By Kenzie Campbell and Tiffany Calhoun
Have you already finished your summer reading list? Looking to get one started? The founders of Cooper-Young’s hottest book club, Dear Readers, are here for you! We’ve picked 5 books you won’t be able to put down. Whether you’re into true crime, long-form essays, or science fiction, we’ve got a recommendation. Take these books on vacation, squeeze in a few chapters on your lunch break, or spend an afternoon on a Cooper-Young patio.
Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate tells the story of real-life Memphis villain, Georgia Tann, who stole more than 5,000 children from the mid-South between 1920-1950’s. She advertised the children (using a billboard on Poplar Ave) as orphans and “adopted” them to wealthy parents all over the world. Wingate uses an endearing fictional family, stolen from their shanty boat home, to take us through Tann’s house of horrors. After you read this book, listen to episode 110 of Criminal podcast to hear a first-hand account of Tann’s crimes.
The Emissary by Yoko Tawada. First published in Japan in 2014, the English translation by Margaret Mitsutani was published in 2018. This is the touching and fictional story of Yoshiro, who is over 100 years old, and his great-grandson, Mumei, a second grader. Set in the outskirts of a future Tokyo that has been destroyed by some human-caused global catastrophe, you see the effects of humankind’s decisions on the health and wellbeing of younger generations. While the older generations are spry and healthy, the younger are enfeebled and sickly. In this endearing, peculiar, and at times nebulous story, you see how these effects play out in daily life, but more importantly, how there is so much more to a person than what old age/youth, health/sickness and strength/weakness may suggest.
This Little Art by Kate Briggs. Published in 2018, this long-form essay-memoir-journal is a captivating and charming read. If you have ever read a translated work or are interested at all in the writing process and where creativity lies between the freedom and restrictions of expressing one person’s ideas and words in those of another language altogether, this book is for you. But more than just a book about translation, This Little Art shares Kate’s relevant and moving thoughts on living, writing, and reading—both with ourselves and with the works of others.
The Power by Naomi Alderman. This science fiction book is set in a world where women suddenly have the power to electrocute men with a touch. When gender roles completely reverse, overnight, chaos ensues and Alderman’s characters find a way to ration any use of their new power because, “We don’t have to ask what they’d do if they were in control. We’ve seen it already. It’s worse than this.” This book goes to dark places, but it’s a rush.
Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut. His first novel and one worth reading even if it falls in the shadow of others like Slaughterhouse Five. Way back in the 1950s Vonnegut was exploring ideas like a universal basic income, extreme societal wealth gaps, and what happens when automation becomes god of the manufacturing land. Feels relevant to the past few years, eh? This one’s not so heady that you’ll feel like you’re sipping single malt scotch midday in August but more like a classic French white wine cut with sparkling water…fancy enough to appease your high-brow sensitivities but palatable enough to sip by the pool all day.
Stop by Burke’s Bookstore to pick up your books today! Follow our Facebook page to find out more about our monthly Cooper-Young Dear Readers Book Club. The next meeting is July 31 at 7pm at Cooper-Young Gallery & Gifts.