SJPL Picks Recommendation News: May 2023

Welcome, or welcome back, to SJPL's Rec News, an occasional publication featuring recreational and recommended reading from our SJPL Librarians. For April, we not only looked as some booklists in line with national celebrations, but we explored a genre across age groups - Magical Realism. This month will be quite similar in that we will have plenty of books for monthly occasions, as well as some unique lists to explore new reading avenues and genres. 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 challenge from June 1 - July 31.

May is not as busy with national celebrations as some of the other months we've looked at, although there are still some great and fun monthly celebrations to play around with. 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 is also Jewish American Heritage Month, which if you'd like to explore you can read a blog about being Jewish American, or try on some reads for Adults or Children. May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, too, as well as Mystery Month! Let's take a look at some reads that will be perfect for these celebrations, as well as a few genre exploring lists, too.

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

Suggested readings for AAPI Heritage Month...

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 has it's origins in Congress, starting 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.

May is an excellent time of year to celebrate the innovations and successes of Asian American and Pacific Islanders, in the past as well as the present, and to acknowledge the struggles AAPI peoples have faced and 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. We've also got a bunch of other blogs and books recommendations for the month, too.

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.

A Genre to Explore: Surrealist Fiction

Mount Chicago, book cover
Unleashed, book cover
After the Sun, book cover
Strange Beasts of China, book cover
 Disappear Doppelgänger Disappear, book cover

Surrealist Fiction

Many of you reading this are likely familiar with the works of Surrealist artists, such as Salvador Dalí or Frida Kahlo, and if you enjoy the reality-bending nature of these works of arts you may also enjoy works of Surrealist fiction. While a small genre, these books are largely literary, which also means that these books are typically written for adults. They're also oh so much fun if you love talking about your dreams - a lot of these books are pretty dreamlike in my opinion. Surrealist fiction is defined by an attempt to bridge the gap between reality and the imaginary. Typically, these stories start seemingly fairly normal, but bizarre elements are introduced alongside the normal. These bizarre events are never considered magical, they are just accepted as the new reality.

If you are already familiar with this genre, you're likely familiar with the author Haruki Murakami. This internationally bestselling author works a lot within this genre, and several of his works could be considered prime examples of what the genre has to offer. The list recommends Kafka on the Shore, which was my own entry point into the Surrealist genre. If you're up for a longer read, the Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Killing Commendatore and 1Q84 are also excellent Surrealist works, but my personal favorite of Murakami's is (and I think always will be) Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. Honestly, the book is excellent, but I still think it would win #1 in my heart based on the title alone. For a sample of Murakami's works see the cover gallery below, else, take a look at this author search to find all his works - most of them will be solid Surrealist reads.

Top Surrealist Picks from Haruki Murakami

The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, book cover
Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, book cover
1Q84, book cover
Killing Commendatore, book cover

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 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!