Check It Out Category: Winter Reading Programs

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: Social Justice

social justice

Books are a great entry point in learning about social fairness and equality. Social justice is a topic that is broad, diverse, and features subjects that help us reflect upon the society in which we live, learning about experiences different from our own. Issues of social justice are found in many subject areas that may be explored within both fiction and nonfiction. Browse a curated list of books on Social Justice, or look below for some quick recommendations. Any of these would be ideal for your own reading exploration or for the optional mini reading challenge on Social Justice for Winter Reading!

A Mind Spread Out on the Ground book cover

A Mind Spread Out On The Ground by Alicia Elliott

A personal meditation on trauma, legacy, oppression and racism in North America, in an urgent and visceral work that asks essential questions about Native people in North America.

Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman book cover

Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman by Anne Helen Petersen

A popular BuzzFeed columnist examines the phenomenon of popular provocative womanhood to discuss the rise of such counterculture stars as Amy Schumer, Nicki Minaj and Caitlyn Jenner, exploring why they are popular in spite of negative behaviors and what makes and breaks today’s divas.

Five Days: The Fiery Reckoning of an American City book cover

Five Days: the Fiery Reckoning of an American City by Wes Moore

An account of the 2015 police-brutality killing of Freddie Gray retraces key events from the perspectives of seven insiders, including a conflicted Baltimore Police Department captain, the victim’s sister and the owner of the Baltimore Orioles.

we cast a shadow book cover

We Cast A Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin

In a near-future South where an increasing number of people with dark skin endure cosmetic procedures to pass as white, a father embarks on an obsessive quest to protect his son, who bears a dark, spreading birthmark.

Good Kings Bad Kings book cover

Good Kings, Bad Kings by Susan Nussbaum

The residents at a facility for disabled young people in Chicago build trust and make friends in an effort to fight against their living conditions and mistreatment in this debut novel from the playwright behind “Mishuganismo.”

Please See Us book cover

Please See Us by Caitlin Mullen

Two young women become unlikely friends during one fateful summer in Atlantic City as mysterious disappearances hit dangerously close to home.

1919 book cover

1919 by Eve Ewing

Ewing uses speculative and Afrofuturist lenses to recast history, and illuminates the thin line between the past and the present.

Join in on the Winter Reading fun on Beanstack!


Staff Resolution Feature: Science Fiction by Diverse Authors, Current Events, and More!

One feature of this year’s Adult Winter Reading is that you decide your own reading resolutions. Whether your goals are modest or ambitious, we’ll cheer you on! To help inspire and spark ideas, we’ll be sharing resolutions here every week, so keep checking back to see what other resolute readers are striving to achieve!

Who: Allison from South Branch

What are some of your reading resolutions?
I decided that for 2017 I was going to give myself a reading theme: Science Fiction by Diverse Authors!

Why did you choose that?
I used to read science fiction quite avidly, and when Library Journal published a mini-article on Diverse Authors within the SF/Fantasy genre, my interest was piqued! At the end of last year I read The Three-Body Problem by Ken Liu, and wanted to keep going in that vein…. Here’s the thing…I got a little distracted since deciding on that theme, so here are my one-off resolutions from the last few weeks….

Something with feminism! Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit
Something in Spanish! Afrodita by Isabel Allende
Something about gender! None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio
Something about current events! Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

Have you completed a resolution yet? How did it go?
I am finally reading Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor, which totally falls under my original reading resolution, and am enjoying it so far! It’s set in Nigeria, and I love how carefully she builds suspense, piece by piece!

Now it’s your turn!
Share your reading resolutions on the MPPL Facebook page, on Twitter, or in person at the Fiction/AV/Teen Services Desk.

Staff Resolution Feature: Reading Books That Bring Excitement

One feature of this year’s Adult Winter Reading is that you decide your own reading resolutions. Whether your goals are modest or ambitious, we’ll cheer you on! To help inspire and spark ideas, we’ll be sharing resolutions here every week, so keep checking back to see what other resolute readers are striving to achieve!

Who: Claire from Youth Services

What are some of your reading resolutions?
Ultimately, I wanted to read books I was excited about. So I picked up books and then figured out what resolution they could fit later. It just so happened that these books were in new genres, and from displays. I was also so inspired by one book that I read that I wrote a review for it.

What have you been reading to complete your resolutions?
I read a short story, The Beach at Night by Elena Ferrante, and a novella, And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman. These were new genres for me, at least, I don’t read a lot of them. I also read the new nonfiction young adult titles Dear My Blank by Emily Trunko and Making it Right by Marilee Peters, which I found on display. The last one I read was March Book Three by John Lewis, which truthfully, I thought was a new book, but maybe that could go under my own resolution, of reading nonfiction about social issues, which I’m really into these days.

Have you completed a resolution yet? How is completing your resolutions going?
So far it hasn’t been hard to find books that I’m interested in that will fit a resolution. Since I’m reading children’s books at the same time, I usually look for shorter, faster reads. Since I have a whole other month of the program, I may read a longer book next.

Now it’s your turn!
Share your reading resolutions on the MPPL Facebook page, on Twitter, or in person at the Fiction/AV/Teen Services Desk.