Here are the books I brought to WBRC Fox 6 on April 3. Let them inspire you to get out and enjoy the sights–natural and otherwise. Or just relax inside with a work of Southern literature or a page-turning (based-on-a-true-story) mystery.
Listen to the Land (PMT Publishing) Mountain Brook resident Louise Wrinkle has lived most of her long life on the property she has cultivated for more than 30 years. She knows every inch of her expansive, natural garden set in an unspoiled Alabama woodland, and it’s impressive enough that professional horticulturists, plant enthusiasts and backyard gardeners all over the country know it, too. They’ll know it even more intimately through Wrinkle’s book, Listen to the Land. The book shows how Wrinkle took exactly what nature gave her and created a woodland garden that follows and honors the rough terrain and idiosyncratic character of her land with winding paths, a meandering brook, ages-old stone walls, and rustic rail fences and bridges. The book is full of stunning photographs, and the prose is absolutely beautiful. We see Wrinkle’s garden in all seasons— a Japanese maple in golden leaf and with bare branches, a forest full of cloud-like native dogwoods, yellow Lady Banks’s rose as groundcover and even flower-shaped fungus sprouting from leaf litter. On a practical note, there are more than 200 plant profiles at the back of the book with tips on habitat and placement.
Hurricane Season (Thomas Nelson) Birmingham writer Lauren Denton follows up her bestselling debut novel, The Hideway, with more lovely Southern storytelling. Sisters Betsy and Jenna are following two entirely different paths in life. Betsy and her husband, Ty, own a dairy farm in south Alabama. They are a family of two since Betsy never realized her dream of motherhood. Free-spirited Jenna is a gifted photographer and single mother of two girls. When Jenna has the opportunity to attend a life-changing artists’ retreat, she drops her girls off with her sister for “just two weeks.” Those couple weeks stretch into most of the summer, and Betsy and Ty adjust to a new life with the little girls and realize it suits them. As Jenna finally is finding the time to focus on her passion and gifts, hurricane season is ramping up on the Alabama coast. When Hurricane Ingrid takes aim at Franklin Dairy Farm, important decisions must be made, and those decisions will forever change these two families.
Love and Death in the Sunshine State: The Story of a Crime (Algonquin Books) This literary nonfiction book, by Cutter Wood, is a combination of memoir and good, old-fashioned reporting. In 2008, Sabine Musil-Buehler, the owner of a motel on Santa Maria Island off Florida’s Gulf Coast, was murdered. Wood, newly graduated from college and at loose ends, was a guest at the motel a few months before it was set on fire and Sabine went missing. He returns to Anna Maria Island and begins to investigate the murder himself. He first approaches this like a true-crime story—presenting the facts and persons of interest: the victim’s husband, her boyfriend and the man who stole her car after she was killed. But then the narrative veers away from mere facts and into an exploration of how a romantic relationship can take such a terrible turn. Cutter writes, “I felt I had to learn how a relationship can spin to pieces in such a dramatic and fatal fashion … the book is an attempt, via narrative, to understand the impulse to hurt, or even destroy, the ones we love.”
Alabama Impressions (Farcountry Press) There is very little writing in this book of amazing photographs by Robert P. Falls, Jr. Instead, he lets the beauty of our great state—from the mountains up north to the shoreline down south—speak for itself. And it has lots of say. In addition to many beautiful photos of our natural world, Falls also shows images of iconic manmade things like Birmingham’s skyline glowing at night, the Pathfinder orbiter at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, historic Rickwood Field, Clanton’s peach-shaped water tower and the boll weevil monument in Enterprise. Let this book inspire you to get out and explore all the awesome sights our state has to offer. Falls is a professional wildlife, nature and travel photographer whose work has been published by National Geographic Books, National Wildlife Federation and the National Audubon Society. The National Park Service features his images in two park locations, and the U.S. Postal Service has used one of his photos on a postage stamp.