Three RUSA 2021 Reading Lists Include Genre Works

The Reference and User Services Association (RUSA), a division of the American Library Association, announced several annual lists of recommended books on February 4 at the Book & Media Awards Virtual Ceremony including the 2021 Notable Books List, 2021 Reading List: Year’s best in genre fiction for adult readers, and the 2021 Outstanding Reference Sources List. The complete lists are at the links.

The following are the titles of genre interest. Could start an avalanche on your Mount TBR!


The Reading List Council has announced the 2021 selections of the Reading List, an annual best-of list comprised of eight different fiction genres for adult readers. A shortlist of honor titles, up to 4 per genre was also announced.

The 2021 selections are:


The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune (A Tor Book Published by Tom Doherty Associates)

Linus Baker, diligent case worker at the Department of Magical Youth, travels to Arthur Parnassus’ orphanage to determine if any of the magical children in Arthur’s care might cause the end of the world. While getting to know Arthur and his charges, Linus discovers a found family worthy of rule-breaking.


  • Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
  • Joe Vs. the Volcano (movie)
  • Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh
  • Short List
  • Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse (Saga Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.)
  • The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit, an imprint of Hachette Book Group)
  • A Deadly Education: A Novel by Naomi Novik (Del Rey, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC)
  • Ring Shout: or, Hunting Ku Kluxes in the End Times by P. Djèlí Clark (A Tordotcom Book, Published by Tom Doherty Associates)


The Only Good Indians: A Novel by Stephen Graham Jones (Saga Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.)

This slow-burn horror novel follows four members of the Blackfeet tribe as an illegal elk hunting trip catches up to them ten years later, and the spirit of the elk they wronged methodically tracks them down to exact her bloody revenge.


  • Empire of Wild by Cherie Dimaline
  • The Ritual by Adam L.G. Nevill
  • Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse
  • Short List
  • The Hollow Places: A Novel by T. Kingfisher (Saga Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.)
  • The Return by Rachel Harrison (Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC)
  • Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Del Rey, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC)
  • The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix (Quirk Books)


Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore (Flatiron Books)

On New Year’s Eve 1982, 18-year-old Oona Lockhart faces a personal crossroads. But when the clock strikes midnight, she faints and awakens decades in the future as her older self. Jumping to a new age each New Year’s, Oona grapples with constantly changing circumstances and discovers relationships that anchor her.


  • Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi
  • In Five Years by Rebecca Serle
  • The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver
  • Short List
  • Anxious People: A Novel by Fredrik Backman, translated by Neil Smith (Atria Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.)
  • His Only Wife: A Novel by Peace Adzo Medie (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, a division of Workman Publishing)
  • The Love Story of Missy Carmichael by Beth Morrey (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC)
  • This Won’t End Well by Camille Pagán (Lake Union Publishing)


The Duke Who Didn’t by Courtney Milan (Courtney Milan)

Chloe Fong is the capable, list-focused love of Jeremy Wentworth’s life, but she’s looking for someone serious. After three years of chasing seriousness, Jeremy returns for the annual fair determined to show Chloe that he may not be serious, but he’s serious about her. A flirty, sexy historical romance.


  • Breathless by Beverly Jenkins
  • Bridgerton (TV series, Netflix)
  • True Pretenses by Rose Lerner
  • Short List
  • Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn (Kensington Books)
  • Spoiler Alert: A Novel by Olivia Dade (Avon, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Take a Hint, Dani Brown: A Novel by Talia Hibbert (Avon, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)
  • You Had Me at Hola: A Novel by Alexis Daria (Avon, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)

Science Fiction

The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson (Del Rey, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC)

In a future where people can travel to parallel universes in which their counterparts are deceased, Cara’s worth is measured by how easily she dies. Earth after Earth, the poor die to benefit the wealthy, until Cara discovers a secret that could disrupt the whole corrupt system.


  • Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
  • The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz
  • Recursion by Blake Crouch
  • Short List
  • Axiom’s End: A Novel by Lindsay Ellis (St. Martin’s Press, an imprint of St. Martin’s Publishing Group)
  • The Doors of Eden by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Orbit, an imprint of Hachette Book Group)
  • Hench: A Novel by Natalie Zina Walschots (William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)
  • A Pale Light in the Black: A NeoG Novel by K.B. Wagers (Harper Voyager, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)

The winners were selected by the Reading List Council whose members include eleven expert readers’ advisory and collection development librarians. The eight genres currently included in the Council’s considerations are adrenaline, fantasy, historical fiction, horror, mystery, relationship fiction, romance, and science fiction. However, the Council is adaptable to new genres and changes in contemporary reading interest.

The Council consists of Andrea Gough, The Seattle Public Library, chair; Meagan Day, High Plains Library District; Halle Eisenman, NoveList; Matthew Galloway, Anythink Libraries; Stephanie Handy, Library of Congress; Marlene Harris, Reading Reality LLC; Sarah Jaffa, Kitsap Regional Library; Liz Kirchhoff, Barrington Area Library; Kara Krekeler, University City Public Library; Teresa May, Durham County Public Libraries (retired); Karin Suni, Free Library of Philadelphia.


