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

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 twelve 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 Wind by 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

1 Comment »

  1. Bookish news and publishing tidbits 23 January 2012 | Read in a Single Sitting - Book reviews and new books Said,

    January 23, 2012 @ 6:22 pm

    […] RUSA’s 2012 Reading List highlights must-read titles in women’s fiction, mystery and other genre… […]

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