, places kids would either recognize because they’ve been there or want to go to after seeing Michelle’s drawings.”

Published in August, the book is available throughout metro Birmingham. A full list of locations is available on their website, Mills and Hyde recommend it as a holiday gift.

“For people visiting Birmingham, it can give you everything you did in book form. You can relive memories of your trip through the book,” Mills said. “Grandparents are telling us they like it for their grandchildren who live far away. Through the book, the kids can remember what they did at grandma and grandpa’s. And it’s great to help children who live here learn about their hometown. Kids want to be proud of where they’re from.”

“I hope it comes through a lot in the book how much we both love this city,” Hyde said. “The South doesn’t always have the brightest of lights shining on it, and we’re proud of the way we can show off Birmingham through the book.”

Susannah Felts’ new book drops tomorrow

This will go down on your Permanent Record bookcoverTomorrow night at 7 p.m., you can find Susannah Felts at The Bottletree reading and signing her new book This Will Go Down on Your Permanent Record. The book is all about developing an identity as an artist among the culture of the New South. In anticipation of the book’s release I traded a few emails with Felts, to see what all the buzz was about…

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Murder in the Magic City

Tomorrow, the Homewood Library hosts the 2008 mystery fan conference menacingly monikered Murder in the Magic City. The door open at 9 a.m. and runs through 4 p.m. The cost is $45 and includes lunch (for those with reservations), drinks, snacks and a “goody bag”. Because of limited seating they have been encouraging reservations, but I am told a few walk-up seats are still available.

The all day event includes a panel discussion, a special session with award-winning author Donna Andrews and book signings. What’s cool is that fans can bring their own books from home to have signed by the authors present (a complete list of which is here).

trav blogs regularly at {head}:sub/head, about reading, publishing, books and Birmingham.

Greencup Books opens tomorrow

This Friday, February 8th, at 2 p.m., Birmingham’s newest used bookstore opens its doors to the public. This grand-opening of Greencup Books, located in an old two-story brick building at 105 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd., South (next to Bare Hands Gallery), includes a kick-off event featuring a signing with Tony Crunk and artist Peter Wilm, who will be there at 7 p.m. to promote their book project Stories from Real Life, which is Greencup Books first publishing project.

Owner and publisher Russell Helms says opening a business that published books and art, as well as sell it, is something that he hopes will spur new ideas within the revitalized Southside area.

“It’s all about building community and supporting creativity “at any cost”, says Helms. “If you need a creative boost, just spending half an hour with us should do the trick. Ideas and original thoughts are guaranteed. We have books, books, books, and lots of cool art from Bare Hands Gallery. We exist to spur creativity. People can expect whatever they are looking for, and more!”

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Looking through the lens of Birmingham books

Birmingham book Collection
Special to The Terminal.

It is no secret that Birmingham’s history is one filled with infamous people and colorful events. It’s also one that has been well documented in the pages of books. But books don’t always survive the decades and the ones that do often find themselves buried in the back of used bookstores or hidden away in a grandmother’s attic, until some kind soul stumbles upon these lost books, reads them. Plucking gems of local history from their pages. This a process that Birmingham-area native John Morse knows something about.

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Slamming in the ‘Ham

Ultimate Fighting Champion Matt Hughes is cruising through Birmingham tomorrow night. He’ll be at the Wildwood Shopping Center Books-A-Million location at 7 p.m. He’ll be ready to pose for pictures and will be signing his new book Made in America, which is loaded with tons of background information about his rise to dominance and dishes backstage happenings about one of the most explosive leagues in all of sportdom.

{trav blogs regularly at {head}:sub/head, about reading, publishing, books and Birmingham.}

The Big Read’s Big Kick-Off

Today, the balloons were bought and the were cakes cut in honor of this year’s Big Read. Libraries across Birmingham have activities planned all day to help build awareness and participation in Project Mockingbird, which is the library systems push to get all of Jefferson County reading Harper Lee’s classic To Kill A Mockingbird. Think of it as “one county, one book” kind of a reading plan.

Events and features are planned all the way through this summer. Including a “Read it Forward” program where 1,500 copies of To Kill A Mockingbird will randomly be placed around the county, for people to stumble upon read and pass on.

You can keep up with the project here, and download free gfx, wallpaper and podcasts here. If you are wondering where the nearest launch party is today, check out the JCLC’s calendar page.

{trav blogs regularly at {head}:sub/head, about reading, publishing, books and Birmingham.}

Malcolm’s Reading Room

Malcolm’s Reading Room books

The newest kid on Birmingham’s book selling block is Malcolm’s Reading Room (404 17th St. North) located in the ground level of the historic Masonic Temple building off of 4th Avenue North. Malcolm’s Reading Room is billed as an African-American bookstore – the banners, t-shirts and colors make obvious after stepping through the door. But after spending a few short minutes with co-owner Simone Snelling, one gets the feeling that the store is about something more… passion.

A passion for all things revolutionary and thought provoking.

“We’re going to focus on books about African-Americans and by African-Americans, ” said Snelling. “But we’re also going to offer books on the women’s rights [movement], the Middle East, Che Guevara, music by independent musicians and art by local independent artists. Really, we’re looking for revolutionary things.”

Snelling says she and her husband, co-owner Courtney Snelling, always had the dream of opening a bookstore when they finally got their big break about a year ago.

“My husband was visiting Chicago, which is where he’s from,” said Snelling. “He ran across a going-out-of-business sale at a bookstore and that’s where our first big section of books came from.” She said that first haul netted the couple nearly 500 books and they haven’t looked back since.

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