July 2016 Indie Next List #1 Great Read


On the cover of this month's Indie Next list is
UNDERGROUND AIRLINES: A Novel, by Ben H. Winters


View this month's complete Indie Next List.


View from a bookseller

“Winters has managed to aim a giant magnifying glass at the problem of institutionalized racism in America in a way that has never been done before. This Orwellian allegory takes place in the present day but in a United States where Lincoln was assassinated before he ever became president, the Civil War never took place, and slavery still exists in four states, known as the Hard Four. In agile prose that manages to convey the darkest of humors, Winters tackles the most sensitive of issues such as the motivations of misguided white liberals involved in racial politics, the use of racial profiling, and the influence of racism on the very young. Underground Airlines is the most important book of the summer. Read it.”

Kelly Justice, The Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA


Indie Next authors talk about their books...


Blair Braverman talks about her new book, WELCOME TO THE GODDAMN ICE CUBE: Chasing Fear and Finding Home in the Great White North, about which Katie McGrath (Arcadia Books in Spring Green, WI) says: "The brilliant and engaging writing in this memoir belies the author’s young age. Braverman offers a taut and honest recounting of a young woman fiercely chasing down her dream and confronting myriad dangers — both natural and man-made — with intelligence and grit. This white-knuckle read left me in awe of Braverman’s conviction, and her lyrical rendering of the landscape of Alaska took my breath away.”


Indie Next around the web. . .

NPR
"This multigenerational saga follows the fortunes of the Sel and Duke families from early Colonial days to the present, spanning centuries and continents as they make their living not only from the bounty of the land but also from the ravaging and destruction of it. As always, Proulx is brilliant at creating a story that flows impeccably, and her nature writing is some of the most beautiful and evocative to be found in modern literature. This novel is an epic work, a fictional Silent Spring that will linger with readers long after completion."


Bill Cusumano, Square Books, Oxford, MS


Annie Proulx's Bloody New Novel 'Barkskins' Is About More Than Deforestation



Indie Next in Paperback. . .



June 2016 Indie Next List #1 Great Read


On the cover of this month's Indie Next list is
THE GIRLS: A Novel, by Emma Cline


View this month's complete Indie Next List.


View from a bookseller

“Evie Boyd is a lonely 14-year-old adjusting to her parents’ recent divorce and an emotional break with her childhood best friend. She encounters a wild and enchanting group of girls and is immediately drawn into their world of reckless abandon. Seduced by their thrilling, cult-like family hidden in the California hills, Evie finds herself pulled into events that will lead to unspeakable violence. Cline’s captivating prose strips bare the deep desires and vulnerability of teenage Evie as she struggles for acceptance. The Girls is an enthralling and haunting novel that will linger with readers long after the last page.”

Tarah Jennings, Mitzi’s Books, Rapid City, SD


Indie Next authors talk about their books...


Yaa Gyasi talks about her new book, HOMEGOING: A novel, about which Nichole McCown (Bookshop Santa Cruz in Santa Cruz, CA) says: "Homegoing is an epic narrative that is sure to become a treasured staple. Two sisters in Ghana are marked by fiery tragedy: one is married off to an English slave trader, and the other is sold to be a slave in America. The story follows their descendants generation by generation. Homegoing will break your heart over and over, impress you with the resilience of the human spirit and the amazing power of forgiveness, and leave you optimistic and in awe.”


Indie Next around the web. . .

NPR
"Imagine a world where every dark thought you possessed was revealed by a wisp of smoke. And what if a portion of society could hide their darkness, while others were forever stained by their sins? Set in an alternative England, this tale reveals what really lies behind this sinful soot through the eyes of three teenagers who begin to question all they have been told. Smoke is a brilliant combination of fantasy and historical fiction, where layers of mystery and glimmers of truth will keep readers feverishly turning pages until the very end."


Luisa Smith, Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA


In An Alternate 19th Century London, Sins Are Marked With 'Smoke'



Indie Next in Paperback. . .



May 2016 Indie Next List #1 Great Read


On the cover of this month's Indie Next list is
THE ATOMIC WEIGHT OF LOVE: A Novel, by Elizabeth J. Church


View this month's complete Indie Next List.


