Ep. 247 True Biz by Sara Nović — The Stacks Book Club (Greta Johnsen)

For our final book club pick of 2022, Greta Johnsen is back to discuss True Biz by Sara Nović, a novel about the teachers and students of a boarding school for the Deaf. We ask who the audience is for this book, and whether the Deaf community should have to teach hearing people about themselves. We also get into the topic of consent with children and parents, especially when it comes to medical decisions.

Be sure to listen to then end of today’s episode to find out what our book club pick will be in January 2023.

LISTEN NOW

Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Overcast | Stitcher | Transcript

Everything we talk about on today’s episode can be found below in the show notes and on Bookshop.org and Amazon.

To support The Stacks and find out more from this week’s sponsors, click here.

Connect with Greta: Instagram | Twitter | Nerdette
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.

Unabridged: One for the Books with Sam Sanders and Danyel Smith

This is a portion of the live recording of Traci’s new live show in LA “One for the Books” with KPCC and LAist. It’s a conversation with journalists Sam Sanders and Danyel Smith about how we talk about books and pop culture, why there’s a difference between the two worlds and how we should and could create change. Danyel also talks about her book Shine Bright and Black women in pop music.

*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 Sam: Instagram | Twitter
Connect with Danyel: Instagram | Twitter
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.

Ep. 246 The Best Books of 2022 with Andrew Limbong

NPR Arts Desk reporter and Book of the Day podcast host Andrew Limbong joins The Stacks to count down his five favorite books of 2022. Traci shares her own list, making it our official top ten of the year. We also get into the trends we saw throughout 2022, and what we’re looking forward to in 2023.

The Stacks Book Club selection for December is True Biz by Sarah Nović. We will discuss the book on December 28th with Greta Johnsen.

LISTEN NOW

Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Overcast | Stitcher | Transcript

Everything we talk about on today’s episode can be found below in the show notes and on Bookshop.org and Amazon.

To support The Stacks and find out more from this week’s sponsors, click here.

Connect with Andrew: Instagram | Twitter | Book of the Day
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.

Ep. 245 The Worst Moments of His Life with Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa

Washington Post reporters Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa join The Stacks to discuss their book His Name Is George Floyd: One Man’s Life and the Struggle for Racial Justice. We talk about giving George Floyd the “presidential” biography treatment, and why they chose to tell his story now. They reveal how they tackled writing such a massive book with over 400 interviews, and what the fact-checking process was like. We also ask, ‘who is the audience for this book?’

The Stacks Book Club selection for December is True Biz by Sarah Nović. We will discuss the book on December 28th with Greta Johnsen.

LISTEN NOW

Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Overcast | Stitcher | Transcript

Everything we talk about on today’s episode can be found below in the show notes and on Bookshop.org and Amazon.

To support The Stacks and find out more from this week’s sponsors, click here.

Connect with Toluse: Instagram | Twitter | Website
Connect with Robert: Instagram | Twitter 
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 2022 Stacks Book Club Battle of the Books

We’re back for the fifth year of The Stacks Battle of the Books. I can confidently say this year, might be our best ever. That matchups are wild!

We did it in 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021 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/thestacks2022 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 Wednesday, December 21st 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 2022 (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 30th 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. Be sure to pick a winner at the bottom of the page.
  3. Vote in each round on our Insta Stories,  starting Wednesday December 21st . 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. 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 an 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 True Biz  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, True Biz was excluded from this category, see above.
  • Goodreads Scores– I looked up each book on Goodreads and took that score.
  • Goodreads Ratings– I took the raw number of Goodreads ratings 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 (except in the case of True Biz which was divided by 5).

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 based on my preferences.

  1. Passing – 3.71
  2. The Trees – 4.28
  3. How to Write an Autobiographical Novel – 4.28
  4. White Negroes – 4.57
  5. A Mercy – 5.28
  6. Prison by Any Other Name – 6
  7. Shine Bright – 7
  8. True Biz – 7.6
  9. Season of Migration to the North – 7.85
  10. I Live a Life Like Yours – 8.42
  11. Fairest – 8.57
  12. Doppelgangbanger – 10

Voting begins Wednesday December 21st, 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 21st – Play in Games

Round 2 – December 23rd – Elite 8

Round 3 – December 26th – Final 4

Round 4 – December 29th – 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 Wednesday December 21.
  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, and 2021 was Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison. Who will ascend the throne in 2022?


