Check It Out Category: Books

Winter Reading Ideas: Most Anticipated Reads of 2021

most anticipated reads of 2021

Staff share their most anticipated reads of 2021! 

The Lost Apothecary book cover

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner (Laura)

Beneath the Keep book cover

Beneath the Keep by Erika Johansen (Liz)

Aftershock book cover

Aftershocks by Nadia Owusu (Al) –

“Reading it for the Social Justice badge in the Winter Reading challenge”

How Beautiful We Were book cover

How Beautiful We Were by Mbue Imbolo (Denise)

Klara and the Sun book cover

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro (Cathleen)

Detransition, Baby book cover

Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters (Chelsea) –

“Planning to read for the LGBTQ+ authors badge in the Winter Reading challenge”

The Kindest Lie book cover

The Kindest Lie by Nancy Johnson (Jenny)

The Perfect Guests book cover

The Perfect Guests by Emma Rous (Nancy)

 

Be sure to log all your 2021 reads for Winter Reading on Beanstack and you may earn a prize!

 

Winter Reading: Black Authors

black authors

Diversify your reading in more than one way during Winter Reading! Here we highlight recent titles by Black authors, an optional reading challenge category offering all flavors of story. Enjoy a mere sprinkling of books below as a teaser, or delve deeper with a full list of titles by Black authors here. Happy browsing, reading, and watching snow fall!

Get a Life, Chloe Brown book cover

 

Get A Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

Emerging from a life-threatening illness, a fiercely organized but unfulfilled computer geek recruits a mysterious artist to help her establish meaning in her life, before finding herself engaged in reckless but thrilling activities.

Romance; Banter-filled

 

Black Leopard Red Wolf book cover

 

Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

Hired to find a mysterious boy who disappeared three years before, Tracker joins a search party that is quickly targeted by deadly creatures.

Afrofuturism; World-building

 

Three-Fifths book cover

 

Three-Fifths by John Vercher

A biracial black man who passes for white becomes unwittingly involved in the aftermath of a hate crime committed by his best friend which unleashes racial tension and violence in 1990s Pittsburgh.

Crime Fiction; Fast-paced

 

It's Not All Downhill from Here book cover

 

It’s Not All Downhill from Here by Terry McMillan

Confident that her best days are still ahead, a successful businesswoman relies on close friends and her resourcefulness when an unexpected loss turns her world upside down.

Relationship Fiction; Funny

 

The Shadow King book cover

 

The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste

Tending the wounded when her nation is invaded by Mussolini, an orphaned servant in 1935 Ethiopia helps disguise a gentle peasant as their exiled emperor to rally her fellow women in the fight against fascism.

Historical Fiction; Action-packed

 

The Water Dancer book cover

 

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

A Virginia slave narrowly escapes a drowning death through the intervention of a mysterious force that compels his escape and personal underground war against slavery.

Magical Realism; Character-driven

 

Luster book cover

 

Luster by Raven Leilani

A young black artist falls into an affair with a man in an open marriage before gradually befriending his wife and adopted daughter against a backdrop of dynamic racial politics.

Coming-of-Age; Darkly Humorous

 

 

Dive into Winter Reading! January 1st – February 28th

black voices

Winter Reading: Native American Authors

Native American Authors

Native American voices have won glory for several recent titles covering a variety of topics for every reader. Plus, reading a book by a Native American author is part of the optional mini-challenge for Winter Reading this year! Below are stories pulled from a larger list of Native American authors, featuring modern life in its wit and struggles, historical trauma, the twin pulls of embracing tradition and breaking away, epic fantasy, and more!

Crooked Hallelujah book cover

 

Crooked Hallelujah by Kelli Jo Ford

A first collection by an award-winning Cherokee writer traces four generations of Native American women as they navigate cultural dynamics, religious beliefs, the 1980s oil bust, devastating storms and unreliable men to connect with their ideas about home.

Family Saga; Gritty

Winter Counts book cover

 

Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden

A vigilante enforcer on South Dakota’s Rosebud Indian Reservation enlists the help of an ex to investigate the activities of an expanding drug cartel, while a new tribal council initiative raises controversial questions.

Crime Fiction; Suspenseful

 

This Town Sleeps book cover

 

This Town Sleeps by Dennis E. Staples

Engaging in a secret affair with a closeted white man, an Ojibwe from a northern Minnesota reservation navigates small-town discrimination before a ghost leads him to the grave of a basketball star whose murder becomes linked to a local legend.

Intricately Plotted; Moving

Cherokee America book cover

 

Cherokee America by Margaret Verble 

In the Spring of 1875 in the Cherokee Nation, Check, a wealthy farmer and mother of five boys, must protect her mixed-race family and tight-knit community at all costs when violence erupts.

Historical Fiction; Compelling

 

Savage Conversations book cover

Savage Conversations by LeAnne Howe

Mary Todd Lincoln is addicted to opiates and tried in a Chicago court on charges of insanity. Entered into evidence is Ms. Lincoln’s claim that every night a Savage Indian enters her bedroom and slashes her face and scalp. She is swiftly committed. Her hauntings may be a reminder that in 1862, President Lincoln ordered the hanging of 38 Dakotas in the largest mass execution in United States history. No one has ever linked the two events–until now.

