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. 185 Abolition for the People with Bree Newsome and Kiese Laymon


Today we are discussing Abolition for the People: The Movement for a Future Without Policing and Prisons, an anthology edited by Colin Kaepernick. We are joined by two contributors from this collection, Bree Newsome Bass and Kiese Laymon. Bree is a filmmaker and activist, and is best know for climbing the flagpole at the South Carolina Capitol building to remove the confederate flag. Kiese is an author (Heavy, Long Division) and writer, and a dear friend of this podcast. On the episode we talk about what it means to be an abolitionist, contradictions, and the trouble with reform.

The Stacks Book Club selection for October is Waiting to Exhale by Terry McMillan, we will discuss the book with October 27th on Nichole Perkins.

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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.

Connect with Bree: Twitter | Instagram | Website
Connect with Kiese: Twitter | Instagram | Website
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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. 176 Leaving a Record of History with Adam Serwer

Today we welcome Adam Serwer to the podcast. Adam is a staff writer at The Atlantic and the author of The New York Times bestseller The Cruelty Is the Point: The Past, Present, and Future of Trump’s America. We talk about the historical record, Democracy as a means of managing conflict, running as creative routine, and much more.

The Stacks Book Club selection for August is Emergency Contact by Mary H. K. Choi. We will discuss the book with Juliet Litman on Wednesday August 25th.

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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.

Connect with Adam: Twitter

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.

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. 160 Black People Doing Spectacular Things with Hanif Abdurraqib

On this week’s episode we’re joined by Hanif Abdurraqib. Hanif is an author, poet, music and cultural critic, and the host of the podcast Object of Sound. We talk today about his newest book, A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance. We talk today about how Hanif expanded the definition of performance, restraint as a tool in writing, and finding gratitude amidst grief.

Donate to Million Book Drive as part of The Stacks $50,000 fundraising drive.

The Stacks Book Club selection for April is The Tradition by Jericho Brown, we will discuss the book with Reginald Dwayne Betts on Wednesday April 28th.

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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.

Connect with Hanif: Instagram | Twitter | Website | Object of Sound

Connect with The Stacks: Instagram| Twitter | Facebook | Apple Podcasts |The Stacks on PodcastOne | Shop | Patreon | Goodreads

Support The Stacks

Libro.FM – get two audiobooks for the price of one when you use code THESTACKS at checkout. Celebrate Independent Bookstore Day with Libro.FM!

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. 150 An Invitation to History with Keisha N. Blain

Today our guest is author and historian Dr. Keisha N Blain. Keisha, along with Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, edited the brand new collection Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America 1619-2019. Our conversation delves into the work of historians, our ancestors wildest dreams, and the logistics of bringing this ambitious book to life.

The Stacks Book Club selection for February is The New Wilderness by Diane Cook, we will discuss the book with Vann Newkirk on Wednesday February 24th.

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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.

Connect with Keisha: Twitter | Instagram | Website

Connect with The Stacks: Instagram| Twitter | Facebook | Apple Podcasts |The Stacks on PodcastOne | Shop | Patreon | Goodreads

Support The Stacks

Hello Fresh – go to hellofresh.com/stacks10 and use the code stacks10 to get 10 free meals and free shipping.

Libro.FM – get two audiobooks for the price of one when you use 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.


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. 112 R. Eric Thomas//Here for It

R. Eric Thomas is the author of Here for It and the writer behind Elle.com’s daily column “Eric Reads the News”. Eric joins the show to talk about centering his identities of Black, Christian, Gay, and American in Here for It, his collection of humorous and thoughtful essays. We also discuss pop culture as a unifying force, Maxine Waters, and how dreams really do come true (and how badly we need to remember that right now).

Pop culture. Centering naratives that are often pushed to the side. belonging.black american queer maxine waters dreams coming true

The Stacks Book Club selection for May is The Giver by Lois Lowry, we will discuss the book with Sue Thomas on May 27th.

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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 Eric: Twitter |Facebook | Instagram | Website | Eric Reads the News

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Support The Stacks

Libro.FM – get three audiobooks for the price of one when you use code THESTACKS at checkout. The Stacks Libro.FM Playlist.

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. 106 Samantha Irby//Wow, No Thank You

Wow, No Thank You is the most recent essay collection from the hilarious and charming Samantha Irby. We talk today with Samantha about her new book, how she pitches her collections, and what sort of mood she strikes when she sits down to writes (its not what you think). This episode, like Irby’s writing, is sure to make you laugh out loud.

