Jax Stacks Book Recommendations: A book set in a place you want to visit

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Jax Stacks Reading Challenge

#Jax Stacks - June 2023

Welcome to a new month of the 2023 Jax Stacks Reading Challenge! We are going to give you suggestions for each* category in the challenge every month so that you always have a great library book waiting for you when you need it. Check our blog every month for a new round of ideas, and feel free to share your progress and recommendations on social media using #jaxstacks.

You can also sign up for Jax Stacks email reminders on the Library U enrollment page.

Jax Stacks Book Club

Share what you're reading with other Jax Stacks readers at our monthly Jax Stacks Reading Challenge Book Club. Each month we will highlight and discuss one or two categories at the book club. You are welcome to share whatever books you’re reading as long as they count for the challenge.

In April, we started meeting at the Beaches Branch. Join us there on Monday, June 5 at 6:30 p.m. to discuss “A book set in a place you want to visit." On Wednesday, July 12 at 7 p.m., we'll be meeting at our next location: Southeast Regional Library.

Click here to register!


The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

A book written before 2000:

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

The Master and Margarita has been captivating readers around the world ever since its first publication in 1967. Written during Stalin’s time in power but suppressed in the Soviet Union for decades, Bulgakov’s masterpiece is an ironic parable on power and its corruption, on good and evil, and on human frailty and the strength of love.

The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah

A book in a genre you don't usually read: 

The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah

Urban fiction or street lit has a focus on the grittier parts of city living, including poverty, crime, and violence. The Coldest Winter Ever helped kick off the contemporary popularity of these novels, and if you missed it in 1999 you can check it out now!

Out of Darkness, Shining Light by Petina Gappah

A historical book set in Africa: 

Out of Darkness, Shining Light by Petina Gappah

“This is how we carried out of Africa the poor broken body of Bwana Daudi, the Doctor, David Livingstone, so that he could be borne across the sea and buried in his own land.” So begins Petina Gappah's powerful novel of exploration and adventure in nineteenth-century Africa—the captivating story of the loyal men and women who carried explorer and missionary Dr. Livingstone's body, his papers and maps, fifteen hundred miles across the continent of Africa, so his remains could be returned home to England and his work preserved there.

Seasons of Purgatory written by Shahriar Mandanipour and translated by Sara Khalili

A book in translation:

Seasons of Purgatory was written by Shahriar Mandanipour and translated by Sara Khalili (originally published in Persian)

In Seasons of Purgatory, the fantastical and the visceral merge in tales of tender desire and collective violence, the boredom and brutality of war, and the clash of modern urban life and rural traditions. Mandanipour, banned from publication in his native Iran, delivers a ferocious social critique with stories steeped in the poetry and stark beauty of an ancient land and culture.

Southern Cross the Dog by Bill Cheng

A book written by an author when they were under 30:

Southern Cross the Dog by Bill Cheng
This novel was published in 2013, when Cheng was 30.

In the tradition of Cormac McCarthy and Flannery O’Connor, Bill Cheng’s Southern Cross the Dog is an epic literary debut in which the bonds between three childhood friends are upended by the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927. In its aftermath, one young man must choose between the lure of the future and the claims of the past.

The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, by Haruki Murakami

A book set in a place you want to visit: 

The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami (set in Tokyo, Japan)

Having quit his job, Toru Okada is enjoying a pleasant stint as a "house husband", listening to music and arranging the dry cleaning and doing the cooking - until his cat goes missing, his wife becomes distant and begins acting strangely, and he starts meeting enigmatic people with fantastic life stories.

A Darker Shade of Magic, by Victoria Schwab

A book read by a Library Book Club in 2023: 

A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab

Kell is one of the last Antari―magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they'll never see. It's a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand...

Selected for the Excalibris Book Club at Regency Square Branch. Come talk about it on July 15 at 10:30 a.m. – register here!

Unterzakhn, by Leela Corman

A book by a 2023 Lit Chat author: 

Unterzakhn by Leela Corman

A mesmerizing, heartbreaking graphic novel of immigrant life on New York's Lower East Side at the turn of the twentieth century, as seen through the eyes of twin sisters whose lives take radically and tragically different paths.

Appearing live at the Main Library and on Zoom on June 10 at 1:30 p.m. Register for this and other June Lit Chats here!

How to be Perfect, by Michael Schur

A self-improvement, how-to or DIY book: 

How to be Perfect by Michael Schur

Most people think of themselves as “good,” but it’s not always easy to determine what’s “good” or “bad”—especially in a world filled with complicated choices and pitfalls and booby traps and bad advice. With bright wit and deep insight, How to Be Perfect explains concepts like deontology, utilitarianism, existentialism, ubuntu, and more so we can sound cool at parties and become better people.

The Travelling Cat Chronicles, Hiro Arikawa

A book with a non-human protagonist: 

The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa

An instant international bestseller and indie bestseller, The Travelling Cat Chronicles has charmed readers around the world. With simple yet descriptive prose, this novel gives voice to Nana the cat and his owner, Satoru, as they take to the road on a journey with no other purpose than to visit three of Satoru's longtime friends. Or so Nana is led to believe...

Gender Queer, by Maia Kobabe

A book banned in the last 10 years:

Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe

Reasons given (according to the American Library Association): “Banned, challenged, and restricted for LGBTQIA+ content, and because it was considered to have sexually explicit images”

Doctor Zhivago, by Boris Pasternak

A book by a Nobel Prize winner:

Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
Written by the winner of the 1958 Nobel Prize in Literature

First published in Italy in 1957 amid international controversy—the novel was banned in the Soviet Union until 1988, and Pasternak declined the Nobel Prize a year later under intense pressure from Soviet authorities—Doctor Zhivago is the story of the life and loves of a poet-physician during the turmoil of the Russian Revolution.

Goodbye, Again, by Jonny Sun

A book with illustrations:

Goodbye, Again by Jonny Sun

Jonny's honest writings about his struggles with feeling productive, as well as his difficulties with anxiety and depression will connect deeply with his fans as well as anyone attempting to create in our chaotic world. It also features a recipe for scrambled eggs that might make you cry.

Piranesi, by Susanna Clarke

A book under 300 pages:

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

Piranesi's house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house.


More Recommendations

Note: We can’t help you with “A book you’ve read and loved before”, but we’re happy to have you share them with us on social media! We love to see what folks are reading.

Second note: All of these recommendations can fit in the category “A book recommended by a library staff member," and we encourage you to seek out your local branch staff or request a personalized booklist for more recommendations.