Welcome, or welcome back, to SJPL's Rec News, an occasional publication featuring recreational and recommended reading from our SJPL Librarians. Last month, we took a look at some lists showcasing Indigenous authors for Native American Heritage Month, dove into the Family Sagas booklist in honor of Family Stories Month, and had a round-up of unique and favorite picture books to honor this book format for Picture Book Month. This December also marks one year since the first Recommendation News post. In December of 2022, we had a number of lists reflecting the cold time of year, the dark time of year, and plenty of reads to help us keep reading into the New Year and beyond. This December, we will be taking a look at a couple contrasting genres to keep you on track for our library's Winter Reading program.
During this time of year we spend more time inside and naturally many of us read a little more as a result; amping up time spent reading is a time-honored tradition in other parts of the world. For example, in Iceland you may have heard of the Christmas/Yule Book Flood, or Jólabókaflóðið in Icelandic. In Iceland, a book is a popular Christmas/Yule gift, and the months leading up to Christmas mark a boom in book releases in hopes they will land in someone's hands as a winter holiday gift. The tradition goes that, on Christmas Eve, everyone cozies up, stays up late, and reads their gifts. For San José Library patrons, the library is keen to help you make your own Jólabókaflóðið without purchasing anything - we've got all the books you need on our shelves or as part of our eLibrary.
Once you've got a hefty armful of books (or loaded up your eReader), sign up for Winter Reading! Everyone that signs up will get a prize, and there's a chance for youth to earn a bonus prize as well, and anyone that finishes the program will be entered into a grand prize drawing. Winter Reading runs from December 7, 2023 - January 7, 2024. For more information and a prize preview, visit our Winter Reading page.
As for that aforementioned armful of books, let me share a few lists that will hopefully help with that. I promised contrasting genres, so this month we'll take a look at some Realistic fiction for youth, and in contrast, we've got Fantasy reads for all ages.
Realistic fiction describes pretty well what you can expect in this genre. Realistic fiction, while still ultimately a work of fiction, aims to spin a story that could take place in the real world. It is different from Historical fiction in that, while Historical fiction is realistic, Historical fiction must be set roughly 30 years in the past to be considered as such. Additionally, there is a difference between Contemporary fiction and Realistic fiction - Contemporary fiction is a story set in the same time as the author is living, and can be blended with Speculative genres such as Fantasy or Science fiction. For our featured lists this month, we have Realistic fiction for upper elementary, middle and high school students.
Fantasy is usually easily identifiable by its magical elements - whether that's magic wielders, magical creatures, or mythological influences, Fantasy pushes our imaginations and brings us to whole new worlds. Yet, Fantasy can be easily blended into other genres as well. In a previous Rec News blog we explored Magical Realism as a genre, which is a realistic read with just a hint or whisper of magic therein. You can also blend Fantasy with other realistic genres like Historical fiction, as well as Contemporary settings as mentioned above. When Fantasy takes place in an entirely new world it's often called High Fantasy, and if there are world-changing events at play it may be called Epic Fantasy. Below is a selection of our Fantasy lists, some singling out these fantastical genres blends.
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".
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. We'd love to find you something to read, but 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. Ready to begin your 5forU journey?