For immediate release | January 22, 2012

RUSA’s 2012 Reading List highlights must-read titles in women’s fiction, mystery and other genres

DALLAS — The expert readers’ advisory librarians on the Reference and User Services Association’s (RUSA) Reading List Council have selected their top picks for 2012 in eight popular genres: adrenaline titles (including suspense, thrillers and action adventure), fantasy, historical fiction, horror, mystery, romance, science fiction and women’s fiction.

The Council, which consists of 12 librarians who are experts in readers’ advisory and collection development, selects one book from each of these genres, as well as a short list of honor titles -- up to four per genre. The result is a list of recommended novels that will please die-hard fans as well as introduce new readers to the pleasures of genre fiction.

The winning titles were selected by the Reading List Council, whose members include: Sharron Smith, chair, Kitchener Public Library; Megan McArdle, vice chair, Berkeley Public Library; Alicia Ahlvers, Kansas City Public Library; Craig Clark, Akron, Ohio; Kathleen Collins, University of Washington Libraries, Seattle; Vicki Nesting, St. Charles Parish Library, Louisiana; Gillian Speace, NoveList, Durham, N.C.; Miriam Tuliao, New York Public; Kimberly Wells, Denton Public Library; and Michelle Young, Hawaii State Public Library System.

The 2012 winners are:


"Before I Go To Sleep," by S. J. Watson, Harper Collins, 9780062060556

Each morning, Christine wakes with no memory. From the clues she left herself, she tries to piece together her identity and sort lies from the truth. The unrelenting pace thrusts the reader into the confusion of a waking nightmare in which revelations of her past lead to a frantic crescendo.


"The Likeness," by Tana French

"Shutter Island," by Dennis Lehane

"Memento," (Summit Entertainment, 2000)

Short List:

"Now You See Me" by S. J. Bolton, St. Martin's, 9780312600525

"Spiral" by Paul McEuen, Dial Press, 9780385342117

"The Woodcutter" by Reginald Hill, Harper Collins, 9780062060747

"You’re Next" by Gregg Hurwitz, St. Martin’s, 9780312534912


"The Night Circus," by Erin Morgenstern, Doubleday, 9780385534635

Le Cirque des Rêves is utterly unique, disappearing at dawn in one town only to mysteriously reappear in another. At the heart of the circus are two young magicians, involved in a competition neither completely understands. The dreamlike atmosphere and vivid imagery make this fantasy unforgettable.


"Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell," by Susanna Clarke

"Shadow of the Windby," Carlos Ruiz Zafón

"Prestige," (Touchstone Pictures, 2006)

Short List:

"Daughter of Smoke and Bone," by Laini Taylor, Little, Brown, 9780316134026

"The Magician King," by Lev Grossman, Viking, 9780670022311

"The Wise Man's Fear," by Patrick Rothfuss, DAW, 9780756404734

"Zoo City," by Lauren Beukes, Angry Robot, 9780857660558

Historical Fiction

"Doc" by Mary Doria Russell, Random House, 9781400068043

In the early days of Dodge City, a genteel, tubercular Southern dentist forges a friendship with the infamous Earp brothers. Combining historical details and lyrical language, this gritty psychological portrait of gunslinger Doc Holliday reveals how the man became the legend.


"Deadwood," by Pete Dexter

"Etta," by Gerald Kolpan

"Gunman’s Rhapsody," by Robert B. Parker

Short List:

"Bright and Distant Shores," by Dominic Smith, Pocket Books, 9781439198865

"Lionheart," by Sharon Kay Penman, Putnam, 9780399157851

"Rules of Civility," by Amor Towles, Viking, 9780670022694

"The Sea Captain's Wife," by Beth Powning, Penguin, 9780452296954


"The Ridge," by Michael Koryta, Little, Brown, 9780316053662

The unexplained death of an eccentric lighthouse keeper in the isolated Kentucky woods, followed by a mysterious threat to a nearby large cat sanctuary prompt an investigation by a journalist and the local sheriff. Palpable evil and a sense of dread drive this chilling tale.


