Must-see vintage Birmingham bookstore

Reed Books is a bookstore in downtown Birmingham. With a residency of several decades, it has become a staple of the community. While people come from all over the world to view the thousands of books that line the shelves and the floors, there is much more to this bookstore than just the books. While Mr. Jim Reed, owner of Reed Books, will want to greet you with a smile, there are more faces that will welcome you into the store. Reed books is more than a store with faces. It is a a chance to find something new from the old. Take a look…

Continue reading

If you loved the book . . . Successful Book to Movie Adaptations

If you loved the book. . .

Gone Girl (2014)
David Fincher’s latest masterpiece is a gritty, gruesome thriller. Based on Gillian Flynn’s bestseller and screenplay, Fincher’s adaptation is a brilliant accompaniment to the book. Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike bring Nick and Amy’s volatile relationship to perfect fruition in the film. Every pivotal scene is included in the adaptation and pays homage to the novel. Beware though, this movie is not for the faint of heart.
Gone Girl Trailer

The Help (2011)
The film takes the viewer into the social climate of Mississippi in the 1960s. It is a glance into a tumultuous era in America’s past. Viewers will laugh, cheer and cry during the movie. And yes, THE pie scene is included in the film.
The Help Trailer

Atonement (2007)
The film adaptation is an homage to the beauty of the European countryside juxtaposed with the violence and grit of World War II. Ian McEwan’s tale of fated love and wartime horror transformed into a wonderful film nominated for seven Academy Awards.
Atonement Trailer

A Time to Kill (1996)
The cast alone – Sandra Bullock, Matthew McConaughey, Samuel L. Jackson, and Kevin Spacey – is reason to view this 1993 adaptation of John Grisham’s book. It is a thrilling ride into the judicial system and the politics often associated with justice. Matthew McConaughey gives his all in his portrayal of a young, Mississippi lawyer who fights for the innocent against all odds.
A Time to Kill Trailer

The Fault in Our Stars (2014)
Every line and scene you loved in the book is included in the film. Ansel Elgort is a newcomer, but he is the perfect Gus. Grab some tissues, it follows the book perfectly – both for the best and the worst.
The Fault In Our Stars Trailer

Romeo & Juliet (2013)
If you are a fan of Shakespeare, this is the Romeo & Juliet film for you. The film follows the play’s language perfectly and was even shot in Verona. It’s just the way Shakespeare would have wanted it, or so we imagine.
Romeo & Juliet Trailer

How to be Awesome: Jon Acuff on beating fear and pursuing your dream job

Jon Acuff

By Jackie Long

Jon Acuff is the best-selling author of Stuff Christians Like, Quitter, and Start, as well as the popular Christian satire blog, Stuff Christians Like. He graduated from Samford University in 1998 with a degree in journalism and mass communication and now is part of the Dave Ramsey team out of Nashville, Tenn. Exodus spoke with him about how college students can get started on the path to awesomeness before they ever have a diploma.

Exodus: In your book Quitter, you say we’re living in the “I’m, but” generation. We’re all saying, “I am this, but I want to be that.” Why do you think so many people get stuck there?

Jon: I think it’s a bunch of things, but one of those is fear. We’re just afraid to do what we feel called to do. A lot of us have known for a long time. A lot of college students chase someone else’s dream. Or they have a major they want to pursue, but their parents tell them that major will never make money or that it’s foolish. So they give up on that, and they end up in a job they hate just to make money.

Our generation has a lot of different opportunities other generations didn’t have. My grandfather, who fought in World War II and managed a Woolworth’s [international five-and-dime store], never came home from work and went, “My artist just wasn’t fed today.” But our generation has the ability and the freedom to chase [our dreams].

E: Finding a job after graduation, especially now, is nerve-wracking. We want our dream job, but we’re told our first job is just going to be terrible. What is important for students to remember when starting the job hunt?

J: Give yourself some patience and grace. You’re not going to get your dream job right out of school. The chances of that are pretty slim. And that’s not failure at all. If you can get a job where you can build toward your dream job, I think that’s great. So a lot of times with college students we put this pressure on, like they’ve got to have a dream job right out of the gate. That really makes you miserable where you end up. So what I always say is get a job as close to your major or calling as possible and figure out ways to learn there. If you don’t have the job you love, figure out what pieces of it can still keep you learning. When you graduate, you aren’t done learning. So how do you turn your job into your next college course?

E: Your book Start focuses partly on the idea of “punching fear in the face.” What does that mean for students?

J: Part of what the book talks about is voices—what do your internal voices tell you? A friend of mine told me, “Basically, no one has a positive internal voice.” No one’s internal voice is saying, “You sure are skinny enough. You’re going to be great at that major. You’re totally going to get a job after graduation.” Instead our voices tell us, “You’re not smart enough, you’re not pretty enough, you’re not talented enough, you’re going to fail, it is not going to work.” And we listen to those. So a big part of [punching fear in the face] is identifying those voices. Identify them, write them down and refute them with truth. Also, share them. Fear fears community. So having other people you can talk to about this stuff is really valuable.

