The December 2015 Indie Next List Preview

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    The December Indie Next List flier, now on its way to stores in the IndieBound movement, includes the debut of the American Booksellers Association’s new Revisit & Rediscover program. Each month, in addition to 20 Indie Next Great Reads and six Now in Paperback titles, the Indie Next List will feature three backlist titles chosen by booksellers as enduring works that are critical for bookstores to have on their shelves at all times.

    The first selection of Revisit & Rediscover titles is highlighted on the back page of the December Indie Next List flier with cover images, bookseller quotes, original publication dates, and current ISBNs and publishers.

    In addition, beginning December 1, the Revisit & Rediscover titles will be featured on downloadable shelf-talkers on BookWeb.org and IndieBound.org, along with the month’s Indie Next Great Reads and Now in Paperback fliers and shelf-talkers.

    The December 2015 Indie Next Great Reads

    #1 Pick: The Selected Poems of Donald Hall, by Donald Hall
    (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 9780544555600, $22)
    “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’ andWithout.’ 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

    A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding: A Novel, by Jackie Copleton
    (Penguin Books, 9780143128250, paper, $16)
    “An intimate look at the devastating effect of the bombing of Nagasaki on one family, this is a story of love — parental and sexual, selfless and selfish, and, in the end, healing. Amaterasu Takahashi opens the door of her home in the U.S. to a badly scarred man claiming to be her grandson, who supposedly perished along with her daughter during the bombing nearly 40 years earlier. The man carries a cache of letters that forces Ama to confront her past and the love affair that tore her apart from her daughter.” —Sandi Torkildson, A Room of One’s Own, Madison, WI

    A Wild Swan: And Other Tales, by Michael Cunningham, Yuko Shimizu (Illus.)
    (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 9780374290252, $23)
    “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

    Boys in the Trees: A Memoir, by Carly Simon
    (Flatiron Books, 9781250095893, $28.99)
    Boys in the Trees is a surprising and delightful read and more than a guilty pleasure derived from a crass and exploitative celebrity culture. Carly Simon has always been an appealing and alluring personality, and her memoir presents an honest — yet crafty — look at her life, beautifully and elegantly voiced. At times captivating, touching, and occasionally embarrassing, it is unfailingly entertaining — a sexy and romantic book with a sweet heart and soul.” —Ed Conklin, Chaucer’s Books, Santa Barbara, CA

    The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto: A Novel, by Mitch Albom
    (Harper, 9780062294418, $25.99)
    “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. Albom offers a story destined to become a classic that will have readers looking at music differently than they ever have before.” —Karen Briggs, Great Northern Books & Hobbies, Oscoda, MI

    Year of the Goose: A Novel, by Carly J. Hallman
    (The Unnamed Press, 9781939419514, paper, $16)
    “Sometimes too much pineapple turns your tongue into a caterpillar, all that acid seeping through. Between detailing a government-sanctioned fat camp meant to ‘rehabilitate’ China’s morbidly obese children and the brutal assassination of China’s richest man — Papa Hui, CEO of Bashful Goose Snack Company, China’s most profitable corporation — Hallman’s Year of the Goose contains that same tartness. Snarky and sinister, this debut novel will make you both cackle and cringe.” —Annalia Linnan, Brazos Bookstore, Houston, TX

    Time of Departure: A Novel, by Douglas Schofield
    (Minotaur, 9781250072757, $24.99)
    “Claire Talbot has a lot to prove in the misogynistic legal world in which she has immersed herself, but she puts it all on the line when Marcus Hastings enters her life with an old case that stirs an ominous feeling in the pit of Claire’s stomach. Though the string of missing girls occurred before she was born, Claire senses a familiarity with the case, and with Marcus, that she can’t explain. What begins with an ambitious young female prosecutor, a mysterious cold case, and an intriguing ex-cop who knows too much about both ends in a series of twists that readers won’t see coming.” —Rachel Kelley, Sunriver Books, Sunriver, OR

    What She Knew: A Novel, by Gilly Macmillan
    (William Morrow Paperbacks, 9780062413864, $15.99)
    “This is the story of a mother’s anguish and desperation when her eight-year-old son runs ahead on an ordinary Sunday afternoon walk in a park and vanishes. It is the story of the lead detective, told partly in sessions he has with a psychologist because of the toll the case is taking on his personal life. It is the story of family and friends and the secrets they have been keeping that are slowly revealed. And it is the story of how the media and the public are quick to point fingers and assign blame. But, most of all, it is the story of a mother’s love and her strength and will to push everything aside and do anything to bring her son home.” —Nancy McFarlane, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC

    Oh the Moon: Stories From the Tortured Mind of Charlyne Yi, by Charlyne Yi
    (Harper Perennial, 9780062363299, paper, $16.99)
    “Yi’s debut book of illustrated stories snagged my heart from the start and left it shaken, squeezed, and full. Her deceptively simple narratives and sketched illustrations reminiscent of Shel Silverstein shift the mood smoothly from surreal to touching to utterly charming. Highly recommended for daydreamers, artists, and lovers of life!” —Whitney Spotts, Schuler Books & Music, Grand Rapids, MI

