SJPL Picks Recommendation News: May 2024

Welcome, or welcome back, to SJPL's Rec News, an occasional publication featuring recreational and recommended reading from our SJPL Librarians. Last month, opens a new window, we had plenty of reads to inspire poets for National Poetry Month. After May, Rec News will take a break until August - Summer Learning is on the way, and the Summer Learning Team will have weekly recommendations to fuel your reading list as you work through the program from June 1 - July 31.

May has plenty of observances and celebrations to theme our reads around, with other niche observances as well. May celebrations start off strong with Cinco de Mayo, a celebration of Mexico's victory in the Battle of Puebla. If you're hoping to expand your celebrations for May, why not celebrate Gifts from the Garden Month with some fresh picked produce, or by starting a garden of your own? Perhaps you're more into the idea of Barbeque Month, which must go hand-in-hand with the celebration of Hamburger Month. Maybe you're keen to start biking around, and since May is Bike Month it's a perfect time to tune up your two-wheeler and get peddling. It's National Water Safety Month, so double checking that your old life jackets fit before summer trips to the lake is a good idea for May. It is also Jewish American Heritage Month, which if you'd like to explore you can try on some reads for Adults or Children. May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, too, as well as Mystery Month, and Mental Health Awareness Month. Let's take a look at some reads that will be perfect for these celebrations and observances.

Reads for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Dim Sum, Here We Come!, book cover
Punky Aloha, book cover
You Are Life, book cover
 It's Boba Time for Pearl Li!, book cover
 Karthik Delivers, book cover
The Karma Map, book cover
 Imposter Syndrome and Other Confessions of Alejandra Kim, book cover
Strike the Zither, book cover
An Arrow to the Moon, book cover
The Chinese Groove, book cover
Skull Water, book cover
Ask the Brindled, book cover
The Sense of Wonder, book cover

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage month is a broad celebratory month, honoring accomplishments of peoples with ties to any region on the Asian continent as well as the Pacific islands of Oceania - New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji, the Solomon Islands, Marianas, Guam, Wake Island, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, the Federated States of Micronesia, New Zealand, Hawaiian Islands, Rotuma, Midway Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, French Polynesia, and Easter Island. While the majority of the books on our lists are from Asian American authors, there are several book selections honoring Pacific Islanders, mostly representing Hawaii. Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month started as AAPI Week in 1979. The observance was expanded to the full month in 1990. The month of May was chosen for two reasons: first, on May 7, 1843, the first Japanese immigrants arrived in the United States; second, May 10 marks the completion of the transcontinental railroad, which was finished in 1869 and largely built by Chinese immigrants.

To celebrate AAPI Month we specially honor the innovations and successes of Asian American and Pacific Islanders, in the past as well as the present, and acknowledge the struggles AAPI peoples have faced, continue to face, and overcome. It will come as no surprise that we recommend reading and literature as an appropriate way to participate and celebrate, and the lists above will have plenty of suggestions to get you going.

Reads for Mystery Month...

The Big Sting, book cover
 The Midnight Children, book cover
After Dark With Roxie Clark, book cover
Gideon Green in Black and White, book cover
 Hungry Ghosts, book cover
Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone, book cover

Booklists for Mystery Month:

Booklist, a part of the American Library Association (ALA), designated May as Mysteries month in 2009. From my own perspective as a librarian, I often get reader's advisory questions for Mysteries. This beloved genre is fairly easy to get into, and the puzzles contained in the pages are usually what fuel readers to the book's exciting conclusion. Even the most reluctant of readers seems to be able to enjoy a mystery, and many books falling squarely into other genres will contain a mystery at their heart anyway. Expanding from my own point of view, Mysteries are heralded as one of the most popular genres world wide. Check out the lists above to see recent and mysterious publications, or these two lists below carving out niche kinds of mysteries.

Reads for Mental Health Awareness Month...

Cover of And Then She Fell by Alicia ElliottCover of My Work by Olga RavnCover of Ripe by Sara Rose EtterCover of Breaking Through Depression by Philip William Gold, MDCover of Malady of the Mind by Jeffrey A. Lieberman, MDCover of Healing: Our Path from Mental Illness to Mental Health by Thomas Insel, MD.Cover of the Absent Moon by Luiz SchwarczCover of Everything/Nothing/Someone by Alice CarriereCover of Sure, I'll Join Your Cult by Maria Bamford


Our selections for Mental Health Awareness Month reads are largely geared towards adults. Mental Health Awareness Month spans the month of May, and was established in 1949 "to increase awareness of the importance of mental health and wellness in Americans’ lives and to celebrate recovery from mental illness" (from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA, opens a new window) webpage). Our world seems to get a little more complicated each and every month, so caring for your own mental health as well as growing awareness of the mental health struggles of those we live and work alongside is ever more important. The National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) cites that roughly 19% of adults in the USA have an anxiety disorder, that's almost 1 in 5, so it's very possible someone close to you lives with a mental illness. Our selected reads for Mental Health Awareness Month will explore life with mental illness through fiction as well as memoirs, the latest thoughts and breakthroughs in psychology pertaining to mental health, as well as resources for those experiencing or close to someone with mental illness.

SJPL Picks: Quick Links

If this month's featured reads aren't quite what you're in the mood for, or you're looking to expand your browsing further, 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 fill out a profile for yourself, or 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- it just so happens to be what we love to talk about, too, so don't hold back. Requests will be answered within 5 business days. Ready to begin your 5forU journey? Start your 5forU request!