E: What are your top tips for college students who want to pursue “awesomeness,” as you describe in your book?

 J: The best thing I’ve ever done for my résumé, and it’s so tactical, but don’t ever put goals at the top of your résumé. It’s such a useless thing, but everybody does it. It’s those horrible paragraphs that say “I want to be in a people-based environment where I can use my talents in a synergy way…” No, it’s just junk.

Instead find one amazing thing you did each year of college and write a three to four sentence paragraph about your results, because most employers won’t even read the rest of the résumé.

Start a blog. In five to ten years when you go for a job interview and you say you’re passionate about whatever industry, they’re gonna go, “Oh, where’s your blog on that subject?” And you’re gonna say, “Oh, I’m not that kind of passionate.”

If you want to stand out from other college grads, be on Twitter. Have relationships with other experts in your field. Create a presence. Be an expert long before you even have a job.

I’d also say to start getting mentors while you’re still in college. Find a person who’s ahead of you in something and ask them to coffee. Build a support team. There are so many things you can do before you graduate. Most college students wait until they graduate to do the hardcore hustle stuff, but you should really start as a freshman.

Follow Jon on Twitter and Instagram (@jonacuff), and check out his blogs: and 

Story by Jackie Long. Photo provided by The Lampo Group, Inc.


stacked records

Renaissance Records

Story and photos by Leah Jane Henderson

stacked records

It’s not easy to find a great record store with classic albums or one-of-a-kind finds.

Whether it’s a 33 r.p.m., a 45 or an 8-track, Renaissance Records in Five Points South is a haven for music lovers and collectors alike.

The store specializes in vintage records but has a modest number of new artists and albums. New and used books, CDs, records, and movies are also sold for great prices, as well as posters and art.

Gary Bourgeois (pronounced Boo-schwah) is the middleman between music and the ears of listeners, bringing great taste in records and a love for his store. An English professor at Miles College, Gary finds the time to run his store in the afternoons and weekends.

When you first step through the door, you’ll hear the jangling of a worn doorknob, vintage records crackling over speakers and the rugged sound of vinyl, old French ballads, Jim Morrison’s crooning voice, or Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. Red walls are plastered with psychedelic album art and classic movie posters, autographs and postcards.

Renaissance Records is a haven for music lovers and collectors alike.

A glossy, gold phonograph sits on one of many bookshelves filled with cassette tapes and jaded, valuable magazines. String lights cloak the huge front window, accompanied by soft, worn-in couches and glowing lamps on piles of thick, musty books. These are the sights and sounds of visiting one of the oldest record stores in Birmingham.

Ambition was running through Gary’s veins in 2003 when he decided to open Renaissance Records located at 2020 11th Ave. South.

“This used to be a bookstore kind of an alternative, new age bookstore. I used to work at Charlemagne (Records) back in the older days and then I started teaching in 2000 at Miles. But after a few years I missed working at Charlemagne and thought this was the perfect place and remodeled it and now we have a little of everything.”

He got the idea to open while visiting Europe after his French professor in college encouraged him to go to France.

Owner Gary Bourgeois holds up one of his favorite records

“That’s where I came up with the idea. In France they have all these shops, and in London and Amsterdam, there are all these cool shops like coffee shops, offbeat shops, bookstores, record stores, everything. That’s when it clicked in my mind, this is perfect, I’m going to make it happen.”

Bourgeois’ favorite part about running the store is meeting people, “There’s a social element when you work in a record store. Of course, I love trading records, it’s really fun and I love playing records. When you put a record on it sounds so great. it sounds 10 times better. But you get to meet all these people.”

Many people visit the store, from a handful of locals who come in every week to browse and catch up on conversation, to musicians and bands, to complete strangers whose fingers itch for the feeling of slick vinyl, to feel the spiral grooves of a 45.

The store specialized in vintage records, but has a modest number of new ones as well.

“In an urban city and area like this you’ve got crazies that come through and really eccentric characters, a real mix with collegestudents, older collectors, younger collectors, and families. It’s like a soap opera. You’ve got the regulars and the skateboard kids coming down, and we’ve even had the guy from KISS, Gene Simmons, standing in here. Who knows who you’re going to meet? From one day to the next, you have no clue.”

He compares his job to the film High Fidelity starring John Cusack, “It’s a must-read and a must-see film. John Cusack is like me, trying to pay the bills, which is my least favorite thing to do. It’s the greatest book and movie. Actually that’s our training manual. Whenever someone wants to work here we make them take the VHS or DVD and watch it, and after they’ve watched it we say okay, now you might be ready.”