My 10 Favorite Reads of 2021

I love rankings and lists and getting to share mine with all of you is an honor, and a little stress inducing. So here it is, my top ten reads of 2021. No, they weren’t all published in 2021, but they were all great books! You can of course find more detailed reviews of each of these books on The Stacks Instagram page, and I was lucky enough to have many of these authors on the podcast this year, so please check out those conversations.

Before I get to my top ten I always like to share my reading stats with you all, since I do keep (very intense) track of everything I read. If you want to track your reading in the most intense way possible, join The Stacks Pack on patreon and get the reading tracker as one of many perks!

I read a total of 118 books. Which was considerably more than my 72 book goal.

  • 77 were by authors of color (65%)
  • 73 were by women and/or non binary authors (62%)
  • 48 were by women/femme authors of color (41%)
  • 72 were published in 2021 (61%)
  • 86 were acquired and read in 2021 (73%)
  • 80 were nonfiction books (68%)
  • 14 received a five star rating (12%)
  • 3 received a one star rating (3%)
  • My average star rating was 3.3 stars

A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance by Hanif Abdurraqib (2021)

An essay collection centering Black performance and the ways Black people perform and are consumed. This book has so much range and depth it can not be explained in any meaningful way be me, except to say it was incredibly good and earth shaking, and that I will never think about Blackness, my own and others’, the same way again. Abdurraqib winds his own life into the more literal aspects of performance which creates a reading experience that is extremely rich and emotional. This book is magnificent.

The Stacks Book Club discussion of A Little Devil in America can be found here, and an interview on the book with Hanif Abdurraquib can be found here.


Becoming Abolitionists: Police, Protests, and the Pursuit of Freedom by Derecka Purnell (2021)

I was a little weary about police and prison abolition before I picked up this book. Yes, I know that the legal system is corrupt and broken, but I didn’t grasp what abolition could open up for America. Purnell expertly shares her own journey and encourages her reader to question more, use common sense more, trust more, and ultimately lean into the possibility of a world without police and prison. I left this book with so much hope. I know we can do better in a world without police.

You can hear Derecka Purnell on The Stacks Episode 179 and Episode 183.


Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters (2021)

This is a comedy of manners that is tied up in the world of Reese, a trans woman and her ex Ames, a detransitioned man, and the woman he is now dating, Katrina. Katrina and Ames end up pregnant, and the book jumps off from there. It is a book about parenting, motherhood, community, language, and family. The writing is top notch, and the humor and wit add so much to this book. This is one of those books that if handled by a less skilled author would fall flat and seem trite. Not the case with Peters’ prose that oscillate between cooly detached and fiery sharp. I left this book with plenty to think about and a character, Reese, I won’t soon forget.


Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty by Patrick Radden Keefe (2021)

Whenever people ask me what kind of book I like, I struggle to articulate something that is investigative journalism meets true crime meets conspiracy meets narrative nonfiction meets major national/global implications meets corruption meets intimate details…or something like that. Well this book, Empire of Pain, is exactly that. It is the story of The Sackler Family, the family behind Purdue Pharma and the drug Oxycontin. The book isn’t just about the brothers who ushered Purdue Pharma into prominence and the fallout of the drug that eventually led to the opioid epidemic, but also about the way the family came to power and the way the art world played into all of that. I loved the book because aside from laying out how The Sacklers achieved their wealth, it is also a story about the failures of The United States to regulate a corrupt and dangerous industry. It is about one family and also so much bigger than that. It is a hold on to your pants kind of book and I loved every page.

You can hear Patrick Radden Keefe on The Stacks on Episode 164.


How the Word is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America by Clint Smith (2021)

This is a history book like no other. Clint Smith traveled across America taking in physical locations that are a part of the story of slavery in America. He visited sites like Angola Prison, Wall Street, and The Whitney Plantation. He spoke with tour guides, historians, and visitors at each of the places he traveled to. He then wrote a book about American slavery that is not just the history of the thing, but rather how we understand the history of the thing. It is a masterful twist, it is a reckoning with the past and a way to engage with a history that has become confrontational. Not because of what happened, but because of how we talk and teach about it. I was also struck by Smith’s writing, he is a poet, and his ability to turn history into resonant prose is a gift in and of itself.

You can hear Clint Smith on Episode 168 of The Stacks.