    Tightrope, by Simon Mawer
    (Other Press, 9781590517239, paper, $15.95)
    “Picking up where he left off in Trapeze, Mawer reacquaints readers with Marian Sutro, whose role with the WWII Special Operations Executive resulted in interrogation, incarceration, and the brutalities of a concentration camp. Returning to London, Sutro attempts to put her life back together, but players from her past reemerge, leading her down the familiar paths of deceit and deception, this time within the shifting landscape of the Cold War. Mawer brilliantly blends fact and fiction, and what results is a gripping tale of suspense, intrigue, and espionage that will keep readers up late into the night.” —Anderson McKean, Page and Palette, Fairhope, AL

    Paradise City: A Novel, by Elizabeth Day
    (Bloomsbury, 9781620408360, $27)
    “When I was young, one of my favorite toys was my dollhouse. It looked just like a regular house from the front, but the back was open with all the rooms exposed. That’s what Paradise City reminded me of, with each chapter narrated by a different character, all inscrutable to the people around them, but giving the reader glimpses into their inner lives. Every character is richly detailed and Day’s clear, sharp prose had me relating to their every feeling from wild, unexpected happiness to deep, thudding sadness. I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a book this much!” —Lauren Peugh, Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe, AZ

    His Right Hand, by Mette Ivie Harrison
    (Soho Crime, 9781616956103, $26.95)
    “In this riveting and compassionate mystery, beloved counselor Carl Ashby is found dead at church, leaving the Mormon community devastated. But when Linda and Kurt Wallheim learn that Carl was originally a female the news turns their world inside out, directing their focus away from the bigger issues at hand. In a community that is so set with its gender roles, can the Wallheims look past that to discover who killed Carl and why?” —Rachael Drummond, Saturn Booksellers, Gaylord, MI

    Like Family: A Novel, by Paolo Giordano
    (Pamela Dorman Books/Viking, 9780525428763, $22)
    “This short, spare, beautifully evocative novel becomes a major meditation on the mystery of life, with all of its attendant joy and sorrow. The story of Anna — caretaker, nanny, and confidant — becomes the tale of all families with the extremes of happiness and sadness inherent in every situation. Like Family is poignant, sure to stir emotions in any reader and, in the end, a paean to living the life that is given.” —Bill Cusumano, Square Books, Oxford, MS

    Fox Tooth Heart: Stories, by John McManus
    (Sarabande Books, 9781941411100, paper, $15.95)
    “These invigorating stories are populated with brilliantly conflicted characters who, no matter how hard they try, just can’t seem to find — or face up to — what their lives are sorely missing. From the Everglades to the Ozarks, these men and women are adrift, crashing up against the rude, punishing confines of various hard-luck landscapes. While his characters might be lost, McManus is anything but, using language that is refreshingly precise. He doesn’t have time to waste on preciousness — he’s got stories to tell.” —Sophie Stewart, BookCourt, Brooklyn, NY

    The Boys, by Toni Sala, Mara Faye Lethem (Trans.)
    (Two Lines Press, 9781931883498, paper, $14.95)
    “Beautifully composed, with a voice that is uniquely his own, Sala with The Boys, winner of Catalonia’s highest literary award, heralds a stirring new voice in English translation. Sala’s novel, set in an age of increasing detachment and anxiety, unflinchingly espies the tenuous connections and moral ambiguities of modern life. With vivid characters, confident prose, and a heady mix of style and substance, The Boys deserves major attention from devotees of international literature and especially fans of António Lobo Antunes, Javier Marías, Gonçalo Tavares, and Roberto Bolaño.” —Jeremy Garber, Powell’s Books, Portland, OR

    Postmark Bayou Chene: A Novel, by Gwen Roland
    (LSU Press, 9780807161449, $25.95)
    “As if a near-dead dog towed by an empty skiff wasn’t enough to rattle the village of Bayou Chene, a misdirected letter returns, dragging a host of secrets in its wake. In the ensuing fracas, three young friends find out that the perils of their swamp are tame compared to the vagaries of the human heart — territory more dangerous than a wad of cottonmouths in high water. Roland’s ear for dialogue and eye for detail bring the vanished community of Bayou Chene and the realities of love and loss on the river back to life in a well-crafted, bittersweet tribute.” —Christine Curry, A Novel Experience, Zebulon, GA

    The Comedians: Drunks, Thieves, Scoundrels, and the History of American Comedy, by Kliph Nesteroff
    (Grove Press, 9780802123985, $28)
    “This is a sweeping, in-depth story of how American comedy evolved from its earliest days. From Vaudeville and radio to mob-controlled night clubs and television, Nesteroff is adept at showing how the seedy underbelly of show business shaped the stars of yesterday and today. Stuffed to the brim with amusing anecdotes and insider gossip, it is an eye-opening trip. A former comedian himself, Nesteroff has long been a chronicler of the history of comedy in America, and this book is the culmination of years of interviews and research. Fun, entertaining, and insightful.” —Jay Aubrey-Herzog, Northtown Books, Arcata, CA

