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RUSA Announces 2014 Best Books and Audiobooks Lists at ALA Midwinter Meeting

Reference and User Services Association (R.U.S.A.), a division of the American Library Association (A.L.A.), announced the 2014 Outstanding References Sources list; the 2014 Notable Books List; the 2014 Reading List, (also known as the genre fiction list) which includes read-alikes; and the 2014 Listen List: Outstanding Audiobook Narration. The announcement occurred Sunday during the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia.

The 2014 Outstanding Reference Sources Committee members chose what they felt were "The most noteworthy reference titles published in 2013." RUSA and the ALA state, "Sponsored by RUSA’s Collection Development and Evaluation Section (CODES), the Outstanding Reference Sources Committee was established in 1958 to recommend the most outstanding reference publications for small and medium-sized public and academic libraries."

The 2014 winners are:

American Civil War: The Definitive Encyclopedia and Document collection, Spencer C Tucker, Editor; ABC-CLIO.

The Literature of Propaganda, Thomas Riggs, editor. St. James Press/Gale Cengage.

Music in American Life: An Encyclopedia of the Songs, Styles, Stars, and Stories That Shaped Our Culture. Jacqueline Edmondson, Editor. Greenwood.

Encyclopedia of the U.S. Presidency: A Historical Reference, Nancy Beck Young, editor. Facts on File.

A History of Jewish-Muslim Relations from the Origins to the Present Day. Abdelwahab Meddeb and Benjamin Stora, editors. Princeton University Press.

Frogs of the United States and Canada, C. Kenneth Dodd Jr. author. Johns Hopkins University Press.

Encyclopedia of the Mind, Harold Pashler, editor. Sage Reference, publisher.

Almanac of American Military History. Spencer C Tucker, editor. ABC-CLIO.

The Encyclopedia of Caribbean Religions. Patrick Taylor and Frederick I. Case, editors. University of Illinois Press.

The CODES also stated, "though the title did not meet the criteria for our award, the committee wanted to publicly acknowledge Proquest for continuing publication of the Statistical Abstracts of the United States, an invaluable source to all libraries." The members of the Outstanding Reference Sources Committee included Curtis Ferree, Chair, Fairfield University; Shelley Arlen, University of Florida; Cynthia Dudenhoffer, Central Methodist University; Julie Eliot, Indiana University South Bend; Annie Fuller, University City Public Library, University City, Missouri; Adam Jackman, Pierce County Library, Washington; Jessica McCullough, Connecticut College; Daniel Pennell, University of Pittsburgh; Alec Sonsteby, Metropolitan State University, Minnesota; Kathi Woodward, The Library Center, Missouri.

RUSA's Notable Books Council selected the winning titles for the 2014 Notable Books List, an annual literary award that identifies outstanding and noteworthy fiction, nonfiction, and poetry for adult readers. Since 1944, the goal of the Notable Books Council has been to make available to American readers a list of twenty-five "very good, very readable and, at times, very important fiction, nonfiction and poetry books for the adult reader," as explained by RUSA and the ALA.

This year's list was selected by the Notable Books Council, whose members included Chairman William Kelly of the Cuyahoga County Public Library; Vice-Chairman Katharine Phenix of Anythink Libraries; Jason Terry Beck of Sno-Isle Libraries in Washington; novelist Victoria Caplinger; Sharon Castleberry of the DeSoto Public Library; Stacey Hayman of the Rocky River Public Library; Sarah Jaffa of the Kitsnap Regional Library; Liz Kirchhoff of the Barrington Area Library; Julie Ann Murphy of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; A. Reuscher of the The Pennsylvania State University Libraries; Sara Taffae; and Mary Callaghan "Cal" Zunt of the Cleveland Public Library.


Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Knopf)
The nuances and challenges of race, emigration and cultural identification are explored through the lives of two Nigerian lovers.

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (Reagan Arthur)
What would happen if death were just a new beginning?

Claire of the Sea by Edwidge Danticat (Knopf)
A bittersweet fable of modern Haiti told in luminous prose.

Too Bright to Hear Too Loud to See by Juliann Garey (Random House)
The fragmented and unsettling perspective of a man grappling with mental illness.

Enon by Paul Harding (Random House)
A father struggles with the accidental death of his 15 year-old daughter. Grief on paper.

Unchangeable Spots of Leopards by Kristopher Jansma (Viking)
Around the world with a charmingly unreliable narrator in this coming-of-age tale.

The Dinner by Herman Koch (Hogarth)
If they sat next to us in a restaurant, we would do well to simply study our forks.

Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra (Hogarth)
An affirmation of life amidst the chaos of war-torn Chechnya.

