The April 2016 Indie Next List Preview

    Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionSend by emailSend by email

    The April Indie Next List flier, now on its way to stores in the IndieBound movement, features the month’s Indie Next Great Reads, Now in Paperback titles, and Revisit & Rediscover backlist favorites.

    Beginning April 1, titles will be featured on downloadable fliers and shelf-talkers on BookWeb.org and IndieBound.org.

    The April 2016 Indie Next Great Reads

    #1 Pick: The Nest: A Novel, by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
    (Ecco, 9780062414212, $26.99)
    “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

    Lab Girl, by Hope Jahren
    (Knopf, 9781101874936, $26.95)
    “This book has it all: nature, love, science, drama, heartbreak, joy, and plenty of dirt. Not since Cheryl Strayed’s Wild have I read such a rich and compelling nonfiction narrative. Lab Girl is the story of Jahren’s life in science, and her writing on the wonders of nature will renew your sense of awe. But more than that, it is an exploration of friendship, mental illness, parenthood, and the messiness of life. The only flaw — these pages fly by too quickly, leaving you wondering what you could possibly read next that will be just as good.” —Pete Mulvihill, Green Apple Books, San Francisco, CA

    Tuesday Nights in 1980, by Molly Prentiss
    (Gallery/Scout Press, 9781501121043, $26)
    “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.” —Richael Best, The Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, WA

    Jane Steele: A Novel, by Lyndsay Faye
    (Putnam, 9780399169496, $26.95)
    “It would be the easy way out for me to describe Jane Steele as an utterly delightful and charmingly murderous retelling of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. However, I am honor-bound to inform readers that Faye has created much more than that: she has spun a snappy, tongue-in-cheek masterpiece that both thrills readers to the bone and expertly plucks their heartstrings in all the right places. One can’t help but cheer on the tenacious Steele as she drinks, swears, stabs, and gallops her way through her quest to find love, home, and self, while stepping delicately over the bodies of her tormentors — so as not to ruin her dress — along the way. An absolutely marvelous book!” —Rebecca Speas, One More Page Books, Arlington, VA

    The Red Parts: Autobiography of a Trial, by Maggie Nelson
    (Graywolf Press, 9781555977368, trade paperback, $16.99)
    “If I could read the work of only one writer for the rest of my life, I think I would be happy to spend the rest of my days in the staggering beauty of Nelson’s prose. In The Red Parts, what could have merely been a relatively interesting true crime narrative becomes, instead, a wholly original memoir of pain, history, family, and those bright moments of clarity in a world that, for Nelson, had become so dark. This book asks us to wonder, to be angry, and ultimately to become more human. This is an inescapable, utterly compelling read.” —Claire Tobin, Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, MI

    The Charm Bracelet: A Novel, by Viola Shipman
    (Thomas Dunne Books, 9781250071323, $25.99)
    “This is the story of three women slowly losing themselves until they are reunited in Scoops, Michigan, at the beginning of summer: Arden, working at a job that gives her nothing but a paycheck; Lauren, becoming sadder as she moves farther from doing what she loves most; and Lolly, gradually forgetting all the things in her life that brought her joy and happiness. Linked together like the charms on their wrists, Arden, Lauren, and Lolly will remind each other of times gone by, how to appreciate the present, and how to embrace whatever the future brings. Reading this sweet story reminded me how lucky we are if we are close to those who share our history.” —Sylvia Smith, Bookmiser, Roswell, GA

    Dodgers: A Novel, by Bill Beverly
    (Crown, 9781101903735, $26)
    “Four young black men, following orders, leave their tightly bound South Central Los Angeles community, and drive across the country to perform a hit to prevent a witness from testifying against their boss. They are ghetto born, raised, and trained, so they have outlaw skills and the resulting respect in their community. In wide-open America, they are profoundly out of their comfort zone. What each young man does with his skills, wits, sense of duty, and — for one in particular — a dawning sense of what the future holds for such a lifestyle, forms the core of this powerful novel. Provocative, gripping, and timely, Dodgers is a riveting read that leaves a lasting impression.” —Sheryl Cotleur, Copperfield’s Books, Sebastopol, CA

    Lust & Wonder: A Memoir, by Augusten Burroughs
    (St. Martin’s Press, 9780312342036, $26.99)
    “We have read about his crazy childhood, his struggles with alcohol, and his troubled relationships with his father and Christmas. Now, we have Burroughs’ take on love and romance, and what a tale it is! This is a love story as only Burroughs can tell it — the wrong lovers, the long-term relationship that turned out to be toxic, and the love that was staring him in the face all along. Roses and moonlight it is not, but the course of true love never does run smooth. I laughed, I cried — just read it!” —Susan Taylor, Market Block Books, Troy, NY

