San Rafael Public Library

Adult Book Lists

Feel like you’re reading the same type of books over and over again? Try something new with these themed book lists. Most of the lists include both fiction and non-fiction.


Jump to:  Mystery / Science Fiction
Also see:  Non-fiction & Biography Lists

Move over Mr. Ed, here are books featuring animals of all stripes

Aritist’s Touch
Get inspired by these books about painters and/or their inspiration

Asian/Pacific American Authors
Looking for something beyond Amy Tan and Lisa See?

Award Winners (pdf handout)
Fiction winners of the Man Booker, National Book Award, and Pulitzer

Banned or Challenged Books
Warning! These books have been challenged in schools or public libraries

Batter up! Take a swing at some baseball-themed fiction and non-fiction

Best 100 Novels (legal-sized pdf)
Modern Library’s picks for the best novels in English since 1900

Book Club Books: All-in-one Handout (legal-sized pdf)
A comprehensive list of book club favorites in numerous categories

Book Club Books: 2015 Favorites
Popular book club titles from last year. Also see 2014 | 20132012

Book Club Books: Classic Books
What makes a book a classic? Here are some of our picks

Book Club Books: Dark but Compelling
Not for the faint of heart, but riveting and powerful

Book Club Books: Marilyn’s Favorites
Veteran book clubber and librarian Marilyn chooses her favorites. 2014 | 2013 | 2012

Book Club Books: Tried and True
New book club? These titles are old favorites that continue to have lasting appeal

Book Club Books: Try These Too
These books didn’t make the Tried and True cut, but are still well-regarded

Book Club Books: Uplifting Books
Feel good books with enough heft to be worthy of discussion

Book Pairings
Books influenced or inspired by other books. Read them both!

Books by the Decade: 1920-1950
Read a book published in the decade you were born!

Books by the Decade: 1960-1990
Read a book published in the decade you were born!

Books Made into Movies
These titles get it right twice: a great read and a film that does it justice. Check out both!

Books with a Twist
Think you know where the story’s going? Think again. Surprising and unpredictable reads

Campus Life
Head back to school with these books based in universities and/or involving academics

Classic Fiction (pdf handout)
Titles considered to be literary classics

Coming to America
Books by and about new immigrants to America

Conspiracy Thrillers (If you liked The Da Vinci Code)
Suspenseful reads with secret societies, conspiracies, and/or imminent global crises

Dear Diary (books written in letter, diary or journal format)
Enjoy some lively correspondence in both fiction and non-fiction

Destination: Berlin
Berlin awaits.  Explore both the historic city and the vibrant metropolis of today

Destination: Brazil
Put on some Samba music and enjoy some books set in Brazil

Destination: Cuba
Feel the heat and the rhythmic beat of Cuba with these books and films

Destination: Italy
Say “Ciao Italia,” with these novels set in Italy

Destination: London
Keep Calm and Carry a Book. Titles based in England’s colorful capital city

Destination: Paris
The City of Lights awaits you through the pages of these books

Downton Abbey: Servants and Society
Get your period drama fix with these books and DVDs! (Plus a few books written by the creator of Downton Abbey)

Downton Abbey: World War I Reads
Hooked on the BBC’s period drama? Absorb more World War I and Edwardian era atmosphere with these historical fiction and non-fiction books

Dystopias (If you liked The Hunger Games…)
Bleak futures, gritty fights for survival, and love in troubled times

Family Dramas
Whether they drive you crazy or keep you grounded, there’s no lack of drama when the family’s around

Family Sagas
When one generation isn’t enough to tell a family’s story

Female Friendships
Tales of women’s bonds being tested and/or celebrated

First-Time Debut Novels
From the classics to the most recent titles.

Foodie Books
Partake in these delectable books where the preparation and savoring of food plays a central role

French Revolution
Get caught up in the passion and intrigue of the French Revolution

Genre Fiction
Appealing to readers expecting a particular tone or character-type, genre fiction includes Romance, Horror, Fantasy, and Westerns

Ghostly Tales
From gentle lost souls to the seriously spooky, the ghosts in these books are sure to intrigue you

Gothic Tales
Rich in atmosphere, these books build suspense and a sense of unease

Graphic Novels
These titles successfully combine a compelling story with artwork that adds to the narrative

Great Outdoors
Get out in nature with these titles

Historical Fiction and History Non-fiction
Soak in some history while enjoying a rollicking read

Books about people who are, or once were, homeless

Humorous Books
From the clever to the campy, darkly satirical to frothy farce, there’s a world of laughter awaiting you at the library

In Translation
Expand your horizons with these books that were originally published in languages other than English

Irish-born Authors
Ireland is the birthplace of many fine writers. Here’s a taste of some Emerald Isle talent.