The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud (Knopf)
A taut psychological drama of slow-burning anger.

Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki (Viking)
Tokyo meets Sunnyvale and British Columbia through a purple gel pen, a tsunami and a Hello Kitty lunchbox with a side of quantum physics.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (Little Brown)
A terrorist bomb blows apart a 13-year-old boy's world.


Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East by Scott Anderson (Doubleday)

A biography of place viewed through some of its most enigmatic and iconic historical figures.

Year Zero: A History of 1945 by Ian Baruma (Penguin)
A fresh look at the aftermath of World War II challenges the traditional, heroic narrative.

On Paper: The Everything of Its Two-Thousand Year History by Nicholas Basbanes (Knopf)
The most valuable, useful, pervasive invention after the wheel and before the computer.

To the End of June: The Intimate Life of American Foster Care by Cris Beam (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
When every person and social system you've trusted has let you down, can there be happy endings for anyone involved?

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown (Viking)
Eight oarsman and their coxswain struggle to overcome the choppy waters and the hardships of the Great Depression in their pursuit of glory.

Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital by Sheri Fink (Crown)
After Hurricane Katrina, systematic failures lead to morally ambiguous decisions.

The Riddle of the Labyrinth: the Quest to Crack an Ancient Code by Margalit Fox (Harper Collins)
Unsung classicist Alice Kober's research provides to the key to unlock “Linear B”, a 3,500 year-old language.

On the Map: A Mind-Expanding Exploration of the Way the World Looks by Simon Garfield (Gotham Books)
Wherever you go, you are here.

Johnny Cash: The Life by Robert Hilburn (Little, Brown)
The Man in Black in full color.

The Skies Belong to Us: Love and Terror in the Golden Age of Hijacking by Brendan I. Koerner (Crown)
High-flying tale of twisted romance and seventies politics.

Animal Wise: The Thoughts and Emotions of our Fellow Creatures by Virginia Morell (Crown)
No critters were harmed in the making of this book.

Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety by Eric Schlosser (Penguin)
An expose of dropped wrenches and lost bombs. Whoops!

Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit (Viking)
Apricots and Alzheimer's come together in a meditation on how lives are created and sustained through story.


The Ogre's Wife: Poems by Ron Koertge (Red Hen)
Odd, eclectic and magical verse.

Hum by Jamaal May (Alice James)
Detroit cityscapes resonate with the pulse of machinery and silence.

Established in 2007 by the CODES, The Reading List seeks to highlight outstanding genre fiction that merit special attention by general adult readers and the librarians who work with them.

The 2014 winners are:


Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews (Scribner)
This modern spy novel pits two covert operatives against each other in an intricate cat-and-mouse game. As Dominika and Nathaniel ply their tradecraft, they navigate the moral ambiguities of a post-Cold War world where no one is as they seem and betrayal is business as usual.

Night Soldiers by Alan Furst
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carré
Skinner by Charlie Huston

Adrenaline Short List
The Caretaker by A.X. Ahmad. (Minotaur Books)
Ghostman by Roger Hobbs. (Alfred A. Knopf)
Lexicon by Max Barry. (The Penguin Press)
Lost by S.J. Bolton. (Minotaur Books)


Vicious by V.E. Schwab (Tor Books)
A friendly rivalry turns vicious when college friends Victor and Eli obtain super-human powers and use them for very different purposes. This dark paranormal fantasy, a riveting tale of vengeance and redemption, proves that extraordinary powers don’t necessarily make superheroes.

Invincible by Robert Kirkman
Ex-heroes by Peter Clines
Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

Fantasy Short List
The Necromancer’s House by Christopher Buehlman (Ace Hardcover)
A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan (Tor Books)
American Elsewhere by Robert Bennett Jackson (Orbit)
The Golem and the Jinni: A Novel by Helene Wecker (Harper)

Historical Fiction

The Outcasts by Kathleen Kent (Little Brown and Company)
Love, morality and greed collide in this Reconstruction Era western. A whore without a heart of gold, Lucinda escapes from a Fort Worth brothel to begin a new life -- and a new con. She and her lover are bound to cross paths with Texas Ranger Nate, who is chasing stone-cold killer McGill. Both Nate and Lucinda are unforgettable characters, driven by the need to survive.

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
True Grit by Charles Portis
3:10 from Yuma (film, Lionsgate Films, 2007)

Historical Short List

The Abominable: A Novel by Dan Simmons. (Little Brown and Company)
Longbourn by Jo Baker (Alfred A. Knopf)
Out of the Black Land by Kerry Greenwood (Poisoned Pen Press)
The Thicket by Joe R. Lansdale (Mulholland Books)


Last Days by Adam Nevill (St. Martin's Griffin)
Deep in debt, documentary filmmaker Kyle Freeman reluctantly accepts the financial backing of an enigmatic self-help guru to make a movie about infamous cult The Temple of the Last Days. Unique, atmospheric and deeply disturbing, Nevill delivers a visceral horror experience that will haunt readers long after they put the book down.

