The Summer 2016 Indie Next List for Reading Groups Preview

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    Here is a preview of the Summer 2016 Indie Next List for Reading Groups, which ABA member stores in the IndieBound movement will be receiving in the July Red Box.

    In addition to the Top Ten favorites chosen by booksellers, the list presents 31 additional titles in six categories — “Engrossing Nonfiction,” “New Works by Old Favorites,” “Extraordinary Lives,” “Exciting Debuts,” “Families … and Other Challenges,” and “Intriguing Worlds” — offering the promise of great discussions for reading groups of every kind.

    Stores are encouraged to use the list as a handout at author events and special reading group nights and to present it as a takeaway at both the cashwrap and in-store displays.

    “By nominating their favorite reading group picks, booksellers have made this list a wonderful resource for all ABA member stores and for reading groups of all sizes and types,” said Mark Nichols, the association’s development officer. “We are grateful for everyone’s nominations. Now, we hope booksellers will take a few minutes to submit their recommendations for three upcoming lists:

    • The Autumn 2016 Kids’ Indie Next List: Nomination deadline is July 15, 2016.
    • The October 2016 Indie Next List: Nomination deadline is August 5, 2016.
    • The Winter 2016-2017 Reading Group List: Nomination deadline is August 16, 2016.

    Nominations can be submitted using the form found here; via e-mail to indienextlist@bookweb.org; or by leaving comments on the book’s title page on either Edelweiss or NetGalley and checking the box to share with IndieBound.

    Stores that would like to receive additional copies of the Summer 2016 Indie Next List for Reading Groups should send a request via e-mail to Nichols.

    The Summer 2016 Indie Next List for Reading Groups

    The Top 10

    1. The Story of My Teeth, by Valeria Luiselli, Christina MacSweeney (Trans.)
    (Coffee House Press, 9781566894098, $16.95)
    The Story of My Teeth is unlike anything you’ve ever read. Written in collaboration with the workers at a Mexican juice factory and featuring a delightfully delusional auctioneer, this novel bends styles, plays with references, and challenges the idea of translation. With this brilliant and zany experimental tale, Luiselli has solidified her place as one of the most interesting and imaginative minds putting words on paper today.” —Josh Cook, Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MA

    2. H Is for Hawk, by Helen Macdonald
    (Grove Press, 9780802124739, $16)
    “More than ever, we need books that speak to the wild in us. Macdonald’s H Is for Hawk, a moving exploration of grief through the lens of falconry, does this with admirable focus. Blending memoir, nature writing, and biography, Macdonald bravely delves into the shadowy side of our being. Anyone who takes flight with her will return renewed.” —Stephen Sparks, Green Apple Books, San Francisco, CA

    3. After the Wind: Tragedy on Everest — One Survivor’s Story, by Lou Kasischke
    (Good Hart Publishing, 9781940877037, $14)
    “The 1996 Mount Everest disaster was written about in books, newspapers, and outdoor journals. Climber Lou Kasischke, however, has a different story to tell — a story of endurance, heartbreak, extreme physical challenges, and questionable decisions. In the end, it is also a story of the deep and abiding love between Kasischke and his wife, which brings hope and redemption to this tragedy. Kasischke’s voice is genuine, that of a man who wanted to push himself to the edge physically, but also wanted to do what is morally right. Engrossing, exciting, and ultimately inspiring.” —Laurie Mullarky, Village Books, Bellingham, WA

    4. Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen, by Mary Norris
    (W.W. Norton, 9780393352146, $15.95)
    “I was feeling pretty smug about my word skills until I learned something right there on page 26 of Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen. I have been mispronouncing ‘elegiac.’ Even so, I didn’t begrudge Norris for taking me on a delightful tour of the offices of The New Yorker, the history of Noah Webster and his dictionary descendents, the city of Cleveland, and the hyphen in Moby-Dick. Between You & Me is a sprightly — not ‘spritely,’ thank you — gambol in the fields of grammar, and I enjoyed every step.” —David Enyeart, Common Good Books, St. Paul, MN

