NOTABLE BOOKS, 2016
This list has been compiled for use by the general
reader and by librarians who work with adults.
The Notable Books Council, ALA Reference and
User Services Association (RUSA), has selected
the titles for their significant contribution to the
expansion of knowledge or for the pleasure they
can provide to adult readers. All titles were published in 2015.
Black River. By S. M. Hulse. Houghton, $24
This modern literary western explores a man’s
redemptive journey and the possibility (and cost)
The Book of Aron. By Jim Shepard. Knopf,
The perspective of a boy whose only goal is to
live another day gives a sharp edge to the mind-numbing tragedies of the Warsaw Ghetto.
Delicious Foods. By James Hannaham. Little,
Brown, $26 (9780316284943).
Themes of race, addiction, wage slavery, and
corporate greed coalesce in this startling, darkly
comic coming-of-age odyssey.
Did You Ever Have a Family. By Bill Clegg.
Simon & Schuster, $26 (9781476798172).
This novel explores the aftermath of a tragedy
and its rippling effects in a small Connecticut
Fortune Smiles. By Adam Johnson. Random,
Stories that showcase humanity: quirky, disturbing, endearing, striving, resigned, and fascinating.
In the Country. By Mia Alvar. Knopf, $25.95
Exploring the Filipino experience, spanning
decades and continents, these fully rendered tales
express wonder and sadness leavened with humor.
A Little Life. By Hanya Yanagihara. Doubleday,
A visceral, provocative story of four New York
City lives marred by ambition, abuse, and addiction.
The Prophets of Eternal Fjord. By Kim
Leine. Tr. by Martin Aitken. Norton, $29.95
An epic and evocative tale of colonialism in
Greenland; translated from the Danish.
The Sellout. By Paul Beatty. Farrar, $26
Poking the underbellies of many sacred cows,
this biting social satire examines race, culture, and
politics in modern America.
The Sympathizer. By Viet Thanh Nguyen.
Grove, $26 (9780802123459).
A half-French, half-Vietnamese man serves as a
double agent after the war and struggles with the
contradictions of his identity and loyalties.
This Is the Life. By Alex Shearer. Washington
Square, $16 (9781476764405).
Spare prose mixes with heart-wrenching humor
in this gem of a story about two brothers coping
with terminal illness.
The Tsar of Love and Techno. By Anthony
Marra. Hogarth, $25 (9780770436438).
Beauty and humanity are found in the darkest
and grimmest of places in these interconnected
Between the World and Me. By Ta-Nehisi
Coates. Spiegel & Grau, $24 (9780812993547).
Framed as a letter to the author’s teenage son,
this chronicle of race in America works as memoir,
meditation, and call to action.
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania.
By Erik Larson. Crown, $28 (9780307408860).
A race to the finish, even though we know it
won’t end well.
The End of Plenty: The Race to Feed a Crowded
World. By Joel K. Bourne. Norton, $27.95
An agricultural revolution supported our booming population in the twentieth century, but we’ll
need another one to sustain us in the years to
The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle.
By Lillian Faderman. Simon & Schuster, $35
An authoritative, affecting account of the effort
to establish and solidify legal rights and cultural
acceptance in the U.S.
Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for
Voting Rights in America. By Ari Berman. Farrar,
A sobering and impassioned popular history of
the fight for universal suffrage in the U.S.
The Interstellar Age: Inside the Forty-Year
Voyager Mission. By Jim Bell. Dutton, $27.95
An enthusiastic account of our reach for intergalactic space—and the people who made it
M Train. By Patti Smith. Knopf, $25
Part memoir, part travelogue, and, ultimately,
an elegy to her beloved husband; written by an
iconic American artist.
Nagasaki: Life after Nuclear War. By Susan
Southard. Viking, $28.95 (9780670025626).
Bearing witness to hibakusha, those left behind.
Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of
Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary
Shelley. By Charlotte Gordon. Random, $30
From A Vindication of the Rights of Woman to
Frankenstein, this dual biography provides fresh
insight about these groundbreaking authors.
The Soul of an Octopus: A Playful Exploration
into the Wonder of Consciousness. By Sy
Montgomery. Atria, $26 (9781451697711).
A charming, revelatory journey into the world
Stalin’s Daughter: The Extraordinary and
Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva.
By Rosemary Sullivan. Harper, $35
A portrait of a woman unable to escape the terrible shadow of her father.
The Wright Brothers. By David McCullough.
Simon & Schuster, $30 (9781476728742).
A strong work ethic and keen observation fueled
the quest to conquer manned flight.
Bastards of the Reagan Era. By Reginald
Dwayne Betts. Four Way, $15.95
Drugs, violence, and incarceration during
a period of fear and chaos, told in a brutal and
haunting poetic voice.
Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings. By Joy
Harjo. Norton, $26.95 (9780393248500).
Folklore, history, personal journeys, and modern times are entwined in this absorbing work by
a Native American poet.
THE READING LIST: BEST
ADULT GENRE FICTION, 2016
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 each of 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 2015.
Pretty Girls. By Karin Slaughter. Morrow,
Three sisters are driven apart in the aftermath of
one’s disappearance. When a violent crime occurs,
new fears arise, and relationships shift again. Long-term effects of family grief are exploited by the
compulsions of a psychopath. Brutal and disturbing,
this is ultimately a story of love and empowerment.
• Shortlist: The Cartel, by Don Winslow (Knopf);
Descent, by Tim Johnston (Algonquin); The
Killing Lessons, by Saul Black (St. Martin’s);
Palace of Treason, by Jason Matthews (Scribner).
Uprooted. By Naomi Novik. Del Rey, $25
In this enchanted Old World fable, villagers
threatened by a blighted magical wood allow the