SJPL Picks Recommendation News: February 2024

Welcome, or welcome back, to the Rec News, an occasional publication featuring recreational and recommended reading from our SJPL Librarians. In our last issue, we took a look at books in celebration of the Sci-fi genre. This month, our reads are aimed at helping you read to honor two widely known celebrations, one lasting but a single day, the other spanning the full month.

First, we have plenty of books with love as the core theme to help us all get into the mood for St. Valentine's Day, of course! While originally a Christian martyr/saint day, this holiday is now observed in many countries worldwide as a celebration of romance and love.

Second, we will have plenty of lists featuring works relating to Black History and celebrating Black authorship to mark Black History Month. Learning more about Black History and amplifying Black voices in media is a way to pay homage to Black people's contributions, innovations, resilience, and victories throughout US History. Reading the books on these lists is a great way to participate, learn more about Black History, and celebrate the African diaspora and its members' accomplishments. I would also encourage readers to take advantage of one of the many Black History Month events happening at your local library!

Keep scrolling to find recs for Adults, Teens, and Kids.

Adult Picks

Where We End and Begin, book cover
The 1619 Project, book cover
The Black Panther Party, book cover
Anywhere You Run, book cover
The Two Lives of Sarah, book cover
Boys Come First, book cover
Briefly, A Delicious LIfe, book coverCover of

Above is a cross-section of the latest additions to this month's featured lists, and, dear reader, there are four of them:

Black History Essentials

Our first two lists are meant to complement and celebrate Black History Month. We've got some Black History Essentials to help anyone deepen their understanding of or examine the Black experience from different angles. This list contains newer books making waves such as the 1619 Project, but also classic literature from the likes of Toni Morisson, poetry from Langston Hughes, and many more classic titles showing the profound impact these masterworks have had not only on literature but, as the list title suggests, history.

Recent Fiction from Black Authors

Our second list featured this month is full of Recent Fiction from Black Authors. If you're like me and prefer contemporary literature to classic, then dive into this list of mixed genres to find plenty to add to a 'to read' list. Personally, I'm excited to pick up More Perfect by Temi Oh; if Dystopia isn't your thing, you'll find historical fiction, psychological fiction, romance, magical realism, thrillers, sci-fi, and more, waiting for you just a click away.

Love Stories

List #3 for February is for Valentine's Day; while I hate to disappoint it would be irresponsible not to prepare you: Love stories Romance. While they may overlap, Love Stories emerges as a distinct subgenre when you consider the arc of the story, the tone, as well as the characters. With Love Stories you can expect the plot of a romantic entanglement to reflect the complications that come with love and the flawed individuals involved; and they may not always have a happy ending. In fact, sometimes the very nature of the love in the story will point to an unhappy ending. For many, historical events or political upheaval come into play, and the hurdles for love to overcome will be, in general, heavier in Love Stories. You might think me bitter, but I feel this is a more accurate reflection of love in life, and thus the perfect nod to the holiday commemorating love.


Ok, Ok...I'm not so bitter that I would deny you a sweet romance read for Valentines Day, and the books on this list will deliver. Romance can be great at capturing those warm-fuzzies you feel when romance is new. If you're looking to kindle that warmth in yourself, pick up a Romance, and enjoy the hunks, hotties, and meet-cutes your heart desires.

Teen Picks

The Love Match, book cover
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This Time It's Real, book cover
Friday I'm in Love, book cover
Reggie and Delilah's Year of Falling, book cover
Cover of
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For Teens we have three lists, similar to the offerings for Adults:

Fresh YA Fiction from Black Authors

Of course, Black authors are publishing books year round (duh), not just during Black History Month! So if you're committed to having diverse representation in your reads, bookmark this list to find fresh YA fiction every month to amplify Black voices in an industry where they have classically been underrepresented.

Romantic Comedies for Teens

Again, I can't deny any library patron looking for something sweet this February. If you enjoy the more light-hearted side of romance, skim some of the latest teen rom-coms that are sure to bring about some insta(book)love.

YA Love Stories & Romance

But...if you prefer your romantic reads with less focus on awkwardly funny moments and more on the nitty-gritties of finding love, then you might try Love Stories & Romance over Romcoms. These reads won't be as light as those in the above list, but they'll still toy with your heart in all the right ways.

Kids Picks

Just the Way You Are, book cover
Me and the Boss, book cover
The More You Give, book cover
Dadaji's Paintbrush, book cover
 The ABCs of Black History, book cover
 The Oldest Student, book cover
Brown: the Many Shades of Love, book cover
 I Affirm Me: The ABCs of Inspiration for Black Kids, book cover
 When We Say Black Lives Matter, book cover
Family Reunion, book cover
Hair, It's A Family Affair!, book cover
 The Fierce 44, book cover

Last, and definitely not least, we have some picks for Kids on the similar themes as Adults and Teens:

Picture Books for Black History Month

There are plenty of ways to include and honor Black History Month with even the youngest members of our community. This collection of picture books speaks to a wide age range (picture books AREN'T just for little ones!), and this list has some excellent picture book biographies to introduce anyone (really, anyone) to the myriad important figures in Black history.

Celebrating the Black Experience

These books relating to the Black Experience focus on positivity and Black Joy. These reads are full of the themes love and family.

All You Need is Love!

Of course, there's more to Valentine's Day than just romantic love! These picture books attempt to capture the full spectrum of where we find love in our lives: parents hugging children...families caring for their pet...unexpected surprises from grandparents...playing your friend's favorite older sibling making you your favorite meal...listening when someone's upset...missing ones we've lost...even worms marrying worms, all these brands of love and more are warmly expressed with inviting illustration in these quick, and lovely, reads.

SJPL Picks: Quick Links

If this month's featured reads aren't your favorite themes, or you're looking to expand your browsing, try checking out any and all of the lists from our librarians on our SJPL Picks team. All our lists will be labeled "SJPL Picks" or "SJPL Recommends".

SJPL 5forU

If you're looking for further recommendations and aren't in the mood to browse, let us do the browsing for you! San José Public Library's 5forU team offers personalized recommendations via email. You can also fill in the profile on someone else's behalf and we can find just the right titles - perfect for caregivers looking to recommend books to their children, for book clubs stumped on what to discuss next meeting, or if you're hoping to give the gift of literature. Just fill in the profile and we'll do the rest - and remember, the more information you give us in the profile, the better and more tailored your recommendations will be! Hearing exactly why you love or hate a book gives us more clues to find your new favorite. Requests will be answered within 5 business days. Ready to begin your 5forU journey? Start your 5forU request!

Until next time...Happy Reading!