Jax Stacks Book Recommendations: Staff Picks

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Jax Stacks Reading Challenge

#Jax Stacks - March 2023

Welcome to the third 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. 

In March, we will meet at the Highlands Library on Friday, March 24 at 1 p.m. to discuss “A book recommended by a library staff member." (Hey, what do you know? All the books below count!)

#Click here to register!

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

#A book written before 2000:

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

In Morrison’s acclaimed first novel, Pecola Breedlove—an 11-year-old Black girl in an America whose love for its blond, blue-eyed children can devastate all others—prays for her eyes to turn blue: so that she will be beautiful, so that people will look at her, so that her world will be different. A powerful examination of our obsession with beauty and conformity that asks questions about race, class, and gender with characteristic subtly and grace.

Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey

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

Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey

If you liked The Expanse on Syfy and Amazon, check out the original novels! The authors (there are two that go by this pseudonym) set an epic political saga in space and throw in some mystery and humor to round it out.

Philida by Andre Brink

#A historical book set in Africa: 

Philida by Andre Brink is the unforgettable story of a fiercely independent woman and her determination to survive and be free.

It is 1832 in South Africa, the year before slavery is abolished and the slaves are emancipated. Philida is the mother of four children by Francois Brink, the son of her master. When Francois's father orders him to marry a woman from a prominent Cape Town family, Francois reneges on his promise to give Philida her freedom, threatening instead to sell her to new owners.

Death is Hard Work written by Khalid Khalifa

#A book in translation:

Death is Hard Work was written by Khalid Khalifa and translated by Leri Price (originally published in Arabic)

Abdel Latif died peacefully in a hospital bed. His final wish, which he conveyed to his youngest son, Bolbol, was to be buried in the family plot. Though Bolbol is estranged from his siblings, he persuades his older brother Hussein and his sister Fatima to accompany him and the body to Anabiya, which is―after all―only a two-hour drive from Damascus. The problem? Their country is a war zone.

The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obrecht

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

The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obrecht
This novel was published in 2011, when Obrecht was 26.

In a Balkan country mending from war, Natalia, a young doctor, is compelled to unravel the mysterious circumstances surrounding her beloved grandfather’s recent death. She turns to his worn copy of The Jungle Book and the stories he told her of his encounters with “the deathless man.” But most extraordinary of all is the story her grandfather never told her—the legend of the tiger’s wife.

A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

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

A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway brilliantly evokes the exuberant mood of Paris after World War I and the unbridled creativity and unquenchable enthusiasm that Hemingway himself epitomized.

The Foundation is hosting a Hemingway-themed fundraiser on Thursday, March 30 at 6:30 p.m. to raise money for JaxKids Book Club! Enjoy a rum tasting, lecture, heavy appetizers from 1928 Cuban Bistro and a virtual tour of the Hemingway House and Museum! Tickets are still available if you'd like to donate!

Punderworld by Linda Sejic

#A book read by a Library book club in 2023: 

Punderworld by Linda Sejic

The classic tale of Greek mythology, but 100% more awkwardly relatable. Hades is the officious, antisocial ruler of the Underworld; Persephone, daughter of Demeter, is an earth goddess of growth and renewal - they've been crushing on each other for the past two centuries.

Selected for the ComiClub Graphic Novel Book Club at Willow Branch. Come talk about it on April 11 at 6 p.m. – register here!

There There by Tommy Orange

#A book by a 2023 Lit Chat author: 

There There by Tommy Orange

Appearing live at the Main Library and on Zoom on March 31 at 6:30 p.m. Register for this and other March Lit Chats here!

Help Me!: One Woman’s Quest to Find Out If Self-help Can Really Change Your Life by Marianne Power

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

Help Me!: One Woman’s Quest to Find Out If Self-help Can Really Change Your Life by Marianne Power

For years journalist Marianne Power lined her bookshelves with dog-eared copies of definitive guides on how to live your best life, dipping in and out of self-help books when she needed them most. Then, one day, she woke up to find that the life she hoped for and the life she was living were worlds apart—and she set out to make some big changes.

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

#A book with a non-human protagonist: 

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

A brave mouse, a covetous rat, a wishful serving girl, and a princess named Pea come together in Kate DiCamillo's Newbery Medal-winning tale.

I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings and illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas

#A book banned in the last 10 years:

I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings and illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas

Reasons given (according to the American Library Association): “challenged and relocated for LGBTQIA+ content, for a transgender character, and for confronting a topic that is ‘sensitive, controversial, and politically charged.’”

Runaway: Stories by Alice Munro

#A book by a Nobel Prize winner:

Runaway: Stories by Alice Munro
Written by the winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature

Runaway is a book of extraordinary stories about love and its infinite betrayals and surprises, from the title story about a young woman who, though she thinks she wants to, is incapable of leaving her husband, to three stories about a woman named Juliet and the emotions that complicate the luster of her intimate relationships.

What We See When We Read: A Phenomenology with illustrations by Peter Mendelsund

#A book with illustrations:

What We See When We Read: A Phenomenology with illustrations by Peter Mendelsund

A gorgeously unique, fully illustrated exploration into the phenomenology of reading—how we visualize images from reading works of literature, from one of our very best book jacket designers, himself a passionate reader.

Tokyo Ueno Station by Yu Miri

#A book under 300 pages:

Tokyo Ueno Station by Yu Miri

Kazu is dead. Born in Fukushima in 1933, the same year as the Japanese Emperor, his life is tied by a series of coincidences to the Imperial family and has been shaped at every turn by modern Japanese history. But his life story is also marked by bad luck, and now, in death, he is unable to rest, doomed to haunt the park near Ueno Station in Tokyo.

#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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