The Open Canon Book Club

We live in a time when appealing to and listening to the diversity of America's voices are more important than ever. The goal of the Open Canon Book Club is to introduce readers to voices and portrayals of the American experience they may not have otherwise encountered in their day-to-day lives, their education, or their book club meetings. Literary diversity plays a vital role in making us understood to one another, and this hope of understanding is the hinge upon which our democracy swings.

As to the name of the Open Canon Book Club, below are a few definitions from Merriam-Webster that are particularly apt:

Open: not restricted to a particular group or category of participants; exposed to general view or knowledge; having no enclosing or confining barrier.

Canon: a sanctioned or accepted group or body of related works; a criterion or standard of judgment; a body of principles, rules, standards, or norms.

For each month's selection of the Open Canon Book Club I will post discussion questions here and across my social media accounts, and I will also host live book club discussions online and in independent bookstores. The authors of each month's selection will be invited to participate in any and every way that interests them. I will also post and share relevant documentaries, essays, websites, and blogs that will enrich the experience of reading and discussing the month's selection.  

I'm thrilled to announce that bookstores across the country are willing to extend their book club discounts, between 10-20%, to members of the Open Canon Book Club. Please see below for a list of bookstores, and make sure to join the Open Canon Book Club to get the tagline that will unlock these bookseller discounts. 

Bookstores Participating in the Open Canon Book Club Discount:

Alabama: Page & Palette (Fairhope).

Connecticut: Bank Square Books (Mystic).

Georgia: A Cappella Books (Atlanta); The Book Tavern (Augusta).

Kentucky: Wild Figs Books & Coffee (Lexington); Joseph-Beth Booksellers (Lexington); Joseph-Beth Booksellers (Crestview Hills); Carmichael's Bookstore (Lexington).

Louisiana: Octavia Books (New Orleans).

Mississippi: Square Books (Oxford).

Missouri: Left Bank Books (St. Louis).

New York: Books Are Magic (Brooklyn).

North Carolina:  Malaprop's Bookstore and Cafe (Asheville); Foggy Pine Books (Boone); Page 158 Books (Wake Forest); Scuppernong Books (Greensboro); Park Road Books (Charlotte); Bookmarks (Winston-Salem); Flyleaf Books (Chapel Hill); Regulator Bookshop (Durham); Two Sisters Bookery; Athenian House; Pomegranate Books (Wilmington); Quail Ridge Books (Raleigh); Country Bookshop (Southern Pines); Quarter Moon Books (Topsail Island); Main Street Books (Davidson); McIntyre's Books (Pittsboro); City Lights Bookstore (Sylva); Blue Ridge Books (Waynesville); Highland Books (Brevard).

Ohio: Mac's Backs Books on Coventry (Cleveland); Joseph-Beth Booksellers (Cincinnati).

Oregon: Another Read Through (Portland).

Pennsylvania: Penguin Bookshop (Sewickly).

Rhode Island: Savoy Bookshop and Cafe (Westerly).

South Carolina: Hub City Bookshop (Spartanburg, SC); Fiction Addiction (Greenville); Bookends (North Myrtle Beach).

Texas: Book People (Austin); Blue Willow Bookshop (Houston).

Utah: The King's English Bookshop (Salt Lake City).

Virginia: One More Page (Arlington).

West Virginia: Four Seasons Books (Shepherdstown).

National: Books-A-Million (email business@booksamillion.com for discount info.) Members of the Millionaires Club are eligible for free shipping)..

The September selection of the Open Canon Book Club is The Birds of Opulence by Crystal Wilkinson, winner of the Weatherford Award for Appalachian Fiction, the Judy Gaines Young Book Award, and the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence.

 photo by Mallory Cash

photo by Mallory Cash

From the critically acclaimed, award-winning author of Blackberries, Blackberries and Water Street comes an astonishing new novel. A lyrical exploration of love and loss, The Birds of Opulence centers on several generations of women in a bucolic southern black township as they live with and sometimes surrender to madness.

The Goode-Brown family, led by matriarch and pillar of the community Minnie Mae, is plagued by old secrets and embarrassment over mental illness and illegitimacy. Meanwhile, single mother Francine Clark is haunted by her dead, lightning-struck husband and forced to fight against both the moral judgment of the community and her own rebellious daughter, Mona. The residents of Opulence struggle with vexing relationships to the land, to one another, and to their own sexuality. As the members of the youngest generation watch their mothers and grandmothers pass away, they live with the fear of going mad themselves and must fight to survive.

Crystal Wilkinson offers up Opulence and its people in lush, poetic detail. It is a world of magic, conjuring, signs, and spells, but also of harsh realities that only love—and love that’s handed down—can conquer. At once tragic and hopeful, this captivating novel is a story about another time, rendered for our own.

Crystal Wilkinson is the author of Blackberries, Blackberries, winner of the Chaffin Award for Appalachian Literature, and Water Street, a finalist for both the UK’s Orange Prize for Fiction and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. The winner of the 2008 Denny Plattner Award in Poetry from Appalachian Heritage magazine and the Sallie Bingham Award from the Kentucky Foundation for Women, she is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Kentucky and teaches in the Spalding low residency MFA in Creative Writing Program.