The Rec Rag - Winter 2022
Welcome to this first issue of Rec News, an occasional publication featuring recreational and recommended reading from our SJPL Librarians. While your typical "rag" offers trivial tidbits, our Rec Rag has the best reads chosen by our community's most bookish, the librarians. Each edition of the Rec Rag will showcase some themed booklists for seasonal reading, with updated or new booklists plus gems to decorate your 'to read' list. Boost your online browsing by discovering the curated booklists featured here.
Themed Reads for Adults
Winter officially begins December 21st, and for adults this Winter we have two featured lists to peruse. While the change of the seasons isn't as dramatic here in the Bay as it is in other parts of the country, when our 'cold' mid-50s days (yeah yeah, transplants bite your tongues) have you bundling up, at the end of the day you might want to snuggle up with something warm. Tea, hot chocolate, or perhaps a cuddly book. While your typical book isn't too cuddly (it's the corners), we do have some suggestions for books that are...metaphorically cuddly.
Our Winter Reads list is exactly as it sounds; the events of these books all take place during the cold months of the year. While this list isn't limited by genre, one thing is guaranteed in each of these reads: winter, it's winter that's guaranteed. If you like your inside reading to match outside weather, and don't have a particular genre in mind, this list may have some fun suggestions to complement the season.
In regularly responding to Reader's Advisory requests, in my own experience "Mysteries" is one of the most frequent requests. In fact, many beloved books that aren't Mysteries contain a small mystery to help keep the action going. The books featured in this list all fall into a subgenre of Mysteries, which is known as a Cozy Mystery. In a Cozy Mystery, you can expect violence and heavy romance to occur off-page; while there may still be murders, the strife involved in such a horrific event is kept to a minimum for the reader. Additionally, a Cozy Mystery typically has an amateur sleuth tracking down the perpetrator; this sleuth is often, although not always, female. So what makes Winter such a great time for Cozy Mysteries? Well call me crazy, but personally I think the world outside is dark enough this time of year! If you're a fan of mystery, but would like something a little lighter to process, I recommend this list and genre.
A Cozy Gem
The Marlow Murder Club by Robert Thorogood
Also in eBook and eAudiobook. "To solve an impossible murder, you need an impossible hero… Judith Potts is seventy-seven years old and blissfully happy. She lives on her own in a faded mansion just outside Marlow, there’s no man in her life to tell her what to do or how much whisky to drink, and to keep herself busy she sets crosswords for The Times newspaper. One evening, while out swimming in the Thames, Judith witnesses a brutal murder. The local police don’t believe her story, so she decides to investigate for herself, and is soon joined in her quest by Suzie, a salt-of-the-earth dog-walker, and Becks, the prim and proper wife of the local Vicar. Together, they are the Marlow Murder Club. When another body turns up, they realise they have a real-life serial killer on their hands. And the puzzle they set out to solve has become a trap from which they might never escape… " -- Goodreads.com.
Themed Reads for Teens/Young Adults
The books we're showcasing for Teens/Young Adults, while on the surface seem to be almost opposites, have something in common: melodrama. Melodrama is characterized by hyperbole, that is, exaggeration. Why feature melodrama for winter? Can you think of a more melodramatic season than Winter? Everything is dramatically dying and being reborn while our days swing from 30s overnight to 60s in the day! Big melodrama, Bay Area Winter. And to go along with it, big emotions and drama should punctuate these reads that are drastically different in style, setting, and content.
K-pop is full of glitz and glam, K-dramas are full of thrown drinks (and in one memorable moment, a kimchi slap), and these books are inspired by all things K - that is, Korean. While Psy made waves and internationally captured hearts with Gangnam Style, other K-media from South Korea has been spreading and gaining popularity, particularly in the West Coast of the USA. If this Winter you're daydreaming of haemul pajeon in Insa-dong, longing to lay out on Haeundae beach after visiting a TONYMOLY outlet, or simply bopping along to the latest from EXO or BTS, this list might have your new favorite read on it - 진짜!!
While the Spooky Season has come to it's 'official' end, there are those among us that enjoy the spooky season all year long. If you're looking to extend that witchy feeling you get in late October into the darkest months of the year, may I suggest Gothic fiction? Gothic fiction is not really so much a genre as it is a style and mood, although often Gothic fiction has elements of Horror and Historical fiction. If you like your reads to feel moody, like fog cascading over rolling hills, Gothic fiction will go down well.
A K-inspired Gem
XOXO by Axie Oh
Also in eBook and eAudiobook. "Jenny never had much time for boys, K-pop, or really anything besides her dream of being a professional cellist. When Jenny and her mother move to Seoul to take care of her ailing grandmother, who does she meet at the elite arts academy she’s just been accepted to? Jaewoo. But Jaewoo isn’t just any student. He's a member of one of the biggest K-pop bands in the world. And like most K-pop idols, Jaewoo is strictly forbidden from dating anyone. When a relationship means not only jeopardizing her place at her dream music school but also endangering everything Jaewoo’s worked for, Jenny has to decide once and for all just how much she’s willing to risk for love. "
Themed Reads for Children
On showcase for Kids is one list of chapter books, and one full of picture books. These lists could potentially be used as a gift guide for many of our youngest readers, with our older list full of recommendations based on a prolific and popular author, and the list for the younger full of whimsical reads on a snow-covered season.
For Fans of Rick Riordan (for students in approximately grades 3-7)
Chances are, if you are, have been, or have parented a child in/from the last 17 years, you've heard of Rick Riordan, or at the very least, Percy Jackson and the Olympians (find Book #1 by clicking here). While Riordan has since gone on to author several more successful series, there are those readers among us that have read them all and are hungry for more. If you have a Riordan fan in your household, or perhaps you are one yourself, then this list has plenty of new avenues to explore. These collected works all have something in common with Riordan's work, whether it is a Mythological foundation, a similar writing style and pace, or exemplary world-building. For the student home for winter break searching for something great to read, this one's for you.
For the littlest members of our community, sometimes the greatest read is something that tells you a little more about what the what is going on outside! As young children learn and grow, sharing books is a great way for them to discover and prepare for the world. Whether they're curious as to what snow is like, or how to dress for cold weather, or ideas for fun when you can't play outside, this list has plenty of things to learn. Additionally, for the grown up, these winter picture books offer a gentle mix of storytelling, artistry, and poetic language; you're never too old for one (and I'm not just saying that- as an adult in her mid-30s I read more picture books than any other kind of book!).
A Winter Gem
The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper
"A celebration of the winter solstice and the Yuletide season. As the sun set on the shortest day of the year, early people would gather to prepare for the long night ahead. They built fires and lit candles. They played music, bringing their own light to the darkness, while wondering if the sun would ever rise again. Written for a theatrical production that has become a ritual in itself, Susan Cooper’s poem "The Shortest Day" captures the magic behind the returning of the light, the yearning for traditions that connect us with generations that have gone before-- and the hope for peace that we carry into the future. Richly illustrated by Carson Ellis with a universality that spans the centuries, this beautiful book evokes the joy and community found in the ongoing mystery of life when we celebrate light, thankfulness, and festivity at a time of rebirth. Welcome Yule!"
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".
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 gift a novel for a winter holiday. 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! Requests will be answered within 5 business days, so if you're hoping for a gift guide make sure to submit early so we have time to respond in full. Ready to begin your 5forU journey? Start your 5forU request!