"The Dead Path," by Stephen Irwin

"Those Across the River," by Christopher Buehlman

"Harbor," by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Short List:

"The Last Werewolf," by Glen Duncan, Knopf, 9780307595089

"The Night Strangers," by Chris Bohjalian, Crown, 9780307394996

"Raising Stony Mayhall," by Daryl Gregory, Del Rey, 9780345522375

"The White Devil," by Justin Evans, Harper Collins, 9780061728273


"The Devotion of Suspect X," by Keigo Higashino, Minotaur, 9780312375065

An introverted mathematician matches wits with a brilliant former colleague to protect the neighbor he secretly adores from a murder charge. Although the reader knows the murderer’s identity from the beginning, this unconventional Japanese mystery remains a taut psychological puzzle.


"Out," by Natsuo Kirino

"Think of a Number," by John Verdon

"Sherlock," (BBC, 2010-2012)

Short List:

"Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead," by Sara Gran, Houghton, Mifflin, 9780547428499

"Killed at the Whim of a Hat," by Colin Cotterill, Minotaur, 9780312564537

"The Snowman," by Jo Nesbo, Knopf, 9780307595867

"A Trick of the Light," by Louise Penny, Minotaur, 9780312655457


"Silk is for Seduction" by Loretta Chase, Avon, 9780061632686

Ambitious dressmaker Marcelline Noirot will do almost anything to secure the patronage of the Duke of Clevendon’s intended bride. Neither her calculated business plan nor his campaign of seduction can withstand the force of their mutual attraction. Witty banter and strong-willed characters make this a memorable tale.


"Dangerous in Diamonds," by Madeline Hunter

"The Raven Prince," by Elizabeth Hoyt

"Untie My Heart," by Judith Ivory

Short List:

"Dragon Bound," by Thea Harrison, Berkley, 9780425241509

"A Lady's Lesson in Scandal," by Meredith Duran, Pocket, 9781451606935

"My One And Only," by Kristin Higgins, Harlequin, 9780373775576

"When Beauty Tamed the Beast," by Eloisa James, Avon, 9780062021274

Science Fiction

"Leviathan Wakes," by James S.A. Corey, Orbit, 9780316129084

The missions of a jaded cop and a dedicated ice hauler officer collide as the fate of humanity hangs in the balance. A mystery adds a noir touch to this space opera featuring deeply flawed yet heroic characters, non-stop action and Earth versus Mars politics.


"Up Against It," by M. J. Locke

"Pandora’s Star," by Peter Hamilton

"The Quiet War," by Paul J. McAuley

Short List:

"Embassytown," by China Miéville, Del Rey, 9780345524492

"The Quantum Thief," by Hannu Rajaniemi, Tor, 9780765329493

"Ready Player One," by Ernest Cline, Crown, 9780307887436

"When She Woke," by Hillary Jordan, Algonquin, 9781565126299

Women’s Fiction

"The Language of Flowers," by Vanessa Diffenbaugh Ballantine, 9780345525543

A former foster child struggles to overcome a past filled with abuse, neglect and anger. Communicating through the Victorian language of flowers allows her to discover hope, redemption and a capacity for love. Damaged, authentic characters create an emotional tension in this profoundly moving story.


"Like Family," by Paula McLain (NF)

"The Lost Garden," by Helen Humphreys

"White Oleander," by Janet Fitch

Short List:

"Deep Down True" by Juliette Fay, Penguin, 9780143118510

"Joy for Beginners" by Erica Bauermeister, Putnam, 9780399157127

"The Weird Sisters" by Eleanor Brown, Putnam, 9780399157226

"What Alice Forgot" by Liane Moriarty, Penguin, 9780141043760

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 connectionas between people and the information sources, services, and collection materials they need. Not a member, but interested in discounted registration rates on conference, preconferences and other events? Join, renew or add RUSA to your ALA membership at Learn more about the association at


Elizabeth Markel

Marketing and Programs Manager

Reference and User Services Association (RUSA)

800-545-2433 ext.4398