2024 Reading List: Year’s best in genre fiction for adult Readers

BALTIMORE: The Reading List Council has announced the 2024 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 2024 selections are:

Adrenaline

Winner
“Better the Blood: A Hana Westerman Thriller” by Michael Bennett (Atlantic Monthly Press, an imprint of Grove Atlantic)

Detective Hana Westerman has long struggled to balance her Māori heritage with her work. When a serial killer begins committing ritualistic killings in response to a crime that occurred decades prior, Hana must face demons in her own past as her hunt for the killer grows ever more desperate.

Read-alikes: “The Chestnut Man” by Søren Sveistrup; “Hades” by Candice Fox; “Shutter” by Ramona Emerson

Short List
“The Antiquity Affair: A Novel” by Lee Kelly and Jennifer Thorne (Harper Muse, an imprint of HarperCollins Focus LLC)
“Blood Sisters” by Vanessa Lillie (Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC)
“Going Zero: A Novel” by Anthony McCarten (Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)

“The Last Word: A Novel” by Taylor Adams (William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)

Fantasy

Winner
“Gods of the Wyrdwood: The Forsaken Trilogy, Book One” by R J Barker (Orbit, an imprint of Hachette Book Group)

Cahal once walked the path to becoming the Cowl-Rai—the Chosen One of Crua. However, another Cowl-Rai rose to power, forcing Cahal to spend the next twenty years living in secrecy. When a desperate situation forces Cahal to reveal himself, the consequences of his choice reach further than he could have anticipated.

Read-alikes: “Assassin’s Apprentice” by Robin Hobb; “The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms” by N. K. Jemisin; “In the Shadow of Lightning” by Brian McClellan

Short List
“The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi: A Novel” by Shannon Chakraborty (Harper Voyager, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)
“Starling House” by Alix E. Harrow (A Tor Book, published by Tom Doherty Associates / Tor Publishing Group)
“Thornhedge” by T. Kingfisher (A Tor Book, published by Tom Doherty Associates / Tor Publishing Group)

“Untethered Sky” by Fonda Lee (A Tordotcom Book, published by Tom Doherty Associates / Tor Publishing Group)

Historical fiction

Winner
“Lady Tan’s Circle of Women: A Novel” by Lisa See (Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.)

Tan Yunxian spends much of her youth in fifteenth-century China studying women’s illnesses under the tutelage of her grandmother. As an adult, however, Yunxian must fight to balance a life of propriety with her own aspirations from within the confines of an arranged marriage.

Read-alikes: The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd; Empress Orchid Anchee Min;  The Surgeon’s Daughter by Audrey Blake

Short List
“The Bookbinder: A Novel” by Pip Williams (Ballantine Books, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC)

“Essex Dogs” by Dan Jones (Viking, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC)

“Hang the Moon: A Novel” by Jeannette Walls (Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.)

“Looking for Jane” by Heather Marshall (Atria Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.)

Horror

Winner
“The September House” by Carissa Orlando (Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC)

Margaret has long grown used to the difficulties that come with living in a haunted house, but after four years her husband has had enough and leaves. When he stops returning calls, their daughter Katherine comes to town to search for him even as the hauntings grow ever more intense.

Read-alikes: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson; It Will Just Be Us by Jo Kaplan; She is a Haunting by Trang Thanh Tran

Short List
“Black River Orchard: A Novel” by Chuck Wendig (Del Rey, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC)

“How to Sell a Haunted House” by Grady Hendrix (Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC)

“Out There Screaming: An Anthology of New Black Horror” edited by Jordan Peele (Random House, an imprint and division of Penguin Random House LLC)

“The Reformatory: A Novel” by Tananarive Due (Saga Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.)

Mystery

Winner
“A Disappearance in Fiji” by Nilima Rao (Soho Press, Inc.)

In 1914 Fiji, disgraced Sikh police sergeant Akal Singh reluctantly accepts the seemingly routine case of a missing indentured woman. Over the course of his investigation, Akal’s perspective shifts as he navigates the complex web of colonial racism, labor exploitation, and personal redemption, realizing the case is anything but ordinary.

