2023 Reading List Announced: Year’s Best in Genre Fiction for Adult Readers

NEW ORELANS – The Reading List Council has announced the 2023 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 list was announced today during the Book & Media Awards Ceremony.

The 2023 selections are:

Adrenaline

Winner

“Killers of a Certain Age” by Deanna Raybourn (Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC)

Billie, Mary Alice, Helen, and Natalie have spent forty years as assassins for a clandestine organization. When a fellow assassin targets them during their retirement cruise, they go on a skilled offensive to stop the very organization to which they’ve given their lives.

Read-alikes: Red (film); “What Rose Forgot” by Nevada Barr; “Bullet Train” by Kōtarō Isaka, translated by Sam Malissa

Short List

“Cold Fear: A Thriller” by Brandon Webb and John David Mann (Bantam Books, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC)

“The Lies I Tell: A Novel” by Julie Clark (Sourcebooks Landmark, an imprint of Sourcebooks)

“Look Closer” by David Ellis (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC)

“Wrong Place, Wrong Time: A Novel” by Gillian McAllister (William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)

Fantasy

Winner

“Nettle & Bone” by T. Kingfisher (A Tor Book, published by Tom Doherty Associates)

A reclusive princess and her unlikely companions, including a loyal bone dog, her fairy godmother, and a demon chicken, embark on an epic quest to save her sister.

Read-alikes: “The Bone Houses” by Emily Lloyd-Jones; “Uprooted” by Naomi Novik; “Once More Upon a Time” by Roshani Chokshi

Short List

“Babel, or The Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution” by R. F. Kuang (Harper Voyager, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)

“In the Shadow of Lightning” by Brian McClellan (A Tor Book, published by Tom Doherty Associates)

“Legends and Lattes: A Novel of High Fantasy and Low Stakes” by Travis Baldree (Cryptid Press)

“The Monsters We Defy” by Leslye Penelope (Redhook, an imprint of Orbit, a division of Hachette Book Group)

Historical fiction

Winner

“By Her Own Design: A Novel of Ann Lowe, Fashion Designer to the Social Register” by Piper Huguley (William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)

Ann Lowe, a highly sought after Black designer from the 1920s to the 1960s, created one of the most famous dresses of the 20th century – Jackie Kennedy’s wedding dress. Lowe’s largely untold story traces the highs and lows of her personal and professional life.

Read-alikes: “Red at the Bone” by Jacqueline Woodson; “The House of Eve” by Sadeqa Johnson; “The Gown” by Jennifer Robson

Short List

“The Forty Elephants” by Erin Bledsoe (Blackstone Publishing)

“The Good Wife of Bath: A (Mostly) True Story” by Karen Brooks (William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)

“The Swift and the Harrier” by Minette Walters (Blackstone Publishing)

“Two Storm Wood: A Novel” by Philip Gray (W. W. Norton & Company)

Horror

Winner

“Leech” by Hiron Ennes (A Tordotcom Book, published by Tom Doherty Associates)

Over centuries, the Interprovincial Medical Institute has slowly replaced human practitioners of medicine, controlling young minds and shaping them into doctors. When one of the hivemind’s many bodies dies mysteriously at an isolated chateau, the replacement investigates and discovers a frightening competitor taking hold in the baron’s home.

Read-alikes: The Southern Reach series by Jeff VanderMeer; “The Death of Jane Lawrence” by Caitlin Starling; “The Girl with All the Gifts” by M.R. Carey

Short List

“Dead Silence” by S. A. Barnes (A Nightfire Book, published by Tom Doherty Associates)

“The Ghost That Ate Us: The Tragic True Story of the Burger City Poltergeist” by Daniel Kraus (Raw Dog Screaming Press)

“Not Good for Maidens” by Tori Bovalino (Page Street Publishing Co.)

