Booklist Editors' Choice: Adult Books

About the Booklist Editors' Choice: Adult Books
The Adult Books editors have selected the following titles as representative of the year’s outstanding books for public-library collections. Our scope has been intentionally broad, and we have attempted to find books that combine literary, intellectual, and aesthetic excellence with popular appeal.

Administered by:

Booklist Publications logo


2012 Selection(s)

Love Song: The Lives of Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya

By Ethan Mordden. St. Martin’s, $29.99 (9780312676575).

This author presents the best book on the foremost couple in twentieth-century musical theater, who depended on one another for 25 years.

The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson

By Robert A. Caro. Knopf, $35 (9780679405078).

Wedged between LBJ’s triumphant Senate career and his presidency, this riveting fourth volume in Caro’s acclaimed series addresses the 1960 presidential campaign, the three frustrating years as vice president, and the transition between the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. A fascinating character study. (Top of the List winner—Adult Nonfiction.)

Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937–1948

By Madeleine Albright and Bill Woodward. Harper, $29.99 (9780062030313).

Accessing political history for a wide readership, Albright renders a powerfully somber accounting of the fates of her extended family during the Holocaust. No reader will close her memoir unmoved.

Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis

By Timothy Egan. Houghton, $28 (9780618969029).

Ace popular historian Egan tells the suspenseful and heroic story of master photographer Edward Curtis and the sacrifices he made to document North American Indian life in what stands as an essential body of work.

Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power

By Jon Meacham. Random, $35 (9781400067664).

The Pulitzer Prize–winning author of American Lion (2008) brings to bear his focused and sensitive scholarship, rich prose style, and acute sense of the need to ground his subject in time and place and observe him in his natural habitat.

Thornton Wilder

By Penelope Niven. Harper, $39.99 (9780060831363).

A definitive biography of the distinguished American playwright and novelist, author of such works as Our Town and The Bridge of San Luis Ray.


2012 Selection(s)

New Collected Poems

By Wendell Berry. Counterpoint, $30 (9781582438153).

Though Berry is best known for his fiction and essays, his poetry is the radiant heart of his prophetic art as he writes about life, death, and his Kentucky farming community, illuminating the virtue of living in harmony with the land and its creatures.

Stag’s Leap

By Sharon Olds. Knopf, $26.95 (9780307959904).

Olds, a poet of indomitable candor, continues to follow the arc of her life in her searing poetry, here chronicling the sudden end of her long marriage, moving from the personal to the cosmic in a hard-won artistic victory over anguish.


2012 Selection(s)

Global Weirdness: Severe Storms, Deadly Heat Waves, Relentless Drought, Rising Seas, and the Weather of the Future

By Climate Central. Pantheon, $22.95 (9780307907301).

Climate Central, a nonpartisan collective of ecological experts, presents a succinct yet comprehensive overview of how human-generated CO2 pollution is contributing to the crises we’re experiencing as climate change accelerates.


2012 Selection(s)

The Mansion of Happiness

Jill Lepore. Knopf, $27.95 (9780307592996).

In this witty, provocative, and deeply informed essay collection, Lepore considers how perceptions about life and death in all their weighty complexity have evolved over time in the realms of religion, law, and politics