ICYMI: Recently released fiction & nonfiction

By Collection Management Librarians Dontaná & Kathy

Check out these recently released fiction and nonfiction titles that might have flown under your radar. They are perfect for celebrating Black History Month.


Hush Harbor by Anise Vance

Why you should try it: This gritty dystopian novel will make you think.

Description: A resistance group takes America's racial reckoning into its own hands.

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Descendants of Fire & Water by Didi Anofienem

Why you should try it: If you love classic fantasy, with teens defying societal expectations and forging their own path, this is for you.

Description: Seventeen-year-old Essien defies her village's gender roles by signing up for military enlistment, but when she begins seeing mythical beings of Alkebulan folklore and discovers she possesses superhuman abilities, she must choose between fulfilling her destiny as Goddess of Alkebulan or altering the course of history.

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The Unvarnished Gary Phillips by Gary Phillips

Why you should try it: Phillips' says this collection is “grindhouse meets blaxploitation with strong doses of hardcore B movie drive-in fare.” In other words, prepare to be thoroughly entertained.

Description: Award-winning author, screenwriter, and editor Gary Phillips gathers his most thrilling, outlandish, and madcap pulp fiction in an 18-story collection that straddles the line between bizarro, science fiction, noir, and superhero classics.

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Viper's Dream by Jake Lamar

Why you should try it: A page-turning historical crime novel set in the 30s and 60s Harlem? What's not to like?!

Description: Harlem, 1936. Clyde “The Viper” Morton boards a train from Alabama to Harlem to chase his dreams of being a jazz musician. When his talent fails him, he becomes caught up in the dangerous underbelly of Harlem’s drug trade. In this heartbreaking novel, one man must decide what he is willing to give up and what he wants to fight for.

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Company by Shannon Sanders

Why you should try it: Picture it: Sunday afternoon. The whole family around the formal dining room table, all talking over each other, calling each other out, sharing solicited and unsolicited opinions. Got the image? Yeah, that's this book.

Description: Told in 13 stories, this multigenerational saga follows an African-American family and their friends as they navigate the challenges and joys of life—from the 1960s to the 2000s, from Atlantic City to Washington D.C.

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Drinking From Graveyard Wells by Yvette Lisa Ndlovu

Why you should try it: This is a "sharp-edged" short story collection that focuses on women's experiences.

Description: "Even in death, who has ownership over Black women's bodies?" Questions like this lurk between the lines of this stunning collection of stories that engage with African women's histories, both personal and generational. Their history is not just one thing: There is heartbreak and pain, and joy, and flying and magic, so much magic.

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Muse: Cicely Tyson & Me: A Relationship Forged in Fashion by B Michael

Why you should try it: Because Cicely Tyson was amazing and always looked fabulous, and now you can read more about the man who helped make that happen and his unique friendship with a legend.

Description: In 2005, B was summoned to create a suitable wardrobe for Ms. Tyson for a high-octane weekend hosted by Oprah Winfrey. That first successful interaction led to a nearly 20-year-long personal and professional collaboration that defined the Hollywood star’s personal aesthetic and showcased her impeccable personality and style. 

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Hello, Friends! Stories of Dating, Destiny & Day Jobs by Dulcé Sloan

Why you should try it: Need a dose of laughter while also finding out just what it takes to make it in the entertainment biz? Pick this up and love Dulcé Sloan as much as I do.

Description: From a childhood moving between cities, starting her own business selling toys at a Miami flea market, to being a Black kid in a predominately white school, Dulcé Sloan always used her masterful wit to challenge the status quo. Her purpose in comedy unfolded while navigating clubs and the set of The Daily Show. Have you ever dated an adult who roller skated or went out with a mechanic just to get free auto service? Yup, she's got that story for you.

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HBCU Made: A Celebration of the Black College Experience edited by Ayesha Rascoe

Why you should try it: A joyous book that includes essays by lots of famous and not-so-famous folk.

Description: Edited by the host of NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday, Ayesha Rascoe—with a distinguished and diverse set of contributors including Oprah Winfrey, Stacey Abrams, and Branford Marsalis, HBCU Made illuminates and celebrates the experience of going to a historically Black college or university.

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Black Caesars & Foxy Cleopatras: A History of Blaxploitation Cinema by Odie Henderson

Why you should try it: A highly readable ode to Blaxploitation and its enduring influence written by someone who loves the genre but also has a film critic's analytical sensibility.

Description: Blaxploitation was a major trend, but it was never simple. The films mixed self-empowerment with exploitation, base stereotypes with essential representation that spoke to the lives and fantasies of Black viewers. The time is right for a reappraisal, understanding these films in the context of the time, and exploring their lasting influence.

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Be Not Afraid of My Body: A Lyrical Memoir by Darius Stewart

Why you should try it: This memoir in the form of essays is affecting, memorable, and beautifully written. What more would you expect from a poet?

Description: Darius Stewart spent his childhood in the Lonsdale projects of Knoxville, where he grew up navigating school, friendship, and his own family life in a context that often felt perilous. As we learn about his life in Tennessee, Texas, and Iowa, he details the obstacles to his most crucial desires: hiding his earliest attraction to boys in his neighborhood, doomed affairs, his struggles with alcohol addiction, and his eventual diagnosis of HIV.

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White Supremacy Is All Around: Notes From a Black Disabled Woman in a White World by Akilah Cadet

Why you should try it: Dr. Cadet draws from her personal experience while detailing her DEIB (diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging) training in the workplace.

Description: In a series of personal stories told with candor and wit, Dr. Cadet explores the long-term work required to combat structural oppression from her unique vantage point as a Black-disabled woman. She tackles everything: from the 2020 "summer of allyship" and depression caused by workplace discrimination to navigating disability and building a consulting business, all with a little inspo from Beyoncé.

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About Dontaná

Dontaná is a Collection Management Librarian who was born with an unending reading list. She is almost always reading two books simultaneously and is easily distracted by cool covers.

Librarian Kathy

About Kathy

Kathy is a Collection Management Librarian who loves reading, sharing, and talking about books. Her missions in life are to: create communities of readers, convince folks that her official title should be "Book Pusher," and refute that "disco" is a dirty word.