Long Division by Kiese Laymon (2013)

I would never claim to be a lover a sci-fi or speculative fiction, however when it is done well, I am here for it. This book, Long Division, is done so well. Its no surprise, Laymon is easily one of my favorite writers, and he has found a way to craft a humorous, coming of age, time travel novel that centers a cast of characters I fell in love with. The kids in this book are funny and smelly and mean and tender and all the things you hope for the young people you love most. I was instantly taken by this book. A joyful ride.

You can hear Kiese Laymon on Episodes 118, 122, and 185 of The Stacks. As well as on this Patreon exclusive bonus episode of The Stacks: Unabridged.


Passing by Nella Larsen (1929)

This super short novel from 1929 took my breath away. Its the story of two old friends, Clare and Irene, who have lost touch when Clare begins passing as white. The book is propulsive and has some incredible scenes. I couldn’t put it down, and at just over a 120 pages you really don’t have to. I loved what Larsen had to say about race and color and danger and freedom. I loved the way this book does not let up. I loved that even though everyone told me it was good, it was better than I could’ve imagined.


Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness by Kristen Radtke (2021)

I’m not sure I could’ve prepared myself for how beautiful and emotional loneliness could be. Seek You did something to me on a deep emotional level. There was something about the way Radtke pulled from different corners of American life and loneliness to create this book that made it feel all encompassing, at once vast and intimate. She talks about sitcoms and psychology studies and her own experiences and pulls it all together beautifully. This book shocked me and made me weep. It also made me feel less alone in a year that I will remember mostly for the isolation and the return to community.

I can’t talk about this book and not talk about the fact that it is a graphic novel and the art is just gorgeous. The way Radtke uses color as part of the narrative. I’m new to graphic books in 2021, and I’ve been so impressed by how much the art adds to the text, and how ignorant I’ve been to the power of graphic storytelling.

You can hear Kristen Radtke discuss this book on Episode 194 of The Stacks.


Seven Days in June by Tia Williams (2021)

Not me going from a graphic novel to a romance novel in my top 10. I see now that 2021 has changed me. I loved this book so much. It was my feel good read of the year. It’s a love story between Eva and Shane, two authors who had a brief summer romance in high school (you know, seven days in June) and are reconnected as adults. Eva has a daughter (who is a great character) and a deadline and a lot of pressure, and Shane is a star author and a bit of recluse in the world of publishing. What I appreciated most about the book was that I was rooting for both of the love interests. So often in romance books I’m only interested in one character (if that). I loved that this book was set in the world of publishing but centered Black authors. It was a breath of fresh air and a joy to read. Also, Tia Williams invented a Black book award ceremony that now I’m dying to have be a real thing. Please, publishing gods make this happen (and let me host).


Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison (1977)

Wow. This book is the genre bending novel of my dreams, it is a coming of age story, an adventure story, and a family drama, a mystery, and a romance. Song of Solomon is not defined by any one label, but it is instead, a story populated by incredible characters and memorable scenes. Toni Morrison is a genius, and this book proves why. There has been so much written and said about this novel by people considerably smarter than me, so I will just say, this is a must read book. Do not be sacred, do not hesitate, Toni Morrison will take care of you.

You can head The Stacks Book Club conversation about this book on Episode 191 with Dawnie Walton.


To contribute to The Stacks, join The Stacks Pack, and get exclusive perks, check out our Patreon page (https://www.patreon.com/thestacks). We are beyond grateful for anything you’re able to give to support the production of The Stacks.

The Stacks participates in affiliate programs. We receive a small commission when products are purchased through links on this website, and this comes at no cost to you. This in no way effects opinions on books and products reviewed here. For more information click here.

Ep. 196 A Little Devil in America by Hanif Abdurraqib — The Stacks Book Club (Andrew Ti)

It’s time for our final episode of The Stacks Book Club of the year, and we’re taking on a favorite book of the year, A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance by Hanif Abdurraqib. We are joined again by podcaster and TV writer Andrew Ti for this conversation which touches on cancel culture, Black cultural stereotypes, the skillful writing of the book, and so much more.

Stay tuned to the end of the episode to find out what our January 2022 Book Club pick will be.

LISTEN NOW

Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Overcast | Stitcher

Everything we talk about on today’s episode can be found below in the show notes. You can also find everything we talked about on Amazon.