Remember, The Stacks Book Club selection for April is Trust Exercise by Susan Choi, we will discuss the book with Brandon Taylor on April 29th.

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Everything we talk about on today’s episode can be found below in the show notes. If you’d like to support your local indie, you can shop through IndieBound.

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Connect with Samantha: Twitter | Instagram | Website | Newsletter

Connect with The Stacks: Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Apple Podcasts |The Stacks on PodcastOne | Goodreads | Patreon

Support The Stacks

Libro.FM – get three audiobooks for the price of one when you use code THESTACKS at checkout. The Stacks Libro.FM Playlist.

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. 102 Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde — The Stacks Book Club (Asha Grant)

Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde is a foundation and timeless feminist text. It covers topics like the erasure of Black women in the feminist movement to living with cancer to raising Black sons. This collection of essays and speeches is dense and ripe for discussion. Asha Grant, the founder of the LA chapter of The Free Black Women’s Library, is back and brings her love of Audre Lorde to our discussion for The Stacks Book Club.
There are no spoilers on this episode.

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Everything we talk about on today’s episode can be found below in the show notes. If you’d like to support your local indie, you can shop through IndieBound.

Connect with Asha & The Free Black Women’s Library LA: Instagram | Website | Patreon | GoFundMe | Book Wishlist

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Support The Stacks

Book of the Month – to get your first month of BoTM for $9.99 click here

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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. 96 Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino — The Stacks Book Club (Jordan Moblo)

Today for The Stacks Book Club we’re discussing Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino. We’ve brought back Jordan Moblo, TV executive and professional reader, to talk about the many ideas that come up in this essay collection, including gender norms, being a millennial, the allure of scammers, difficult women, and more!
There are no spoilers on this episode.

LISTEN NOW

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Everything we talk about on today’s episode can be found below in the show notes. If you’d like to support your local indie, you can shop through IndieBound.

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Connect with Jordan: Instagram | Goodreads

Connect with The Stacks: Instagram | Twitter | Facebook |Apple Podcasts |The Stacks on PodcastOne | Goodreads | Patreon

Support The Stacks

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.

Audible– to get your FREE audiobook download and FREE 30 day trial go to audibletrial.com/thestacks.


The Stacks received Trick Mirror from the publisher. For more information click here.

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.

My 10 Favorite Reads of 2019

Putting together a list of favorite reads is always so fun and so tough for me. I read over 100 books this year, so narrowing it all down is a great way to reflect on what I learned and how I’ve changed in the last 365 days.

I did keep track of everything I read. Mostly because I’m a huge nerd and love a good spreadsheet, but also because I like to stay accountable to my reading goals.

Before I dive into my top 10 books, here is a little breakdown of what I read in 2018. I read a total of 101 books, exactly ONE book over my goal.

  • 49 were by authors of color (49%)
  • 54 books were by women (54%)
  • 31 books were by women of color (31%)
  • 40 books were published in 2019 (40%)
  • 62 books were acquired by me in 2019 (62%)
  • 61 books were nonfiction (61%)

Of the 101 books I read here is how the star ratings shook out

  • 17 books received five stars (17%)
  • 23 books received four stars (23%)
  • 45 books received three stars (45%)
  • 14 books received two stars (14%)
  • 2 books received one star (2%)

I love a good stat, and I could break down my reading even more, but I won’t. Instead here are my top 10 favorite reads of 2019 (in alphabetical order), though they weren’t all published this year.


Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson (2016)

The story of August, a twelve year old Black girl navigating a new life in Brooklyn. She moves north, with her father and brother, after her mother’s death. It’s the story of August growing up, finding new friends, and creating space her own space in the world.

This is one of the best coming of age stories I’ve ever read. The characters as vibrant and live in the space of confidence and insecurity that is so common for teenagers. She understands what it means to be lost and then found. She captures so much in this book, and does it all in less than 200 pages. That kind of brevity is rare, and a sign of true mastery.

Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur (1987)

In the story of her life, Assata Shakur lets her reader in on her childhood, her relationship with the Black Liberation Movement, and her arrest and imprisonment. The prose are conversational and the content is enraging and devastating. Not only is this book a look back at the past, it is also a very clear indictment on the current state of affairs in The United States.

I loved that Shakur wasn’t presenting an objective history, but rather a deeply personal and emotionally charged retelling of her life. You can feel her passion and her rage in every sentence, and it is beautiful.


How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

The books is part memoir and part guide to identifying and combatting racist ideas in ourselves and in our culture. Kendi’s main premise is that there is no such thing as a “not racist” person, instead there are only racists thoughts and actions, and antiracist thoughts and actions, and these two things can live simultaneously in any human, even Kendi himself.

