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Find more The Reading List
Established in 2007 by the CODES section of RUSA, the Reading List Council, consisting of librarians who are experts in readers’ advisory and collection development, selects an annual list of outstanding genre fiction. This list is made up of one title in eight different categories: Adrenaline (encompassing thrillers, suspense, and action/adventure); Fantasy; Historical Fiction; Horror; Mystery; Romance; Science Fiction; and Women’s Fiction. All titles were published in 2008.
Blue Heaven. By C. J. Box. St. Martin’s/Minotaur, $24.95 (9780312365707).
In this relentlessly paced story, two children witness a murder, elude crooked ex-cops, and find refuge with a taciturn rancher. The evocative landscape and emotional depth, along with the engaging characters and provocative story line, combine to create an unforgettable novel. Read-alikes: Ridley Pearson’s Killer Weekend, Lee Child’s Nothing to Lose, and Elmore Leonard’s Hombre.
Veil of Gold. By Kim Wilkins. Tor, $25.95 (9780765320063).
The discovery of a golden bear in the walls of a derelict St. Petersburg bathhouse lifts the veil between the real world and that of fairy tales. Treachery is rampant, and death is ever-present; stories aren’t safe, and love can’t rescue anyone—or can it? Read-alikes: John Connolly’s The Book of Lost Things, Orson Scott Card’s Enchantment, and Charles de Lint’s Forests of the Heart.
The Steel Wave. By Jeff Shaara. Ballantine, $28 (9780345461421).
In this riveting tale of D-Day and its aftermath, Shaara closely follows events through the lives of common soldiers and generals, Allies and Axis alike. A journalistic style underscores the drama of events, and the engaging warts-and-all portrayals add to the immediacy of the novel. Read-alikes: Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe series, Rick Atkinson’s An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942–1943, and Steven Pressfield’s Killing Rommel.
Sharp Teeth. By Toby Barlow. Harper, $24 (9780061430220).
The insiders’ perspective and lyrical language of this haunting free-verse novel offer a sympathetic glimpse into the lives of urban werewolves, showcasing a nightmarish noir world where violence and heartbreak go hand in hand. Read-alikes: Kelley Armstrong’s Bitten, Nicholas Pekearo’s The Wolfman, and Charlie Huston’s Joe Pitt series.
The Garden of Evil. By David Hewson. Bantam, $24 (9780385339575).
In contemporary Rome, an unknown lascivious painting by Caravaggio, a series of grisly murders, and a heart-stopping chase mark series detective Nic Costa’s return. The perfidious villains can only be outwitted by inventive police work and an unexpected ally in this masterfully crafted puzzler. Read-alikes: Arturo Pérez-Reverte’s The Flanders Panel, Donna Leon’s Dressed for Death, and Jonathan Santlofer’s The Death Artist.
The Spymaster’s Lady. By Joanna Bourne. Berkley, $7.99 (9780425219607).
Take a British spymaster and a resourceful French agent, spice with clever banter, toss in a refreshing and unexpected plot, add a heaping measure of sexual chemistry, and the result is an irresistible read in which Napoléon’s ambitions for England hang in the balance. Read-alikes: Amanda Quick’s Scandal, Julia Quinn’s It’s in His Kiss, and Andrea Pickens’ Seduced by a Spy.
Hunter’s Run. By George R. R. Martin, Gardner Dozois, and Daniel Abraham. Eos, $25.95 (9780061373299).
On a dangerous backwater planet, a criminal outcast stumbles across an alien race in this relentless and gritty adventure. Forced into a life-threatening hunt, he is irrevocably changed and learns what it means to be truly human. Read-alikes: Robert Silverberg’s Downward to the Earth, Barry B. Longyear’s Enemy Mine, and Richard K. Morgan’s Thirteen.
Every Last Cuckoo. By Kate Maloy. Algonquin, $22.95 (9781565125414).
Set against the richly textured landscape of rural Vermont, Maloy’s optimistic and heartwarming novel chronicles one woman’s experience of widowhood as she remembers the pains and pleasures of her long marriage and moves into a new phase of her life. Read-alikes: Stephanie Kallos’ Broken for You, Helen Humphreys’ The Lost Garden, and Elizabeth Berg’s The Year of Pleasures.
The Reading List, 2009, committee members: Neal Wyatt, chair, Richmond (VA); Joyce G. Saricks, Vice-Chair, Downers Grove (IL); Jennifer S. Baker, Seattle Public Library (WA); Arlene M. Griffin, Jackson Madison County Library (TN); Lucy M. Lockley, Saint Charles City-County Library Distict (MO); Robert M. Renwick, Brooklyn Public Library (NY); Jacqueline Ka-Yin Sasaki, Ann Arbor District Library (MI); Sharron L. Smith, Kitchener Public Library (Ontario, Canada); Mrs. Tapley R. Trudell, San Antonio Public Library (TX); Alan W. Ziebarth, Chicago Public Library (IL).
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