Connect with Andrew: Twitter | Instagram | Website
Connect with The Stacks: Instagram | Twitter | Shop | Patreon | Goodreads | Subscribe

Support The Stacks

Libro.FM – get two audiobooks for the price of one when you use the code THESTACKS at checkout, and you can gift audiobook memberships to someone in your life easily right here!

To contribute to The Stacks, join The Stacks Pack, and get exclusive perks, check out our Patreon page. If you prefer to support the show with a one time contribution go to paypal.me/thestackspod.


The Stacks participates in affiliate programs. We receive a small commission when products are purchased through links on this website, and this comes at no cost to you. This in no way effects opinions on books and products reviewed here. For more information click here.

The Best Things We Read in 2021

Dear Listeners,

Of all the lists and awards that are reigned down on bookss at the end of the year, this list is my most favrote. I have reached out to past guests from The Stacks in 2021 and asked them to share with us their favorite book they read this year, and the one book in 2022 they’re looking forward to. I love the list because, guests from The Stacks have the best taste in books, and the list is never what you’d expect to see in any other publication. My guests have range.

I hope you enjoy reconnecting with the many voices from our 2021 season.


Deesha Philyaw
Author of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies

The best book I read in 2021… I could not break a tie between my Duval homegirls’ books, Milk Blood Heat by Dantiel W. Moniz and The Final Revival of Opal and Nev by Dawnie Walton! Milk Blood Heat is a brilliant short story collection that left me breathless, made me laugh, and made me feel. Dantiel writes with such wisdom and care, on a craft level and on a narrative level. And I love that many of these exquisite stories are set in our hometown of Jacksonville, Florida. The Final Revival of Opal and Nev is a faux oral history about a ’70s interracial rock n’ roll duo, and even though it’s fictional, the chorus of voices are so damn real and unforgettable! I just marveled at how Dawnie created this masterpiece, a sprawling epic full of secrets, pain, grief, and music.
Book I’m looking forward to reading in 2022: Post-Traumatic by Chantal V. Johnson

Deesha was our guest for Episode 145, and then joined us to discuss The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans on Episode 148.


Kimberly Drew
Co-author of Black Futures

My top read this year was Somebody’s Daughter by Ashley C. Ford. In the memoir Ashley so beautifully shines and opens a window into her life, while holding each reader so tenderly. I am grateful for her generosity. 
Book I’m looking forward to reading in 2022: Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez. I was fortunate to get an advanced copy and loved pouring through the rich pages.

Kimberly was our guest on Episode 146 where she discusses her book Black Futures with her co-author Jenna Wortham.


Vann Newkirk
Senior editor at The Atlantic

I fell in love with Honorée Fanonne Jeffers’s The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois. It was everything I needed in a pandemic book: it was compelling, beautiful, challenging, and for me it was so vivid and showed so much care for Black life in the South that it eased my homesickness and grief in a year of loss. I’ve never met a book quite like this one, and even now, months after I’ve finished, I keep it on my nightstand to flip through when inspired.
Book I’m looking forward to reading in 2022: Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò’s Reconsidering Reparations. I’m fascinated by his arguments situating the idea of reparations in a forward-looking environmental context, and I’m excited to dig in.   

Vann was our guest for Episode 149 , and then joined us to discuss The New Wilderness by Diane Cook, Episode 152.


Mateo Askaripour
Author of Black Buck

The best book I read in 2021? Traci, how could you! It’s tough to narrow it down to one, so I’ll opt to mention a book that I loved and want to get even more shine: Give My Love to the Savages, by Chris Stuck. I read Give My Love to the Savages for a New York Times review of three short story collections, and while I went into the project ready to love all collections equally, man, Stuck’s is the one that blew me away (of course, the others were also powerful). 

With his debut collection, Stuck had me laughing one minute, cringing the next, and deep in thought the entire time. Each of his stories––all with their own original conceits––strike my favorite balancing act of incorporating humor while also having enough courage to not shy away from the truth. I could go on and on, and tell you about the character who wakes up as a six-foot penis, another who gets vitiligo and goes on a cruise, or the young man who’s offered a beautiful home on a lake, if he only has sex with a white man’s white wife, but I’ll stop here and leave it to you to read the rest.
Book I’m looking forward to reading in 2022: I have a whole shelf full of unread books that need some love, and I’ll probably start with A Drop of Patience, by William Melvin Kelley, before making my way to some nonfiction. Right now, Gordon Parks’s A Hungry Heart, 50 Cent’s Hustle Harder, Hustle Smarter, and Will, by Will Smith, are all in the running.

