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, and reach out to the Council Chair, Ann Chambers Theis (

The 2016 List


“Pretty Girls: A Novel” by Karin Slaughter. William Morrow, a division of HarperCollins.
Three sisters are driven apart in the aftermath of one’s disappearance. When a violent crime occurs new fears arise and relationships shift again. Long term effects of family grief are exploited by the compulsions of a psychopath. Brutal and disturbing, this is ultimately a story of love and empowerment.

“Jack Caffery” series by Mo Hayder. Atlantic Monthly.
“The Hand that Feeds You” by A.J. Rich. Scribner.
“Dark Places” by Gillian Flynn. Crown/Shaye Areheart.

Short List
“The Cartel” by Don Winslow. Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House.
“Descent: A Novel” by Tim Johnston. Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill.
“The Killing Lessons” by Saul Black. St. Martin’s Press, a division of Macmillan Publishers.
“Palace of Treason: a Novel” by Jason Matthews. Scribner, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.


“Uprooted” by Naomi Novik. Del Rey, an imprint of Ballantine Books.
In this enchanted old-world fable, villagers threatened by a blighted magical wood allow the resident wizard to take one daughter into servitude for ten years. When he chooses klutzy Agnieszka, she faces an unexpected future and confronts the dangers of a wider political world and the roots of magical corruption.

“The Golem and the Jinni” by Helene Wecker. Harper.
“Tearling”  trilogy by Erika Johansen. Harper.
“Wild Girl” by Kate Forsyth. St. Martin’s/Thomas Dunne.

Short List
“The Aeronaut’s Windlass: The Cinder Spires” by Jim Butcher. Roc, an imprint of Penguin Random House.
“A Darker Shade of Magic” by V. E. Schwab. Tor Books, an imprint of Macmillan Publishers.
“The Fifth Season: The Broken Earth: Book One” by N. K. Jemisin. Orbit, an imprint of Little, Brown and Company.
“Sorcerer to the Crown” by Zen Cho. Ace Books, an imprint of The Berkley Publishing Group.

Historical Fiction

“Crooked Heart: A Novel” by Lissa Evans. Harper.
Raised by his eccentric ex-suffragette godmother to be a free-thinker, young Noel is thrown into chaos when the London Blitz forces him into the home of a scam artist loyal only to her layabout son. Thrust together, the two oddballs are forced to find a way through the wartime landscape.

“All Clear” (#1) and “Blackout” (#2) by Connie Willis. Spectra Books.
“Night Watch by Sarah Waters. Riverhead.
“Paper Moon” (movie, Paramount, 1973).

Short List
“Jam on the Vine: a Novel” by LaShonda Katrice Barnett. Grove Press.
“The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah. St. Martin’s Press.
“Paradise Sky” by Joe R. Lansdale. Mulholland Books, a division of Little, Brown and Company.
“The Truth According to Us: a Novel” by Annie Barrows. The Dial Press.
“Girl Waits with Gun” by Amy Stewart. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.


“The Fifth House of the Heart: A Novel” by Ben Tripp. Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon and Schuster.
Flamboyant antiques dealer Asmodeus “Sax” Saxon-Tang made his fortune by accidentally killing a vampire with a horde of treasure. To protect the only person he loves, his niece, he’s forced to return to old Europe to assemble an eccentric team of vampire hunters in this gory, witty caper.

“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (TV, Mutant Enemy Productions, 1997-2003)
“Parasol Protectorate” (#1) series by  Gail Carriger. Orbit.
“Stoker's Manuscript” by Royce Prouty. G.P. Putnam's Sons.

Short List
“A Head Full of Ghosts” by Paul Tremblay. William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins.
“Little Girls” by Ronald Malfi. Kensington Publishing Corp.
“The Silence” by Tim Lebbon. Titan Books.
“When We Were Animals: a Novel” by Joshua Gaylord. Mulholland Books, a division of Little, Brown and Company.


“The Long and Faraway Gone” by Lou Berney. William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins.
Cold cases cast a twenty-five year shadow of grief and guilt on the lives of two survivors of traumatic teenage crimes. New leads and new cases bring them back to Oklahoma City as past and present intersect in this poignant and compelling story of lives forever changed by random violence.

“Case Histories” by Kate Atkinson. Little, Brown.
“In the Woods” by Tana French. Viking.
“Mystic River” by Dennis Lehane. Morrow.

Short List
“Gun Street Girl: a Detective Sean Duffy Novel” by Adrian McKinty. Seventh Street Books.
“Land of Careful Shadows” by Suzanne Chazin. Kensington Books.
“Last Ragged Breath” by Julia Keller. Minotaur Books, an imprint of Macmillan Publishers.
“Little Black Lies” by Sharon Bolton. Minotaur Books, an imprint of Macmillan Publishers.


“Taking the Heat” by Victoria Dahl. HQN, Harlequin Books.
Sassy relationship advice columnist Veronica overcomes her commitment anxiety and gains confidence with the help of mountain-climbing librarian Gabe. Steamy romance evolves into a strong relationship as they scale a mountain of family conflicts and share secrets against a majestic Jackson Hole backdrop.

“Can't Buy Me Love” by Molly O'Keefe. Bantam.
“Natural Born Charmer” by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Morrow.
“Veiled Desire” (#1) by Alisha Rai. Samhain.

Short List
“A Desperate Fortune” by Susanna Kearsley. Sourcebooks Landmark.
“Ever After: a Nantucket Brides Novel” by Jude Deveraux. Ballantine Books, an imprint of HarperCollins.
“Rumor Has It” by Cheris Hodges. Dafina Books.
“When a Scot Ties the Knot: Castles Ever After” by Tessa Dare. Avon Books, an Imprint of HarperCollins.

Science Fiction

“Golden Son” by Pierce Brown. Del Rey, an imprint of HarperCollins.
Insurgent Darrow inveigled his way into high Gold society in 2014’s Red Rising. In this dramatic, high octane follow-up, conflicting loyalties and his own ambitions lure Darrow into an untenable web of deceptions. Bolstered by new alliances, Darrow battles to overthrow corrupt lunar leadership and bring freedom to Mars.

“The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins. Scholastic.
“Ender's Game” by Orson Scott Card. Tor.
“Dune” (#1) Dune Chronicles by Frank Herbert. Hodder & Stoughton.

Short List
“Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits” by David Wong. Thomas Dunne Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press, a division of Macmillan Publishers.
“Seveneves” by Neal Stephenson. William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins.
Slow Bullets” by Alastair Reynolds. Tachyon.
“The Water Knife” by Paolo Bacigalupi. Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House.

Women’s Fiction

“Re Jane” by Patricia Park. Pamela Dorman Books, an imprint of Penguin Books.
Anxious to escape the strict upbringing of her uncle’s Flushing grocery, Korean-American Jane accepts an au pair position in the pretentious household of two Brooklyn academics and their adopted Chinese daughter. Park has created a bright comic story of falling in love, finding strength, and living on one’s own terms.

“The Nanny Diaries” by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus. St. Martin’s.
 “Brooklyn” by Colm Tóibín. Scribner.
“The Newlyweds” by Nell Freudenberger. Knopf.

Short List
“Days of Awe: a Novel” by Lauren Fox. Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House.
“The Royal We” by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan. Grand Central Publishing, a division of Hachette Book Group.
“This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance!: a Novel” by Jonathan Evison. Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill.
“A Touch of Stardust” by Kate Alcott. Doubleday.