View from a bookseller

“Church deftly traces the life of Meridian Wallace, an intelligent young woman who is searching for who she is and what she wants to become. As America braces for entrance into WWII, Meri falls for the ambitious Alden Whetstone, a much older but brilliant scientist. Aspiring to be a ‘good wife,’ Meri abandons her own academic pursuits in ornithology to follow Alden to Los Alamos, but the years that follow are filled with dashed hopes and compromises. Over the decades of her marriage, Meri attempts to fill the void of unrealized dreams by making a home and reclaiming her sense of self. Filled with sharp, poignant prose, the novel mimics the birds Meri studies, following her as she struggles to find her wings, let go, and take flight. Church gives readers a thoughtful and thought-provoking examination of the sacrifices women make in life and the courage needed for them to soar on their own.”

Anderson McKean, Page & Palette, Fairhope, AL


Indie Next authors talk about their books...


Louise Erdrich talks about her new book, LAROSE, about which Peter Sherman (Wellesley Books in Wellesley, MA) says: "When a hunting accident results in the death of his neighbor’s son, Landreaux Iron follows native tradition and offers his own son, LaRose, to the bereaved family. Thus begins a powerful story of anger, love, hurt, and joy among a group of families and neighbors living in a small community in the North Dakota hinterland. Erdrich’s luminous prose captures each character’s struggle to overcome their worst impulses – whether it’s a handicapped man’s long-nurtured quest for revenge, or the pain of a mother withholding her love from her daughter – and reaches into the distant past to reveal the story of the young boy’s namesake, the original LaRose.”


Indie Next around the web. . .

NPR
"It is a universally acknowledged truth that a retelling of Pride and Prejudice must be cleverly written and wickedly funny. Sittenfeld has accomplished that and more with her fantastic new novel. The Bennet sisters have been transported to modern day Cincinnati. Jane is a yoga instructor, Liz, a writer for a women’s magazine, Lydia and Kitty do nothing but work out, and Mary spends most of her time in her room. The two older sisters live in New York, but have come home to check on Mr. Bennet who is recovering from a heart attack. The storyline is one that will be familiar to most Austen readers, but with some extremely funny twists."


Sharon Nagel, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI


Curtis Sittenfeld: Fifty Shades Of Jane



Indie Next in Paperback. . .



April 2016 Indie Next List #1 Great Read


On the cover of this month's Indie Next list is
THE NEST: A Novel, by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney


View this month's complete Indie Next List.


View from a bookseller

“Welcome to the strikingly dysfunctional Plumb family: four siblings connected by little more than ‘The Nest,’ a joint trust fund that each has earmarked to support their unrealistic lifestyles. When Leo, the older brother and the center of the Plumb family universe, injures himself and a 19-year-old waitress in a scandalous car accident and endangers ‘The Nest’ just months before the funds are to be made available, the siblings come together for damage control. Sweeney artfully touches on each family member as they scramble to save the precarious lives they have built for themselves, bringing light and humor to her characters’ various plights. Funny, thoughtful, and filled with unique and complex characters — this book is a must-read.”

Jennifer Oleinik, University Book Store, Seattle, WA


Indie Next authors talk about their books...


Molly Prentiss talks about her new book, TUESDAY NIGHTS IN 1980, about which Richael Best (The Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle, WA) says: "A synesthetic art critic rises to prominence by capturing the je ne sais quoi of great new paintings in terms of sound, aura, and taste. A young painter escapes war in his native Argentina to bring his unusual portraits to New York. A wide-eyed farm girl leaves home for the gritty promise of the big city, destined to become a muse of the art scene. The web between these characters becomes increasingly tangled as 1980 progresses in all its dark glamour. Prentiss captures raw ambition, startled joy, and aching tragedy equally well to produce a thought-provoking, originally textured novel that both transports and awes.”


Indie Next around the web. . .

NPR
"Robert Goodenough was born in Ohio’s Black Swamp. The youngest of 10 children, he was the only one with any interest in his father’s obsession of buying seedlings from John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed, and trying to cultivate and perfect his apple orchard in the inhospitable black muck. Family tragedy sends Robert running west to California and the Gold Rush, where he finds solace in the redwoods and sequoias and meets a naturalist who recognizes his love of botany. But Robert is reluctantly forced to face his past and must decide to either claim it or set out on his own path. Chevalier’s tale is a thoughtfully crafted and vivid slice of pioneer life."