Mateo joined the show for Episode 151 to discuss his debut novel Black Buck.


R. O. Kwon
Co-Editor of Kink

A book I’ve especially appreciated this past year is Korean Art from 1953, a Phaidon survey of Korean contemporary art. It’s a gorgeous book full of art, thought, and history, truly a gift during this time of still limited museum-going. It came as a present from my friend Alex Chee when I was having a hard time, and I keep it on my desk so that I can look through it while I write.
Book I’m looking forward to reading in 2022: I’m looking forward to so many books that will publish next year, but the only one I’ve already had the luck of reading a couple of times is Ingrid Rojas Contreras’s The Man Who Could Move Clouds, a memoir that could change your life. I don’t say this lightly; it has shifted my thinking on ghosts, power, and afterlives. I’ll say it again: it could change your life.

R. O. was our guest on Episode 154 to discuss her collection Kink which she co-edited with Garth Greenwell.


Mary H. K. Choi
Author of Yolk and Emergency Contact

My personal favorite book of 2021 was The Turnout by Megan Abbott. I can’t help it, unhinged, female ambition is so soothing for the way my operating system is set up. First of all, hi, it’s about ballet. Not only ballet but ballet-teacher sisters who grew up in total dysfunction in the long shadow of their ballet-teacher mother. It has basically all the things I think about this time of year—pain, sex, mental health issues, betrayal and The Nutcracker!
Book I’m looking forward to reading in 2022: I Guess I Live Here Now by Claire Ahn. It’s about immigrant parents who make good on the threat of: “If you don’t shape up you’re getting shipped back to TKCOUNTRYOFORIGIN.”

Mary was our guest on Episode 155 to discuss her book Yolk. We also discussed Mary’s book Emergency Contact for The Stacks Book Club on Episode 178.


Chanda Prescod-Weinstein
Professor and Author of The Disordered Cosmos

One of the best books I read in 2021 was Elissa Washuta’s White Magic: Essays. There’s a lot that could be said about the content: a reading of pop culture — from the Oregon Trail to Twin Peaks — through the lens of a Cowlitz woman who is in search of love and a sense of self. And I learned a lot. But there is another layer of brilliance to this book: Washuta is a goddess of lyrical essay, and much as I was caught up in what she said about how she sees the world, I also found myself wanting to study how she said it. Plus, White Magic is a beautiful book, not just as a text but also physically. I loved the use of white text against black pages, and the gold-embossed cover. I cannot more highly recommend this book.
Book I’m looking forward to reading in 2022: I’m super excited about Jean Chen Ho’s work of fiction Fiona and Jane.

Chanda was our guest on Episode to discuss her book, The Disordered Cosmos


Clint Smith
Author of How the Word Is Passed

It’s impossible to pick one but one of the best books I read this year was Reuben Jonathan Miller’s Halfway Home: Race, Punishment, and the Afterlife of Mass IncarcerationMiller is a professor of social work at the University of Chicago and his book is written like a sociological memoir. Grounded in qualitative research on people coming home from prison, the book also weaves in deeply personal reflections about Miller’s relationship with his brother, who for years was in and out of prison. Miller’s proximity to the subject matter adds an invaluable layer of human texture to the story. It’s excellent.
Book I’m looking forward to reading in 2022: I hear Patrick Radden Keefe has a new book coming out which means it’s immediately going to the top of my list.

Clint was our guest on Episode 168 to discuss his book How the Word is Passed.


Mira Jacob
Author of Good Talk

The best book I read in 2021 was Kaitlyn Greenidge’s Libertie, which shows the inner life of a free-born black woman in the Reconstruction Era who isn’t trying to be anyone’s role model–a premise so loving and revolutionary that it has changed the way I read and write.
Book I’m looking forward to reading in 2022: Okay, I am cheating with two. In my defense, I am looking forward to reading about 49 books in 2022. Alison B. Hart’s The Work Wife, which pulls apart female complicity in the cesspool that is Hollywood, and Sarah Thankam Matthews’ All This Could Be Different, which looks to be all the things I love–a running-off-the-rails queer immigrant love story. 

