Jax Stacks Book Recommendations: A Self-Improvement, How-To or DIY Book

Monday, July 31, 2023

Jax Stacks Reading Challenge

#Jax Stacks - August 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.

Sign up for Jax Stack book recommendations, program reminders and more at bit.ly/JaxLibraryUpdates

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.

On Wednesday, August 9 @ 7 p.m., join us at Southeast Regional Library to discuss "A Self-Improvement, How-To or DIY Book." 

Connect with other readers!

On the Road, by Jack Kerouac

A book written before 2000:

On the Road by Jack Kerouac

On the Road chronicles Jack Kerouac's years traveling the North American continent with his friend Neal Cassady, "a sideburned hero of the snowy West." As "Sal Paradise" and "Dean Moriarty," the two roam the country in a quest for self-knowledge and experience. Kerouac's love of America, his compassion for humanity, and his sense of language as jazz combine to make On the Road an inspirational work of lasting importance.

The Gene: An Intimate History, by Siddhartha Mukherjee

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

The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee

As opposed to academic nonfiction, which generally supports an overall thesis, popular nonfiction tends to pack as many interesting facts into one book as possible. After reading The Gene, expect to be sharing fun genetics facts with friends, family, and random strangers!

The Last Gift of The Master Artists, by Ben Okri

A historical book set in Africa: 

The Last Gift of The Master Artists by Ben Okri

A boy and a girl meet by chance on a riverbank in Africa. One is the son of a king, struggling to find his place in the world, the other is the daughter of a craftsman. But this is no fairy tale, no conventional love story. Their world—though they don’t know it yet—is ending. A strange wind has begun to blow, and in its wake, things are disappearing: songs, stories, artworks, and finally, people.

Kim Jiyoung, born 1982, written by Cho Nam-Joo and translated by Jamie Chang

A book in translation:

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 was written by Cho Nam-Joo and translated by Jamie Chang(originally published in Korean)

One of the most notable novels of the year, hailed by both critics and K-pop stars alike, Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 follows one woman’s psychic deterioration in the face of rampant misogyny.

Purple Hibiscus, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This novel was published in 2003, when Adichie was 26.

Fifteen-year-old Kambili and her older brother Jaja lead a privileged life in Enugu, Nigeria. They live in a beautiful house, with a caring family, and attend an exclusive missionary school. They're completely shielded from the troubles of the world. Yet, as Kambili reveals in her tender-voiced account, things are less perfect than they appear. Although her Papa is generous and well respected, he is fanatically religious and tyrannical at home—a home that is silent and suffocating.

My Family and Other Animals, by Gerald Durrell

A book set in a place you want to visit: 

My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell

Soaked in the sunshine of Corfu, where Gerald Durrell lived as a boy with his "family and other animals," this charming and comic autobiographical novel chronicles his five-year sojourn on the Greek island.

The Bromance Book Club, by Lyssa Kay Adams

A book read by a Library Book Club in 2023: 

The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams

When his wife asks for a divorce, Nashville Legends second baseman Gavin Scott finds help from an unlikely source: a secret romance book club made up of Nashville's top alpha men. With the help of their current read, a steamy Regency titled Courting the Countess, the guys coach Gavin on saving his marriage.

Selected for the Between the Covers Romance Readers Book Club at Brown Eastside Branch Library. Come talk about it on September 11 at 6:30 p.m.

The President’s Wife, by Tracey Enerson Wood

A book by a 2023 Lit Chat author: 

The President’s Wife by Tracey Enerson Wood

They called her the First Lady. They should have referred to her as Madame President. Discover the woman who stepped up and saved her husband—and her country.

Appearing live at the Beaches Library and on Zoom on August 15 at 3 p.m. Register for this and other August Lit Chats here!

How to Astronaut: An Insider's Guide to Leaving Planet Earth, by Terry Virts

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

How to Astronaut: An Insider's Guide to Leaving Planet Earth by Terry Virts

Former NASA astronaut Terry Virts offers an insider's guide to astronauting--a behind-the-scenes look at the training, the basic rules, lessons, and procedures of space travel, including how to deal with a dead body in space, what it's like to film an IMAX movie in orbit, what exactly to do when nature calls, and much more.

The Bees, by Laline Paull

A book with a non-human protagonist: 

The Bees by Laline Paull

The Handmaid's Tale meets The Hunger Games in this brilliantly imagined debut set in an ancient culture where only the queen may breed and deformity means death.

Looking for Alaska, by John Green

A book banned in the last 10 years:

Looking for Alaska by John Green

Reasons given (according to the American Library Association): “drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group”

Marigold and Rose: A Fiction, by Louise Glück

A book by a Nobel Prize winner:

Marigold and Rose: A Fiction by Louise Glück
Written by the winner of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature

A chronicle of the first year in the life of twin girls, Marigold and Rose that is also an investigation of the great mystery of language and of time itself. Imagine a fairy tale that is also a multigenerational saga; a piece for two hands that is also a symphony; a poem that is also, in the spirit of Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, an incandescent act of autobiography.

The Garden of Small Beginnings, by Abbi Waxman

A book with illustrations:

The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman

Young widow Lilian Girvan can't see the garden for the weeds... It's been three years since her husband was killed in a car accident and Lilian is still getting used to being sane--after that one early breakdown. But then Lilian's boss asks her to illustrate a vegetable encyclopedia and signs her up for a vegetable-gardening class. Lilian reluctantly agrees and recruits her kids and sister to join her for some drama-free Saturday mornings, because what could be more relaxing than gardening?

The Fire Next Time, by James Baldwin

A book under 300 pages:

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

The book that galvanized the nation, gave voice to the emerging civil rights movement in the 1960s—and still lights the way to understanding race in America today. At once a powerful evocation of James Baldwin's early life in Harlem and a disturbing examination of the consequences of racial injustice, the book is an intensely personal and provocative document from the iconic author of If Beale Street Could Talk and Go Tell It on the Mountain.

New Jax Stacks Prizes Have Dropped!

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.