CHICAGO — Need a gift for the book lover in your life? Check out the annual lists of outstanding fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, genre fiction and Jewish literature compiled by the readers’ advisory experts of the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA).
Each year, committees from RUSA’s Collection Development and Evaluation Section (CODES) spend countless waking hours reading and discussing the best literature published during the year. Their hard work and expertise produces the Notable Books List — the most outstanding 25 titles published in fiction, non-fiction and poetry, which also feed into the long-list of the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Non-fiction; The Reading List — the top picks in genre fiction, including adrenaline, fantasy, historical fiction, horror, mystery, romance, science fiction and women’s fiction; and identifies the best work in Jewish literature with the presentation of the Sophie Brody Medal.
If you're looking for one (or two) book(s) to rule them all, consider this year's winners of the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Non-fiction which include Timothy Egan's non-fiction title "Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis" or Richard Ford's fiction title "Canada." Past winners include Anne Enright's "The Forgotten Waltz" for fiction and Robert Massie's "Catherine the Great" for non-fiction. Selections are drawn from a combination of the year's winners from Booklist's Editor's Choice and RUSA's Notable Books List.
The 2013 Notable Books List includes fiction titles by well-known authors Junot Díaz (“This is How You Lose Her”), Peter Heller (“The Dog Stars”) and Louise Erdrich (“The Round House”). The non-fiction Notable selections also offer up some excellent writing and investigative journalism, with Ross King’s “Leonardo and the Last Supper”, Jeanette Winterson’s “Why Be Happy When You Could be Normal?”, Katherine Boo’s “Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity,” among the dozen titles named to the list. Works of poetry include works by Dante Alighieri translated by Mary Jo Bang for “Inferno” and Sharon Olds’s “Stag’s Leap”. As one of the longest-running adult reading awards at ALA, the Notable Books List offers a multitude of selections. The 2012 and 2011 lists, along with lists dating back further, are all available on the RUSA website.
In addition to naming the top genre fiction titles, The Reading List also offers read-alike titles to dig into once you’ve finished the winning book and also provides a short list of runner-up titles. Once your fantasy lover has finished 2013 winner’s “The Rook” by Daniel O’Malley, he/she can move onto read-alike “The Demi-Monde” by Rod Rees or “The Eyre Affair” by Jasper Fforde. The entire 2013 list can be viewed online at the RUSA website. The 2012 and 2011 lists also offer several options such as “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern, a 2012 fantasy top pick, and “The Invisible Bridge” by Julie Orringer, the winning historical fiction book from 2011.
Gift givers seeking excellent Jewish literature should look at the recipients of the Sophie Brody Medal for their holiday shopping. In 2013, Matti Friedman received the medal for “The Aleppo Codex: A True Story of Obsession, Faith, and the Pursuit of an Ancient Bible”. The committee also identified three honorable mentions for 2013: Anouk Markovits’s “I Am Forbidden”, Nathan Englander’s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank” and Herman Wouk’s “The Lawgiver”. The Brody Medal has been awarded since 2006, providing endless reading options for those interested in the Jewish experience.
The Outstanding Reference Sources list and the Dartmouth Medal are also honors bestowed by CODES committees upon the year’s best reference works. The winners of each year’s awards are announced at the RUSA Midwinter Book and Media Awards Ceremony and Reception at ALA’s Midwinter Meeting. This year’s event will be held from 5 - 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 26 in the Liberty Ballroom A of the Sheraton, 201 North 17th Street, Philadelphia, and is the only place to be to get your 2014 must-read list started. Announcements of the 2014 selections will also be posted on the RUSA blog and will be tweeted through RUSA’s Twitter account, @ala_rusa. Follow the event hashtag #literarytastes to get up-to-date information.
The Reference and User Services Association, a division of the American Library Association, represents librarians and library staff in the fields of reference, specialized reference, collection development, readers advisory and resource sharing. RUSA is the foremost organization of reference and information professionals who make the connections between people and the information sources, services, and collection materials they need. For more information, visit www.ala.org/rusa. Not a RUSA member, but interested in participating in awards committees, receiving discounts on RUSA professional development and other exciting benefits? Join, renew or add RUSA to your ALA membership at www.ala.org/membership.