The Grin of the Dark by Ramsey Campbell
House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
Paranormal Activity (film, Paramount Pictures, 2009)

Horror Short List
Apocalypse Cow by Michael Logan (St. Martin’s Griffin)
The Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson (Grove Press)
Doctor Sleep by Stephen King (Scribner)
"Red Moon" by Benjamin Percy (Grand Central Publishing)


Murder as a Fine Art by David Morrell (Mulholland Books)
London, 1854: The Artist of Death ritualistically recreates the sensational Ratcliffe murders inspired by the writings of the notorious opium addict Thomas De Quincey. In this fast-paced mystery, filled with colorful characters and authentic period detail, Scotland Yard detectives, along with De Quincey and his daughter must find the Artist of Death before he executes another macabre masterpiece.

The Bedlam Detective by Stephen Gallagher
The Maul and the Pear Tree: the Ratcliffe Highway Murders, 1811 by P.D. James and T.A. Critchley
From Hell by Alan Moore

Mystery Short List
Alex by Pierre Lemaitre (The MacLehose Press)
The Beggar’s Opera by Peggy Blair (Pintail: The Penguin Press)
How the Light Gets In: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel by Louise Penny (Minotaur Books)
Seven for a Secret by Lyndsay Faye (Amy Einhorn Books)


Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare (Avon)
Desperate for grandchildren, the Duchess of Halford strikes a bargain with her only son, Griff: pick a woman--any woman. If she can transform her son's choice into duchess material, he must marry the girl. Griff picks the least likely candidate in bluestocking barmaid Pauline, only to quickly realize he has no idea who he is dealing with. A humorous and clever historical romance with engaging characters you won’t soon forget.

This Rake of Mine by Elizabeth Boyle
The Lady Most Willing by Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Connie Brockway
Then Comes Seduction by Mary Balogh

Romance Short List
Autumn Bride by Anne Gracie (Berkley Books)
The Heiress Effect by Courtney Milan (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform)
One Good Earl Deserves a Lover: The Second Rule of Scoundrels by Sarah MacLean (Avon)
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (Simon & Schuster)

Science Fiction

Love Minus Eighty by Will MacIntosh (Orbit Books)
Cryogenics adds a darkly humorous twist on dating, love and relationships in the 22nd century. This multi-perspective story provides a thought-provoking and poignant social commentary on power dynamics, gender, class and the ethical issues surrounding life after life-after-death.

Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold
The Curiosity: A Novel by Stephen Kiernan
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (film, Universal Studios, 2004)

Science Fiction Short List
Abaddon’s Gate by James SA Corey (Orbit Books)
Great North Road by Peter F. Hamilton (Ballantine Books)
Tales of Majipoor by Robert Silverberg (ROC Trade)
Wool by Hugh Howey (Simon & Schuster)

Women’s Fiction

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes (St. Martin’s Press)
Unemployed 26-year-old Louisa takes the only job she can find: as a “care assistant” to 35-year-old quadriplegic Will. When Louisa discovers the depth of Will’s unhappiness, she embarks on a mission to convince him that life is worth living and in the process begins to think about her own future. This bittersweet, quirky novel recounts an unlikely friendship while grappling with complex issues in a realistic and sensitive manner.

The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving: A Novel by Jonathan Evison
Talk Before Sleep: A Novel by Elizabeth Berg
You’re Not You: A Novel by Michelle Wildgen

Women’s Fiction Short List
The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty (Amy Einhorn Books)
Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain (St. Martin’s Press)
Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight (HarperCollins)
The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult (Emily Bestler Books)

The winners were selected by the The Reading List Council whose members included Chairman Alicia Ahlvers of The Kansas City Public Library; Craig Allen Clark; Stephanie Chase of BiblioCommons; Emily Anne Hamstra of the University of Michigan Library; Jennifer Hendzlik of Anythink Libraries; Victoria Kemp of Flower Mound Public Library; Jared Mills of The Seattle Public Library; Vicki Nesting of St. Charles Parish Library Gillian Speace of NoveList; Valerie Morgan Taylor of Chester County Library; and Anne Chambers Theis of Henrico County Public Library.

The RUSA announced its selections for the 2014 Listen List: Outstanding Audiobook Narration juried list.