    5. Descent: A Novel, by Tim Johnston
    (Algonquin Books, 9781616204778, $15.95)
    Descent is a gripping, utterly engrossing account of a girl’s disappearance in the Rocky Mountains. The aftermath of this tragedy is told in alternating voices: the injured brother at the scene of the accident when she left with a stranger to get help; the mother who has been hospitalized and stunned into breathtaking grief; the father who has been unable to leave the small town where the family was vacationing when his daughter disappeared — and most stunning of all, through the words of the victim herself. A real page-turner with a brilliantly conceived climax!” —Kelly Estep, Carmichael’s Bookstore, Louisville, KY

    6. A Little Life: A Novel, by Hanya Yanagihara
    (Anchor, 9780804172707, $17)
    “Every page of A Little Life will either warm your heart or break it. Jude’s friends — Willem, Malcolm, and JB — know that he is haunted by secrets he won’t tell and a damaged spine that inhibits his mobility. Snippets of Jude’s past, a childhood of abuse and misery, are followed by gestures of love and kindness from his friends. They walk close in case he falls; they divert uncomfortable questions away from him. The friendship they share is intricate and beautiful, but far from perfect, and each of them has a rawness that makes them real and unforgettable. Dense and emotionally exhausting, this is the most rewarding novel I have read in years.” —Amelia Stymacks, Northshire Bookstore, Saratoga Springs, NY

    7. Circling the Sun: A Novel, by Paula McLain
    (Ballantine Books, 9780345534200, $16)
    Circling the Sun is a novel about untamed lands and untamed spirits. McLain brings the adventurous life and loves of Beryl Markham to life and offers the reader a new slant on the story told by Isak Dinesen’s Out of Africa. Circling the Sun is filled with romance, safaris, horse racing, and the vast African landscape. Book clubs will rejoice to have a new book from the author of The Paris Wife.” —Fred Powell, Main Street Books, Frostburg, MD

    8. On Immunity: An Innoculation, by Eula Biss
    (Graywolf Press, 9781555977207, $16)
    “Biss’ essays about the immunization debate range from the personal to the body politic and back again. Drawing on her experiences as a mother and employing an astonishing diversity of sources, Biss plumbs our ancient fear of infection. Acknowledging the permeability of both our borders and bodies, she arrives at the conclusion that ‘immunity is a shared space — a garden we tend together.’ Biss’ precise language and wry humor make On Immunity as engaging as it is informative.” —Brooke Alexander, Brazos Bookstore, Dallas, TX

    9. The Vacationers: A Novel, by Emma Straub
    (Riverhead Books, 9781594633881, $16)
    “Straub offers a smart, delicious read. Each perfectly crafted character reveals the anxieties, missteps, and misfortunes we all face as we journey through each phase of life. Using alternating voices, Straub expertly reveals the flawed dynamics among families, the affairs and untruths that pull us apart, and the bonds that keep us together. The Vacationers is one of those unforgettable books that make you laugh at yourself, reflect on past decisions, and hug those you love.” —Anderson McKean, Page & Palette, Fairhope, AL

    10. Hold Still: A Memoir in Photographs, by Sally Mann
    (Back Bay Books, 9780316247757, $18.99)
    “Truth is indeed stranger than fiction. Mann’s no-holds-barred memoir is absolutely stunning in its honesty. If you thought her photography was provocative and shocking, you are in for quite a ride with her life story. Filled with a multitude of fascinating characters and enhanced with a wealth of photographs, Hold Still has become a major sensation. Hold on to your hat — this is a page-turner!” —Pamela Klinger-Horn, Excelsior Bay Books, Excelsior, MN

