My dad retired from playing football long before I was born and started coaching the sport, along with track and field, when I was around four years old. With three older brothers who all played football as well, it seemed as if I was always at a sporting event. From a young age, I can remember attending the long, hot Saturday track meets.
As for the weekdays I spent in the library, I remember those a bit more fondly. My mom was a librarian at my elementary school, and I would wait for her after class to finish work. That must be where my love for books began. After all, there’s not much to do in a library besides enjoying books. I can still remember sitting on her lap and listening to her read to my kindergarten class when we had group readings in the library.
Though I didn’t care much about what was going on down on the football field, I eventually did become impressed with Alabama’s literary landscape. Alabama has a rich literary history with authors known both locally and internationally. Authors either from Alabama or with strong connections to Alabama have produced works in a range of genres, including satire, drama, autobiographies, children’s books, and pieces pertaining to the civil rights movement. Some Alabama authors that may not immediately come to mind may include Sena Jeter Naslund, William Bradford Huie, and Mark Childress—and you should definitely read their books.
Sena Jeter Naslund was born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1942. Several of her works are on the New York Times Bestseller list, including Four Spirits (2003), a novel set during the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, and Abundance: A Novel of Marie Antoinette (2006), a historical fiction novel that gives a different perspective of the French queen.
Writer William Bradford Huie was born in Hartselle, Alabama, in 1910. He wrote fiction and nonfiction, as well as articles for the Birmingham Post and American Mercury journal. Some of his more popular works include a nonfiction novel written in 1954 about an American soldier killed for desertion and titled The Execution of Private Slovik. His last novel, written in 1975, titled In the Hours of Night, is a work of fiction about James Forrestal, a former secretary of defense. However, it can be said that Huie is most remembered for his polarizing articles written about several of the shocking murders of African Americans during the Civil Rights era, such as Emmett Till and Martin Luther King Jr.
Novelist Mark Childress was born in 1957 in Monroeville, Alabama—home to iconic authors Harper Lee and Truman Capote. He writes both screenplays and novels (and he actually wrote the screenplay for the movie adaptation of one of his novels, Crazy in Alabama). The film “Crazy in Alabama” won several awards and made Childress a household name. His first novel, A World Made of Fire, was written in 1984 in the Southern Gothic style. It’s set in pre-World War I Alabama and centers on young Estelle Bates as she grows up in the Deep South. It also was well received by other critically-acclaimed authors.
Some authors get lost in the shadows of big names such as Harper Lee, Helen Keller, and Zora Neale Hurston. But you should remember them when you’re picking out your next read.
Danielle Castille is a senior majoring in public relations from Birmingham, Alabama. She plans on pursuing a job in editing or publishing when she graduates in May 2017. She is the daughter of former University of Alabama football player Jeremiah Castille who also played pro with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Denver Broncos.