Novel in Verse; Historical Fiction

Black Sun book cover

 

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

A trilogy debut is inspired by the civilizations of the Pre-Columbian Americas and follows the unbalancing of the holy city of Tova amid a fateful solstice eclipse.

Epic Fantasy; World-building

 

Night of the Mannequins book cover

 

Night of the Mannequins by Stephen Graham Jones

A contemporary horror story where a teen prank goes very wrong and all hell breaks loose: is there a supernatural cause, a psychopath on the loose, or both?

Horror; Menacing

 

 

Apple: Skin to the Core book cover

Apple: Skin to the Core by Eric Gansworth

The term “Apple” is a slur in Native communities across the country. It’s for someone supposedly “red on the outside, white on the inside.” Eric Gansworth tells the story of his family, of Onondaga among Tuscaroras, of Native folks everywhere. From the horrible legacy of the government boarding schools, to a boy watching his siblings leave and return and leave again, to a young man fighting to be an artist who balances multiple worlds.

Memoir; Lyrical

Read what warms you up for Winter Reading

Native American Voices

Winter Reading Ideas: Chosen Family Stories

chosen family stories

Chosen families happen for a variety of reasons, but they always have very special and unique bonds. We’ve collected a bunch of stories that explore chosen families. These books show how diverse the idea of family can be. As these are fictional stories, there are some truly magical selected families as well as self-styled families that can be found in present day or in the past. Choose your pick of a chosen family story!

 

Love After Love book cover

 

Love After Love by Ingrid Persaud

An award-winning Trinidadian author offers a novel that looks at a complicated marriage, an unconventional family and the shocking secrets that unite them.

Strong Sense of Place; Lyrical

 

 

Little Family book cover

 

Little Family by Ishmael Beah

A powerful novel about young people in a conflict-scarred land, struggling to replace the homes they have lost with the one they have created together.

Atmospheric; Complex

 

 

House in the Cerulean Sea book cover

 

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret. An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place-and realizing that family is yours.

Heartwarming; Witty

 

In West Mills book cover

 

In West Mills by De’Shawn Charles Winslow

A woman in mid-20th-century rural North Carolina, determined to live on her own terms in spite of community gossip, finds unexpected support from a veteran fixer who struggles with an inability to correct his own troubled past.

Historical Fiction; Well-Crafted Dialogue

 

My Kind of People book cover

 

My Kind of People by Lisa Duffy

A group of New England islanders come together for a recently orphaned girl, an act that reveals the power of community, as well as dredges up long-buried secrets.

Character-driven; Melancholy

 

 

Cantoras book cover

 

Cantoras by Carolina De Robertis

Enduring the rampant violence against women and the LGBTQ community in the decades of the Uruguayan dictatorship, five women heartbreakingly unite as lovers, friends and family.

Dramatic; Lush

 

 

Mr. and Mrs. American Pie book cover

 

Mr. and Mrs. American Pie by Juliet McDaniel

After getting dumped by her husband, a woman sets out to prove her worth by entering a ‘best housewife’ pageant in 1970 Palm Springs.

Humorous; Engaging

Winter Reading Ideas: Best Books of 2020

Best Books of 2020

We sifted through a great many of the Best Books of 2020 opinions that have been making the rounds and put some of the more frequent fliers on this curated Best Books of 2020 list. Featured below are some of the books that our staff have heard rave reviews about as well as those consistently on those Best Of indexes!

Deacon King Kong book cover

 

Deacon King Kong by James McBride

In the aftermath of a 1969 Brooklyn church deacon’s public shooting of a local drug dealer, the community’s African-American and Latinx witnesses find unexpected support from each other when they are targeted by violent mobsters.

 

Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family book cover

 

Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family by Robert Kolker

Tells the heartrending story of a midcentury American family with 12 children, 6 of them diagnosed with schizophrenia, that became science’s great hope in the quest to understand the disease.

 

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.

 

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.

 

The Cold Millions book cover

 

The Cold Millions by Jess Walter

Enduring a harsh existence as day laborers, orphaned brothers Gig and Rye Dolan are drawn to a feminist activist and a vaudeville singer whose experiences reflect an unjust world on the brink of upheaval.

 

 

The City We Became book cover

 

The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin

Takes readers into the dark underbelly of New York City where a roiling, ancient evil stirs in the halls of power, threatening to destroy the city and her six newborn avatars.

 

 

The Only Good Indians book cover

 

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

Seamlessly blending classic horror and a dramatic narrative with sharp social commentary, The Only Good Indians follows four American Indian men after a disturbing event from their youth puts them in a desperate struggle for their lives. Tracked by an entity bent on revenge, these childhood friends are helpless as the culture and traditions they left behind catch up to them in a violent, vengeful way.

 

Party of Two book cover

 

Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory

Going against her better judgement, LA lawyer Olivia Monroe secretly starts dating a hotshot junior senator until their romance is made public and her life falls under intense media scrutiny, jeopardizing everything.