Whether you’re growing professionally or trying to learn more about Huntsville history and culture, our local libraries and bookstores are sure to have something for you. We put together a list of some of the best places to find local authors and books that – regardless of your selection – will blow that water cooler talk through the roof.
Snail on the Wall
Huntsville-based The Snail on the Wall is a full-service bookstore without an actual brick-and-mortar in which to browse. Don’t let that stop you, though. The Snail offers access to thousands of titles in every genre through an easy-to-navigate online directory. If you’re having trouble choosing, get inspired by their staff picks or email them directly for recommendations. They offer shipping worldwide, but shipping is free if you live in Huntsville!
Also, be sure to check out their #ReadWithTheSnail challenge. Participating is easy – all you have to do is read one book per month that fits with each theme (listed below). Take a picture to chronicle your choice, and post it on Instagram or Facebook using the hashtag #ReadwithTheSnail. If you participate for all 12 months, you’ll be entered to win a $150 gift card to the Snail!
- January: Something inspiring (recommendations here)
- February: By a person of color (recommendations here)
- March: Memoir
- April: History you didn’t know about
- May: By a debut author
- June: Summer vibes
- July: Short story collection
- August: By an author local to you
- September: Considered a classic
- October: Gives you chills and thrills
- November: Meant for kids
- December: Has a cozy feel
For over 30 years, Bookshelf has been offering a vast inventory of new and used books to the Huntsville community. They are conveniently located at University Place Shopping Center, near Burlington Coat Factory, and their hours are Monday through Saturday from 9:30am to 5:30pm (closed on Sundays). If you're not sure you'll be able to find what you're looking for, check their website before you go.
Book Recommendation: Robert Bailey, dubbed a hard-to-find author by Bookshelf, currently has two books in stock for purchase: Between Black and White and The Professor, both a part of the McMurtrie and Drake Legal Thrillers. The latter won the 2014 Beverly Hills Book Award for legal thriller of the year.
Huntsville-Madison County Public Libraries (HMCPL)
The Huntsville-Madison County Public Library system has a whopping total of 10 branches.
- Cavalry Hill Public Library (off Poplar Avenue in Huntsville)
- Downtown Huntsville Library (off Monroe Street in Huntsville)
- Gurley Public Library (off Walker Street in Gurley)
- Madison Public Library (off Plaza Boulevard in Madison)
- Monrovia Public Library (off Allen Drake Drive in Huntsville)
- North Huntsville Public Library (off Sparkman Drive in Huntsville)
- South Huntsville Public Library (off Bailey Cove Road in Huntsville)
- Tillman D. Hill Public Library (off Knowledge Drive in Hazel Green)
- Triana Public Library (off Record Street in Madison)
If you’re looking for ways to support your local library, we highly recommend you join your local chapter of Friends of the Library (FOL). Each of the 10 branches has a chapter dedicated to improving their library. Annual dues range from $15-$30 and include a variety of benefits such as 3-week checkouts for library books and audiobooks, members-only access to book sales, and a bimonthly newsletter mailed straight to your door.
Book Recommendation: For a little professional development, the HMCPL network tends to keep How to Win Friends and Influence People (and its associated updated version) by Dale Carnegie in stock. First published in 1936, it is now one of the best-selling books of all time.
Barnes & Noble
Huntsville has two Barnes & Noble locations; one at Bridgestreet Town Center, and the other in Jones Valley at the Valley Bend Shopping Center. While this deviates from our normal shop small and buy local stance, we realize that some books are hard to find and turning to a chain is sometimes a necessity.
Book Recommendation: Dive into some interstellar history through the memoir Rocket Boys by Huntsville author Homer Hickam. Fun Fact: this book was also the basis for the movie October Sky!
2nd & Charles
We love that 2nd & Charles gives a second chance to books on a large scale, making reading more accessible and affordable for the community. While they do not have an online library for you to peruse, they are guaranteed to have a wide selection of popular books as well as pop-culture themed merchandise, movies and music.
Book Recommendation: Described as a mashup between Anthony Bourdain and Ernest Hemingway, Mathew McConaughey’s #1 New York Times bestselling memoir Greenlights is packed with life lessons, humor, and words of wisdom.
Booklegger Used Books
A Huntsville community cornerstone, Booklegger has been selling books to its patrons for 47 years. Its highly organized, well-stocked, and regularly updated inventory runs the genre gamut. Booklegger is located at 4001 Holmes Avenue and open throughout the week from 10am to 6pm, but closed on Wednesdays and Sundays.
Book Recommendation: The Art of Strategic Leadership: How Leaders at All Levels Prepare Themselves, Their Teams, and Organizations for the Future by Steven J. Stowell and Stephanie S. Mead. This book addresses two long-standing challenges in business: 1) How to create new sources of competitive advantage to sustain long-term growth and 2) how to engage leaders at every level of the organization so that they are more proactive and forward-looking in their area of responsibility.
Keep shopping small and local, even when developing your personal growth and professional career through reading. And don’t forget to keep your local libraries alive by checking out their selections regularly – which can also save you a few dollars.
Want to learn more about the why reading is so healthy for your brain? Check out our article on the 8 Advantages of Reading Regularly.
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