    Engrossing Nonfiction

    Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, by Erik Larson
    (Broadway Books, 9780307408877, $17)
    “Larson takes a probing look at one of last century’s great tragedies. The torpedoing of the Lusitania and the loss of nearly 1,200 lives was considered an act of barbarism in 1915, but questions have always lingered over the tragedy and the whispers that the great liner was deliberately left vulnerable in dangerous waters have never completely abated. This is a thorough examination of the ship’s last Atlantic crossing and an intelligent evaluation of the questions that surrounded her destruction.” —Alden Graves, Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, VT

    Good Grief: Life in a Tiny Vermont Village, by Ellen Stimson
    (Countryman Press, 9781581573213, $16.95)
    “After reading Stimson’s earlier book, Mud Season, I knew I wanted to at least be Facebook friends with her. Now that I’ve read Good Grief, I wish she were my next door neighbor because everyone needs fun, witty people like her in their lives. Stimson’s new memoir hits all the high points for readers — it is witty, philosophical, laugh-out-loud funny, and totally relatable. Laugh along with her at the mundane and not-so-mundane situations that can flare up unexpectedly in life.” —Sue Roegge, Chapter2Books, Hudson, WI

    So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, by Jon Ronson
    (Riverhead Books, 9781594634017, $16)
    “This book both fascinated and terrified me with its insights into the increasing outrage to be found on social media and how careers and even lives can be quickly ruined by public forums. Ronson takes the concept further, exploring the history of public shaming, the nature of crowd ‘madness,’ why some people are unaffected by the process while others are devastated, and how Google searches make it hard to recover from the trauma. There is much to discuss and this is a dialogue that needs to happen!” —Ann Carlson, Waterfront Books, Georgetown, SC

    Where the Dead Pause and the Japanese Say Goodbye: A Journey, by Marie Mutsuki Mockett
    (W.W. Norton, 9780393352290, $16.95)
    “Mockett’s journey begins in the wake of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, near the site of the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, and encompasses a nation’s grieving as well as her own. Through her beautiful descriptions of traditions, rituals, conversations, and quiet moments, she shows the nuances of a people picking up and moving on. By seeking out the cultural context of her subject’s very human reactions and emotions, Mockett walks a fine line that globalization has tried to erase entirely, and our understanding of the events and their aftermath is richer for it.” —Rachel Cass, Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, MA

    New Works by Old Favorites

    At the Water’s Edge: A Novel, by Sara Gruen
    (Spiegel & Grau, 9780385523240, $16)
    “A trio of privileged Philadelphia socialites — Maddie, her husband, Ellis, and their friend, Hank — travel to the Scottish Highlands during WWII to prove the existence of the Loch Ness Monster. There, they find themselves among villagers dealing with the atrocities of a war that they have blithely ignored, and Maddie discovers that both the world and her life are not at all what she had imagined. Full of great period detail and richly drawn settings, At the Water’s Edge is another spellbinding tale from the author of Water for Elephants.” —Jill Miner, Saturn Booksellers, Gaylord, MI

    The Boston Girl: A Novel, by Anita Diamant
    (Scribner, 9781439199367, $16)
    “Just as she ignited our imaginations with The Red Tent, Diamant now opens the door on the lives of young women in Boston in the early 20th century. In this revealing ‘memory novel,’ Addie Baum, at age 85, wants to answer her granddaughter’s question: How did you get to be the woman you are today? Addie begins by explaining what her life was like and how other young women in a library book group helped her to reach for a future beyond the restrictions imposed by her cultural past. There is much to discuss after reading this book!” —Linda Bond, Auntie’s Bookstore, Spokane, WA

    Every Fifteen Minutes, by Lisa Scottoline
    (St. Martin’s Griffin, 9781250010124, $15.99)
    “Have you ever read a book that stayed with you during the day while you were working, going about your daily routine? A book that made you want to turn on the news to see what was happening in the characters’ lives — even though you knew that you were just reading a novel? Scottoline’s latest, Every Fifteen Minutes, made me do just that! The story of Chief of Psychiatry Eric Parish, his troubled patient, Max, and a murder for which Dr. Parish is suddenly seen as a ‘person of interest,’ along with other trumped-up charges against him, will not let readers put this book down until the stunning conclusion.” —Nona Camuel, CoffeeTree Books, Morehead, KY