Mira was our guest on Episode 171 and returned to discuss The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui on Episode 174.


Nichole Perkins
Author of Sometimes I Trip on How Happy We Could Be

The best book I read in 2021 was My Monticello by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson. It’s a riveting debut collection that will have you sitting on the edge of your seat, leaning into each story.
Book I’m looking forward to in 2022: Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband? by Lizzie Damilola Blackburn 

Nichole was our guest on Episode 184 and returned to discuss Waiting to Exhale by Terry McMillan on Episode 187.


Dawnie Walton
Author of The Final Revival of Opal and Nev

Between distressing news headlines and the rollercoaster of emotions that is publishing a debut novel, I frequently felt scrambled throughout this year. Brilliant new story and essay collections were my cure for getting over reading slumps (shout out to Milk Blood Heat by Dantiel W. Moniz, The Ones Who Don’t Say They Love You by Maurice Carlos Ruffin, and A Little Devil in America by Hanif Abdurraqib). But the book that is currently pushing me out of a writing slump is Toni Morrison’s classic Song of Solomon, which I read for the first time last month (coincidentally, for The Stacks Book Club — thank you for the nudge, Traci!). Within this story Morrison leaps over years in the span of a sentence, experiments with a blend of seemingly disparate genres, and digs into the legends of several characters at once…and yet, the center always holds. As a reader I was enthralled by its wildness, and as a writer I am inspired to be braver, to roam in fresh and unexpected directions.
Book I’m looking forward to reading in 2022: Finding MeViola Davis’ memoir, and The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan.

Dawnie was our guest on Episode 189, and she joined us to discuss Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison on Episode 191.


Amanda Montell
Author of Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism

The book that resonated with me most in 2021 was probably Milk Fed by the singular voice that is Melissa Broder. I don’t read a ton of fiction, so this was a wild card, but I think it’s just one of those books that arrived in my life right when I needed it. I’d describe it as a creamy, steamy, devourable novel about deprivation and desire in which a 20-something woman trapped in the prison of her own self-loathing learns to set herself free through sex, food, and spirituality. 
Book I’m looking forward to reading in 2022: My Mess Is a Bit of a Life: Adventures in Anxiety by Georgia Pritchett

Amanda was our guest on Episode 190, where we discussed her Cultush: The Language of Fanaticism.


Andrew Ti
Creator and co-host of the podcast Yo, Is This Racist?

Wow, do I feel uncomfortable saying “best” here, but the book I enjoyed the most was probably There There, by Tommy Orange. It’s a cool Native thriller that’s both literary and cinematic, and it just fucking dope.
Book I’m looking forward to reading in 2022: A comic book series, The Good Asian by Pornsak Pichetshote. 

Andrew was our guest on Episode 192, and he joined us to discuss A Little Devil in America by Hanif Abdurraqib on Episode 196.


Lupita Aquino
Reader behind @lupita.reads on Instagram

The best book I read in 2021 was…..how dare you make me pick just one?!….The Arsonists’ City by Hala Alyan! It’s a book I think about often even though I finished it months ago. Traversing from the US, Lebanon and Syria to Palestine this novel at its core is a family saga that illuminates the way a family’s history/possible fated destiny becomes broken and changed by war. Captivating and beautifully written Alyan captures the realities of family dynamics through such a raw perspective which will leave you thinking the ways displacement ripples through every relationship we build. 
Book I’m looking forward to reading in 2022: Body Work: The Radical Power of Personal Narrative by Melissa Febos! 

Lupita was our guest on Episode 195, discussing the best books of 2021.


Traci Thomas
Host and creator of The Stacks

The best book I read in 2021 was A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance by Hanif Abdurraqib. The book is a nuanced and layered analysis of Black performance in America. I was taken with Abdurraqib’s ability to weave history, pop culture, and personal experiences into each essay, and to complicate my understanding of what it means to “perform”. This is one of those books that I just want to gush over to everyone I meet. A really special read.
Book I’m looking forward to reading in 2022: South to America by Imani Perry, and I’m very intrigued by Nightcrawling by Leila Mottley.


The Stacks participates in affiliate programs. We receive a small commission when products are purchased through links on this website, and this comes at no cost to you. This in no way effects opinions on books and products reviewed here. For more information click here.