The Listen List highlights extraordinary narrators and audio experiences that merit special attention by general adult listeners and the librarians who work with them. Titles are selected because they are a pleasure to listen to and make one reluctant to stop listening. Titles are also named to the list because the narration of the book creates a new experience, offering listeners something they could not create by their own visual reading; and because the narrator achieves an outstanding performance in terms of voice, accents, pitch, tone, inflection, rhythm and pace. This juried list, designed for avid listeners and those new to the joys of being read a story, includes fiction and nonfiction and features voices that enthrall, delight and inspire.

The 2014 winners are:

The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown. Narrated by Edward Herrmann. Recorded Books/Penguin Audio. (ISBN 9781470352509). Herrmann’s lively and emotionally connected reading captures the excitement and detail of this real-life Cinderella story of the U.S. rowing team’s journey to the 1936 Berlin Olympics. His masterful command of language and cadence, combined with his deft characterizations, makes this inspiring story a must-listen.

Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing. Narrated by Simon Prebble. Blackstone Audio.
Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand. Narrated by George Newbern. Books on Tape.
Wilt, 1962 by Gary M. Pomerantz. Narrated by Stephen Hoye. Books on Tape.

The Grand Sophy, by Georgette Heyer. Narrated by Sarah Woodward. NAXOS AudioBooks. (ISBN 9781843797555). Recently arrived on the London social scene, the indomitable Sophy Stanton-Lacey wreaks her own brand of delightful havoc in this charming Regency romp. With a lively pace and deliciously upper crust accent, Woodward’s mirthful tone emphasizes the story’s comically formal dialogue and Austenesque romantic chemistry.

Emma by Jane Austen. Narrated by Juliet Stevenson. NAXOS AudioBooks.
The Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig. Narrated by Kate Reading. Recorded Books/Penguin Audio.
What Happens in London by Julia Quinn. Narrated by Rosalyn Landor. Books on Tape.

Heartburn, by Nora Ephron. Narrated by Meryl Streep. Books on Tape/Random House Audio. (ISBN 9780385367301). Streep narrates celebrity chef Rachel Samstat’s account of her husband’s betrayal with all the unflagging energy of a pregnant woman scorned, aggrieved and bereft. Her superb performance, flavored by her wryly snarky and campy yet intimate narration, gives voice to Ephron’s unique brand of smart humor and social commentary.

Back When We Were Grownups by Anne Tyler. Narrated by Blair Brown. Books on Tape.
The Family Man by Elinor Lipman. Narrated by Jonathan Davis. Blackstone Audio.
Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner. Narrated by Laura Hicks. BBC Audiobooks America.

Longbourn, by Jo Baker. Narrated by Emma Fielding. Books on Tape/Random House Audio. (ISBN 9780804149426). Fielding narrates Baker’s extraordinary revisionist take on Pride and Prejudice with a quiet, shimmering assurance, as she exposes the upstairs-downstairs dynamics of the Bennet family. Her elegant delivery and mastery of pitch, rhythm and emphasis turn each sentence into a seduction.

French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles. Narrated by Paul Shelley. Chivers Audio Books.
Middlemarch by George Eliot. Narrated by Juliet Stevenson. NAXOS AudioBooks.
Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann. Narrated by Katherine Kellgren. Recorded Books/Hachette Audio.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman. Narrated by Neil Gaiman. Harper Audio. (ISBN 9780062263032). Gaiman, as both author and narrator, immerses listeners in a modern fairy tale in which two stalwart children pit themselves against dark and relentless terrors. Through an exquisite management of pace and inflection, his voice becomes the story’s doorway just a surely as any rabbit hole or wardrobe.

The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly. Narrated by Steven Crossley. Recorded Books.
Ragnarok by A.S. Byatt. Narrated by Harriet Walter. Brilliance Audio.
The Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse. Narrated by Julian Rhind-Tutt. Recorded Books.

Oleander Girl, by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. Narrated by Sneha Mathan. Recorded Books/Simon & Schuster Audio. (ISBN 9781470334420). Upon the death of her grandfather, Korobi learns a shocking family secret and, postponing her wedding, journeys to America, searching for truths that must be discovered before her own life can really begin. Mathan voices an array of exquisite accents and entrancing cadences to imbue Korobi’s quest with the spicy flavor of India.

Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros. Narrated by Sandra Cisneros. AudioGo/Blackstone Audio.
Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri narrated by Sarita Choudhury and Ajay Naidu. Random House/Books on Tape.
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. Narrated by Gwendoline Yeo. Phoenix Audio.

