Recommendations from Jake Reiss, Alabama Booksmith owner

Jake Reiss knows books, and he knows their authors even better. The Alabama Booksmith is the only store on the planet that sells nothing but signed books. Every book in the store is signed and, still, most are sold at a regular retail price. With that in mind, we asked Jake to hand select his personal “best of the best” books from Alabama writers. While he says that this was like picking his favorite grandchildren, here’s what he chose.

All Over but the Shoutin’

By Rick Bragg

Our No. 1 best seller for two decades, this is the quintessential image of dirt-poor Southerners in the mid-20th century. More than that, it is a beautiful love letter from a son to his mother. This is the Pulitzer Prize winner’s first book and was named Memoir of the Year.

Gumbo Love

By Lucy Buffett

This volume contains dynamite recipes for her famous seafood, but is also chock full of delicious stories that will taste as good as the food. There are also tidbits and pictures of her Parrot Head brother Jimmy Buffett.

Mockingbird Songs

By Wayne Flynt

Flynt takes an up-close, intimate and personal look at our state’s best known and most beloved author. During the last years of her life, Harper Lee’s most regular visitors were Wayne and Dartie Flynt. The poignant and humorous letters between Nelle Harper Lee and Wayne and Dartie Flynt are a treasure and a must-read for everyone in our state.

Forrest Gump

By Winston Groom

This title was translated into the biggest grossing movie of its day. The book has many different scenes not shown on the screen and makes for a delightful and easy read.

13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey

By Katherine Tucker Windham

This ghost story book might have been the most popular book ever for young readers around these parts. The University Press of Alabama has issued a 50th anniversary edition with a new afterword by her children Dilcy Windham Hilley and Ben Windham.