Ep. 195 The Best Books of 2021 with Lupita Aquino Morgan Hoit

It’s time for The Stacks’ annual Best Books of 2021 episode. To help put together this list, we’re joined by professional readers Lupita Aquino (@lupita.reads) and Morgan Hoit (@nycbookgirl). In addition to sharing our top 10 books of the year, we also discuss the trends we saw in 2021, reading for work, and the books we’re excited about in 2022.

The Stacks Book Club selection for December is A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance by Hanif Abdurraqib, we will discuss the book on December 29th with Andrew Ti.

LISTEN NOW

Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Overcast | Stitcher

Everything we talk about on today’s episode can be found below in the show notes. You can also find everything we talked about on Amazon.

Connect with Lupita: Instagram | Twitter | Website
Connect with Morgan: Instagram | Twitter | Website
Connect with The Stacks: Instagram | Twitter | Shop | Patreon | Goodreads | Subscribe

Support The Stacks

Libro.FM – get two audiobooks for the price of one when you use the code THESTACKS at checkout, and you can gift audiobook memberships to someone in your life easily right here!

To contribute to The Stacks, join The Stacks Pack, and get exclusive perks, check out our Patreon page. If you prefer to support the show with a one time contribution go to paypal.me/thestackspod.

Unabridged: Gifting Books Made Easy with Mr. Stacks (Episode 4)

You all, The Stacks Pack, asked for ideas for books to gift to the people in your life this holiday season. And to make things more fun, I roped in Mr. Stacks to give his recommendations, too! So let’s get those last minute holiday gifts to the people in your lives.

*This episode is exclusive to members of The Stacks Pack on patreon. To join this community, get inside access to the show, and listen now, click the link below.

JOIN THE STACKS PACK TO LISTEN

Everything we talk about on today’s episode can be found below in the show notes. You can also find what we talked about on Amazon.


Connect with The Stacks: Instagram | Twitter | Shop | Patreon | Goodreads | Subscribe

To contribute to The Stacks, join The Stacks Pack, and get exclusive perks, check out our Patreon page. If you prefer to support the show with a one time contribution go to paypal.me/thestackspod.


The Stacks participates in affiliate programs. We receive a small commission when products are purchased through links on this website, and this comes at no cost to you. This in no way effects opinions on books and products reviewed here. For more information click here.

The 2021 Stacks Book Club Battle of the Books

Its back! The 4th Annual The Stacks Book Club Battle of the Books!

We did it in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and honestly, its the best tradition and I hope you’re all as thrilled for round four as I am.

To refresh your memory, The Battle of The Books is a March Madness style bracket where you vote to pick the book club book of the year. You also get a chance to win one of TSBC books by predicting the most accurate bracket over on https://challonge.com/thestacks2021 or click here. You create your account put your predictions in for who you think will win. Then on The Stacks Instagram Stories, you’ll vote (starting 12/23) for your favorite books in head to head battles, until we crown one winner, The Stacks Book Club Book of the Year. The results of each round will be updated over on Challonge (our bracket site) and on our Instagram @thestackspod.

You have until Thursday, December 23nd at 8:00am PST to put in your predictions. The winner will be whoever has the most accurate bracket, and they will win one of our TSBC books from 2021 (winner’s choice). Be sure your bracket name is your IG handle, email, or name, so you are easy to find upon completion of the tournament. We will announce the winner of the tournament and the winner of the giveaway on Friday, December 31st once all the results are in.

Here is the important stuff.

  1. Make sure you’re following The Stacks on Instagram @thestackspod.
  2. Register for the bracket if you want to be part of the giveaway CLICK HERE
  3. Vote in each round on our Insta Stories,  starting Thursday December 23rd . All voting on Instagram!
  4. Spread the word!

If you want all the nerdy details of how the seeding was figure out, you’ve come to the right place. Mostly I created a bunch of my own calculations to rank the books based on many factors. The rankings are full of biases and assumptions, and honestly, thats what makes this fun. You all ultimately get to vote, which means you get to decide. Here is how I ranked these books, and below find a more detailed description of what that means. 

