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.

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2012 Selection(s)

By Blood

By Ellen Ullman. Farrar, $27 (9780374117559).

A disgraced professor becomes obsessed with the client of a psychiatrist working next to him. This poetic and mysterious story suggests both Poe and Kafka.

The Cove

By Ron Rash. Ecco, $25.99 (9780061804199).

In a powerful novel that skillfully overlays its tragic love story with pointed social commentary, Rash effortlessly summons the rugged Appalachian landscape as well as the xenophobia of a country in the grip of patriotic fervor.

Dear Life

By Alice Munro. Knopf, $26.95 (9780307596888).

Her latest collection advances the widely held conviction that Munro reigns as the best short story writer in English today.

The Dream of the Celt

By Mario Vargas Llosa. Tr. by Edith Grossman. Farrar, $28 (9780374143466).

The ever-creative Peruvian novelist takes as his subject Roger Casement, an Irishman in the British diplomatic service executed for treason during WWI.

Flight Behavior

By Barbara Kingsolver. Harper, $28.99 (9780062124265).

In this passionate novel on global warming, feisty, funny Dellarobia Turnbow gains new and galvanizing insight into her life when a fluke of nature draws hordes of reporters, scientists and tourists to her Appalachian town.

Gods without Men

By Hari Kunzru. Knopf, $26.95 (9780307957115).

Kunzru’s lively, hugely ambitious novel explores humans’ desperate search for meaning—whether it be through drugs, religion, computer programming, or UFOs—within the chaos of life, both modern and ancient.


By Toni Morrison. Knopf, $24 (9780307594167).

With the economical presentation of a short story, the rhythms and cadence of a poem, and the total embrace and resonance of a novel, Morrison writes a cogent story about a black Korean War veteran.

In One Person

By John Irving. Simon & Schuster, $28 (9781451664126).

Irving’s charming and audacious novel about the confusing coming-of-age of a bisexual boy in a small Vermont town features a glorious cast of misfit characters, an intricately constructed plot, and a call to celebrate human sexuality.

The Lower River

By Paul Theroux. Houghton, $25 (9780547746500).

When his marriage and clothing store fail, a sixtysomething man returns to Africa to rekindle the intense feeling of his days in the Peace Corps. A gripping and vital novel that reads like Conrad or Greene. (Top of the List winner—Adult Fiction.)

The Round House

By Louise Erdrich. Harper, $26.99 (9780062065247).

Erdrich’s profound intimacy with her characters, beginning with 13-year-old Ojibwe Joe Coutts, electrifies this stunning and wise novel of family bonds, hate crimes, and vengeance set within a web of history, cruel loss, and bracing realizations.