Jody Misner Chwatun, Saturn Booksellers, Gaylord, MI


'I Ate A Lot Of Apples': Tracy Chevalier On Writing Her 'Orchard' Novel



Indie Next in Paperback. . .



March 2016 Indie Next List #1 Great Read


On the cover of this month's Indie Next list is
THE OPPOSITE OF EVERYONE: A Novel, by Joshilyn Jackson


View this month's complete Indie Next List.


View from a bookseller

“Paula Vauss, née Kali Jai, is complicated, with every right to be so. When she was a young girl, her mother landed in prison and Paula spent time in foster care. Kai, Paula’s Southern, bohemian, Hindu story-telling, boyfriend-hopping mother, loves her, but circumstances surrounding the separation permanently alter their unique love and each spends time trying to make life work again. This is a poignant story of hurt and forgiveness, of secrets and courage, and ultimately of allowing love and family to make one whole again. Jackson’s The Opposite of Everyone will remain in readers’ hearts long after the last line is read.”

Annell Gerson, Bookmiser, Roswell, GA


Indie Next authors talk about their books...


Jacquelyn Mitchard talks about her new book, TWO IF BY SEA: A Novel, about which Stephanie Crowe (Page & Palette in Fairhope, AL) says: "Mitchard has woven a gripping narrative of a family borne out of tragedy. Frank loses his wife and unborn son to a tsunami, and in the midst of rescuing others saves a small boy. This child, Ian, possesses a special gift that impacts those around him in powerful ways. As Frank tries to form a new family, there are repercussions from Ian’s past that put them both at risk. This is the marvelous story of Frank and Ian’s journey as both try to handle the pain of the past and accept the joy of new beginnings. I loved it!”


Indie Next around the web. . .

NPR
“In A Doubter’s Almanac, Milo Andret’s mathematical genius is as much a burden as it is a gift. He makes a series of choices — damaging to both himself and his family — that would seem to unravel any empathy readers might have for him, but Canin’s eloquent prose brings out the humanity in even the most flawed individuals. This is a novel filled with characters whose struggles with intellect, family, and vulnerability I won’t soon forget.”


Sarah Bagby, Watermark Books & Café, Wichita, KS


'Doubter's Almanac' Is A Family Saga, Plus Algebraic Equations



Indie Next in Paperback. . .



February 2016 Indie Next List #1 Great Read


On the cover of this month's Indie Next list is
THE SWANS OF FIFTH AVENUE: A Novel, by Melanie Benjamin


View this month's complete Indie Next List.


View from a bookseller

“Are you interested in the lifestyles of the rich and famous? Arrange your hair and makeup, darlings, and get ready to dish about the dirty little secrets in 1950s high society. Truman Capote collected ‘swans’ — rich and glamorous women who floated through life pampered and indulged. This fictionalized account of the meteoric rise and very public fall of Capote, entwined with his deep friendship with Babe Paley and his ultimate betrayal of her and the rest of the swans, will slake your thirst for gossipy, breezy, scandalous details. Take off your wrap, pour a highball, and enjoy!”

Cindy Pauldine, the river’s end bookstore, Oswego, NY


Indie Next authors talk about their books...


Julia Claiborne Johnson talks about her new book, BE FRANK WITH ME: A Novel, about which Bess Bleyaert (McLean & Eakin Booksellers in Petoskey, MI) says: "When reclusive novelist Mimi Banning loses her fortune and must quickly write a second novel, her publisher sends a young publicist to oversee the efforts and make sure their huge investment is secure. Alice Whitley arrives and is put to work as a caregiver to Mimi’s eccentric nine-year-old son, Frank. Frank is a diamond in the rough, and as Alice gets to know him and the mysterious characters in his life, she becomes all-consumed with discovering his paternity.”


Indie Next around the web. . .

NPR
“This fascinating memoir of Offutt’s difficult relationship with his father is complicated by the realization that his father was a prolific writer of pornography. Author Andrew Offutt was known as a science fiction writer, but, with his death, his son discovers that his family’s income was due to the astounding abundance of writing in this other genre. As he catalogs his father’s library of writings, drawings, and more, Offutt tries to understand the man that kept his family walking on eggshells.”


Nona Camuel, CoffeeTree Books, Morehead, KY


Chris Offutt Reveals A Family Secret In 'My Father, The Pornographer'



Indie Next in Paperback. . .



