The Reading List


Established in 2007 by the CODES section of RUSA, The Reading List seeks to highlight outstanding genre fiction that merit special attention by general adult readers and the librarians who work with them.

The Council, which consists of twelve librarians who are experts in readers’ advisory and collection development, selects one book from each of eight different categories. The eight genres currently included in the council’s considerations are adrenaline titles (suspense, thrillers, and action adventure), fantasy, historical fiction, horror, mystery, romance, science fiction, and women’s fiction. However, the Council is constructed in such a way to be adaptable to new genres and changes in contemporary reading interest.

The Council announces the eight winning titles at the RUSA Book and Media Awards Reception at ALA Midwinter Meeting in January each year. A short list of honor titles (up to four per genre) is also announced. All selected titles are published on the RUSA Web site following the event.

Members interested in serving on The Reading List Council should read about serving on the Council.

Authors or publishers interested in having their book considered for The Reading List should review the selection criteria and the submission guidelines.

The 2015 List


“Broken Monsters” by Lauren Beukes (Mulholland Books)

Detroit serves as the economically battered backdrop of this inventive, visceral suspense story about a series of bizarre murders that draws a group of memorable characters into a complex web of violence. Smart, stylish and addictive, this page-turner shows how the American Dream has failed many on a personal level.

“Skin” by Kathe Koja (Delacorte)
“The Whisperer” by Donato Carrisi (Mulholland)
“True Detective” (TV series, HBO, 2014)

Short List
“Mr. Mercedes” by Stephen King (Scribner)
“The Runner” by Patrick Lee (Minotaur)
“The Son” by Jo Nesbo (Knopf)
“Those Who Wish Me Dead” by Michael Koryta (Little, Brown)


“The Goblin Emperor” by Katherine Addison (Tor)

Following the sudden, suspicious deaths of his entire family, exiled half-goblin Maia becomes emperor, a role requiring diplomacy and adherence to strict protocols. Focusing on the intricacies of court life, this elegant novel unfolds at a pace that allows readers to savor the rich tapestry of character, setting and plot.

“The Spirit Ring” by Lois McMaster Bujold (Baen)
“Cold Magic” by Kate Elliott (Orbit)
“The Ruins of Ambrai” by Melanie Rawn (DAW)

Short List
“Half a King” by Joe Abercrombie (Del Rey)
“Hot Lead, Cold Iron” by Ari Marmell (Titan)
“The Paper Magician” by Charlie N. Holmberg (47 North)
“Queen of the Tearling” by Erika Johansen (HarperCollins)

Historical Fiction

Bitter Greens” by Kate Forsyth (Thomas Dunne)

Banished from the court of Versailles, spirited Charlotte-Rose de la Force meets a nun who weaves together the strands that form the Rapunzel fairy tale, revealing its surprising origins. A captivating marriage of history and folklore featuring characters true to their time periods, yet timeless in their dreams and desires.

“In the Company of the Courtesan” by Sarah Dunant (Random House)
“The Girls at the Kingfisher Club” by Genevieve Valentine (Atria)
“The Moon and the Sun” by Vonda McIntyre (Pocket)

Short List
“Flight of the Sparrow” by Amy Belding Brown (NAL)
“Hild” by Nicola Griffith (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
“Wayfaring Stranger” by James Lee Burke (Simon & Schuster)
“The Wife, the Maid and the Mistress” by Ariel Lawhon (Doubleday)


“The Lesser Dead” by Christopher Buehlman (Penguin)

Beneath the streets of 1970s New York, Joey meets the merry children, a gang of ancient child vampires, and discovers that immortality isn't all fun and games. Gritty, clever and gonzo, this fresh take on the vampire mythos gets darker and creepier as the pages turn.

“The Light at the End” by John Skipp and Craig Spector (Stealth Press)
“Enter Night” by Michael Rowe (ChiZine)
“Double Dead” by Chuck Wendig (Abaddon)

Short List
“Butcher’s Road” by Lee Thomas (Lethe Press)
“Horrorstor” by Grady Hendrix (Quirk)
“The Supernatural Enhancements” by Edgar Cantero (Doubleday)
“The Troop” by Nick Cutter (Orbit)


“Murder at the Brightwell” by Ashley Weaver (Minotaur)

This classic English mystery follows Amory and her estranged husband, Milo, whose paths cross at a seaside resort, where suspicious deaths implicate Amory’s former fiance, Gil. A vivid mystery that sparkles with personality as Amory and Milo puzzle out the truth behind the murders and negotiate their own complicated relationship.


Tommy and Tuppence Series by Agatha Christie (William Morrow)
“Cocaine Blues: A Phryne Fisher Mystery” by Kerry Greenwood (Poisoned Pen)
“Escapade” by Walter Satterthwait (St. Martin's Press)

Short List
“Wolf” by Mo Hayder (Atlantic Monthly)
“A Burnable Book” by Bruce Holsinger (William Morrow)
“Talus and the Frozen King” by Graham Edwards (Solaris)
“The Midnight Plan of the Repo Man” by W. Bruce Cameron (Forge)


“A Bollywood Affair” by Sonali Dev (Kensington)

Comic misunderstandings ensue when playboy Bollywood director Samir travels to America to secure an annulment for his brother, married at age four to Mili in a traditional arranged Indian wedding ceremony. Appealing protagonists, a diverse supporting cast and a colorful multicultural backdrop lend this charming story unexpected emotional depth.

"Bride and Prejudice" (Miramax Films, 2004, dir. Gurinder Chadha)
“The Newlyweds” by Nell Freudenberger (Vintage)
“The Malhotra Bride” by Sundari Venkatraman (Flaming Sun)

Romance Short List:

“My Beautiful Enemy” by Sherry Thomas (Berkley Books)
“It Happened One Wedding” by Julie James (Jove)
“The Raider” by Monica McCarty (Ballantine)
“Three Weeks with Lady X” by Eloisa James (Avon)

Science Fiction


“The Martian” by Andy Weir (Crown, 9780804139021)

Stranded on Mars, wisecracking botanist Mark Watney proves that an astronaut has to be smart, resourceful and, perhaps, a little crazy to survive. Strong characterization, well-researched but accessible technical detail, and a deft blend of suspense and humor will please science enthusiasts and fans of survival stories on any planet.

"Gravity" (Warner Brothers, 2013, dir. By Alfonso Cuarón)
“Packing for Mars” by Mary Roach (W.W. Norton)
“Farmer in the Sky” by Robert Heinlein (Baen)

Short List

“Annihilation” by Jeff Vandermeer (FSG Originals)
“Fortune’s Pawn” by Rachel Bach (Orbit)
“Lock In” by John Scalzi (Tor)
“Shovel Ready” by Adam Sternbergh (Crown)

Women's Fiction


My Real Children” by Jo Walton (Tor)

Patricia Cowan, an elderly woman suffering from dementia, remembers two different lives, two different careers, two different families and two different worlds. A striking novel of how tragedy turns to joy and heartbreak turns to love with a narrative twist that hooks the reader and never lets go.


“Life After Life” by Kate Atkinson (Reagan Arthur)
"Sliding Doors" (Miramax Films, 1998, dir. Peter Howitt)
“The Time Travelers Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Short List
“After I Do” by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Washington Square Press)
“The House We Grew Up In” by Lisa Jewell (Atria Books)
“How To Build A Girl” by Caitlin Moran (Harper)
“The Story Hour” by Thrity Umrigar (Harper)