BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — On Thursday morning, Sherry Williams had a huge smile on her face.
Just two days earlier, she had attended a Birmingham Public Library board meeting, requesting that BPL add Scottish and Viking-themed historical romances to its collection, even providing the library’s executive director a list of authors that could fill the need.
By Wednesday evening, two of the authors she’d mentioned — Monica McCarty and Lynsay Sands — had reached out to CBS 42, asking if they could donate copies of their books and make Williams’ wish come true.
Williams is the daughter of sharecroppers from Marion, Alabama. Her parents, she said, weren’t given the opportunity to complete even an elementary education. Instead, they were moved from the classroom to the cotton fields of Dallas and Perry Counties. As a child, though, Williams made a pledge.
“I pledged at a young age to honor their desire to learn how to read by visiting the library and reading books,” Williams said.
So once Williams had read all the historical romances in the Five Points West Library, she couldn’t stop. She’d fallen in love with the genre. She went to the library’s central branch, where she found more to read. She finished those, too. So then, Sherry Williams came to the library board meeting, a list in hand.
“The Bible says you have not because you ask not,” Williams told the library board, her voice echoing through Richard Arrington auditorium. “I just want to see if we can get some Viking historical romance novels and some Scottish romance novels.”
Janine Langston, executive director of Birmingham Public Library, took Williams’ author list and said that the library would aim to prioritize adding some of the authors she’d suggested. But she may not even have to.
On Wednesday, New York Times bestselling authors Monica McCarty and Lynsay Sands offered to help Williams out.
McCarty, a Californian who holds degrees from USC and Stanford, said she was “very flattered” to be among the writers Williams requested. She said she’s sent the first three books of her Highland Guard series to the Birmingham library.
“Hope Sherry gets to read them,” McCarty said.
Sands, a Canadian novelist who’s written over 30 books, also said she’s sending copies of her work to the Birmingham Public Library. She’ll also be sending books to Williams herself so she can have “double the selection.”
Sands called Williams’ request “flattering.”
“Sherry sounds like a sweetheart, and I can empathize with the need to read,” Sands said.
Williams said it’s hard to believe the response to her request.
“I am beyond honored, flattered, humbled and appreciative,” she said. “I never imagined this awesome outcome when I decided to attend Tuesday’s BPL Board Meeting.”
Williams said her cheeks hurt from smiling so much: “I feel like a kid at Christmas time!”