River of Stars, by Guy Gavriel Kay. Narrated by Simon Vance. Recorded Books. (ISBN 9781470327521). While barbarians attack the decadent government of Kitai, a fantasy world resembling ancient China, a young man emerges from the provinces to save the empire and becomes a legend. Vance manages the sweeping plot, including a large cast and action-rich details, while masterfully conveying the lyrical, elegiac tone that pervades the novel.

Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield. Narrated by George Guidall. Recorded Books.
Genghis: Birth of an Empire by Conn Iggulden. Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki. Blackstone Audio.
Killer Angels by Michael Shaara. Narrated by Stephen Hoye. Books on Tape.

The Signature of All Things, by Elizabeth Gilbert. Narrated by Juliet Stevenson. Penguin Audio/Blackstone Audio. (ISBN 9781482927757). Stevenson’s sublimely melodious, richly inflected voice brings myriad characters, places and even plants and animals to life in this story of a fictional 19th century botanist. Alma Whittaker’s goal of finding a connection between all living things takes her on a solo quest to exotic places on this journey of serendipitous self-discovery.

Bellwether by Connie Willis. Narrated by Kate Reading. Blackstone Audio.
The Lieutenant by Kate Grenville. Narrated by Nicholas Bell. Bolinda Audio/Brilliance Audio.
Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver. Narrated by Barbara Kingsolver. Recorded Books.

The Son, by Philipp Meyer. Narrated by Will Patton, Scott Shepherd, Kate Mulgrew, and Clifton Collins, Jr. Harper Audio. (ISBN 9780062280954). Through three interwoven story lines, this powerful, sprawling family saga maps the history of Texas from 1849 onward. A cast of expert narrators immerse listeners in time and place through their voices alone, exquisitely rendering characters and effectively dramatizing this captivating audio production.

The Searchers by Alan Le May. Narrated by Tom Stechschulte, Richard Ferrone, and James Jenner. Recorded Books.
Fall of Giants by Ken Follett. Narrated by John Lee. Books on Tape.
All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy. Narrated by Frank Muller. Harper Audio/Recorded Books.

Vampires in the Lemon Grove, by Karen Russell. Narrated by Arthur Morey, Joy Osmanski, Kaleo Griffith, Jesse Bernstein, Mark Bramhall, Michael Bybee, Romy Rosemont, and Robbie Daymond. Books on Tape. (ISBN 9780385367462). Quirky, innovative, and brightly new, Russell’s collection of short stories blurs the line between horror, fantasy and myth. Her impressive scope is well matched by the diverse narrators voicing the collection — all of whom fully realize her eerie eclecticism in accent, mood, pace and quiet terror.

Astray by Emma Donoghue. Narrated by Khristine Hvam, James Langton, Robert Petkoff, Suzanne Toren, and Dion Graham. Hachette/Blackstone Audio.
Echoes from the Macabre by Daphne du Maurier. Narrated by Valentine Dyall. Blackstone Audio.
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. Narrated by Roxana Ortega. Blackstone Audio.

The Warden, by Anthony Trollope. Narrated by David Shaw-Parker. NAXOS AudioBooks. (ISBN 9781843796862). Shaw-Parker inhabits the role of Trollope’s amiable narrator in this social drama of English village life as he companionably guides readers through the often-amusing perils of ecclesiastical politics. With a splendid mix of gleeful pomposity and heartfelt sympathy, he portrays the whimsical cast and their stories just as Trollope must have imagined them.

Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell. Narrated by Nadia May. Blackstone Audio.
My Man Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse. Narrated by Jonathan Cecil. Blackstone Audio.
Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens. Read by David Timson. Naxos AudioBooks.

World War Z, by Max Brooks. Narrated by a full cast. Books on Tape. (ISBN 9780449807897). Melancholy in tone and rich in social insights rather than action-packed disaster, this futuristic apocalyptic “mockumentary” of life after the zombie wars features vivid characterizations and smart, provocative commentary. The well-staged interviews performed by an all-star cast of 40 skilled narrators project a you-are-there feel.

Dracula by Bram Stoker. Narrated by a full cast. Recorded Books.
Earth Unaware by Orson Scott Card. Narrated by a full cast. Macmillan Audio.
Zone One by Colson Whitehead. Narrated by Beresford Bennett. Books on Tape.

This list was selected by The Listen List: Outstanding Audiobook Narration Council, whose members included Jen Baker, Reader Services Librarian, Seattle Public Library; Di Herald, Program & Outreach Manager, Delta County Libraries in Colorado; Chairman Joyce Saricks, Readers’ Advisory Consultant, Downers Grove, Illinois; Neal Wyatt, Virginia Commonwealth University; and Renee Young, NoveList audiobook project team lead, Durham, North Carolina.

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