If you are a library geek or fiction addict, join me in celebrating the publication of the first-ever Texas Library Association Lariat List. A task force of some dozen assorted Texas librarians discussed and voted on the titles for this list at our conference in San Antonio April 13 - 17. Our criteria was that the titles be a pleasure to read, as well as diverse in genre and appeal factors. I would have uploaded it sooner but I was traveling in Oregon (more about that in a future post). Having spent much of a year reading stacks of 2009 titles, I was happy that many of my favorites which I've blogged about here made it onto the final list. Also, I was pleased that Wilda Williams, Fiction Book Review Editor at Library Journal, wrote about our List in her April 21st "In the Bookroom" post.
Here is the Lariat List in its entirety:
Amick. Steve. Nothing But a Smile. Pantheon. WW II America brings struggling Wink and Sally together making artful pinup photos. Affection becomes romance as they build a business, outrun the mob and fall in love.
Bazell, Josh. Beat the Reaper. Little Brown, and Company. Time is running out for a doctor and former hitman in the Witness Protection program. The lives he saves may include his own. A dark, bizarre comedy.
Caputo, Phillip. Crossers. Knopf. Brutality and beauty on the Arizona-Mexico border. A sweeping saga exploring how the power of the past shapes the future.
Castillo, Linda. Sworn to Silence. St. Martin's Press. A serial killer terrorizes an Amish community forcing Police Chief Kate Burkholder to confront a dark secret from her past. Gripping suspense.
Cornwell, Bernard. Agincourt. Harper Collins. A retelling of the famous battle from the viewpoint of an archer. A harsh world is brought to life with intricate detail as complex characters fight to survive.
Dallas, Sandra. Prayers for Sale. St. Martin's Press. In a warm and satisfying Depression-era novel set in a Colorado mining town, two women forge a friendship based on heartbreak, loss and a passionate love of quilting.
Dunant, Sarah. Sacred Hearts. Random House. The tranquil life of a Renaissance convent in Italy is thrown into turmoil by the arrival of an unwilling novice. Sensuous and spellbinding.
Duncan, Elizabeth. The Cold Light of Mourning. Minotaur Books. Manicurist Penny Brannigan, living in North Wales, is drawn into the mystery of a missing bride. Colorful characters and appealing village ambiance.
Fortschen, William R. One Second After. Forge Books. After an electromagentic pulse strikes the U.S., all technology fails. With no transportation, communication, food or medicine how would you survive One Second After?
Hart, John. The Last Child. Minotaur Books. A young boy is on a mission to find his missing twin sister. A dark mystery cloaked in the claustrophobic atmosphere of a small town.
Higgins, Kristen. Too Good to Be True. HQN Books. Featuring imaginary boyfriends, Civil War reenactments and a sexy neighbor with a past, this humorous contemporary romance has both humor and heart.
Keane, Mary Beth. The Walking People. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. When three young Irish immigrants arrive in New York in 1963, destiny keeps them interconnected despite a huge, divisive secret. Rich, masterful storytelling.
Kim, Eugenia. The Calligrapher's Daughter. Henry Holt and Co. During Japan's brutal occupation of Korea, Najin rebels against traditional culture by pursuing education and love. An enduring tale of heartache and loss of faith.
Koplan, Gerald. Etta. Ballantine Books. A fictional biography of outlaw Etta Place. Fast paced with famous faces on every page and a heroine who plays second fiddle to no one.
Larsson, Steig. The Girl Who Played With Fire. Knopf. Lisbeth Salander, genius hacker, meets Mikael Blomkvist, crusading journalist. People die and Lisbeth is implicated. Could Lisbeth kill? Yes. Murder? Maybe.
Lynch, Jim. Border Songs. Knopf. Shenanigans on the U.S./Canadian border as uncovered by an ungainly new rookie Border Policeman, Brandon Vanderkool. Ragtag characters and quirky plotlines.
Maynard, Joyce. Labor Day. William Morrow. When 13 year-old Henry befriends an injured stranger, he learns how to throw a baseball, the secret to a perfect pie crust -- and the power of betrayal.
Morton, Kate. The Forgotten Garden. Atria. The mysteries surrounding an abandoned child found on an Australian dock, her only possession a rare book of fairytales, confound generations to come. Mazelike multi-layered suspense.
Parkin, Gaile. Baking Cakes in Kigali. Delacorte Press. A grandmother's colorfully decorated cakes bring healing and understanding to her Rwandan neighborhood. A gentle read touching compassionately on modern African issues.
Quinn, Spencer. Dog on It: A Chet and Bernie Mystery. Chet the Jet, K-9 school drop-out, runs the Little Detective Agency with his human, Bernie. Sharp plotting and Chet's charming worldview are a treat.
Stockett, Kathryn. The Help. Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam. In the early 1960s, a young white woman persuades the black maids of Jackson, Mississippi to tell their stories for publication. Suspenseful and inspiring.
Tropper, Jonathan. This Is Where I Leave You. Dutton. Judd Foxman learns of his wife's affair, then his father's death. His estranged, resentful, dysfunctional family gathers to sit Shiva. Hilarious, bittersweet, emotionally true.
Turgeon, Carolyn. Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story. Three Rivers Press. In this fairytale gone wrong, Cinderella's godmother is banished to the human world. Can she redeem herself and return tot he fairy world?
Walls, Jeanette. Half Broke Horses: a True Life Novel. Scribner. Lily Casey Smith narrates her spectacular story through a rough, audacious life in the early 20th century Southwest. A vivid story told in an unforgettable voice.
Wilson, Kevin. Tunneling to the Center of the Earth: Stories. Ecco Press/Harper Collins. An offbeat and intriguing collection. These stories share a message of hope in a unpredictable world.
The two day process of discussing all the books we read and then voting on each one was fascinating, kind of like a marathon book club meeting. Typical exchange: one person says they couldn't put a book down, that is was just great . The next person says "Well, I could put it down. I put it down after the first few pages, tried again in the middle and at the end. I put it down and never wanted to pick it up again!" There were some clear winners and others which remained tied until the end. We also spent a considerable amount of time writing the short annotations (my kind of fun!). I have one more year of Lariat reading service to go and then I am free to rejoin the free choice reading world. I have enjoyed getting to know the other librarians in our group. And I sure hope this list finds an appreciative audience! Hopefully as the years go on, the Lariat List will become a rich resource for all who do reader's advisory work.