Jax Stacks Book Recommendations: A Book Under 300 Pages

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Jax Stacks Reading Challenge

#Jax Stacks - December 2023

Have you completed the 2023 Jax Stacks Reading Challenge?! Throughout the year, we've been giving you suggestions for each* category in the challenge via email and blog every month so that you would always have a great library book waiting for you if you needed it.

If you've missed any of these recommendations, check our blog archive! If you want a prize, you've got until December 31, 2023, to cross off at least 12 of those categories. In the meantime, free to share your progress and recommendations on social media using #jaxstacks.

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#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.

#New Location!

Stop by West Branch Library on Saturday, December 9 @ 2 p.m., to discuss “A book under 300 pages.

Connect with other readers!



Passing, by Nella Larsen

#A book written before 2000:

Passing by Nella Larsen

Clare Kendry is living on the edge. Light-skinned, elegant, and ambitious, she is married to a racist white man unaware of her African American heritage, and has severed all ties to her past after deciding to “pass” as a white woman. A powerful, thrilling, and tragic tale about the fluidity of racial identity that continues to resonate today.

Dickens and Prince: A Particular Kind of Genius, by Nick Hornby

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

Dickens and Prince: A Particular Kind of Genius by Nick Hornby

A biography provides a look at the subject through the lens of the time in which the biography was written. This short, warm, and entertaining book is about art, creativity, and the unlikely similarities between Victorian novelist Charles Dickens and modern American rock star Prince.

African Town: Inspired by the True Story of the Last American Slave Ship, by Irene Latham

#A historical book set in Africa: 

African Town: Inspired by the True Story of the Last American Slave Ship by Irene Latham

1859. The transatlantic slave trade has been banned for more than fifty years, and the South is facing the threat of a civil war. Timothy Maeher resents the government interference in his right to make a living. Making a bet that he can smuggle enslaved Africans into the United States without being caught, he commissions the Clotilda, and brings back 110 African captives. Among them are Abilè, Gumpa, Kêhounco, Kossola, and Kupolee, who survive the voyage and arrive in Alabama still clinging to the hope of one day returning home.

A Hero Born, written by Jin Yong and translated by Anna Holmwood

#A book in translation:

A Hero Born was written by Jin Yong and translated by Anna Holmwood (originally published in Chinese)

A fantastical generational saga and kung fu epic, A Hero Born is the classic novel of its time, stretching from the Song Empire (China 1200 AD) to the appearance of a warlord whose name will endure for eternity: Genghis Khan. Filled with an extraordinary cast of characters, A Hero Born is a tale of fantasy and wonder, love and passion, treachery and war, betrayal and brotherhood.

It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

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

It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
This novel was published in 2006, when Vizzini was 25.

Like many ambitious New York City teenagers, Craig Gilner sees entry into Manhattan’s Executive Pre-Professional High School as the ticket to his future. Determined to succeed at life—which means getting into the right high school to get into the right college to get the right job—Craig studies night and day to ace the entrance exam, and does. That’s when things start to get crazy.

Last Train to Paradise, by Les Standiford

#A book set in a place you want to visit: 

Last Train to Paradise by Les Standiford

The fast-paced and gripping true account of the extraordinary construction and spectacular demise of Henry Flagler's Key West Railroad—one of the greatest engineering feats ever undertaken, destroyed in one fell swoop by the strongest storm ever to hit U.S. shores.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

#A book read by a Library Book Club in 2023: 

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned—from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules. Enter Mia Warren—an enigmatic artist and single mother—who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons.

Selected for the New Leaf Book Club at Highlands Library on December 23 at 12:30 p.m. Register now!

Striving for Justice, by Nat Glover

#A book by a 2023 Lit Chat author: 

Striving for Justice: A Black Sheriff in the Deep South by Nat Glover

On a sweltering day in August 1960, in the segregated Deep South city of Jacksonville, Florida, a seventeen-year-old Black boy finished his dishwashing job at Morrison's Cafeteria, walked out the back door, and found himself in the middle of a nightmare. Hundreds of white men with ax handles and baseball bats were attacking Black sit-in protestors in Hemming Park. Suddenly surrounded, the young man endured menacing blows and racist taunts. He called for help from a white police officer standing nearby, but no help came. His life could have ended that day, but instead, the ordeal reinforced his plans to become a police officer.

Appearing live at the Bradham and Brooks Library and on Zoom on December 9 at 2 p.m. Register now!

Get Good with Money, by Tiffany Aliche

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

Get Good with Money by Tiffany Aliche

Introducing the powerful idea of striving for financial wholeness instead of early retirement or millionaire status, Get Good with Money guides us through the ten short-term steps that lead to long-term security.

I am a Cat, Soseki Natsume

#A book with a non-human protagonist: 

I am a Cat by Soseki Natsume

Written from 1904 through 1906, Soseki Natsume's comic masterpiece, I Am a Cat, satirizes the foolishness of upper-middle-class Japanese society during the Meiji era. With acerbic wit and sardonic perspective, it follows the whimsical adventures of a world-weary stray kitten who comments on the follies and foibles of the people around him.

Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan, written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter

#A book banned in the last 10 years:

Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter

Based on a true story. After her parents are taken away by the Taliban, young Nasreen stops speaking. But as she spends time in a secret school, she slowly breaks out of her shell.

East of Eden, by John Steinbeck

#A book by a Nobel Prize winner:

East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Written by the winner of the 1962 Nobel Prize in Literature

Set in the rich farmland of California’s Salinas Valley, this sprawling and often brutal novel follows the intertwined destinies of two families—the Trasks and the Hamiltons—whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel.

Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species: A Graphic Adaptation, by Michael Keller

#A book with illustrations:

Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species: A Graphic Adaptation by Michael Keller

A stunning graphic adaptation of one of the most famous, contested, and important books of all time: Darwin's "On the Origin of Species." Includes sections about Darwin's pioneering research, the book's initial public reception, his correspondence with other leading scientists, as well as the most recent breakthroughs in evolutionary theory.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman

#A book under 300 pages:

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

It began for our narrator forty years ago when the family lodger stole their car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Dark creatures from beyond the world are on the loose, and it will take everything our narrator has just to stay alive: there is primal horror here, and menace unleashed - within his family and from the forces that have gathered to destroy it. His only defense is three women, on a farm at the end of the lane.

#Reward Yourself

Are you close to completing the Jax Stacks Reading Challenge? You now have your choice between a Jax Stacks-branded tumbler or sunglasses (while supplies last). Be sure to send a picture with your completed bookmark to us at jplprograms@coj.net to claim your prize!

Photo of Jax Stacks tumbler and sunglasses sitting on the edge of a water fountain

#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.

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