    The Marriage of Opposites: A Novel, by Alice Hoffman
    (Simon & Schuster, 9781451693607, $16)
    “Hoffman’s novel is based on the life of Rachel Pomie Petit Pissarro and her favorite son, Camille, who would become the famed ‘Father of impressionism.’ Growing up in a Jewish refugee community on tropical St. Thomas in the 1800s, strong-willed Rachel dreams of the cool, rainy streets of Paris. Raised by a stern mother and a kind-hearted father, Rachel is forced to marry a widower to save her family’s business and later follows forbidden passions, creating a scandal that turns her community against her. Hoffman fills the pages with the island’s magic and color in this unforgettable tale of what it means to walk the tightrope between tradition and independence, love and logic.” —Julia Sinn, Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA

    A Spool of Blue Thread: A Novel, by Anne Tyler
    (Ballantine Books, 9780553394399, $16)
    “Tyler is a master of family life, and the Whitshank family is at the center of A Spool of Blue Thread. Set in Tyler’s beloved Baltimore, the novel follows four generations of Whitshanks, from the Great Depression to the present day. Abby and Red meet and fall in love in July, 1959, and their story unfolds through a beautifully written narrative, going back and forth in time as they marry, have children and grandchildren, and face the indignities of old age. This is quintessential Tyler — a tribute to marriage, family, and the importance of having a place to call home.” —Ellen Burns, Books on the Common, Ridgefield, CT

    West of Sunset: A Novel, by Stewart O’Nan
    (Penguin Books, 9780143128243, $16)
    “This novel begins after F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda have streaked across the Jazz Age sky like bright, shiny shooting stars. Scott is in Hollywood working as a script doctor and shakily holding on to sobriety; Zelda is in a mental hospital clinging to sanity just as tenuously. Unaccustomed to the workaday world, Scott struggles to prove his worth in Hollywood by showing up to work on time, paying his bills, and living a life of quiet desperation. Gone are the days of wine and roses; Scott must now learn to live as if there is a tomorrow. O’Nan offers a subtle portrait of an American icon as an ordinary man attempting to redefine himself after nearly losing it all.” —Kerry Spaulding, University Book Store, Mill Creek, WA

    Extraordinary Lives

    Fire Shut Up in My Bones: A Memoir, by Charles M. Blow
    (Mariner Books, 9780544570115, $14.95)
    “Mirroring so many of the memories, feelings, and imaginings from my own childhood in small-town Arkansas, Blow’s moving memoir tells the pitiless Southern experience of a black man coming of age in Louisiana in a world and time when the legacy of slavery’s grip is slipping away ever so slowly but still leaves its searing sting. An important book.” —Chris Crawley, That Bookstore in Blytheville, Blytheville, AR

    Not Fade Away: A Memoir of Senses Lost and Found, by Rebecca Alexander with Sascha Alper
    (Avery, 9781592409419, $17)
    “In this time of many memoirs, this one stands out beautifully. As a bookseller, I know the demand for books to encourage and teach living in the moment, living a vibrant and mindful life, and approaching life with grace. Alexander is right there with her own story of loss and obstacles overcome with tenacity, honesty, and humor. As with Susannah Cahalan’s Brain on Fire, you will not be able to put this book down and will have a new perspective on life when you finish it.” —Dana Brigham, Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MA

    Penelope Fitzgerald: A Life, by Hermione Lee
    (Vintage, 9780804170499, $17.95)
    “As always with Lee’s work, this biography offers a detailed and fascinating view of her subject’s life. Penelope Fitzgerald was a teacher, a scholar, a world-class novelist, a two-time winner of Britain’s Man Booker Prize, and a devoted mother and wife. Fitzgerald came late to fame, and this meticulously researched and beautifully written biography reveals every facet of her life in the most intimate way.” —Kathy Ashton, The King’s English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, UT