January 2016 Indie Next List #1 Great Read


On the cover of this month's Indie Next list is
THE READERS OF BROKEN WHEEL RECOMMEND, by Katarina Bivald


View this month's complete Indie Next List.


View from a bookseller

“One of the conundrums facing a true bibliophile has always been: books or people? Sara has spent her entire life in Sweden working in a bookshop and her answer has always been obvious: books. An unexpected pen pal relationship with Amy — an older book lover from Iowa — challenges that easy answer and forces her to reconsider her view of herself and the world. After months of corresponding, trading books and sharing details of one another’s lives, Amy invites Sara to come visit her one-stoplight town, Broken Wheel, for a summer of reading and getting to know small-town America. However, when Sara arrives, she is greeted by Amy’s funeral procession. Thousands of miles from home, with a return ticket dated two months hence, Sara is at a loss for what to do. So, naturally, with Amy’s collection of books, she opens a bookstore. Filled with familiar literary references, charming and quirky townsfolk, and plenty of scheming, plotting, and shenanigans that could only occur in a place like Broken Wheel, Bivald’s feel-good novel explores that ever-present question: books or people?”

Erin Figel, pages: a bookstore, Manhattan Beach, CA


Indie Next authors talk about their books...


Mitch Albom talks about his new book, THE MAGIC STRINGS OF FRANKIE PRESTO: A Novel, about which Karen Briggs (Great Northern Books & Hobbies in Oscoda, MI) says: "According to the Spirit of Music, the narrator of Albom’s latest novel, everyone joins a band in life — some of them play music, while others can be in a band of friendship, romance, or career. Frankie’s music is so powerful that he can actually affect people’s futures with the six magic strings on his guitar, but this gift becomes a burden for Frankie, impacting his loves and friendships, and, ultimately, his life.”


Indie Next around the web. . .

NPR
“The author of The Hours gives us a modern take on classic fairy tales, from a sympathetic Rumpelstiltskin to a jaded but content Steadfast Tin Soldier. Cunningham is not shy with his characters: he strips away sentimentality like an old Band-Aid, tearing through the romanticism that these tales usually inspire. Each story is less a retelling and more an unflinching dissection of human nature—our base needs and urges, our raw fears and joys. Shimizu’s haunting illustrations give the book a classic feel, and make it a perfect addition to any fairy tale lover’s collection.”


Jennifer Oleinik, University Book Store, Seattle, WA


'A Wild Swan' Flies Beyond Happily Ever After



Indie Next in Paperback. . .



December 2015 Indie Next List #1 Great Read


On the cover of this month's Indie Next list is
THE SELECTED POEMS OF DONALD HALL, by Donald Hall


View this month's complete Indie Next List.


View from a bookseller

“This is a gift of honesty, intimacy, and the pure genius that is Donald Hall, as he hand-picks what he considers to be the best of his poetry from more than 70 years of published works. From this former U.S. Poet Laureate comes one essential volume of his works, where ‘Ox-Cart Man’ sits alongside ‘Kicking the Leaves’ and ‘Without.’ As he is no longer writing poetry, this ‘concise gathering of my life’s work’ is the perfect introduction to Hall’s literary contributions, as well as closure for his many ardent followers.”

Katharine Nevins, MainStreet BookEnds of Warner, Warner, NH


Indie Next authors talk about their books...


Mitch Albom talks about his new book, THE MAGIC STRINGS OF FRANKIE PRESTO: A Novel, about which Karen Briggs (Great Northern Books & Hobbies in Oscoda, MI) says: "According to the Spirit of Music, the narrator of Albom’s latest novel, everyone joins a band in life — some of them play music, while others can be in a band of friendship, romance, or career. Frankie’s music is so powerful that he can actually affect people’s futures with the six magic strings on his guitar, but this gift becomes a burden for Frankie, impacting his loves and friendships, and, ultimately, his life.”


Indie Next around the web. . .

NPR
“The author of The Hours gives us a modern take on classic fairy tales, from a sympathetic Rumpelstiltskin to a jaded but content Steadfast Tin Soldier. Cunningham is not shy with his characters: he strips away sentimentality like an old Band-Aid, tearing through the romanticism that these tales usually inspire. Each story is less a retelling and more an unflinching dissection of human nature—our base needs and urges, our raw fears and joys. Shimizu’s haunting illustrations give the book a classic feel, and make it a perfect addition to any fairy tale lover’s collection.”