“What Moves the Dead” by T. Kingfisher (A Nightfire Book, published by Tom Doherty Associates)

Mystery

Winner

“The Binding Room: A Novel” by Nadine Matheson (Hanover Square Press)

Called to the crime scene of a murdered pastor, DI Henley and her partner discover a torture victim on the brink of death. As the detectives investigate, they realize that the crime is larger than just this case.

Read-alikes: “The Chestnut Man” by Søren Sveistrup; “Broken Places” by Tracy Clark;  “The Silence of the White City” by Eva García Sáenz, translated from the Spanish by Nick Caistor

Short List

“The Appeal: A Novel” by Janice Hallett (Atria Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.)

“Down a Dark River” by Karen Odden (Crooked Lane Books, an imprint of The Quick Brown Fox & Company LLC)

“One-Shot Harry” by Gary Phillips (Soho Press, Inc.)

“The Verifiers” by Jane Pek (Vintage Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC)

Relationship fiction

Winner

“Mika in Real Life: A Novel” by Emiko Jean (William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)

Thirty-five-year-old former artist Mika Suzuki now works a series of dead-end jobs. When the daughter she gave up for adoption sixteen years ago reaches out, Mika panics and constructs a fake aspirational life.

Read-alikes: Fleabag (tv series); “The Guncle” by Steven Rowley, “Stray City” by Chelsey Johnson

Short List

“Carrie Soto Is Back: A Novel” by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Ballantine Books, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC)

“Love & Saffron: A Novel of Friendship, Food, and Love” by Kim Fay (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC)

“Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow” by Gabrielle Zevin (A Borzoi Book, published by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House LLC)

“The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches” by Sangu Mandanna (Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC)

Romance

Winner

“The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy” by Megan Bannen (Orbit, a division of Hachette Book Group)

Undertaker Mercy butts heads with marshal Hart when he brings bodies to her family’s struggling business. In a low moment, Hart pens a letter addressed to “A Friend” that finds its way anonymously to Mercy. A correspondence is born, with the pair growing closer as the dangers of Tanria escalate.

Read-alikes: “The Dead Romantics” by Ashley Poston; Pushing Daisies (tv show); “Angelika Frankenstein Makes Her Match” by Sally Thorne 

Short List

“All the Feels: A Novel” by Olivia Dade (Avon, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)

“Delilah Green Doesn’t Care” by Ashley Herring Blake (A Jove Book, published by Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC)

“Honey and Spice: A Novel” by Bolu Babalola (William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)

“The Siren of Sussex” by Mimi Matthews (A Jove Book, published by Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC)

Science fiction

Winner

“Drunk On All Your Strange New Words” by Eddie Robson (A Tordotcom Book, published by Tom Doherty Associates)

Lydia works as a telepathic translator for an alien cultural representative. When he is murdered on a night Lydia barely remembers due to hours of translating, she comes under suspicion. Determined to clear her name, Lydia investigates a lead from an unexpected source.

Read-alikes: “Station Eternity” by Mur Lafferty; “Axiom’s End” by Lindsay Ellis; “Embassytown” by China Miéville

Short List

“Braking Day” by Adam Oyebanji (DAW Books, Inc.)

“Mickey7” by Edward Ashton (St. Martin’s Press, an imprint of St. Martin’s Publishing Group)

“The Mountain in the Sea” by Ray Nayler (MCD, Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

“Under Fortunate Stars” by Ren Hutchings (Solaris, an imprint of Rebellion Publishing Ltd)

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

The Council consists of Karin Suni, Free Library of Philadelphia, chair; Erin Boyington, Institutional Library Development, Colorado State Library; Ann Cox, Ingram Content Group; Amy Dittmeier, Des Plaines Public Library; Stephanie Handy, Library of Congress; Marlene Harris, Reading Reality LLC; Sarah B. Hill, Lake Land College (IL); Diana Tixier Herald, Out West Books; Sarah Jaffa, Kitsap Regional Library; Liz Kirchhoff, Barrington Area Library; Katy Schorling, Colorado State Penitentiary Library.

The Reference and User Services Association (RUSA), 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. Learn more at www.rusaupdate.org.


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