    Pieces of My Mother: A Memoir, by Melissa Cistaro
    (Sourcebooks, 9781492623113, $14.99)
    “Cistaro’s story begins with the last days of her mother’s life, 35 years after she abandoned her children and husband with no explanation. Cistaro is still seeking the truth and the one answer that she feels she needs most desperately — why did her mother leave? What is most impressive about this memoir is the honesty with which the author details her own anxieties, and readers will relate to her and cheer her on when she makes an important, life-changing decision. This is an amazing story of forgiveness, connection, understanding, and grace.” —Lynn Riehl, Nicola’s Books, Ann Arbor, MI

    Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons From the Crematory, by Caitlin Doughty
    (W.W. Norton, 9780393351903, $15.95)
    “If you are a fan of Mary Roach, you will love Caitlin Doughty. She is smart, funny — and absolutely obsessed with death. Her mission is to convince the world that a preoccupation with the macabre isn’t a red flag, but rather a healthy way of coming to terms with mortality and alleviating anxiety. As a culture we have sanitized and buried death, and our modern rituals sorely lack significance and connection. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes is a manifesto for death acceptance, and the hard and necessary work of confronting the inevitable.” —Kat Bailey, Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA

    The Wild Truth, by Carine McCandless
    (HarperOne, 9780062325150, $16.99)
    “As sad as Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild was, the truth behind Chris McCandless’ decision to divorce his parents after graduating from college is even more heartbreaking. Carine, his sister, does an admirable job telling the story of their shared, difficult childhood — rich in material goods, but poor in parental love and support. In public, their parents were wealthy and admired pillars of the community; in private, they abused their children both physically and emotionally. The truths Carine shares do much to redeem her brother’s memory and to demonstrate how strong they both were in the face of adversity.” —Susan M. Taylor, Market Block Books, Troy, NY

    Exciting Debuts

    Dollbaby: A Novel, by Laura Lane McNeal
    (Penguin Books, 9780143127499, $16)
    “In 1964 Ibby Bell’s father passed away, causing her mother to abandon Ibby to the care of her eccentric grandmother, Fannie, and her grandmother’s black housemaids, a mother and daughter duo named Queenie and Dollbaby. Fannie lives in an old New Orleans mansion that hasn’t changed over the years, its boarded rooms harboring tragic memories from the past. With help from Queenie and Dollbaby, Ibby unearths family history that Fannie had long ago buried. Can Ibby come to terms with what she’s discovered? Compelling!” —Courtney Kane, Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany, NY

    The Fishermen: A Novel, by Chigozie Obioma
    (Back Bay Books, 9780316338356, $15.99)
    “Set in the Nigerian town of Akure in the 1990s, Obioma’s novel chronicles a family’s self-destruction in a time of political turmoil. Father has great dreams for his boys, but when he takes a job in a nearby city, neither he nor Mother — who has not just a job but two younger children to take care of — are there with a voice of reason when things get out of hand. The Fishermen becomes a story not just of one family, but of the powerful forces that create tensions wherever beliefs, facts, loyalty, and justice rub up against each other creating dangerous sparks. It’s a story that slots itself into a particular place and time, but that resonates and cautions universally, like a timeless folk tale.” —Daniel Goldin, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI

    Gutenberg’s Apprentice: A Novel, by Alix Christie
    (Harper Perennial, 9780062336026, $15.99)
    “This novel about the making of the first printed book, the Gutenberg Bible, is a dramatic and gripping tale of betrayal and intrigue. A young scribe is apprenticed to the visionary and difficult genius Johann Gutenberg at the behest of his father, Gutenberg’s financial backer. Tension between genius and finance, between old ways and the new, that is aggravated by threats from the Church and the traditional guilds make for a great read. Christie is a master printer herself, and in Gutenberg’s Apprentice she brings a real feeling for the beauty and artistry of printing and honors one of the most revolutionary achievements in history.” —Rod Froke, DIESEL: A Bookstore, Larkspur, CA

