Staff Picks: Best Books We Read in February

Photograph of white and red almond blossoms on tree branches

Welcome to Staff Picks: February Edition! February may have been a short month, but San José Public Library bloggers still got plenty of good reading in. Check out or reserve these titles at your local library branch today!

Cover of the autobiography "The Last Black Unicorn" by Tiffany HaddishThe Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish

From stand-up comedian and actress Tiffany Haddish comes The Last Black Unicorn, a hilarious, edgy, and heart-wrenching collection of autobiographical essays that will leave you laughing through tears.

Why I Like it: This book is THE funniest book that I've ever read. Tiffany's writing was so clever and it was a fast read. There were many times where I've had to stifle my laughs at night, trying not to wake up anyone at home. - Alyssa M.

Cover of Batman:DamnedBatman: Damned by Brian Azzarello

The best book I read in February was Batman: Damned, the first installment in a new series (and the first book from the new DC Black Label imprint!) from DC Comics. Reader be warned: DC Black Label is an adults-only imprint, and this volume is not for kids!

The Joker is dead, and Batman may or may not have killed him. Trouble is, Batman has no memory of what happened and, as he digs deeper into the case, he unearths some really nasty dirt. He soon begins to doubt his own experiences. Batman’s guide through this case is an unexpected character from DC’s dark past. - Stacy T.

Cover of "Becoming" by Michelle ObamaBecoming by Michelle Obama

The best book I read in February is Becoming by Michelle Obama. In this autobiography, the former First Lady of The United States shares aspects of her life spanning from her childhood growing up on the South Side of Chicago through her family's 8 years in The White House while Barack Obama served as President of the United States.

I found Mrs. Obama's writing to be warm, witty and accessible. I especially appreciated that she did not shy away from expressing her point of view on important social and political issues we continue to face. - Dana L.

Cover of "The Sky Between You and Me" by Catherine AleneThe Sky Between You and Me by Catherine Alene

Raesha can’t let go. Not of the ache she feels at the loss of her mother. Or her loneliness from the long hours her father spends on the road. And certainly not of her jealousy of the new girl who keeps flirting with her boyfriend and making plans with her best friend. So she focuses on training for Nationals. For Raesha, competing isn’t just about the speed of her horse or the thrill of the win. It’s about honoring her mother’s memory. Raesha knows minus five on the scale will let her sit deeper in her saddle, make her horse lighter on her feet. And lighter, leaner, faster gives her the edge she needs to win—to run that perfect race that will make everyone proud. But the more Raesha focuses on the win, the more she starts to push away the people she loves. And if she’s not careful, she will lose herself and all she loves to lighter. Leaner. Faster.

This book was absolutely amazing. When I started crying at page 11 I knew I was going to fall completely and utterly in love with this book. I do want to say that this book should come with trigger warning for eating disorders. This book is written from a teenage girls perspective with an eating disorder, but it is also written about a VERY EXTREME case of Anorexia Nervosa, so I can see how triggering some of this content could be. That being said I still loved this novel, the emotions in this book were just so raw and gripping. This book got so much right when it comes to Teenage Angst and Jealousy and Eating Disorders and coping with Death, etc. I was worried when I started reading this book, that I wouldn't be able to understand it, or get enough of a description because the book is written in short versus, but that was not the case with this novel. I was so impressed with the amount of raw emotion, and imagery this author managed to fit into such short chapters. This is the only novel currently written by this author and I'm so disappointed, because I just want there to be more books like this! Catherine Alene, I'm waiting... because this book was amazing! The author also used her own personal experiences with an eating disorder for this novel, which is probably why the emotions that go along with this disease are so on point and well written. - Penelope G.

Cover of the novel "The Hate U Give" by Angie ThomasThe Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Now a major motion picture, we are shown into a fictional city based on the author's own hometown where gangs and poverty are not the most dangerous culprits.

The issue that this young adult fiction book focuses on is one that adults wonder whether it is appropriate for young adults: Black Lives Matter. The author answers that by saying [in an interview with New York magazine], "I wrote this from a perspective of a 16-year-old girl, so I felt like I had a better chance of reaching people who may take issue with the phrase 'black lives matter'." - David F.

Many Ways to Say I Love YouMany Ways to Say I Love You: Wisdom for Parents and Children from Mister Rogers by Fred Rogers

Are you looking for a little more kindness in life? Did you adore Won't You be My Neighbor? Was Mister Rogers your neighbor, too? This adorable parenting book is contains short observations, reflections, and musings by the wonderful man himself. This book isn't a "how to parent" book, but recognizing what makes you unique, discusses what parents bring from their past, and how to grow as parent. The other half of the book talks about the many ways of loving each other, and growing as children. This book also features several lovely songs from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Whether you read the entire book, or skim through a couple pages, Mister Rogers would still be proud. - Jessica N.

Cover of the novel "Leviathan Wakes" by James S.A. CoreyLeviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey

Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey has been described as classic PI novel meets space opera, Hollywood blockbuster in book form and Game of Thrones in space. In fact, a pithy endorsement from George R.R. Martin graces the cover of Corey’s first installment of the series! Viewers Advisory set out to read all 561 pages after loving the hit show and blogging about it in January. And, by "hit show" we mean SyFy viewers were obsessed (enough for Amazon to pick it up). A quick summary of this book goes like this: humanity has colonized the solar system. Three groups of political powers exist. There are humans from Earth, humans from Mars and humans from the Belt (asteroid belt between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars). The main characters, and also the two alternating points of view, are Jim Holden -- a reluctant captain of a rag-tag team of ex-ice haulers -- and Joe Miller -- a washed up private investigator fixated on a missing woman. What we find cool about this books are the following two things.

James S.A. Corey is the pen name for Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck. Two people wrote this book together. Inconceivable! Some read the multiple points of view as stilted, an unfortunate result of co-authorship. We'll agree to disagree. The two authors help establish distinct, alternating voices for the two main characters. The other aspect that we find very cool is that there is no fantastical science that readers are asked to just accept as future technology. For example, there still is no such thing as traveling the speed of light. It still takes time to get from place to place in this story, although a somewhat quicker way has been discovered. In the Expanse, the future is clunky and resilient. If you like to idea of two brains churning out a cohesive story, and you fancy science fiction built upon believable predictions, read Leviathan Wakes. - Viewers Advisory

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