For immediate release | December 7, 2010

Holiday shopping made easy with award-winning book lists for adult readers

CHICAGO—Need a gift for a book lover? Check out the annual lists of outstanding fiction, non-fiction, poetry, genre fiction and Jewish literature compiled by the readers’ advisory experts from the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA).

Each year, committees from RUSA’s Collection Development and Evaluation Section (CODES) spend hours reading and discussing the best literature published in that year. Their hard work produces the Notable Books List—the most outstanding 25 titles published in fiction, non-fiction and poetry; The Reading List—the top picks in genre fiction, including adrenaline, fantasy, historical fiction, horror, romance, science fiction and women’s fiction; and the selection of the best work in Jewish literature with the presentation of the Sophie Brody Medal.
“I can think of no better experts to turn to for reading suggestions than CODES members,” said Barry Trott, adult services director at the Williamsburg (Va.) Regional Library and RUSA president. “These librarians are deeply passionate about reading and they share this passion and their expertise with library users every day. The titles they select represent the best writing of the year and can be enjoyed and treasured by readers of all stripes.”
The 2010 Notable Books List includes fiction titles by well-known authors Toni Morrison (“A Mercy: A Novel”) and Margaret Atwood (“The Year of the Flood: A Novel”), but also features debut novelists such as Jessica Anthony (“The Convalescent”) and Paul Harding (“Tinkers”). The non-fiction Notable selections also offer up some excellent writing and investigative journalism, with Lainey Salisbury and Aly Sujo’s work “Provenance: How a Con Man & a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art”, Patrick Radden Keefe’s “Snakehead: An Epic Tale of the Chinatown Underworld & the American Dreamand Christopher McDougall’s “Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen” among the dozen titles named to the list. Works of poetry by Sherman Alexie and Stephen Dunn are also included on the 2010 list. As one of the longest-running adult reading awards at ALA, the Notable Books List offers a multitude of selections. The 2010 and 2009 lists, along with lists of winners dating back to 2000, are all available on the RUSA website.
In addition to naming the top genre fiction titles, The Reading List also offers read-alike titles to dig into once you’ve finished the winning book and also provides a short list of runner-up titles. So, once your mystery lover has finished 2010 winner “A Beautiful Place to Die” by Malla Nunn, she can select read-alike “A Carrion Death” by Michael Stanley or move on to “Dog On It” by Spencer Quinn. The entire 2010 list can be viewed online at the RUSA website. The 2009 and 2008 lists also offer plentiful options such as “Veil of Gold” by Kim Wilkins, a 2009 fantasy top pick, and “The Heart-Shaped Box” by Joe Hill, the winning horror book from 2008.
Gift-givers seeking excellent Jewish literature should focus on the recipients of the Sophie Brody Medal for their holiday shopping. In 2010, Jonathon Keats received the medal for “The Book of the Unknown: Tales of the Thirty-Six”. The committee also identified three honor books for 2010: Thomas Buergenthal’s “Lucky Child: A Memoir of Surviving Auschwitz as a Young Boy”; Melvin Konner’s “The Jewish Body”; and “Clara’s War: One Girl’s Story of Survival" by Clara Kramer and Stephen Gantz. The Brody Medal has been awarded since 2006, providing endless reading options for those interested in the Jewish experience.
The Outstanding Reference Sources list and the Dartmouth Medal are also honors bestowed by CODES committees upon the year’s best reference works. The winners of each year’s awards are announced at the RUSA Midwinter Book and Media Awards Reception at ALA’s Midwinter Meeting. This year’s event will be held from 5 - 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 9 in the Manchester A/B Room of the Manchester Grand Hyatt, One Market Place, San Diego and is the only place to be to get your 2011 must-read list started. Announcements of the 2011 selections will also be posted on the RUSA blog and will be tweeted through RUSA’s Twitter account, @ala_rusa.
The Reference and User Services Association, a division of the American Library Association, represents librarians and library staff in the fields of reference, specialized reference, collection development, readers advisory and resource sharing. RUSA is the foremost organization of reference and information professionals who make the connections between people and the information sources, services, and collection materials they need. For more information, visit Not a RUSA member, but interested in participating in awards committees, receiving discounts on RUSA professional development and other exciting benefits? Join, renew or add RUSA to your ALA membership at


Elizabeth Markel