    The Summer Before the War: A Novel, by Helen Simonson
    (Random House, 9780812993103, $28)
    “Witty, engaging, elegiac, and tragic — with this tale Simonson has once again captured our hearts. Set in an East Sussex village in the summer before the tragedy of the First World War, Simonson’s latest details a battle of wills between Agatha, Lady North, and the mayor’s wife over the new Latin master — a woman! Beatrice Nash arrives to her new post, charming everyone including the reader. Since readers know the horrors that lie ahead for England’s young men, the story becomes more poignant as they move closer to their destinies. I loved it!” —Valerie Koehler, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, TX

    Lilac Girls: A Novel, by Martha Hall Kelly
    (Ballantine Books, 9781101883075, $26)
    Lilac Girls is a powerful and moving debut told through the voices of three women during World War II. Caroline is a New York socialite working at the French consulate and sending care packages to French orphans. Kasia, a young Polish girl, is arrested for helping the underground resistance and sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp. Herta is the only female German surgeon stationed at Ravensbrück. The way these three women’s lives intersect both during and after the war will grip you and tug at your heartstrings. I would recommend this to anyone who loved Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale.” —Melissa Law, Island Bookstore, Corolla, NC

    Fellside, by M.R. Carey
    (Orbit, 9780316300285, $27)
    “Let’s say you’ve been convicted of murder and sent to a maximum security prison for the remainder of your life, which should be a while since you are not that old. Then let’s say that not only can you not remember killing anyone, but you can’t remember who you are. Could things get any worse? How about if the ghost of the little boy you supposedly killed visits you in prison to ask for your help. What do you do? From the author of The Girl With All the Gifts comes another gripping and unforgettable story.” —Linda Bond, Auntie’s Bookstore, Spokane, WA

    At the Edge of the Orchard: A Novel, by Tracy Chevalier
    (Viking, 9780525953005, $27)
    “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

    Shelter: A Novel, by Jung Yun
    (Picador, 9781250075611, $26)
    Shelter is the perfect example of that extraordinary kind of story that careens down a path toward a conclusion that feels somehow both completely surprising and totally inevitable. Kyung Cho is a young father whose anxiety over present financial concerns couples with damage from past traumas to inhabit every breath he takes. His precarious equilibrium is shattered when his parents are the victims of a cruel act of violence and he is called upon to react with a compassion and forgiveness that he may not possess. This novel is a dark and moving portrait of a family and what it ultimately means to love.” —Mary Cotton, Newtonville Books, Newton Centre, MA

    Daredevils: A Novel, by Shawn Vestal
    (Penguin Press, 9781101979891, $26.95)
    “Gooding, Idaho, 1975: Loretta, Jason, and Boyd, three teenagers each trapped in their own way, find each other and plot their escape. Vestal lays out the history and complexity of their lives and their Mormon community, from Loretta’s becoming an unwilling ‘sister wife’ in a zealous household to Jason’s struggle to identify himself while at odds with his family and hometown. Surreal interludes of ‘Evel Knievel Addresses an Adoring Nation’ showcasing the fevered stunt driver waxing poetic, demonstrate Vestal’s strength with language as a reeling Knievel appears like a vision of cowboy extremism, becoming the off-kilter savior the teenagers have been seeking.” —Julia Sinn, Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA

    The Last Painting of Sara de Vos: A Novel, by Dominic Smith
    (Sarah Crichton Books, 9780374106683, $26)
    “Smith’s new novel unfolds slowly, and each moment of illumination offers a glimpse into the true heart of this quiet, captivating tale. Spanning more than three centuries, it is the story of three lives —a female master painter of the Dutch Golden Age, a moneyed New York patent attorney, and an art history student turned one-time art forger — each changed by one haunting painting. Filled with hurt, grief, and deceit, but also layered with love, grace, and regret, The Last Painting of Sara de Vos is a wonderful read, beautifully written.” —Heather Duncan, Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver, CO

    The Railwayman’s Wife: A Novel, by Ashley Hay
    (Atria Books, 9781501112171, $26)
    The Railwayman’s Wife is a remarkable story drenched by the wells of sadness, yet it leaves readers marveling at the beauty of it all. Annika Lachlan is grieving her beloved husband and attempting to find solace in books. But the town of Thirroul, Australia, is home to more than one person damaged by grief. Brought together as members of a club no one would choose to join, each begins to move towards healing. The Railwayman’s Wife immerses the reader in Ani’s life, and as one savors the novel’s heartbreaking prose, a world is revealed in which hope and grief are forever intertwined and love may be the strongest current of all.” —Luisa Smith, Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA

    Most Wanted, by Lisa Scottoline
    (St. Martin’s Press, 9781250010131, $27.99)
    “An infertile couple decides to use a sperm donor to create the perfect family they have always wanted. When the wife sees a picture of a man who looks very similar to their donor on the evening news, the story is set in motion. Could their donor be a serial killer? Christine will stop at nothing to find out who the biological father is, even if it means the end of her marriage. This latest novel of suspense from the bestselling Scottoline is fast-paced and will keep readers guessing until the end!” —Sarah Harmuth Letke, Redbery Books, Cable, WI

