Don Noble

Program Host: Book Reviews

Dr. Noble is the host of APR's book review series as well as host of BOOKMARK which airs on Alabama Public Television.  A widely published scholar specializing in American and Southern literature, Dr. Noble received the Eugene Current-Garcia Award as Alabama's distinguished literary scholar for the year 2000 and was nominated for a Regional Emmy Award in 2006 and 2011.  In addition he is on the planning committee of several literary conferences.

Dr. Noble's book reviews air during Morning Edition and feature works primarily by Alabama writers.  His reviews focus on why these writers are concerned with their particular subjects and how they succeed or fail  in addressing issues of concern to Alabama readers.

What Stands in a Storm

Mar 16, 2015

Title:  What Stands in a Storm
Author:  Kim Cross
Foreword by Rick Bragg Publisher: Atria Books
Pages: 285
Price: $25.00 (Hardcover)

After taking the BA and the MA in journalism at the U of A, Kim Cross honed her skills working as editor-at-large at “Southern Living” and writing articles for outdoor and sport magazines such as “Bicycling” and “Runner’s World” and several newspapers, including “USA Today.” “What Stands in a Storm” is her first book, released March 10th, and it has every chance of being a best seller.

Lost Capitals of Alabama

Mar 9, 2015

Title: Lost Capitals of Alabama
Author: Herbert James Lewis
Publisher: The History Press
Pages: 158
Price: $19.99 (Paper)

Montgomery, chosen over competing bids from Tuscaloosa, Wetumpka, Mobile, Marion, Statesville, Selma and Huntsville, has been the state capital since 1846, indeed was the capital of the Confederacy for three months in 1861 before that was moved to Richmond, but it was not always so. Montgomery is our fifth capital; the other four “lost” capitals are the subject of Lewis’ brief, informative book.

Title: Miss Hazel and the Rosa Parks League
Author: Jonathan Odell
Publisher: Maiden Lane Press
Pages: 462
Price: $16.00 (Paperback)

This is Jonathan Odell’s first and third novel.

In 2012 Odell published “The Healing,” a novel of black and white, master and slave, set on a Mississippi plantation in 1847. The heroine, Polly Shine, is an herbalist, feared as a witch, and powerful enough to organize the slaves and lead a quiet but devastating insurrection against Master Ben Satterfield and the Big House.

Title: Seeds of Freedom: The Peaceful Integration of Huntsville, Alabama
Author: Hester Bass
Illustrator:  E. B. Lewis
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Pages: 28
Price: $16.99 (Hardcover)

Title:  The Cat's Pajamas
Author & Illustrator:  Daniel Wallace
Publisher: Inkshares: Crowdfunded Publishing
Pages: 28
Price: $18.00 (Hardcover)

West of Sunset

Feb 16, 2015

Title: West of Sunset
Author: Stewart O'Nan
Publisher: Viking Pages: 289
Price: $27.95 (Cloth)

What hath Woody wrought?

Diamonds in the Rough

Feb 10, 2015

Title: Diamonds in the Rough
Author: James Sanders Day
Publisher: The University of Alabama Press
Pages: 300
Price: $49.95 (Cloth)


Title:  Better Than Them:  The Unmaking of an Alabama Racist
Author: S. McEachin Otts
Forward by Gaillard Frye
Publisher: NewSouth Books Pages: 158
Price: $23.95 (Paper)

Driving the King

Jan 26, 2015


Title: Driving the King
Author: Ravi Howard
Publisher: Harper/Collins Pages: 336 pp.
Price: $25.99 (Hardcover)

Title:  The Meaning of Human Existence"
Author:  E.O. Wilson

Transcript to be added soon.

The Professor

Jan 12, 2015

 Title: The Professor: A Legal Thriller
Author: Robert Bailey
Publisher: Exhibit A
Pages: 404
Price: $14.99 (Paperback)

Robert Bailey, in practice as a civil defense trial lawyer in Huntsville for the past 13 years, has now joined the legion of Alabama attorneys to try their hand at fiction. And it’s not a bad start at all. “The Professor” has believable, interesting characters and, most importantly, pace.

Flying Shoes

Jan 5, 2015

Title:  Flying Shoes
Author:  Lisa Howorth

Transcript to be added soon.

Men We Reaped

Dec 29, 2014

Title:  Men We Reaped
Author:Jesmyn Ward
Publisher: Bloomsbury Pages: 251
Price: $26.00 (Hardcover)

If one looks casually at the writer Jesmyn Ward’s vita, the impression is that she has lived a most fortunate life.

Dear Committee Members

Dec 21, 2014

Title:  Dear Committee Members
Author: Julie Schumacher
Publisher: Doubleday Pages: 180
Price: $22.95 (Hardcover)

This book first came to my notice in a review of new comic novels in the November 2nd “New York Times Book Review.” Brock Clarke called it “hilarious” and added, “if you don’t find those books funny, well, that means you’re a corpse.” So I took a look.

I’m alive! “Members” is a wry, small comic delight. College teachers, especially in the humanities, will love it.


Dec 1, 2014

 Title:  Prosperity
Author:  B. J. Leggett

Transcript and audio to be added soon.

Title:  All The Way To Memphis and Other Stories

Author:  Suzanne Hudson

Transcript and audio to be added soon.

