Month: February 2022

Check It Out Blog

Black Literature: Classics, Contemporaries, and Current Reads

Explore Black voices through the decades during Black History Month and beyond!

The Classics: 20th Century

breath, eyes, memory book cover

Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat

Twelve-year-old Sophie Caco is removed from her impoverished village and sent to live in New York with her mother, a woman she barely knows. There she learns about a terrible truth that shadows her family.

Relationship fiction / Lyrical prose / Emotional

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Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley

1948, Los Angeles: The mortgage payment’s coming due, so Easy Rawlins accepts the assignment of finding Daphne Monet, a blonde torch singer with a penchant for jazz and criminal black consorts. In his search through a sleazy, fearful city, he is lucky to be under the protection of the murderous Mouse who wants a piece of the action.

Historical mystery / Hard-boiled / Gritty

Their Eyes Were Watching God book cover

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

When Janie Starks returns home, she seeks identity and independence as the small southern black community buzzes with gossip about the outcome of her affair with a younger man.

Southern literary fiction / Moving / Engaging

The Contemporaries: 21st Century

transcendent kingdom book cover

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

A novel about faith, science, religion, and family that tells the deeply moving portrait of a family of Ghanaian immigrants ravaged by depression and addiction and grief, narrated by a fifth year candidate in neuroscience at Stanford school of medicine studying the neural circuits of reward seeking behavior in mice.

Psychological fiction / Eloquent / Quietly poignant

libertie book cover

Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge

Coming of age as a free-born Black girl in Reconstruction-era Brooklyn, Libertie Sampson is all too aware that her mother, a physician, has a vision for their future together: Libertie will go to medical school and practice alongside her. But Libertie feels stifled by her mother’s choices and is constantly reminded that, unlike her mother, Libertie has skin that is too dark. When a young man from Haiti proposes to Libertie and promises she will be his equal on the island, she accepts, only to discover that she is still subordinate to him and all men. As she tries to parse what freedom actually means for a Black woman, Libertie struggles with where she might find it-for herself and for generations to come.

Historical fiction / Richly detailed / Immersive

Vanishing Half book cover

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Twin sisters, inseparable as children, ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds, one black and one white.

Relationship fiction / Sharp and rich writing / Character-driven

Current Reads:

What Fiction Staff are Loving Right Now

Blacktop Wasteland book cover

Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby

Compelled by poverty to agree to a lucrative final heist that will allow him to go straight, a skilled getaway driver finds his efforts complicated by racial dynamics and the ghosts of his past.

Crime fiction / Atmospheric / Action-packed

black cake book cover

Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson

Eleanor Bennett’s death leaves behind a puzzling inheritance for her two children, Byron and Benny: a traditional Caribbean black cake, made from a family recipe with a long history, and a voice recording. In her message, Eleanor shares a tumultuous story about a headstrong young swimmer who escapes her island home under suspicion of murder. Can Byron and Benny reclaim their once-close relationship, piece together Eleanor’s true history, and fulfill her final request to ‘share the black cake when the time is right’?

Family fiction / Engrossing / Lush

the love songs of W.E.B. Du Bois book cover

The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers

To come to terms with who she is and what she wants, Ailey, the daughter of an accomplished doctor and a strict schoolteacher, embarks on a journey through her family’s past, helping her embrace her full heritage, which is the story of the Black experience in itself.

Coming-of-age story / Richly layered / Haunting poignancy

18 Teen Reads Celebrating Black Joy

Black History Month (and any month!) offers a great time to add books featuring Black protagonists to the top of your reading list. We suggest these 18 page-turners of all genres, featuring joyful moments and happy endings. Click on any cover that strikes you for full book information.

Looking for other books featuring Black characters written by Black authors? Check out these lists: Black Voices in YA Fiction or Black Voices & Black Stories – YA Nonfiction.

Winter Reading: Staff Picks

Although Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, there are only twelve more days of the Adult and Teen Winter Reading Program! Not sure what to read to round out your list? Try the titles below that have our staff excited. Click on the cover image to reveal the book information.

Remember, anything you read, including books, graphic novels, or even audiobooks can be logged from January 1 – February 28 via Beanstack. Visit to sign up or to log your books today.

Teen Winter Reading: Swoonworthy Reads

Winter Reading is in its final weeks for adults and teens! Try one of these titles just in time for Valentine’s Day to give you all the swoony feels. For more options, check out our extended list.

Remember, anything you read, including books, graphic novels, or even audiobooks can be logged from January 1 – February 28 via Beanstack. Visit to sign up or to log your books today.