    First Bite: How We Learn to Eat, by Bee Wilson
    (Basic Books, 9780465064984, $27.99)
    “Food scholar Wilson explores not only how our food habits are shaped and the origins of our tastes, but also the problems we have with our present diet and how we can change our palates to lead healthier lives. Entertaining, informative, and packed with food wisdom, First Bite belongs on the shelves of food lovers, history buffs, and all fans of good writing.” —Linda Bond, Auntie’s Bookstore, Spokane, WA

    Numero Zero: A Novel, by Umberto Eco
    (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 9780544635081, $24)
    “Eco’s new book engages on many levels, from the intense literary verve to the cunning insertion of conspiracy theories. Colonna, an unemployed writer, is hired to write the history of a newspaper, which will never see print, while one of his colleagues discovers that Mussolini may have met a different end than the historically accepted one. When Colonna digs deeper, the life he has made, and the lives of his friends, unravel in unexpected ways. Eco has produced another genre-bending, erudite piece of fiction that will amuse and distress lovers of literature and history with equal measure.” —Raul Chapa, BookPeople, Austin, TX

    Made to Kill: A Novel, by Adam Christopher
    (Tor Books, 9780765379184, $24.99)
    “Meet Raymond Electromatic, private detective turned assassin. Oh, and he’s also the world’s last robot. It’s just another day in 1965 Hollywood and business as usual for Ray and his boss, Ada. That is, until a mysterious woman shows up with a duffel bag full of unmarked gold bars and a request. Unable to pass up all that money, Ray takes the case. Soon, Ray discovers that this is no regular ‘find him and assassinate him’ kind of job. Made to Kill brings back noir with a stylish new twist in this captivating tale for people of all makes and models!” —Jennifer Steele, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI

    The December 2015 Now in Paperback

    The Country of Ice Cream Star: A Novel, by Sandra Newman (Ecco, 9780062227119, $16.99)
    Recommended in hardcover by Matt Nixon, The Booksellers at Laurelwood, Memphis, TN

    Descent: A Novel, by Tim Johnston (Algonquin Books, 9781616204778, $15.95)
    Recommended in hardcover by Kelly Estep, Carmichael’s Bookstore, Louisville, KY

    I’ll Give You the Sun, by Jandy Nelson (Speak, 9780142425763, $10.99)
    Recommended in hardcover by Judy Hobbs, Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, WA

    The Precious One: A Novel, by Marisa de los Santos (William Morrow Paperbacks, 9780061670916, $15.99)
    Recommended in hardcover by Fran Duke, Where the Sidewalk Ends, Chatham, MA

    Skink: No Surrender, by Carl Hiaasen (Ember, 9780307930590, $9.99)
    Recommended in hardcover by Rosemary Pugliese, Quail Ridge Books & Music, Raleigh, NC

    Unbecoming: A Novel, by Rebecca Scherm (Penguin Books, 9780143128311, $16)
    Recommended in hardcover by Amanda Skelton, Union Avenue Books, Knoxville, TN

    The December 2015 Revisit & Rediscover

    Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China, by Jung Chang
    (Touchstone, 9780743246989, $18)
    Originally published in hardcover in 1991
    “The wrenching swiftness of cultural change in China comes alive in Jung Chang’s memoir of three generations of women in her family. Her grandmother’s feet are bound as a baby to secure her future as a general’s concubine, while her parents must routinely demonstrate their loyalty to Mao’s Communist Party above their family. Chang herself is inducted into the Red Guard while her parents suffer re-education during the Cultural Revolution. The rapid changes play out with devastating force in this memorable book.” —Jeanne Costello, Maria’s Bookshop, Durango, CO

    Lost In the City: Stories, by Edward P. Jones
    (Amistad, 9780062193216, $14.99)
    Originally published in hardcover in 1992
    “The stories of Edward P. Jones are deeply grounded in the geography of Washington, D.C. — in the black side of the city, not the ‘land of white people,’ as one character puts it. For all their realism, these stories have the quality of fables, summing up lives and their consequences (not necessarily the ones they’ve earned) in an astonishing way that's made him the District’s most essential writer.” —Tom Nissley, Phinney Books, Seattle, WA

    About Grace: A Novel, by Anthony Doerr
    (Scribner, 9781476789019, $16)
    Originally published in hardcover in 2004
    “Having fled the wife and child he loves to prevent a death his dreams have forecast, David Winkler washes up in the Caribbean, where he is becalmed for 25 years before returning in search of them—and of redemption. We grow to care for this lost dreamer and for the natural world he inhabits, bewitched as always by Doerr’s dazzling prose and his abiding compassion.” —Betsy Burton, The King’s English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, UT