Introducing The Stackies

The Stacks Pack is The Stacks community on Patreon. They are the most ardent fans of the show, and they believe in putting their money behind this little indie book podcast. I am forever grateful for this generous community. This year, as all the book awards and best of lists were coming out, The Stacks Pack was not into what they were seeing. There were lively debates happening on The Stacks discord channel, and one TSP member decided we should have our own awards. And thus, The Stackies were born.

Before I get to the awards themselves I have to say thank you to Elisah who put together the form and ran ran all the rounds of voting. She is a rock star and I am so grateful she took the reins when I simply could not.

The nominations and voting was open only to members of The Stacks Pack. There was one round of nominations, one round of general voting, and one round for finalists. Then we arrived at the below winners. I have included the winners and the finalists in each category. The winners are in bold. They are also all hyperlinked to bookshop.org so you can shop while you read.

If you want to join all the fun of The Stacks Pack please head to patreon.com/thestacks to join in. You earn awesome perks (bonus episodes, the aforementioned discord, virtual book club, reading tracker, and more) and you get to know your money (only $5 a month) is going toward a Black woman run independent book podcast. C’mon, that’s five dollars well spent.

Without further ado, here are the winners of the first ever The Stackies.

Best Debut

Nightcrawling by Leila Mottley
The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan
What My Bones Know by Stephanie Foo

Best Literary/Contemporary Fiction

Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson
The Last White Man by Mohsin Hamid
The Swimmers by Julie Otsuka
Woman of Light by Kali Fajardo-Anstine

Best Nonfiction

Alive at the End of the World by Saeed Jones
Shine Bright by Danyel Smith
South to America by Imani Perry
The Viral Underclass by Steven W. Thrasher

Best Memoir

Finding Me by Viola Davis
I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jenette McCurdy
Solito by Javier Zamora
The Man Who Could Move Clouds by Ingrid Rojas Contreras

Best Romance

Book Lovers by Emily Henry
Honey & Spice by Bolu Babalola
You Made a Fool of Death with your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi

Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Babel by R. F. Kuang
Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel
The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan

Best Short Story Collection

Bliss Montage by Ling Ma
If I Survive You by Jonathan Escoffery
Stories from the Tenants Downstairs by Sidik Fofana

Best Essay Collection

How to Read Now by Elaine Castillo
Son of Elsewhere by Elamin Abdelmahmoud
Year of the Tiger by Alice Wong

Best Young Adult

Bitter by Alkwaeke Emezi
Kings of B’More by R. Eric Thomas
The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School by Sonora Reyes

Best Graphic Memoir or Novel

A Pros and Cons List for Strong Feelings by Will Betke-Brunswick
Ain’t Burned All the Bright by Jason Reynolds and Jason Griffin
Ducks by Kate Beaton

Best Cover

Nightcrawling by Leila Mottley
Shine Bright by Danyel Smith
What My Bones Know by Stephanie Foo
You Made a Fool of Death with your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi

Best Main Character

Bloodmarked by Tracy Deon
How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water by Angie Cruz
The Town of Babylon by Alejandro Varela
The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna

Best Representation

The Town of Babylon by Alejandro Varela
Year of the Tiger by Alice Wong
You Made a Fool of Death with your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi

Best The Stacks Book Club Book

Passing by Nella Larsen
Shine Bright by Danyel Smith
The Trees by Percival Everett

Best Bookstore

Green Apple Books – San Francisco, CA
Loyalty Bookstores – Washington DC
Reparations Club – Los Angeles, CA
Uncle Bobbie’s – Philadelphia, PA

Funniest Book

Allow Me to Retort by Elie Mystal
Disorientation by Elaine Hsieh Chou
I Was Better Last Night by Harvey Fierstein

Book That Made You The Angriest

Nightcrawling by Leila Mottley
The Viral Underclass by Steven W. Thrasher
The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan

Most Hated Book

Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing by Matthew Perry
Glory by NoViolet Bulawayo
Notes on an Execution by Danya Kukafka
The Family Game by Catherine Steadman


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. 195 The Best Books of 2021 with Lupita Aquino and 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

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.