  • Podcast Downloads– Raw number of downloads that episode received according to my data (I know older episodes will be at a disadvantage as the podcast grew over time, but also newer episodes suffer because they haven’t been up as long, I’m hoping it all evens out). It is worth noting that I excluded A Little Devil in America from this calculation since that episode is not out yet.
  • iTunes Episode Popularity– iTunes lets me see how popular each episode is. Its slight different than raw downloads, because they take into account listeners at the time of recording, but they also only include people listening through iTunes. Again, A Little Devil in America was excluded from this category, see above.
  • Goodreads Scores– I looked up each book on Goodreads and took that score.
  • Goodreads Reviews– I took the raw number of Goodreads reviews for each book.
  • Test of Time– The older a book is, the more credit it got, because it has withstood the test of time. 
  • Social Media Input– I’ve asked The Stacks Instagram followers to tell me their favorite book we read this year, and those responses are incorporated.
  • Traci’s Personal Ranking– Thats right, I’m influencing this competition a little. Its my podcast, so why not?

There are 12 books in the competition, so in each of those categories the books are rated on a scale of 1-12. Each book received a score from each category, 1 being the best, 12 the worst. I then tallied all the scores and divided by 7 (in the case of

I know that sounds like a lot, but just trust me, it makes sense. Here are the rankings based on these calculations, and their total overall raw scores, remember lower is better. Where there was a tie, I broke the tie.

  1. Blood in the Water – 4
  2. Song of Solomon – 4.42
  3. The Best We Could Do – 4.57
  4. The Office of Historical Corrections – 4.85
  5. Anna Karenina – 4.85
  6. A Little Devil in America – 6
  7. Emergency Contact – 6.42
  8. Waiting to Exhale – 6.85
  9. The New Wilderness – 7.14
  10. The Undying – 8
  11. The Tradition – 8.42
  12. Every Body Looking – 10

Voting begins Thursday December 23rd, shortly after 8:00am PST for the first round, and will follow the schedule below. Remember you vote on The Stacks Instagram stories. You just click your favorite book in each round’s head to head matchup. Once the results are in, I’ll share the winners with you and we get ready for the next round. The schedule is below.

Round 1 – December 23nd – Play in Games

Round 2 – December 26th – Elite 8

Round 3 – December 28th – Final 4

Round 4 – December 30th – Championship

That feels like a lot, trust me, it’ll be fun and worth it.
Here is the important stuff.

  1. Make sure you’re following The Stacks on Instagram @thestackspod.
  2. Register for the bracket (with a recognizable name) if you want to be part of the giveaway CLICK HERE
  3. Vote in each round on our Insta Stories,  starting Thursday December 23.
  4. Spread the word!

For those of you curious who won in previous years, 2018 was The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, 2019 was Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson, 2020 was The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio. Who will ascend the throne in 2021?


To contribute to The Stacks, join The Stacks Pack, and get exclusive perks, check out our Patreon page. We are beyond grateful for anything you’re able to give to support the production of this show. If you prefer to do a one time contribution go to paypal.me/thestackspod.

The Stacks participates in affiliate programs. We receive a small commission when products are purchased through links on this website, and this comes at no cost to you. This in no way effects opinions on books and products reviewed here. For more information click here.

Ep. 194 How We Understand Loneliness with Kristen Radtke

Kristen Radkte is the author of Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness, a work of graphic nonfiction that uses prose and images to explore the experience and portrayal of loneliness. It is spectacular. Kristen talks to us about the ways the COVID-19 pandemic has changed our collective understanding of loneliness, what she wishes more people knew about graphic books, and how to connect with the lonely in our lives.

The Stacks Book Club selection for December is A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance by Hanif Abdurraqib, we will discuss the book on December 29th with Andrew Ti.

LISTEN NOW

Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Overcast | Stitcher

Everything we talk about on today’s episode can be found below in the show notes. You can also find everything we talked about on Amazon.

Connect with Kristen: Twitter | Instagram | Website
Connect with The Stacks: Instagram | Twitter | Shop | Patreon | Goodreads | Subscribe

Support The Stacks

getAbstract: Use code THESTACKS to get a free month of nonfiction books and article summaries from getAbstact, or head to getab.li/THESTACKS.

Bombas: Get 20% off your first purchase by going to bombas.com/THESTACKS or use the code THESTACKS at checkout.

To contribute to The Stacks, join The Stacks Pack, and get exclusive perks, check out our Patreon page. If you prefer to support the show with a one time contribution go to paypal.me/thestackspod.

