The summer is winding down but there’s still time for vacations. If you’re on a “stay-cation” instead, why not take time to read a book? Here are two I recommend, one for all ages and another for young readers. Settle down into a rocking chair on a shady front porch and enjoy the read before September brings a busier time.
The books “Forgotten Alabama” and “More Forgotten Alabama” by Glenn Wills are photographic documentations of abandoned Alabama structures.
Glenn Wills, a photographer from Alabaster, will give a presentation on his newest book, “200 Years of Forgotten Alabama,” on Aug. 20 at 2 p.m. at the Public Library of Anniston-Calhoun County.
“This is the book I have always wanted to write,” Wills said. Everyone is invited to meet Wills and learn about why these abandoned structures in Alabama’s 67 counties are important.
Since Alabama is the place Wills calls home, photographing deserted structures is more about feeling than looking.
In the first two books (written in 2016), these “abandoned treasures,” as he calls them, are pictured from the back roads throughout the state.
His photographs include old homes, churches, mills, bridges and schools where only spiders live today. The story for some of these structures ends on a positive note: Piney Woods Chapel at McClellan has been saved and relocated next to the Fort McClellan military cemetery.
“They are places you see every day but they probably never caught your attention,” Wills said. “Some, you probably don’t know exist. But this is history that has to be shared.”
Every picture he has shot has sparked a personal emotion, he said, “whether it has been loneliness, joy or fear. Empty churches make my especially sad. But I find a certain beauty in each building.”
Volume 3 in “Forgotten Alabama,” “200 Years” is a continued focus on abandoned structures but includes places he has found within the last three years. “I wanted to go bigger with higher-quality images. This book has more pages, in fact 264 pages,” he said.
“The Urquhart House in Madison County, built around 1813, is the oldest abandoned building in Alabama. It is featured on the front cover of the book.”
Wills invites everyone to come to his presentation. “Come, join me on my journey of discovery,” he said. “Times change. People change. The state reroutes state highways, which has killed off smaller towns. But these places, once alive, are chapters in our past.”
‘The Accomplice’ by John Grisham
Bestselling suspense writer John Grisham thinks of everything when it comes to reaching a diversity of readers. He has written 33 novels, a collection of short stories and at least two fiction books with content lighter than his usual thrillers involving criminals and the legal system.
Recently, he has written a legal adventure series for ages 9-12 called “The Theodore Boone Series.”
The fictional character Theodore Boone is an aspiring lawyer who has an unusual fascination for the workings of the legal system.
In the small city of Strattenburg, where both of his parents are attorneys, the 13-year-old spends more time in the courtroom than in school. He knows and talks to every policeman and judge in town, and is often asked by his classmates to solve issues they are up against and seek justice.
“The Accomplice” is the seventh book in the series. In the book, Theo’s loyal friend Woody and his brother, Tony, are in jail, simply because they were passengers in the truck driven by Garth, an 18-year-old who robbed a convenience store of beer and cash. Garth was armed with a water pistol that looked like the real thing.
Tony and Woody were accused of being accomplices in armed robbery, although the brothers were unaware of what Garth was planning and doing.
Garth’s wealthy father quickly bails him out of jail, but the Lambert family is hard up for money. Now Theo must somehow raise $2,000 to bail the brothers out of jail, and somehow uncover evidence that will prove they are innocent.
In my view, “The Accomplice” is captivating for adults as well as for younger readers. It is a good lesson on why staying out of trouble at all costs is important, because for many the legal punishment can be harsh and long-lasting.
Teachers, parents, a judge, the public defender, the jailer and Theo’s dog (named Judge) are characters who help or hinder him. The clever plot is less complicated than those of Grisham’s adult novels, but the intrigue is definitely there.
The book is in the collection at the Public Library of Anniston-Calhoun County.
Hervey Folsom writes about the local arts scene every Sunday. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.