Let’s explore what I brought to WBRC Fox 6 on September 3. School has started so a trip might not be possible, but you still can explore close to home and far away.
In Back to Nature: A History of Birmingham’s Ruffner Mountain, by Mark Kelly, photographs by Bob Farley, design by Melanie Colvin, Birmingham’s past, present and future come together in the most satisfying, family-friendly way on Ruffner Mountain, just minutes from anywhere in our metro area. This new book explores the mountain’s geological formation, its part in Birmingham’s industrial history as a center for mining and the ongoing efforts to preserve this special place.
Ruffner Mountain is, in fact, one of the largest urban forests in the entire country, and it’s right here in our own backyard! Ruffner’s beautiful and varied terrain, crisscrossed with well-maintained trails and marked with remains of mining sites and equipment, has drawn generations of nature lovers. Hikers can visit incredible views at the overlooks and literally walk through eons of earth’s history in the quarry. The Nature Center informs and entertains people of all ages. The annual plant sales, with native plants large and small dug straight from the land, attract hundreds of visitors and have spread some of the best parts of Ruffner all over Alabama.
This gorgeous book celebrates the beauty and the importance of this unique and awesome place. Kelly writes: “Every aspect of Birmingham’s existence—geological, anthropological, social, economic, political, technological—is encapsulated in the Ruffner story.”
You can hear some of this story from Kelly and get a signed copy of this book tomorrow (Wednesday, September 4) from 5 to 6 p.m. at the Alabama Booksmith. There’s another opportunity to hear from the author and photographer at Ruffner Mountain on Thursday, September 19 from 5 to 7 p.m. Go to www.ruffnermountain.org for more info.
With Morag and the Land of Tir Na Nog, local writer Marie Pridgen (who was born and raised in Ireland) has written a delightful little book about fairies for young readers. Pridgen says her childhood was filled with wonder and imagination and stories of wee people told by her mother and passed down from her grandmother. And so she shares some of that culture and folklore and love here with a story of a beautiful fairy who ventured into the mortal world. This book, told in that same continuing story-telling style, is clearly the first of several. Pridgen says she wrote this book to “bring happiness to all who read it and to let you escape to a world of fae, magic and innocence.”
The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris is a New York Times bestseller based on a true story of love and courage and survival in one of the darkest times in human history. In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, is transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. An educated man who speaks several languages (including fluent German), he becomes the tattooist, putting the permanent numbers on his fellow prisoners. One day, he inks the number 34902 onto a scared young woman, but something is different this time. Lale vows to survive the camp in order to live the rest of his life with Gita. But in order to do that, he has to get creative in this place of unimaginable brutality. So he risks his own life trading jewels and money found in the clothing of those who died for food for his fellow prisoners. In the process, he helps countless people survive. Lale told his story to Heather Morris years after escaping, and she shares it in a way that is powerful, heartbreakingly sad and yet incredibly hopeful.
Lady in the Lake is a new novel by Laura Lippman, the New York Times bestselling author of Sunburn. Lady in the Lake is a psychological thriller set in 1960s Baltimore. Madeline “Maddie” Schwartz leaves the comfort of her married life to make her own way and make a difference. When her own closely held secrets help the police find a murdered girl, that leads to a job at the city’s afternoon newspaper and another murdered young woman. Cleo Sherwood was found in a fountain in a city park, and no one seems to know or care why she was killed—except for Maddie. And she is determined to find the truth. But that truth might come at a tremendous personal cost to Maddie and to those she loves.