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.

Ep. 237 Girl Fear with Kamila Shamsie

Today we welcome Pakistani-British writer Kamila Shamsie, author of the new novel Best of Friends and past The Stacks Book Club pick, Home Fire. We discuss the shifting of global political climates, the idea of ‘girl fear’ and Kamila stresses the importance of giving new writers a chance to mature, and we tackle the question, “How do you write after success?”

The Stacks Book Club selection for October is Fairest by Meredith Talusan. We will discuss the book on October 26th with Anthony Christian Ocampo.

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

Connect with Kamila: Instagram | Twitter
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.

Ep. 214 How You Look and How You Feel Have to Meet with Van Lathan Jr.

This week, we speak with Van Lathan Jr., prolific podcaster, Oscar winning producer, and author of the new memoir Fat, Crazy, and Tired: Tales from the Trenches of Transformation. Our conversation covers vulnerability, feeling [un]comfortable in our own skin, and the struggle of loving our bodies. We also get into mourning the future, and the journey of becoming who we think we need to be.

The Stacks Book Club selection for May is Shine Bright: A Very Personal History of Black Women in Pop by Danyel Smith. We will discuss the book on May 25th with Novena Carmel.

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.

Connect with Van: Twitter | Instagram
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.

Unabridged: A Book Should Be More Like an Orgasm with Hunter McLendon

For this Unabridged discussion, we’re joined by Hunter McLendon, the reader behind @shelfbyshelf on bookstagram. Together, we unpack what makes fiction or nonfiction good, and the practice of writing for other writers versus writing for readers. We also get into the legitimacy of star rating systems when everyone has a different idea of what five stars means. Listen out for our Pulitzer predictions!

*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.

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Connect with Hunter: Instagram | Twitter | Newsletter
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. 211 A Radical Shift with Julie Otsuka

Today we’re speaking with Julie Otsuka, whose nationally-bestselling novel The Swimmers explores what happens to a group of obsessed recreational swimmers when a crack appears at the bottom of their local pool. Our conversation covers the art of crafting sentences and finding the right voice. We also discuss the joy of writing in cafes, and the element of surprise.
There are no spoilers on this episode.

The Stacks Book Club selection for April is Doppelgangbanger by Cortney Lamar Charleston. We will discuss the book on April 27th with Nate Marshall.

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 Julie: 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.

Ep. 209 A Poem is About Wonder with Nate Marshall

In this episode we speak with the lauded writer, educator and MC Nate Marshall, whose latest poetry collection Finna was named one of NPR’s best books of 2020. We discuss poetry’s early-2000s pop culture heyday, its evolving cultural voice and our first introductions to the oft-intimidating, wonder-evoking art form.

The Stacks Book Club selection for April is Doppelgangbanger by Cortney Lamar Charleston. We will discuss the book on April 27th with Nate Marshall.

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

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Everything Else

Connect with Nate: Twitter | Instagram | 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.

Ep. 47 Reading, Writing, and Representation with Wade Allain-Marcus

Its time for another episode of The Stacks. Today our guest is actor (Insecure, Snowfall), director (French Dirty), and writer (Grown-ish) Wade Allain-Marcus. We talk about how TV shows are written, white savior narratives, and connecting with the emotional truth of a story. Plus, we’re joined by Wade’s chatty dog Tika.

LISTEN NOW

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

Books

Everything Else

Connect with Wade: 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. 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. 35 Prodigies, Time Machines, and Beautiful Writing with Aja Gabel

This week on The Stacks our guest is author Aja Gabel. Aja’s debut novel, The Ensemble, came out in 2018, and she talks with us about writing her book, cover design, which writers inspire her, and why she got a PhD in creative writing. We also talk music prodigies and time machines, which is to say, we talk about a little of everything.

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 and on Bookshop.org and Amazon.

BOOKS

EVERYTHING ELSE

Connect with Aja: Website | Instagram | Twitter
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. 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. Shopping through these links helps support the show, but does not effect my opinions on books and products. For more information click here.

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay

E4E88BC8-78C7-4811-8809-5AA5AE55942EWhile I don’t believe in shaming people for not having read something, I am a little ashamed that Hunger is my first book by Roxane Gay. The good news is, I can finally say I’ve read a Roxane Gay book, and the even better news is, this won’t be my last.

If you’re not familiar with Hunger here is a brief rundown.

In her phenomenally popular essays and long-running Tumblr blog, Roxane Gay has written with intimacy and sensitivity about food and body, using her own emotional and psychological struggles as a means of exploring our shared anxieties over pleasure, consumption, appearance, and health. As a woman who describes her own body as “wildly undisciplined,” Roxane understands the tension between desire and denial, between self-comfort and self-care. In Hunger, she explores her past—including the devastating act of violence that acted as a turning point in her young life—and brings readers along on her journey to understand and ultimately save herself.

With the bracing candor, vulnerability, and power that have made her one of the most admired writers of her generation, Roxane explores what it means to learn to take care of yourself: how to feed your hungers for delicious and satisfying food, a smaller and safer body, and a body that can love and be loved—in a time when the bigger you are, the smaller your world becomes.

Roxane Gay is brave and strong and wildly impressive as a human and writer. This book exemplifies all of these things. I doubt I could ever write anything as honest and candid about myself or my body. After reading this book and reflecting on what it took to write this memoir, I am blown away by Gay’s willingness to get vulnerable.

Mostly the book revolves around Gay’s body. Gay is super morbidly obese, and much of the book focuses on how she got that way, and how she navigates the world, both figuratively and literally. She details her thoughts on TV shows like The Biggest Loser and walks us through her eating disorder, she even talks in detail about kinds of chairs and how they effect her body. The whole book serves as a reminder that we are all vastly different and our experiences and shape and color directly influence our world view.

While Gay and her body are very different from my own, we are both black women, and in that share some solidarity when it comes to the way we interact with the world. Gay is masterful in the way she uses her own story to bring the reader in and isolate them. She shares ideas that are at one moment highly relatable, and then she switches quickly to thoughts that are uniquely her own. This style of writing allows the reader to feel both close to and far away from the author, it is a thrilling, and surprisingly rare.

I listened to this as an audiobook, and Gay is our narrator. Her performance is solid, the words are really the star, not her intonation or expressiveness. I would not, however, recommend this as an audiobook. I found her stories and reflections to be so personal and traumatic that I wanted to turn her off. I wanted to turn away and disconnect, and with Gay’s own voice there recounting the pain it is impossible to get a break. The book might be more manageable, as a reader you have control over the pace and can take time to digest some of the more intense moments of the book.

This is a a great memoir. It deals with violence done to a body and could have some trigger warnings in that respect. If you like an honest and raw memoir, this is your book. It is not an enjoyable read so much as an important and moving one. There is so much pain and suffering, but also much empowerment and honesty.

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 in which we receive a small commission when products are purchased through some links on this website. This does not effect my opinions on books and products. For more information click here.

Ep. 19 Extraordinary Reading with Jay Connor of The Extraordinary Negroes

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This week our guest is Jay Connor. Jay is a writer, and the creator and co-host of The Extraordinary Negroes podcast. Jay discuss his winding life path through many cities and many careers. We also talk about what books Jay is into and what writers he admires.

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 and on Bookshop.org and Amazon.

BOOKS

EVERYTHING ELSE

Connect with Jay: Instagram | Twitter
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. 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 in which we receive a small commission when products are purchased through some links on this website. This does not effect my opinions on books and products. For more information click here.