2012 Lariat Reading List (2011 Titles)


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Welcome to the Lariat Reading List! At last, the grown ups have their day! TLA has rightfully earned a stellar reputation for its many outstanding youth reading lists. The annual list of Lariat award winners calls attention to outstanding fiction published during the year that merit special attention from adult readers. The main criteria for selecting books for the Lariat List is that they are “a pleasure to read.”


The 2012 Lariat Reading List: The Best of 2011's Adult Fiction
(2012 Lariat List as a doc)

 Aaronovitch, Ben. Midnight Riot. Del Rey/Ballantine.

Probationary Constable and apprentice magician Peter Grant is ensnared by a secret world when he’s called to the scene of an unusual murder. Part fantasy, part mystery, a fast-paced, witty supernatural romp.

Abbott, Jeff. Adrenaline. Grand Central Publishing.

CIA Operative Sam Capra is on the run – his pregnant wife kidnapped, and his London office obliterated. In one terrifying moment he loses everything. Branded a murderer and traitor, he begins a desperate search for the truth.

Abramson, Neil. Unsaid. Center Street Publishing.

A veterinarian and animal activist, Helena continues to care about the friends and animals she loves even after her death. Unable to move on, she observes their grief and struggles as they learn to live without her.

Baker, Brenda L. Sisters of the Sari. New American Library.

A touching and funny introduction to the traditional culture of Southern India, seen through the friendship of wealthy Canadian CEO Kiria Langdon, and former slave-turned-housekeeper Santoshi.

Brooks, Geraldine. Caleb's Crossing. Viking Publishing.

This engaging portrait of early colonial America explores the secret friendship between Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck, the first Native American to graduate from Harvard, and Bethia, the headstrong daughter of a minister.

Cline, Ernest. Ready Player One. Crown Publishing.

A love song to all things geek. In 2044, teenager Wade lives and competes in a virtual reality contest for the world’s greatest fortune. Living through his avatar, he discovers reality.

Connelly, Michael. The Fifth Witness. Grand Central Publishing.

An engaging courtroom thriller set against the backdrop of the current foreclosure crisis. Mickey Haller delivers the defense of his career on behalf of an unstable client accused of murdering her loan officer.

Corey, James S.A. Leviathan Wakes. Orbit Publishing.

When Jim Holden discovers an abandoned ship in the rings of Saturn, the mystery he finds will hurtle the entire solar system towards all-out war. A fresh take on space opera.

Diffenbaugh, Vanessa. The Language of Flowers. Ballantine Publishing.

Bearing the scars of the foster care system and now homeless, Victoria communicates in the mutable language of yellow roses, thistle, and hazel. Searching for a way to heal her troubled past, she finds her home in flowers.

Feldman, Ellen. Next to Love. Spiegel & Grau. Random.

What happened after the sailor kissed the girl? This finely wrought story of three women and their families examines American society during and after World War II.

Harbach, Chad. Art of Fielding. Little Brown Publishing.

Midwestern college baseball player, Henry Skrimshander, seems destined for the major leagues, but when a routine throw goes disastrously off-course, the fates of five people are upended. A moving meditation on desire and what happens when you succeed or fail to get what you want.

Harrigan, Stephen. Remember Ben Clayton. Knopf.

This compelling tale sweeps from the days of the Comanche in Texas to the devastating battlefields of World War I. A Texas rancher struggles with how to make peace with the wartime death of his son, and his quest for the perfect memorial will unravel the lives of everyone involved.   

Hart, John. Iron House. St. Martin’s Press.

A professional killer attempts to extricate himself from a ferocious crime syndicate who is using his family as leverage. Raised in a barbaric orphanage, Michael returns to Iron House to put the ghosts of his past to rest. A well-crafted thriller with heart.

Hoffman, Alice. The Red Garden. Crown Publishing.

Three hundred years of history unfold through interwoven short stories, revealing the magic of place and community in small-town Massachusetts.

Jones, Tayari. Silver Sparrow. Algonquin Books. 

Sisters, secrets, and deception devastate two African-American families in 1980s Atlanta. A lyrical narrative richly depicts the complexities of these flawed yet sympathetic characters.

Jordan, Hillary. When She Woke. Algonquin Books.

Hannah’s skin has been dyed red by the state of Texas as punishment for having an abortion. Now she must embark on a dangerous journey in order to find refuge from a hostile society. 

Maberry, Jonathan. Dead of Night. St. Martins Press.

The first sentence of the book says it all: This is how the world ends. This apocalyptic zombie tale will keep you hooked to the bitter, crunchy end.

Mayhew, Anna Jean. The Dry Grass of August. Kensington Publishing.

Thirteen-year-old Jubie struggles with adolescence, racial segregation, and her parents failing marriage with the support of Mary, the family’s African American maid. A brilliant, heart-felt snapshot of the Jim Crow South.

McNeal, Tom. To Be Sung Underwater. Little Brown Publishing.

An unflinching look at how the choices we make shape our lives, how regret can make us come undone, and how second chances aren’t always what you imagine. 

Morgenstern, Erin. Night Circus. Doubleday Publishing.

Welcome to Le Cirque des Rêves, only open at night. A bewitching love story, magicians Celia and Marco are bound from childhood in a fierce competition. Who will triumph in this exquisite world of shifting illusions?

Rankin, Ian. The Complaints. Little Brown Publishing.

Malcolm Fox, a detective working for Internal Affairs, or “The Complaints,” performs the unenviable task of investigating his fellow officers. He discovers hidden agendas with far-reaching consequences in this Edinburgh police procedural.

Simon, Rachel. The Story of Beautiful Girl. Grand Central.

The emotional and life-affirming story of Lynnie, a developmentally impaired girl placed in a deplorable institution at a young age. Forced to give up her newborn, Lynnie entrusts her child to Martha, a retired school teacher. This extraordinary love story gives us a window into a world that few have glimpsed.

Sones, Sonya. The Hunchback of Neiman Marcus: a Novel about Marriage, Motherhood, and Mayhem. Harper Collins.

Written entirely in verse, this “coming of middle age” story follows Holly, facing fifty and menopause with humor and wit. Mixing in a quirky aging mother, a teenager about to leave home, and a husband who may be unfaithful, what you get is an hilarious caper that tells it like it is.

Waldman, Amy. The Submission. Farrar, Straus, Giroux.

Controversy erupts when a Muslim architect wins a design contest for a 9/11 memorial in New York City. A novel that raises more questions than it answers.

Watson, S.J. Before I Go To Sleep. Harper Collins.

Who do you trust to tell you who you are? Every morning Christine wakes with no memory or recognition of her face in the mirror. She discovers her own journal with the chilling warning: don’t trust Ben. A taut psychological thriller. 


2011-2012 Lariat List Task Force:

  • Dreanna Belden, University of North Texas Libraries (Chair)
  • Viccy Kemp, Flower Mound Public Library (Vice-Chair)
  • Ellen Eyberg, El Paso Public Library
  • Jennifer Franz, William T. Cozby Library (Coppell)
  • Kathy Hoffman, Retired
  • Mary D. Lankford, Library Consultant
  • Graciela Monday, Johnson City Library
  • Linda Rivera, UT Austin iSchool
  • Jessica Russell, Montgomery County Memorial Library System
  • James Stewart, Retired
  • Sulema N. Vielma, Austin Public Library
  • Demetria Williams, Houston ISD
Created on Apr 27, 2013 | Last updated April 27, 2013