Title:  “Southern Living Bourbon & Bacon: The Ultimate Guide to the South’s Favorite Food Groups”
Author: Morgan Murphy
Publisher: Oxmoor House
Pages: 288
Price: $22.95 (Hardcover)

“The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion”
Author: Fannie Flagg
Publisher: Random House
Pages: 367
Price: $15.00 (paper)

“The All Girls Filling Station’s Last Reunion” is Fannie Flagg’s ninth novel and her fans are going to love it.

Descriptions of this novel by reviewers and by Flagg’s friends Mark Childress, Pat Conroy and Carol Burnett include: funny, quirky, charming, kind, entertaining, page-turner, sunny, witty, warm-hearted and of course, heartwarming. And it’s true.

The Resurrectionist

Nov 3, 2014


“The Resurrectionist”
Author: Matthew Guinn
Pages: 284
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Co.
Price: $25.95 (Cloth)

To begin at the beginning: a resurrectionist is a body snatcher, a person who digs up newly buried bodies in a graveyard and delivers them to a medical school for students to work on and learn from in anatomy class.


“An Infuriating American: The Incendiary Art of H. L. Mencken”
Author: Hal Crowther
Publisher: The University of Iowa Press; Muse Books: The Iowa Series in Creativity and Writing
Pages: 92
Price: $16.00 (Paper)

The Iowa Muse Series is not full-fledged biography or literary criticism. These short books are actually extended essays that attempt to explain the very essence of the writer under consideration. Previous subjects have been as varied as Wordsworth, Blake, Keats and the James brothers, William and Henry.

The Death of Santini

Oct 13, 2014


“The Death of Santini: The Story of a Father and His Son”
Author: Pat Conroy
Publisher: Random House
Pages: 336
Price: $28.95 (Cloth)

This is not exactly an autobiography, although Conroy’s life story gets told. But then, as his prologue says: “I’ve been writing the story of my own life for over forty years....My stormy autobiography has been my theme, my dilemma, my obsession….”

The Jumper

Oct 7, 2014

“The Jumper: A Novel”
Author: Tim Parrish
Publisher: Texas Review Press
Pages: 287
Price: $26.95 (Paper)

Raised in blue-collar Baton Rouge, after LSU and an MFA in fiction writing at Alabama, Tim Parrish has had his teaching career at Southern Connecticut State University. But in his writing, Parrish has never left the neighborhood in Baton Rouge where he was raised.

Through three books in three genres he has returned to this seething, rather toxic place.

Thelonius Rising

Sep 29, 2014


“Thelonious Rising”
Author: Judith Richards
Publisher: River’s Edge Media
Pages: 317
Price: $19.00 (Paper)

Judith Richards of Fairhope, Alabama, is a veteran novelist with a considerable track record. Since her first novel, “The Sounds of Silence,” in 1977 she has published five more, to considerable acclaim.


“13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey” (Commemorative Edition)
Author: Kathryn Tucker Windham and Margaret Gillis Figh, with a new Afterword by Dilsy Windham Hilley and Ben Windham
Publisher: University of Alabama Press
Pages: 124
Price: $29.95 (Hardcover)


Sep 15, 2014


Author: Faye Gibbons
Publisher: NewSouth Books
Pages: 208
Price: $21.95 (Hardcover)

Faye Gibbons is an old pro at children’s and Young Adult writing. An Auburn graduate and author of more than a dozen books, she won the Georgia Author of the Year award in 1983 for “Some Glad Morning” and the Alabama Author Award for “Night in the Barn” in 1998, given by the Alabama Library Association.


“Muscle Shoals Sound Studio: How The Swampers Changed American Music”
Author: Carla Jean Whitley
Publisher: The History Press
Pages: 160
Price: $19.99 (Paper)

Towards the end of her short history of the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, “Birmingham Magazine” managing editor Whitley discusses the new documentary “Muscle Shoals” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.


Sep 1, 2014


“Next: D-Bow’s High School Hoops”
Author: Kevin Waltman
Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press
Pages: 287
Price: $11.95 (Paper)

Sports fans know that what football is to Alabama culture, basketball is to Indiana culture: passion, obsession, madness, religion.

Pop culture images of Indiana basketball, however, as opposed to the images of the NBA, show white small-town Hoosiers at play, coached by Gene Hackman. Although blond Larry Byrd, of French Lick, Indiana, has been retired for some time, he is still the model for Indiana hoops.


"The Island Called Paradise: Cuba in History, Literature, and the Arts"
Author: Philip D. Beidler
Publisher: The University of Alabama Press
2014, Tuscaloosa, AL
$34.95 (Cloth)
193 pp.

Over a long career, Beidler has written analyses of early American and Alabama literature, sweeping appraisals of the war literature of WWII and Vietnam, a number of powerful personal essays based on his experiences as a lieutenant in Vietnam and, most lately, outraged appraisals of American political leadership.

“Truman Capote: A Literary Life at the Movies”

Author: Tison Pugh
Publisher: The University of Georgia Press
Pages: 287
Price: $79.95 (Cloth); $28.95 (Paper)

On a Darkling Plain

Aug 11, 2014

“On a Darkling Plain: Stories of the Great Depression”
Author: Betty Jean Tucker
Publisher: Livingston Press
Pages: 162
Price: $17.95 (Paper)

Everybody loves a book that comes with a back story. In his very fine Introduction to “On a Darkling Plain,” Alabama literary critic Norman McMillan tells us of a 19-year-old student at Alabama College who, in 1951, published in “The Montevallo Review” her first story, “My Sister Callie.”

“Gruesome: A Novel Drawn from True Crime”

Author: Donald Brown
Publisher: Borgo Publishing
Pages: 197
Price: $10.95 (Paperback)