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 Irvine Welsh. Norton, $26.95 (9780393088731).

Nearly 20 years after Trainspotting, Welsh delivers a stunning prequel that shows how his characters got hooked on heroin. As before, it’s the remarkable characterizations that give this haunting work its devastating impact.


By J. R. Moehringer. Hyperion, $27.99 (9781401323141).

Moehringer relays, in electrifying prose, the highs and lows of bank robber Willie Sutton’s dramatic life, from the thrill of the heist to the brutal interrogations by cops and the hell of years spent in solitary confinement.

Sweet Tooth

By Ian McEwan. Doubleday/Nan A. Talese, $26.95 (9780385536820).

McEwan goes back in time to enter the spy world of British intelligence in the early 1970s, and in the book’s heroine, he has created a resonant female character.

Telegraph Avenue

By Michael Chabon. Harper, $27.99 (9780061493348).

Chabon’s exuberantly alive novel of two families, one African American, the other Jewish, and a beloved but imperiled used record store is an intricate, funny, and revelatory saga of family and friendship and the soul of American life.

The Testament of Mary

By Colm Tóibín. Scribner, $23 (9781451688382).

Irishman Tóibín delivers a stunning interpretation of the life and role of the mother of Jesus that is as beautiful in its presentation as it is provocative in intention.

That’s Not a Feeling

By Dan Josefson. Soho, $15.95 (9781616951887).

This remarkable debut novel follows the growing friendship between students at the Roaring Orchards School for Troubled Teens. The matter-of-fact prose, studded with perfectly phrased gems, provides a cool surface to a work that is rich in feeling.

This Is How You Lose Her

By Junot Díaz. Riverhead, $26.95 (9781594487361).

Each tale of unrequited and betrayed love and family crises is electric with passionate observations and off-the-charts emotional and social intelligence as MacArthur fellow Díaz charts the struggles of Yunior, a beleaguered Dominican American.

True Believers

By Kurt Andersen. Random, $27 (9781400067206).

A onetime Supreme Court nominee sets out to reveal a deadly truth from her radical past but manages to do much more. An ambitious and remarkable novel, wonderfully voiced, about memory, secrets, guilt, and the dangers of certitude.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

By Rachel Joyce. Random, $25 (9780812993295).

Joyce’s debut novel about a new retiree who embarks on a mission of mercy involving a solitary 500-mile walk across the north of England is quirky and charming but also haunting in its examination of love and devotion.