Jewish American Fiction
Try some fiction by Jewish American authors

Math and Mathematicians
From awkward geeks to clever spies, meet some mathematicians

My Funny Valentine
These titles will touch your heart and tickle your funny bone

Mysteries- Award Winners (pdf handout)
Past winners of the Edgar Award for Best Mystery Novel and the Agatha Award

Mysteries- Cozies
These books will go down like a warm cup of tea. No gory violence or graphic sex to be found here

Mysteries- First Novel Winners
Award-winning debut mysteries from previous years

Mysteries- Historical
Take a peek into the past with these first-in-a-series mysteries set in a different time

Mysteries- International
A sampling of mystery series that take place outside of the U.S. and England

Mysteries- International Revisited
Even more mysteries set in foreign locales

Mysteries- Local Authors
Read the local talent and discover a new mystery series to try

Narrative Voice
Unique narrators make these titles shine

Nature Books
Look here for books about wildlife and/or a powerful sense of the outdoors

Noir: The Seedy Side of Life
Dark tales of murder and despair

Nordic Noir
Visit the darker side of the land of Ikea and ABBA

Olympic Stories
Go for the gold with these books about Olympic athletes and the politics and intrigue of the Games

On the Road to Recovery
Riveting memoirs, powerful fiction, and non-fiction about people recovering from substance abuse

Oscar-worthy Books
Read the books that inspired past winners of the Academy Award for Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

Here’s some drama for you! Whether or not you’ve seen it on stage or screen, try reading these plays

Plays- Award Winners
Bring home a play that brought home a Tony Award

Poetry in a variety of styles, but all well worth a read

Poetry- Award Winners
Experts agree, these poems and poets deserve a prize! Winners of the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award or poets who are Nobel Laureates

Poetry- Pam’s Picks
San Rafael Librarian Pam chooses some of her favorite poetry collections and biographies

Politics & Spies
Get caught in some intrigue with these books on politics and spies

Presidential Lives
Peek into the White House with these real and fictional U.S. Presidents and/or their wives.

Pulitzer Prize Winners
A selection of older Pulitzer Prize for Fiction winners

Reader’s Choice-2015
Find out what library visitors said were their favorite books of the year

Sail Away
Escape into some sailing and seafaring books

Science Fiction Award Winners
Grab yourself some Nebula Award winners for best novel awarded by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc.

Science Fiction Classics
You can’t go wrong with these classics of the Science Fiction genre

Science Fiction for Beginners
Think you don’t like Sci-Fi? Try these!

Short Stories and Essay Collections
No time for the latest epic saga? Try some short stories and non-fiction essays

Singular Novels
These authors may have written short prose or poetry, but they only finished one novel.

Small Gems
Tired of door-stopper sagas? All these books are under 200 pages

Speculative Fiction- Here on Earth
Want something fantastical, but without space ships and aliens?

Stories Too Good to Die
Series made famous by one author and continued by another

Strong Sense of Place
Transport yourself with titles where the setting is crucial to its appeal

Suspense Thrillers
Try these thrilling and chilling reads… if you dare

Time Travel
Travel the space-time continuum with these books

Catch the wanderlust bug with these tales of travel

True Life Fiction- Men
Melding facts with fiction about famous and not-so-famous men

True Life Fiction- Royalty
Get some history with a dash of invention

True Life Fiction- Women
Real women, real events, re-interpreted as fiction

TV Shows Based on Books
Read the books that inspired your favorite shows

Upbeat Books
Get your happy endings without the sappy trappings

Uplifting Books
Inspiring, humorous, and generally “feel-good” reads

Winter is Coming
Get our your hot cocoa and a warm blanket for these cold weather reads

Women in Science
Stories and books featuring scientists who are female

Women Writers’ Lives
Take a peek into the lives of famous female writers with some fiction novels and true biographies

World War I Fiction
The Great War remembered through fiction