Ep. 216 Shine Bright by Danyel Smith — The Stacks Book Club (Novena Carmel)

It’s The Stacks Book Club Day! Novena Carmel, musician and cohost of KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic, joins us again to unpack Shine Bright: A Very Personal History of Black Women in Pop by Danyel Smith. We talk about Danyel as a cultural icon, what it takes to be a superstar. and the joy of disco as a threat to whiteness.

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

LISTEN NOW

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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.

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Connect with Novena: Twitter | Instagram | Website
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Support The Stacks

Athletic Greens – visit atheleticgreens.com/thestacks to get a free one-year supply of vitamin D and five free travel packs with your first purchase.
Pocket Casts – go to www.pocketcasts.com/thestacks to redeem a 6-month free trial of Pocket Casts Plus.
Ana Luisa – go to shop.analuisa.com/thestacks and use code THESTACKS to get 10% off.

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 – May 2022

This month’s Book Club pick is Danyel Smith’s Shine Bright: A Very Personal History of Black Women in Pop. Shine Bright combines music criticism, memoir and biography to give a detailed and intimate narrative of pop music’s bedrock, as built by Black women. Smith’s history as a music fan, essayist,Vibe and Billboard editor, and host of the Black Girl Songbook podcast has put her in the center of this American story since childhood. She covers everyone from the enslaved singing poet Phillis Wheatley to Dionne Warwick, Whitney Houston, Mahalia Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey and Gladys Knight, along with under-appreciated artists such as Deniece Williams, Jody Watley and Marilyn McCoo.

We will be discussing Shine Bright by Danyel Smith on Wednesday, May 25th. You can find out who our guest will be for that discussion by listening to the podcast on May 4th. 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 May book on Bookshop.org or Amazon, or get a copy of the audiobook from 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. 212 Doppelgangbanger by Cortney Lamar Charleston — The Stacks Book Club (Nate Marshall)

We welcome back Nate Marshall today to discuss Cortney Lamar Charleston’s poetry collection Doppelgangbanger, which grapples with the tensions that impact a Black boy’s struggle through self-destructive definitions of manhood. We discuss the narratives around coming of age in the suburbs and the city, and ask ourselves, is there really such a thing as an objectively good poem?

Be sure to listen to the end of today’s episode to find out what our May 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.

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

Support The Stacks

Athletic Greens – visit atheleticgreens.com/thestacks to get a free one-year supply of vitamin D and five free travel packs with your first purchase.
Pocket Casts – go to www.pocketcasts.com/tcac to redeem a 6-month free trial of Pocket Casts Plus.
Vegamour – go to vegamour.com/thestacks and use the code THESTACKS to get 20% off your first order.

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 — April 2022

April is National Poetry Month! To celebrate, we’re reading Cortney Lamar Charleston’s Doppelgangbanger for The Stacks Book Club. The author’s second poetry collection unpacks American Black masculinity and its intersection with love, community and family. Charleston’s voice and sensibility are informed by his upbringing in 90s Southside Chicago during hip hop’s heyday. His playful but vulnerable writing explores a Black boy’s struggle to authentically redefine his own manhood amid traditional, self-destructive influences.

We will be discussing Doppelgangbanger by Cortney Lamar Charleston on Wednesday, April 27th. You can find out who our guest will be for that discussion by listening to the podcast on April 6th. 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 April book on Bookshop.org or Amazon.


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. 208 A Mercy by Toni Morrison — The Stacks Book Club (Imani Perry)

Today on The Stacks Book Club we speak again with Imani Perry, author of the New York Times bestselling South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon Line to Understand the Soul of a Nation. In our discussion of Toni Morrison’s novel A Mercy, we talk destroying ourselves over heartbreak, treating people tenderly and the book’s central metaphor of the house. We also touch on the seduction of beauty, and breathlessness.
There are spoilers on this episode.

Be sure to listen to the end of today’s episode to find out what our April 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 Imani: Twitter | Instagram
Connect with The Stacks: Instagram | Twitter | Shop | Patreon | Goodreads | Subscribe

Support The Stacks

Athletic Greens – visit atheleticgreens.com/thestacks to get a free one-year supply of vitamin D and five free travel packs with your first purchase.
Apostrophe Save fifteen dollars off your first visit with an Apostrophe provider at apostrophe.com/thestacks when you use code THESTACKS.
Listen to Seizing Freedom, a podcast that illustrates the myriad ways Black people have fought for and defined their own freedom.

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. 203 I Live a Life Like Yours by Jan Grue — The Stacks Book Club (Tessa Miller)

Today for The Stacks Book Club we’re discussing I Live a Life Like Yours, a memoir by Jan Grue, which explores his experiences as a wheelchair user in Norway. We are joined by author and journalist, Tessa Miller (What Doesn’t Kill You) for this conversation on the importance of community, accessibility, and pushing back against stereotypical depictions of disabled people.
There are no spoilers on today’s episode.

Be sure to listen to the end of today’s episode to find out what our March 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 Tessa: Instagram | Twitter | Website
Connect with The Stacks: Instagram | Twitter | Shop | Patreon | Goodreads | Subscribe

Support The Stacks

Athletic Greens – visit atheleticgreens.com/thestacks to get a free one-year supply of vitamin D and five free travel packs with your first purchase.
Native – head to nativedeo.com/thestacks and use code THESTACKS to get 20% off your first order.
Vegamour – go to vegamour.com/thestacks and use the code THESTACKS to get 20% off your first order.

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 — February 2022

This month we’re reading Jan Grue’s memoir I Live a Life Like Yours, which looks at Grue’s life in Norway as a wheelchair user with a undiagnosed muscular disease. The book brings up issues of accessibility, stigma, privilege, and ultimately our relationship to our own humanity. The book was originally published in Norway in 2018 where it won the Norwegian Critics Prize for Literature. It has since been translated from the original Norwegian by B. L. Crook, and released in English in the United States in 2021.

We will be discussing I Live a Life Like Yours by Jan Grue on Wednesday, February 23rd. You can find out who our guest will be for that discussion by listening to the podcast on February 2nd. 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 February 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. 200 Passing by Nella Larsen — The Stacks Book Club (Cree Myles)

Today on The Stacks Book Club we’re discussing Nella Larsen’s 1929 classic novel Passing. We’re joined again by Cree Myles, the creative force behind Penguin Random House’ All Ways Black, to discuss this story racial passing in the 1920’s. This episode touches on the history of passing, the 2021 film adaptation, and the central question of freedom.
There are spoilers on this episode.

Be sure to listen to the end of today’s episode to find out what our February 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 Cree: Twitter | Instagram
Connect with The Stacks: Instagram | Twitter | Shop | Patreon | Goodreads | Subscribe

Support The Stacks

Athletic Greens – visit atheleticgreens.com/thestacks to get a free one-year supply of vitamin D and five free travel packs with your first purchase.
Vegamour – go to vegamour.com/thestacks and use the code THESTACKS to get 20% off your first order.
Native – head to nativedeo.com/thestacks and use code THESTACKS to get 20% off your first order.

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. 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 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.