Jennifer Oleinik, University Book Store, Seattle, WA


'A Wild Swan' Flies Beyond Happily Ever After



Indie Next in Paperback. . .



November 2015 Indie Next List #1 Great Read


On the cover of this month's Indie Next list is
THE MURALIST: A Novel, by B.A. Shapiro


View this month's complete Indie Next List.


View from a bookseller

“With the same level of intrigue and attention to detail that drew readers to The Art Forger, The Muralist focuses on the early days of WWII and the dawn of Abstract Expressionism. Shapiro brings to life New York City artists Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock, who are both inspired by the novel’s brave and talented protagonist, Alizee Benoit. As these struggling artists find traction within their trade, Benoit attempts to bring awareness to the plight of European refugees and to defuse anti-Semitic politics in the U.S. through her art. Moving from past to present, readers will cheer for Benoit’s grandniece, Danielle, who is researching her family history to find the truth about Alizee’s mysterious disappearance and shed light on the sacrifices and contributions she made through art.”

Anderson McKean, Page & Palette, Fairhope, AL


Indie Next authors talk about their books...


Gregory Maguire speaks on his new book, AFTER ALICE, about which Coleen Colwell (BookSmart in Morgan Hill, CA) says: "Maguire, the fairy tale spin doctor, here takes on Wonderland. The heroine is not Alice, but rather her playmate Ada, a sheltered and lonely girl with a twisted spine. Ada inadvertently follows Alice into Wonderland, and her perceptions and experiences are marvelous and fresh, with her dry wit, pragmatism, and imagination enlivening and dominating the scene. Back at home, Alice’s sister Lydia offers readers a glimpse into Victorian times as Maguire’s prose gives a mystical glow to landscapes, personalities, and everyday life.”


Indie Next around the web. . .

NPR
“Before Portlandia, before Sleater-Kinney, there was a girl living in the Pacific Northwest with big ambitions, desperately yearning for an identity all her own. In Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, Brownstein strays from the normal parameters of memoir to give readers an insightful, raw look into the moments that shaped her into the person who would later co-found one of the world’s most influential rock bands. Navigating a past fraught with family turmoil, rejection from the music industry, and an unwavering determination to succeed, Brownstein shares the power of rock and roll, both as her catalyst to success and as a cultural barometer of our times.”


Zack Ruskin, Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA


'Modern Girl' Carrie Brownstein Describes Finding (And Hiding) Herself In Music



Indie Next in Paperback. . .



October 2015 Indie Next List #1 Great Read

On the cover of this month's Indie Next list is FATES AND FURIES: A Novel, by Lauren Groff

View this month's complete Indie Next List.


View from a bookseller

Fates and Furies is an engrossing and complex novel about a seemingly perfect marriage of beautiful people, told in two parts. The first is a gentle introduction to Lotto and Mathilde, their marriage, and their friends and family; the second, a violent storm to wash away all you thought you knew. Groff crafts amazing, shocking sentences and brilliantly reveals the lies and deceit hiding behind the perfect façade. It’s a book you will finish too quickly and then want to tell your friends about. Very highly recommended.”

Tarah Jennings, Mitzi’s Books, Rapid City, SD


Indie Next authors talk about their books...


Jenny Lawson reads from her new book, FURIOUSLY HAPPY: A Funny Book About Horrible Things, which Marita Rivir (Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Cincinnati, OH) calls Lawson's "catalogue of the wonderful, ridiculous adventures that she has gone on in an effort to make the good times overshadow the bad. By fearlessly embracing her weirdness and being open about her experiences with mental illness in a culture that still largely stigmatizes and misunderstands such disorders, Lawson shines a light on what it’s like to live with depression, OCD, insomnia, and anxiety.”


Indie Next around the web. . .

NPR
“Karr, a professor of literature at Syracuse University and the author of three memoirs, provides readers and writers with background, insights, hints, history, and humor related to both her own writing and that of other memoirists, past and present. The book is valuable not only to those who aspire to document portions of their own lives, but also to those who find the genre of memoir of interest for casual reading.”


Susan Posch, The Book Shoppe, Boone, IA


Mary Karr On Writing Memoirs: 'No Doubt I've Gotten A Million Things Wrong'



Indie Next in Paperback. . .