The Notable Books Council, first established in 1944, has announced the 2020 selections of the Notable Books List, an annual best-of list composed of twenty-five titles written for adult readers and published in the US including fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. The list was announced Thursday during the Reference & User Services Book & Media Awards Virtual Ceremony.

The 2021 selections are:


Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam (Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)

A family’s stay in a luxury vacation rental is interrupted when the homeowners arrive seeking shelter from a menacing but nebulous catastrophe.

 Piranesi by Susanna Clarke (Bloomsbury Publishing)

The occupant of a labyrinthine house explores its infinite rooms and corridors until the world he knows begins to unravel.

Little Eyes by Samanta Schweblin, translated by Megan McDowell (Riverhead Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House)

 In the near future, Kentuckis—small robots purchased by eager keepers but controlled by anonymous human dwellers—sweep the globe, with unnerving results.

The winners were selected by the Notable Books Council whose members include twelve expert readers’ advisory and collection development librarians. The Council considers titles based on stellar reviews published in standard library reviewing sources and other authoritative sources. Derived from this list is the longlist for the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction, ALA’s highest honor for books written for adults.

The Council includes Lynn Lobash, New York Public Library, chair; Hana Zittel, Denver Public Library, vice-chair; Kaitlin Conner, NoveList; Sara Duff, University of Central Florida; Allison Escoto, The Center for Fiction; Gwen Glazer, Croton Free Library; William Kelly, Cuyahoga County Public Library; Edward Kownslar, Stephen F. Austin State University; Rochelle Lundy, Seattle University; Eve Alison Nyren, Placer County Library (retired); Nonny Schlotzhauer, Penn State University


The most noteworthy reference titles published in 2020 have been named to the 2021 Outstanding References Sources List, an annual list selected by experts of the Collection Development and Evaluation Section (CODES) of the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA), a division of ALA. The list was announced Thursday at the Book & Media Awards Virtual Ceremony.

The winners include:

Horror Fiction in the 20th Century: Exploring literature’s most chilling genre

This reference splits the 20th century into three time periods to educate readers about the important points and players. In each section, chapters cover different elements of that era, thereby breaking the entire century into bite-sized horror chunks, including authors, countries, and subgenres, for the learner.  Author/Publisher: Jess Nevins / Praeger and imprint of ABC-CLIO

2021 Night Sky Guide: A Month-by-Month Guide to North America’s Skies from the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada

One of the few safe activities still available during COVID is watching the night sky. This compact guide provides information on using a telescope or binoculars, observing the moon, the planets, eclipses, the Northern Lights, and more. The language here is accessible to teens as well as adults. Author/Publisher: Nicole Mortillaro / Firefly Books

[Based on a press release.]

2018 American Library Association Midwinter Meeting Awards and Honors

Today at the Reference and User Services Association’s Book and Media Awards event during the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting in Denver, these works of genre interest were among those recognized:

2018 Notable Books List: Year’s best in fiction, nonfiction and poetry


  • American War by Omar El Akkad. Alfred A. Knopf.
    A second Civil War turns lives upside down in this devastating vision of a dystopian future.
  • Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. Random House, an imprint of Penguin Random House.
    Three characters stuck in an ambiguous limbo after their deaths narrate the story of the president’s visits to the graveyard following the tragic loss of his son.
  • Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward. Scribner, an imprint of Simon and Schuster.
    A lyrical and psychologically astute exploration of the gravity of history that still ripples through the lives of a Mississippi family.


  • The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America’s Enemies by Jason Fagone. Dey Street Books, an imprint of HarperCollins.
    A biography of the forgotten heroine who founded American cryptography and cracked the Nazi Enigma machine.
  • Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay. Harper, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
    This candid account lays bare the author’s personal demons.
  • Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore. Sourcebooks.
    In early twentieth century watch factories, dial painters suffer the deterioration of their bodies and fight to pave the way for workplace safety standards.

2018 Reading List: Year’s best in genre fiction for adult readers



  • Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire. A Book, published by Tom Doherty Associates.
    Twin sisters Jack and Jill discover a portal that leads them to the Moors, a dark and unsettling world that reveals their true selves. But will their conflicting desires tear them apart?



  • Kill Creek by Scott Thomas. Inkshares.
    An homage to horror and the authors who write it, “Kill Creek” features four prominent authors who are lured into spending the night in a famous haunted house as a publicity stunt. The aftermath is both unexpected and terrifying.

Science Fiction


  • The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi. Tor, a Tom Doherty Associates Book.
    In the Interdependency, each planet relies on its far-flung neighbors for survival. Now a galactic change is transforming the universal order, a new empress has been crowned, a rival is plotting a revolution, and a foul-mouthed captain is caught in the middle.

2018 Listen List: Outstanding Audiobook Narration for Adult Listeners

  • “Lincoln in the Bardo: A Novel” by George Saunders. Narrated by Nick Offerman, David Sedaris, George Saunders, Carrie Brownstein, Miranda July, Lena Dunham, and a full cast. Books on Tape. Abraham Lincoln pays one last visit to son Willie, laid to rest in Oak Hill Cemetery amidst a host of spirits keeping watch as the boy makes his final passage. An unprecedented cast of 166 narrators combine in a spectral chorus, telling their stories in an astonishing gabble of voices that teems with pathos, tragicomedy, and the tenderest love.