Ep. 193 Betting on the Kids with Angelina Jolie and Tokata Iron Eyes

Angelina Jolie, actor-director-humanitarian, and Indigenous activist Tokata Iron Eyes join Traci to discuss Jolie’s book Know Your Rights an Claim Them: A Guide for Youth, which she wrote with Geraldine Van Bueren and Amnesty International. The conversation is a candid discussion with two people who are helping to shape the dialogue around activism, especially when it comes to the global rights of children, and the ways activism permeates all facets of life.

The Stacks Book Club selection for December is A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance by Hanif Abdurraqib, we will discuss the book on December 29th with Andrew Ti.

LISTEN NOW

Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Overcast | Stitcher

Everything we talk about on today’s episode can be found below in the show notes. You can also find everything we talked about on Amazon.

Photo: Rozette Rago

Connect with Angelina: Instagram
Connect with Tokata: Instagram
Connect with Amnesty International: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Website

Connect with The Stacks: Instagram | Twitter | Shop | Patreon | Goodreads | Subscribe

Support The Stacks

Libro.FM – get two audiobooks for the price of one when you use the code THESTACKS at checkout, and you can gift audiobook memberships to someone in your life easily right here!

To contribute to The Stacks, join The Stacks Pack, and get exclusive perks, check out our Patreon page. If you prefer to support the show with a one time contribution go to paypal.me/thestackspod.


The Stacks participates in affiliate programs. We receive a small commission when products are purchased through links on this website, and this comes at no cost to you. This in no way effects opinions on books and products reviewed here. For more information click here.

The Stacks Book Club — December 2021

We’ve waited until the end of the year to finally tackle a 2021 release as part of The Stacks Book Club. The good news is the book is well worth the wait, and is arguably one of my favorite books of the year (you can check out my other favorites of the year here).

That’s right, our December book club pick is A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance by Hanif Abdurraqib. In this collection of essays that center around the performances of Black people, Abdurraqib examines grief, proximity to whiteness, masculinity, and so much more, all while weaving together generations of Black performances and artists with his own experiences as a Black man in performing his identities in America. This book has layers, y’all. It is not to be missed. Don’t just take my word for it, the collection was a finalist for The National Book Award, and has been on all the major end of year book lists. It is good good.

We will be discussing A Little Devil in America by Hanif Abdurraqib on Wednesday, December 29th. You can find out who our guest will be for that discussion by listening to the podcast on December 1st. If you’d like even more discussion around the book consider joining The Stacks Pack on Patreon and participating in The Stacks’ monthly virtual book club.

Order your copy of our December book on Bookshop.org or Amazon. Or listen to it as an audiobook with Libro.FM.


To contribute to The Stacks, join The Stacks Pack, and get exclusive perks, check out our Patreon page (https://www.patreon.com/thestacks). We are beyond grateful for anything you’re able to give to support the production of The Stacks.

The Stacks participates in affiliate programs. We receive a small commission when products are purchased through links on this website, and this comes at no cost to you. This in no way effects opinions on books and products reviewed. For more information click here.

Ep. 192 Yo, Is This Racist with Andrew Ti

Andrew Ti is the creator and co-host of the Yo, Is This Racist podcast, and a comedy and TV writer. He joins the show today to talk about his journey from a neuroscience major at Columbia to the writers room on mixed-ish. We also talk about his relationship to problematic white authors, his aversion to funny books, and more.

The Stacks Book Club selection for December is A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance by Hanif Abdurraqib, we will discuss the book on December 29th with Andrew Ti.

LISTEN NOW

Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Overcast | Stitcher

Everything we talk about on today’s episode can be found below in the show notes. You can also find everything we talked about on Amazon.

Books

Everything Else

Connect with Andrew: Twitter | Instagram | Website

Connect with The Stacks: Instagram | Twitter | Shop | Patreon | Goodreads | Subscribe

Support The Stacks

Libro.FM – get two audiobooks for the price of one when you use the code THESTACKS at checkout, and you can gift audiobook memberships to someone in your life easily right here!

To contribute to The Stacks, join The Stacks Pack, and get exclusive perks, check out our Patreon page. If you prefer to support the show with a one time contribution go to paypal.me/thestackspod.


The Stacks participates in affiliate programs. We receive a small commission when products are purchased through links on this website, and this comes at no cost to you. This in no way effects opinions on books and products reviewed here. For more information click here.