    The One-in-a-Million Boy: A Novel, by Monica Wood
    (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 9780544617070, $25)
    “Despite its themes of loss, love, and aging, The One-in-a-Million Boy is a hopeful novel. Musician and mostly absent dad Quinn Porter honors his dead son’s Boy Scout agreement to help 104-year-old Ona Vitkus. As Quinn and Ona get to know each other, Quinn begins to understand his son — and in some ways, himself — for the first time. Heartfelt and charming!” —Carol Schneck Varner, Schuler Books & Music, Okemos, MI

    Behave: A Novel, by Andromeda Romano-Lax
    (Soho Press, 9781616956530, $26.95)
    Behave is a rich and nuanced glimpse of Rosalie Rayner, the woman behind John B. Watson, the man who founded behaviorist psychology. The ethical issues presented here are both shocking and thought-provoking, and the intimate struggles of a woman weighing her value, utility, and satisfaction both within and outside the home certainly resonate today. Beautifully written and meticulously researched, this is a novel to be savored and shared.” —Tova Beiser, Brown University Bookstore, Providence, RI

    The Path: What Chinese Philosophers Can Teach Us About the Good Life, by Michael Puett and Christine Gross-Loh
    (Simon & Schuster, 9781476777832, $24.99)
    “What is entailed in living ‘a good life’? Using the writings of a succession of Chinese scholars from 2,000 years ago, the authors explain their ancient teachings through contemporary examples and demonstrate how changing our perspective can change our lives. And ‘the path’ that we are to follow? There is none! Rather, we create the journey moment by moment as we change how we observe and interact with our world and those in it. Challenging and potentially transformative!” —Susan Posch, The Book Shoppe, Boone, IA

    Now in Paperback

    Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen, by Mary Norris (W.W. Norton, 9780393352146, $15.95)
    Recommended in hardcover by David Enyeart, Common Good Books, St. Paul, MN

    Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, by Erik Larson (Broadway Books, 9780307408877, $17)
    Recommended in hardcover  by Jon Grand, The Book Stall at Chestnut Court, Winnetka, IL

    I Am Radar: A Novel, by Reif Larsen (Penguin Books, 9780143107910, $18)
    Recommended in hardcover by Bill Carl, Wellesley Books, Wellesley, MA

    Luckiest Girl Alive: A Novel, by Jessica Knoll (Simon & Schuster, 9781476789644, $15.99)
    Recommended in hardcover by Kerry Spaulding, University Book Store, Mill Creek, WA

    Medicine Walk: A Novel, by Richard Wagamese (Milkweed Editions, 9781571311160, $16)
    Recommended in hardcover by Sharon K. Nagel, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI

    So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed: A Journey Through the World of Public Shaming, by Jon Ronson (Riverhead Books, 9781594634017, $16)
    Recommended in hardcover by Ann Carlson, Waterfront Books, Georgetown, SC

    Revisit & Rediscover

    Stoner, by John Williams (New York Review Books, 9781590171998, $14.95) Originally published in hardcover in 1965
    “This story follows William Stoner, who is sent to agricultural college in 1910 to study farming. While at school, he falls in love with literature and begins a career in academia. His life becomes a series of missed opportunities and disappointments, and the novel offers an intimate view of academic life and politics in the first half of the 20th century. Written in clear and simple prose, this is a tender and truthful portrayal of a man with a passion for literature and a yearning for the life of his dreams. While his own life doesn’t quite measure up, Stoner touches the lives of many others and he will touch the heart of the reader as well.” —Sue Boucher, The Cottage Book Shop, Glen Arbor, MI

    River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West, by Rebecca Solnit (Penguin Books, 9780142004104, $18) Originally published in hardcover in 2004
    “New technologies, political intrigue, and sexual scandal in Northern California: Solnit takes these elements and crafts a tale with such narrative verve and nuanced political and cultural insight that the reader is swept away to be a witness to the birth of Northern California as a center of technological innovation. The complexity of the relationship between Eadweard Muybridge and Leland Stanford is a fascinating story to which Solnit does justice. More than 10 years after its original publication, River of Shadows remains one of my favorite recommendations.” —Paul Yamazaki, City Lights Booksellers, San Francisco, CA

    The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures, by Anne Fadiman (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 9780374533403, $15) Originally published in hardcover in 1998
    “Fadiman’s story of the tragic misunderstandings between American medicine and immigrant Hmong culture after an infant girl is diagnosed with severe epilepsy is a modest masterpiece of journalistic empathy. Tirelessly curious about the people, history, and science connected by Lia’s illness, Fadiman does not lose sight of the limits of what a journalist can discern or what two cultures can know about each other.” —Tom Nissley, Phinney Books, Seattle, WA