This was one of my most anticipated books for 2019, and it did not disappoint. Kendi is able to make combatting racism approachable. Most Americans can read this book and find ways to reflect on their own contributions to racism and their own role in changing the system. I also loved getting to see a more personal side of Kendi, a man I admire greatly.


How We Fight for Our Lives by Saeed Jones

A stunning memoir about finding ones self at the intersection of sexuality and race. Saeed Jones shares his coming of age and his questioning of his identity and belonging and it is incredible to read. Jones’ use of prose and poetry is effortless and serves the story and creates a piece that is as enjoyable to read as it is painful.

I learned a lot about the ways we get in the way of young queer people’s, especially of color, exploration of their identities. In How We Fight for Our Lives I was able to understand the types of violence both physical and emotional, that often accompany the shame and fear about living as one’s true self. I loved this book. Saeed Jones is a force.


Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds

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A collection of short stories of middle school kids walking home from school. The stories are all unique and individual, but they intersect with the other stories in one way or another. It is a beautiful book about the few minutes a day kids are left unsupervised and get to experience the world on their own.

This book was the biggest surprise for me this year. Admittedly middle grade short stories isn’t a genre I’d think I’d like, and yet here we are. Something that Jason Reynolds is able to do with Look Both Ways is see the humanity in his characters. These kids have all had experiences that have shaped them, some more traumatic than others, but he finds a way to present this without making the kids into their trauma. The characters are full of life and joy and they are impossible to forget. Its also worth noting, Reynolds can write!


Lot by Bryan Washington

A collection of short stories about Black and Brown life in a neighborhood in Houston, told all in the first person with differing narrators, this book is a work of creativity and true craft. Unlike most short story collections where there is no sense of progress or growth over time, in Lot, Washington uses one family as our anchor and we get to watch as their lives unfold through alternating stories. That is supplemented with a cast of characters from the”lot” and their lives.

Washington’s perspective on life and sex and family and gentrification are subtle and smart and really beautiful. The stories are small and intimate. He centers queerness and cultural homophobia in a way that is honest and not preachy. Some standout stories for me were “Lot”, “Waugh”, and “Congress”, but I would say each story enhances the next.


Tell Me More: Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I’m Learning to Say by Kelly Corrigan

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A collection of essays on things that are difficult to say. This book is not what it seems. Corrigan wrote Tell Me More after the passing of her father and dear friend, Lisa. The book ends up being more a response to the loss of her loved ones, an understanding of her own grief, and way to help her (and the reader) move on when things feel devastating.

I loved this book. I got so much out of it and wept openly in sections. While the grief is ever present through out, there are also conversations about knowing your own worth, finding ways to be truly empathetic, and seeking out true love and joy that were valuable.


The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

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Historical fiction at its best. The Nickel Boys is inspired by a real life nightmare of a reform school, and follows two fictional characters who grapple with the horrors they experience, the friendships they create, and the prejudice they face as young Black men in Jim Crow Florida.

Colson Whitehead is a professional writer of the finest caliber. He is exacting and precise. There is not a word wasted in this book. You get to know the characters and feel for them deeply. The way this story unfolds is near perfection.


The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11 by Garrett M. Graff

A beautifully told oral history of the events of September 11, 2001 as told by the people who lived the day. The accounts range from employees who went to work in the World Trade Center to the Vice President tucked away in a bunker, to a mother who gave birth on that fateful day, to worried family members whose loved ones were aboard hijacked planes. This book encapsulates the emotions and voices of a nation in fear, and without any answers.

What this book does best is connect the reader to the anxiety of that day. It is an extremely emotional book and there were times in my reading where I could feel my heart rate quicken as I turned each page. More than any event this book is about the feelings. We all know what happened that day, but this book will live on as a document of what it felt like to live through this historic event.


Thick: And Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom

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A collection of essays that are at once smart, funny, and truly thought provoking. Cottom is one of the most critical and nuanced thinkers on race and gender, and she centers the experience of Black women consistently in her work. Thick is effortless in its ability to move between ideas of intersectionality, the art of “the turn” is perfected in these pages.

I loved how I felt challenged in reading this book. I didn’t always understand what Cottom was saying on the first read, and was forced to go back and grapple with the work. I applaud Cottom for not making her work small to accommodate her reader. Her writing is too important for that. Go read Thick. You will learn things, you will connect dots you never knew you could. It is powerful and empowering.


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.