Rec News: January 2023
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 visited some reads to kick-off Winter. Since then, plenty of fairy lights have been put back into storage and we've got the New Year's holiday in our rear view mirror for another year. Making resolutions is a, well, perhaps not always beloved, but at least time-honored tradition; undoubtedly there are those among you seeking to read more as a New Year's resolution. As a librarian, I always encourage this resolution! And of course, we at the library can offer support in the most practical of ways - book recommendations. The Rec Rag plans to keep the recommendations coming all year long, but for this first edition of the year we're sharing some unique booklists to boost your resolution making as well as your reading. Let's kick off the year by getting some ideas for new skills to try, and by adding some titles to our TBR lists and "For Later" shelves!
For this edition of the Rec Rag we'll begin with two lists for kids, meant to complement the New Year and all it brings. The books we are highlighting for January will hopefully inspire you to find a new obsession, as well as help you expand your cultural understanding by learning through reading.
First, as we mentioned above, the New Year is the perfect time for New Year's Resolutions, and if you or your child are hoping to learn to do something new this year, check out this list of books to help pique interest in a new hobby. From growing your own veggies to baking, from drawing to writing, cosplay to robotics, coding to ukulele, there are tons of suggestions for fun things to get into this year. These books are also just the tip of the iceberg for instructional guides to hobbies- if you're curious about something specific, there is plenty more to discover on the shelf at your nearest branch.
Our second highlighted list is for the New Year holiday - specifically, Lunar New Year, which falls on January 22 this year, but can be celebrated with multiple days of festivities, including gatherings, fireworks, gift giving, and of course, food. Personally, I like to eat a bowl of tteokguk (Maangchi's recipe) this time of year, a tradition I borrowed from Korea's Lunar New Year celebration, Seollal. The beloved Lunar New Year holiday has different iterations in many countries, and different traditions and rituals too; yet whether you're celebrating Chunjie, Tết, or Seollal, you're sure to find some books on this list that highlight some of the traditions you might see as the day is celebrated around the world.
A Lunar New Year Gem
Tomorrow Is New Year's Day by Aram Kim
"Seollal, the Korean Lunar New Year, is Mina's favorite day of the year. Mina can't wait to share the customs of Seollal with all of her friends at school. She will show her classmates her colorful hanbok, demonstrate how to do sebae, and then everyone will make tasty tteokguk in the cooking room. Yum! Her little brother may even join in on the fun... if he can find a way out of his bad mood.
In this joyful book about sharing age-old cultural celebrations with new friends, Aram Kim has created a must-have book for the New Year's season. A glossary of Korean terms, with pronunciation guide, is included." --
This month the teens' featured booklists are meant to encourage further reading. If teens/young adults are looking to pick up a hobby, they should look to the featured lists for Adults and Kids; here, we will feature themed lists that can help readers stay engaged with some seasonal reads, and others that could last all year long.
Finding a great read that has subsequent installations to the story is a delight, as it means you get to spend more time with beloved characters and worlds, while giving a plot the space for it to fully blossom into a proper story. It also inspires us to keep reading as you can't get the full picture in just one book! So, if you're hoping to read more for a NY resolution, it'll be an easier goal to reach if you fall in love with a series opener. Each of the titles listed on the YA Completed Duos, Trios, and Series list are, well, completed, multi-installment stories. That's the other sweet side to this list- if you don't enjoy sitting with a cliffhanger, or forget important plot points without a reread before a new release, you don't have to worry about it with this selection! The story has already come to it's multi-book-worthy conclusion.
January 26 (or as the Aussies would write it, 26 January) is Australia Day, Australia's national day for celebrating "land, sense of fair go, lifestyle, democracy, the freedoms we enjoy but particularly...[Australia's] people". This date was chosen as on January 26, 1788, the first ships carrying convicts landed in New South Wales, effectively founding the nation we know as Australia today. Yet, because of the history and subsequent events this chosen date represents, Australia Day is sometimes called instead Mourning Day by Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait peoples, as these colonization efforts were violent and brutal, ultimately leading to indigenous lifestyle and land being forcefully taken from First Australians, and assimilation forced upon them. Grappling with it's history continues to shape society in Australia today, and we can both celebrate contributions of Australians, and glean an idea of contemporary Australia and the issues affecting Aussies, through their literature; if you'd like to delve further into Australia and what it's like to be a teen there today, you can check out this list of fiction, featuring Aussie characters, and all written by Australian nationals.
