The Reading List’s Most Recent Selections

2008

Established in 2007 by the CODES section of RUSA, The Reading List Council seeks to highlight outstanding genre fiction that merits special attention by general adult readers and the librarians who work with them. This inaugural juried list features established voices and debut novelists and suggests titles that will thrill avid fans and entice new readers.

Adrenaline

The Second Objective by Mark Frost
Hyperion, 2007. 978-1401302221

This evocative World War II espionage thriller deftly mixes a well-realized cast and an expertly crafted plot that hurdles toward a white-knuckled climax. With defeat near, the Nazis send a secret brigade to infiltrate the advancing Allied Forces. Among them is an elite unit, led by a charismatic, ruthless SS officer with a top-secret second objective.

Readers may also enjoy Ken Follett’s The Eye of the Needle, December 6 by Martin Cruz Smith, and Jeffery Deaver’s Garden of Beasts.

Fantasy

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Daw Books, 2007. 978-0756404079

This engrossing debut fantasy, the first in a projected trilogy, introduces readers to Kvothe – a hero in his own time. Living incognito as an inn keeper, he is tracked down by a chronicler who convinces him to narrate his own story – and what a story it is. Magic, music, revenge, and a drug-addled dragon fuel this saga for the ages.

Readers may also enjoy Mercedes Lackey’s Bardic Voices series, George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series, and David Eddings’s The Belgariad.

Historical Fiction

The Religion by Tim Willocks
Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2007. 978-0374248659

Kidnapped as a boy, and reared as a Muslim warrior, Mattias Tannhauser, now a smuggler, is seduced by the lure of women and war in this action-filled romp that blends horrific violence, madcap adventure, and great storytelling. Willocks delivers a strong narrative punch and solid, addictive writing in an intricately detailed and historically rich novel set against the backdrop of the 1565 Siege of Malta.

Readers may also enjoy Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles, Ironfire by David Ball, and The Abyssinian by Jean-Christophe Rufin.

Horror

The Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
William Morrow, 2007. 978-0061147937

Retired heavy-metal superstar Judas Coyne collects obscure, macabre objects, but the ghost he buys over the Internet turns out to be very real, very mad, and out for revenge. A menacing atmosphere and sinister characters produce a fabulous mix of creepy thrills and look-behind-you, leave-the-light-on-chills. Hill turns a simple ghost story into a cinematic, nightmare ride that blends gothic references with a razor-sharp sensibility.

Readers may also enjoy Stephen King’s “The Mist,” Peter Straub’s Mr. X, and Dan Simmons’s Summer of Night.

Mystery

Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin
G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2007. 978-0399154140

This smartly-paced mystery skillfully blends historical details, entertaining characters, and horrific murders. With a serial killer loose in 12th Century Cambridge, King Henry II decides he must summon a Master of the Art of Death –and gets a Mistress instead. This grabbing debut combines forensic detail, religious fervor, and a great sense of place with just a touch of romance.

Readers may also enjoy Ellis Peters's Brother Cadfael series, Caroline Roe’s Chronicles of Isaac of Girona, and Peter Tremayne’s Sister Fidelma mysteries.

Romance

Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
William Morrow, 2007. 978-0060734572

A swaggering football star and a sassy itinerant artist spar with each other and discover how to forge a family in this sweetly charming novel filled with humor, snappy dialog, and fabulous scenes. Phillips’s pitch-perfect story embodies the contemporary romance genre and offers a superb cast of characters, a richly detailed world, and a story line that will please long time romance readers and new fans alike.

Readers may also enjoy Jennifer Crusie’s Bet Me, Jane Ann Krentz’s Trust Me, and Nora Robert’s Born in Fire.

Science Fiction

In War Times by Kathleen Ann Goonan
Tor, 2007. 978-0765313553

In this captivating alternative history tale a young army engineer is given a mysterious device by a gypsy physicist on the eve of Pearl Harbor. If used successfully this device could end mankind’s penchant for war and violence. To preserve a peaceful time stream, he must alter an epochal event of the 20th Century. Goonan flavors her multiverse with rich details of jazz, quantum physics, and history.

Readers may also enjoy Rudy Rucker’s Mathematicians in Love, Stephen Baxter’s The Time Ships, and Joe Haldeman’s The Accidental Time Machine.

Women’s Fiction

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
Bantam, 2007. 978-0553805482

Claire Waverly’s world is turned upside down when her wayward sister returns home with a young daughter in tow and a sexy college professor moves in next door. Adding to the spot-on rendering of sibling rivalry and small town dynamics are the stories of first loves and second chances, loveable quirky characters, culinary alchemy, and the magic of place. An enchanting debut.

Readers may also enjoy Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic, Joanne Harris’s Chocolat, and Rebecca Wells’s Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.

The Reading List Council 2007-2008

Katie Dunneback, Southeastern Library Services
Arlene Griffin, LSSI Library North Jackson Madison County Library, TN
Mirja Johanson, Perrot Memorial Library, CT
Lucy Lockley, St. Charles City-County Library District, MO
Robert Renwick, Brooklyn Public Library
Joyce Saricks
Jacqueline Sasaki, Ann Arbor District Library
Tapley Trudell, San Antonio Public Library
Neal Wyatt, Chair
Alan Ziebarth, Chicago Public Library