Happily Ever Afters book cover

Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant

Romantic Comedy

Sixteen-year-old Tessa Johnson has never felt like the protagonist in her own life. She’s rarely seen herself reflected in the pages of the romance novels she loves. The only place she’s a true leading lady is in her own writing, in the swoony love stories she shares only with Caroline, her best friend and #1 devoted reader. When Tessa is accepted into the creative writing program of a prestigious art school, she’s excited to finally let her stories shine. But when she goes to her first workshop, the words are just…gone. Fortunately, Caroline has a solution: Tessa just needs to find some inspiration in a real-life love story of her own.

XOXO book cover

XOXO by Axie Oh

Fling with Someone Famous

Jenny never had much time for boys, K-pop, or really anything besides her dream of being a professional cellist. But when she finds herself falling for a K-pop idol, she has to decide whether their love is worth the risk.

Date Me, Bryson Keller book cover

Date Me, Bryson Keller by Kevin van Whye

Secret Relationship

Accepting a dare to date a new person every week, a popular teen is unexpectedly asked out by a boy and agrees to a secret five-day relationship that quickly becomes more real than he anticipated.

The Stars and the Blackness Between Them book cover

The Stars and the Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus

Love When Facing a Fatal Illness

Told in two voices, sixteen-year-old Audre and Mabel, both young women of color from different backgrounds, fall in love and figure out how to care for each other as one of them faces a fatal illness.

New Fiction in February

New Fiction in February

Fall in love with a new read this February. New fiction titles just hit our shelves ready for you to discover. Click here for a full list of our favorite February releases!

With the colder temperatures and snow falling, it’s a great time to read! All adult and young adult reads are eligible for a prize through our Winter Reading Program from January 1 to February 28. Looking for more personalized suggestions? Fill out this form for titles curated just for you, or feel free to give us a call at 847/590-4070. 

Homicide and Halo-Halo book cover

Homicide and Halo-Halo by Mia P. Manansala

Things are heating up for Lila Macapagal, since summer, her least favorite season, has just started. To add to her feelings of sticky unease, Lila’s little town of Shady Palms has resurrected the Miss Teen Shady Palms Beauty Pageant, which she won many years ago – a fact that serves as a wedge between Lila and her cousin slash rival, Bernadette. But when the head judge of the pageant is murdered and Bernadette becomes the main suspect, the two must put aside their differences and solve the case – because it looks like one of them might be next.

Culinary mystery / Feuding family / Engaging

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Abandoned in Death by J.D. Robb

The woman’s body was found on a bench in a New York City playground. She was clean, her hair neatly arranged, her makeup carefully applied. But other things were very wrong—like the note: Bad Mommy, written in crayon as if by a child. Eve Dallas clearly is dealing with a killer whose childhood involved some sort of trauma. When Eve discovers that other young women—who physically resemble the first victim—have vanished, the clock starts ticking louder.

Police procedural / Clever / Dynamic plot

Count Your Lucky Stars book cover

Count Your Lucky Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur

Margot Cooper doesn’t do relationships. She tried and it blew up in her face, so she’ll stick with casual hookups, thank you very much. And then fate intervenes. While touring a wedding venue with her engaged friends, Margot comes face-to-face with Olivia Grant—her childhood friend, her first love, her first… well, everything. Olivia must be hallucinating. In the decade since she last saw Margot, her life hasn’t gone exactly as planned. At almost thirty, she’s been married… and divorced. Never in a million years did she expect her important new client’s Best Woman would be the one that got away.

Romantic comedy / Steamy / Witty

The Paris Apartment book cover

The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley

Arriving in Paris to stay with her brother, Ben, Jess learns that he has gone missing, and to find him, starts digging into his life, realizing, even though she has come to the City of Lights to escape her past, it’s his future hanging in the balance.

Thriller / Twists and turns / Page-turner

The Christie affair book cover

The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont

Nina de Gramont’s The Christie Affair is a beguiling novel of star-crossed lovers, heartbreak, revenge, and murder–and a brilliant re-imagination of one of the most talked-about unsolved mysteries of the twentieth century.

Historical mystery / Character-driven / Devilishly clever

steal book cover

Steal by James Patterson  

When the son of the founder of the world’s largest hedge fund is thought to have committed suicide, but a body hasn’t been found, his father, believing that he is still alive, turns to Dylan Reinhart for help, drawing him into a world of multi-million-dollar secrets and danger.

Thriller / Action-packed / Suspenseful