June 12, 2013

World of Books: Candice + Tuscaloosa/Birmingham, Alabama

Everyone has their neighborhood bookstore or their local library they call home. Maybe both even. I know I do - in TWO different cities. World of Books if a bi-weekly feature that allows me - and any of YOU - to share the bookstores and libraries you love so much. If you want to be featured on World of Books too, make sure to go HERE and fill out the contact form!

Today's WORLD OF BOOKS was written by CANDICE from The Grown Up YA about Tuscaloosa, Alabama and Birmingham, Alabama.

First off, let me just say that I am SO excited about participating in Gaby's World of Books!

While I've always been a HUGE fan of books, I've never been one of those book buying people. I always had the mentality that if I'm going to lay that kind of money down, I need to have a darn good reason to buy this book. In other words, I'm not going to buy a book.

Not when I can check it out from the library!

But since I've been blogging, welllll... I've kind of turned into a book hoarder. I books by the bucketful and don't read probably 80% of them! Luckily, I've found some really sweet spots to satisfy my addiction.

Before I go into that though, I should give you a little background. I live in Tuscaloosa, AL but am from a small city about 20 minutes outside of Birmingham, AL. Now, if you know anything about Birmingham, you'll know that surrounding the actual city are all sorts of suburbs where people actually live (Birmingham itself isn't really where tons of people live). So, since Birmingham and my hometown are only about an hour from Tuscaloosa, I am there a good bit. Therefore, I like to claim dual-citizenship when it comes to book buying/borrowing.

Back to my sweet spots. Let's start with Tuscaloosa.

First off, we have your standard bookstores, Barnes and Noble and BAM. Unfortunately, BAM is closing here, so now we're only left with Barnes and Noble. Sad times, even though I do like B&N!

But I rarely buy books there. Here is where I go for all my bookish buys: The Tuscaloosa Library Friends of the Library Bookstore!

Y'all... this is such a cool spot. All the books it sells are donated from either the community or the library itself and all proceeds go to the library! The people who run it are volunteers (ie Friends of the Library) so the only overhead is really the building itself. The majority of the books are $2, with kids' books being $1. They also sell magazines, DVDs, audiobooks and video tapes for mere dollars (or pennies!). What I LOVE most about this place is every first Saturday of the month they have stuff a sack Saturday. You pay $20 and get a grocery bag and can fill it up with books! My mom and I usually split this if she comes to visit on that Saturday and will make out with at least 30 books. This store also has some great rarer/antique books. You'll never know just what you'll find here!

But, when I'm short on cash or am wanting the newest book, I turn to the library. While Tuscaloosa is a big county, they only have 3 library branches. All 3 happening to be INSIDE the city limits. The main branch, which is closest to me, is a beautiful library I think. It also has a fantastic selection of books, references, audiobooks and movies! The only downside is that they're a LITTLE slower in getting new YA books. But that's okay because they have a great selection otherwise!

There is a small used paperback bookstore somewhere in town... but I've never been there. One day I will! However... that's about it as far as bookstores in Tuscaloosa. We have textbook stores – being a college town will do that for you – but really the only other books those stores sell are football books and... no thanks. I like my football on TV thank you very much!

Finally, this list wouldn't be complete without mentioning the University of Alabama's on campus libraries. I didn't frequent these very much in college, but UA has some pretty special libraries that house both amazing books and rare collections!

The main library is Gorgas, which is 4 (or 5) floors of books, books and more books! Seriously, this is a mecca of books. Definitely a must for anyone at UA!

My favorite library on campus, though not having been to is, is kind of a secret library. Hoole Special Collections houses just this – special collections. Rare books, super old documents and works unique to UA. You even have to wear special gloves when handling some of the materials! One of the most unique aspects of this library is its beautiful Tiffany stained glass. Look at the pretties!

So... if Tuscaloosa isn't doing it for me, I can always go to Birmingham! One of my FAVORITE places in the world is there and... let's just say it's totally magical.

2nd and Charles is one of those stores I discovered by accident. It's in a building that used to be an old Goody's clothing store – if you're familiar with this company and their stores, you'll know how big it is – so one day mom and I decided to pop in and check it out. Turns out it's a HUGE used bookstore. Seriously... floor to ceiling bookshelves filled to the brim with any book you can imagine! And they get new stuff in EVERY DAY! I'd say a good 1/3 of my books have come from this store. You can also sell your unwanted titles to them for either money or... CREDITS FOR BOOKS. This is a great store to go epic shopping at.

Finally, my last bookish place is my hometown library. Now, it's pretty small and I'm sure the YA section is the same size as it was when I was a YA myself, but, and here's the best part, it is part of the Shelby County Library System which means I can check out any book in Shelby County! All I have to do is reserve it online and they bring it to my hometown library. I know most library systems have this but since there's like 8 libraries in Shelby County, it makes it a pretty sweet deal!

This little library is super close to my parents' house too. I did a lot of business with this library as a kid and so it totally feels like home to me!

So that's it! I hope you've enjoyed getting to know a little bit more about the bookstores and libraries around Tuscaloosa and Birmingham, Alabama! If you're ever in this neck of the woods, totally check them out!


  1. 2nd and Charles looks AMAZING. And wow, the UA libraries are so beautiful! I love this feature. I feel like I get to travel to so many awesome bookish places around the country!

  2. Oh! These places all look amazing! I love the special collections library (because it's gorgeous! And those windows!). I'm also a big fan of 2nd and Charles because it sounds like it'd be fun to go and browse through ALL the books.


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