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. 244 Relentlessly Positive with Greta Johnsen

Today we’re joined by Greta Johnsen, host and producer of the Nerdette podcast from WBEZ Chicago, at host of HBO’s House of the Dragon recap podcast. We get into Greta’s positive approach to reviewing books and how she currates all things nerd. We also hold a grilled cheese debate and discuss the art of balancing book criticism with never having written a book.

The Stacks Book Club selection for December is True Biz by Sarah Nović. We will discuss the book on December 28th with Greta Johnsen.

LISTEN NOW

Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Overcast | Stitcher | Transcript

Everything we talk about on today’s episode can be found below in the show notes and on Bookshop.org and Amazon.

photo credit: Anna Bauman

To support The Stacks and find out more from this week’s sponsors, click here.

Connect with Greta: Instagram | Twitter 
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 Stacks Book Club – December 2022

Our Stacks Book Club selection for December is the novel True Biz by Sara Nović. The New York Times Bestseller centers around a diverse trio of students at River Valley, a boarding school for the Deaf. As they seek normal teenage experiences, academic success and bodily autonomy, each must confront the personal, political and family challenges which intertwine and throw their lives into chaos. The engaging, immersive story explores the culture of sign language and lip-reading alongside themes from civil rights and injustice to young love, grief and resilience. True Biz has been named one of the best books of 2022 by The Washington Post, NPR and Publishers Weekly. It is the second novel from translator and creative writing professor Nović, following 2016’s Girl at War.

We will discuss True Biz by Sara Nović on Wednesday, December 28th. You can find out who our guest will be by listening to the podcast on December 7th. 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 and Amazon, or listen to the audiobook through 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. 243 Prison by Any Other Name by Maya Schenwar and Victoria Law — The Stacks Book Club (Mariame Kaba)

Today anti-violence activist and author Mariame Kaba returns to discuss Prison by Any Other Name: The Harmful Consequences of Popular Reforms by Maya Schenwar and Victoria Law for The Stacks Book Club. We highlight the depth of knowledge that this book provides about the history and current state of criminalization, and unpack the idea that prison is something that ties us all together. We ask why so many so-called reforms look like prison and policing, and what solutions might work in their place.

Be sure to listen to the end of today’s episode to find out what our December book club pick will be.

LISTEN NOW

Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Overcast | Stitcher | Transcript

Everything we talk about on today’s episode can be found below in the show notes and on Bookshop.org and Amazon.

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

To support The Stacks and find out more from this week’s sponsors, click 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 x The Catherine Coleman Foundation Fundraiser

It’s Giving Tuesday, so what better day to kick off our annual fundraiser? This year, we’re supporting The Catherine Coleman Foundation, founded by MacArthur Genius Award winner and dear friend of the podcast Kiese Laymon in honor of his grandmother.

The Catherine Coleman Literary Arts, Food and Justice Initiative now permanently resides at the Jackson State University Margaret Walker Center after its start at The University of Mississippi in 2020. It gives emerging Mississippi writers new avenues for creativity along with a renewed connection with their community’s historical social justice movements. The initiative will offer programming and writing seminars led by JSU students, faculty and special guests aimed at honing the skills of its young people as readers, writers and editors.

Kiese explained the program’s mission in announcing its move to JSU: “My grandmama sent all her daughters to Jackson State. This initiative will continue to help young folks in Jackson become the next Danielle Buckingham or Leslie McLemore Jr., two of the greatest young artists in Mississippi… Our hope is to ritualize workshops and incredible food for young folks in our community who might not get a lot of time to write and read ‘creatively.’ We also want young people to consider the creativity that gets food from the land to the table in Mississippi.”

Kiese himself plans to match up to $50,000 in donations to the program for the next month.

Our Stacks community goal is to raise $25,000.

If you’re able, please join The Stacks in raising money toward expanding and supporting the literary arts for Mississippi youths. Consider forgoing one new book this month in favor of making a $25 donation to this incredible organization.

Unabridged: Triscuits and Nilla Wafers with David Dennis Jr. and Justin Tinsley

On this Unabridged, we’re joined by journalists and writers David Dennis Jr. and Justin Tinsley for a really vibe-y hang. We talk sports and the art of sports criticism, Kyrie Irving and our Thanksgiving dinner hot takes. We also discuss our favorite fast food restaurants and the best scenes from Martin.

*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 David: Instagram | Twitter Connect with Justin: Instagram | Twitter | Website
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.