An Aussie Gem (or perhaps an Aussie Opal?)
Ready When You Are by Gary Lonesborough
"It's a hot summer, and life's going all right for Jackson and his family on the Mish. It's almost Christmas, school's out, and he's hanging with his mates, teasing the visiting tourists, avoiding the racist boys in town. Just like every year, Jackson's Aunty and annoying little cousins visit from the city -- but this time a mysterious boy with a troubled past comes with them. As their friendship evolves, Jackson must confront the changing shapes of his relationships with his friends, family and community. And he must face his darkest secret -- a secret he thought he'd locked away for good." -- Goodreads.com.
Gary Lonesborough is a Yuin man who grew up on the Far South Coast of NSW as part of a large and proud Aboriginal family. Growing up a massive Kylie Minogue and North Queensland Cowboys fan, Gary was always writing as a child, and continued his creative journey when he moved to Sydney to study at film school. Gary has experience working in Aboriginal health, the disability sector (including experience working in the Youth Justice System), and the film industry. He was Bega Valley Shire Council Young Citizen of the Year, won the Patrick White Young Indigenous Writers’ Award, and has received a Copyright Agency First Nations Fellowship. Ready When You Are (published in Australia as The Boy from the Mish) is Gary’s debut YA novel.
Adults are getting similar treatment to youth in that the recommended reading this Rag is centered around new hobbies and more reading in 2023. Personally, I really enjoy the New Year's holiday and setting goals/resolutions for myself. It always feels like a fresh page in a brand new book, and a choose-your-own-adventure book at that. If you enjoy musing on where you may go and what you might do in the coming year, peruse these books to inspire yourself to reach new goals this year.
For adults, finding time to sit and read more is often including on resolution lists, and we always start out the new year with the best of intentions. We say we're going to read every day, and maybe we do for a while, yet once that first book is done it feels like we "did" the resolution, so we stop. Maybe that doesn't sound familiar to you, but it can be tough to start and keep up new habits regardless! That's where the hook of a really great story told over multiple books comes in. When the end of your first book is a cliffhanger, the pull of the story's resolution will compel you to pick up the next. While unlike the YA list these series aren't necessarily completed (completed series are indicated on the list), each of these books is an opener for a multi-book run.
As we age we tend to get a little set in our ways, but the cliché "You can't teach an old dog new tricks" is categorically untrue! As long as we have a little bit of drive, a spark of motivation, we can certainly carve out new routines, change habits, and definitely learn new things. If learning something new is on your mind this year, take a look at the suggested titles here to see if there are any new tricks you'd like to learn.
The First Half of a Duology Gem
Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan
"A fantasy inspired by the legend of the Chinese moon goddess, Chang’e , in which a young woman’s quest to free her mother pits her against the most powerful immortal in the realm and sets her on a dangerous path—where choices come with deadly consequences, and she risks losing more than her heart.
Growing up on the moon, Xingyin is accustomed to solitude, unaware that she is being hidden from the powerful Celestial Emperor who exiled her mother for stealing his elixir of immortality. But when Xingyin’s magic flares and her existence is discovered, she is forced to flee her home, leaving her mother behind.
Alone, untrained, and afraid, she makes her way to the Celestial Kingdom, a land of wonder and secrets. Disguising her identity, she seizes an opportunity to learn alongside the Crown Prince, mastering archery and magic, even as passion flames between her and the emperor’s son.
To save her mother, Xingyin embarks on a perilous quest, confronting legendary creatures and vicious enemies across the earth and skies. When treachery looms and forbidden magic threatens the kingdom, however, she must challenge the ruthless Celestial Emperor for her dream—striking a dangerous bargain in which she is torn between losing all she loves or plunging the realm into chaos." -- Goodreads.com.
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 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!