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NHPR Reads: February 2024

Sara Plourde

This month the NHPR staff has gathered some of our favorite stories, poems, and plays by legendary and contemporary Black authors, including bell hooks, Nella Larsen, and James McBride to honor Black History Month. To learn more about Black artists, historians, veterans and more check out this link. You can also check out NHPR’s special programming for Black History Month here. And as always, please send us your review if you decide to add any of these books to your library list at - Zoë 

The Fifth Season (and Broken Earth trilogy) by N. K. Jemisin

I am convinced few people can build a world like N. K. Jemisin, a world that is speculative and strange while being utterly convincing. The Broken Earth trilogy will excite you and break your heart a little. - Sara Plourde

Funnyhouse of a Negro by Adrienne Kennedy

This one act play is told in 24 pages and packs a big punch! The story centers around Sarah, a young woman living in New York City, and her search for identity as a person of mixed race. I highly recommend watching this one on stage, if possible. - Zoë Kay

Wild Seed by Octavia Butler

For those that like Sci-Fi/Fantasy - Andrew Lakowicz

The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store by James McBride - Rebecca Lavoie

Conjure Women by Afia Atakora

A novel that skips back and forth in time, from pre- to post-Civil War, to tell the story of three remarkable women and their everyday magic. - Sara Plourde

Bone Black, by bell hooks

In this memoir of perceptions and ideas, renowned feminist intellectual bell hooks presents a stirringly intimate account of growing up in the South. - Jane Harkins

Passing by Nella Larsen is a painful, vivid portrait of how racism and self-hate twist lives as people struggle to live up to perceived social norms. The characters are sharply drawn, and this nearly 100-year-old short novel remains deeply resonant today. - Jim Schachter

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi starts with the stories of two sisters in colonial Ghana, one remains there, while the other is abducted into slavery in the US. The book goes on to follow their respective lineages for 8 generations. Each chapter tells the story of one person in that lineage chronologically to present day. While that means 16 characters in total, Gyasi gives compelling character development for every one of them, but does it in a connected way that it felt like the book is really about two main characters: the Ghanaian lineage, and the American lineage. - Felix Poon

Their Eyes Were Watching God - Zora Neale Hurston

I read this masterpiece for the first time in college and have reread it yearly since. Hurston's text is a thing of stupendous beauty, documenting Janie Crawford’s coming of age and quest for true love that will make anyone cry tears of both sorrow and joy. - Zoë Kay

Allow Me to Retort: A Black Guy’s Guide to the Constitution by Elie Mystal is not only my favorite civics read of 2023, it’s quite possibly my favorite US History book ever written. It is an unflinching, hilarious, depressing, legal analysis of how our “Supreme Law of the Land” has been interpreted and misinterpreted by the courts to, over and over again, strip people of their rights. This is a book that changes minds and wins arguments, if there is such a thing as winning an argument. Buy it for someone who disagrees with you! - Nick Capodice

White is For Witching by Helen Oyeyemi

A modern gothic masterpiece, a bit of a haunted house story, and a tale about the legacy of strong women. - Sara Plourde

Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi - Olivia Richardson

South to America by Imani Perry takes the reader on a journey from Appalachia to the Low Country, weaving history with contemporary stories, offering fresh insights into the soul of our country. - Angela Menendez

The Girl With The Louding Voice by Abi Daré

This is a book of hope and grace. The fictional story of a Nigerian girl named Adunni, who dreams of getting an education despite challenging circumstances, reflects the experience of many young women around the world. - Christine Louis

Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert

I enjoy all the books in Hibbert’s Brown Sisters trilogy, but this is my favorite. A perfect book when you’re in the mood for a fun, spicy romance novel. - Jackie Harris

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett - Brianna Duncan

Didn’t Nobody Give A Sh*t What Happened to Carlotta by James Hannaham

Despite the title, I can’t imagine anyone finishing this incredibly original novel without caring deeply about its heroine, Carlotta Mercedes. We follow Carlotta, a “Blatina” trans woman, as she makes her way through her first 48 hours in the outside world after being released from a men’s prison in Upstate New York. The reader is pulled through the book by streams of Carlotta’s often colorful running commentary as she navigates the changes to herself, her family and friends, and her native Brooklynn after 20 years in the “jawnt.” The book is by turns poignant and laugh-out-loud funny. - Katie Colaneri

Parable of the Sower - Octavia E. Butler - Olivia Richardson

Coleman Hill by Kim Coleman Foote

Debut novel following two women who leave their homes in the post-civil war south during the early days of the Great Migration. It follows two generations of their families and how the move impacted their lives. Drawn from the authors own family history - Barbara Schmelzer

NHPR Reads is a blog series published on the second Thursday of the month dedicated to poetry, prose, and everything in between. Follow along for a staff-curated list of what we’re reading that month and read along with us!

Zoë Kay serves as the Marketing and Event Coordinator for the station. She is focused on working within and alongside the communities of New Hampshire to promote the mission of NHPR.
Sara has been a part of NHPR since 2011. Her work includes data visualizations, data journalism, original stories reported on the web, video, photos and illustrations. She is responsible for the station's visual style and print design, as well as the user experience of NHPR's digital platforms.
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