Read-alikes: The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey; The Bangalore Detectives Club by Harini Nagendra; A Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee

Short List
“Death Comes to Marlow: A Novel” by Robert Thorogood (Poisoned Pen Press, an imprint of Sourcebooks)

“Grave Expectations” by Alice Bell (Vintage Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC)

“Mother-Daughter Murder Night: A Novel” by Nina Simon (William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)

“The Tumbling Girl” by Bridget Walsh (Gallic Books)

Relationship Fiction

Winner
“The Mostly True Story of Tanner & Louise” by Colleen Oakley (Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC)

After losing her college soccer scholarship to an injury, Tanner grudgingly accepts a live-in caretaker job with equally reluctant octogenarian Louise. Their uneasy coexistence takes a madcap turn after Louise forces Tanner into the role of unwilling chauffeur for an impromptu cross-country road trip to help an old friend.

Read-alikes: Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg; The Summer Seekers by Sarah Morgan; A Thousand Miles to Graceland by Kristen Mei Chase

Short List
“The Collected Regrets of Clover” by Mikki Brammer (St. Martin’s Press, an imprint of St. Martin’s Publishing Group)

“Maame” by Jessica George (St. Martin’s Press, an imprint of St. Martin’s Publishing Group)

“The Museum of Ordinary People” by Mike Gayle (Grand Central Publishing, a division of Hachette Book Group)

“The Sweet Spot: A Novel” by Amy Poeppel (Emily Bestler Books/Atria, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.)

Romance

Winner
“Role Playing” by Cathy Yardley (Montlake, an imprint of Amazon Publishing)

Grumpy hermit Maggie agrees to try to meet new people if her college-aged son does too. When optimist Aiden welcomes a snarky new player into his online gaming guild, they quickly become virtual friends. Upon meeting face-to-face, the pair’s contrasting personalities blend, but their respective complicated pasts challenge their connection.

Read-alikes: Can’t Escape Love by Alyssa Cole; The Love Con by Seressia Glass; Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory

Short List
“10 Things That Never Happened” by Alexis Hall (Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks)

“Business or Pleasure” by Rachel Lynn Solomon (Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC)

“Curves for Days” by Laura Moher (Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks)

“We Could Be So Good: A Novel” by Cat Sebastian (Avon, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)

Science fiction

Winner
“House of Gold” by C. T. Rwizi (47North, an imprint of Amazon Publishing)

In this Afrofuturistic dystopia, two pairs of genetically enhanced warriors trained to rule become disillusioned with a status quo that keeps the rich aristocracy in power indefinitely. Now free from the lies that shaped their childhood, they plot to shape a better future.

Read-alikes: Africa Risen: A New Era of Speculative Fiction ed. by Sheree Renée Thomas and Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki; Escaping Exodus by Nicky Drayden; Noor by Nnedi Okorafor

Short List
“Infinity Gate: Book One of the Pandominion” by M. R. Carey (Orbit, an imprint of Hachette Book Group)

“The Meister of Decimen City” by Brenna Raney (CamCat Books, an imprint of CamCat Publishing, LLC)

“The Scourge Between Stars” by Ness Brown (A Nightfire Book, published by Tom Doherty Associates)

“Where Peace is Lost: A Novel” by Valerie Valdes (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 professionals. The eight genres currently included in the Council’s considerations are adrenaline, fantasy, historical fiction, horror, mystery, romance, relationship fiction, and science fiction. However, the Council is adaptable to new genres and changes in contemporary reading interest.

The Council consists of Stephanie Handy, Library of Congress, chair; Erin Boyington, Institutional Library Development, Colorado State Library; Ann Cox, Ingram Content Group; Michele Drovdahl, King County Library System; Stacey Hayman, Rocky River Public Library; Sarah B. Hill, Lake Land College (IL); Diana Tixier Herald, Out West Books; Liz Kirchhoff, Barrington Area Library; Karla Lucht, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; Carrie Richmond, Racine Public 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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