    In a Dark, Dark Wood: A Novel, by Ruth Ware
    (Gallery/Scout Press, 9781501112331, $16)
    “Nora is baffled by an invitation to a ‘hen weekend’ party for a long-estranged friend. Agreeing to attend, she finds herself stranded with an odd cast of characters and the feeling that something is distinctly wrong with the scene that has been set. An ominous cloud descends over the guests as tension builds and secrets are revealed during the celebrations. Readers will find themselves holding their breath as Nora uncovers a dangerous web of deceit while attempting to heal the wounds of her past. Riveting and ripe for discussion!” —Luisa Smith, Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA

    We Are Called to Rise: A Novel, by Laura McBride
    (Simon & Schuster, 9781476738970, $15)
    “Bashkim, Avis, Roberta, and Luis introduce us to a Las Vegas not apparent to the casual tourist. Beyond being residents of the same city, it is hard to imagine what could possibly link a third-grade Albanian immigrant, a middle-aged woman on the brink of divorce, a dedicated volunteer in the Child Advocacy System, and a young Mexican war veteran recovering from physical and mental trauma. Through their stories, we see tragedy and hardship, and, ultimately, what the human heart is capable of and the inseparable link between being human and making humane choices for ourselves and others.” —Andrea Avantaggio, Maria’s Bookshop, Durango, CO

    Families … and Other Challenges

    The Book of Speculation: A Novel, by Erika Swyler
    (St. Martin’s Griffin, 9781250055637, $15.99)
    “This atmospheric and spellbinding debut by is a siren call to a world of mermaids, traveling circuses, and the tarot. A dilapidated and watermarked book, handmade and illustrated with tarot card drawings, finds its way to librarian Simon Watson, who uses it to put together the missing pieces of his family history and a terrible curse that binds him and his carnival gypsy sister to the past. The Book of Speculation pulls you into the truths of families over generations with skillful, suspenseful storytelling. An enchanting and irresistible read!” —Dee Ellman, Linden Tree Children’s Books, Los Altos, CA

    The Green Road: A Novel, by Anne Enright
    (W.W. Norton, 9780393352801, $15.95)
    “Four siblings return to their native Ireland home for Christmas and encounter all the tensions, obligations, petty differences, and responsibilities that are common to any family. Enright deftly handles the back stories that define the relationship of each child to their mother, and seamlessly brings together the disparate threads of her story. The prose is distinct and evocative and flows effortlessly to create not just a novel, but a portrait of family that will resonate with any reader.” —Bill Cusumano, Square Books, Oxford, MS

    Medicine Walk: A Novel, by Richard Wagamese
    (Milkweed Editions, 9781571311160, $16)
    “Nature versus nurture is an age-old controversy. Does a boy become the man he is because of his genes or his upbringing? Franklin Starlight is a 16-year-old Ojibway boy who was raised by a man who is not his father and is not Indian. He teaches Franklin self-reliance, the value of hard work, and integrity. Eldon, Franklin’s real father, is an alcoholic who he has rarely seen. Now Eldon is dying, and he wants Franklin to accompany him into the back country to help him die and be buried in the warrior way. This is a flawlessly written novel about the stories that make us who we are.” —Sharon K. Nagel, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI

    The Precious One: A Novel, by Marisa de los Santos
    (William Morrow Paperbacks, 9780061670916, $15.99)
    “In The Precious One, de los Santos offers a tale of family secrets, love, rejection, and forgiveness. The point of view shifts between two half-sisters who have met only once in 16 years: Taisy Cleary, now 35, and 16-year-old Willow. Why would their father bring his daughters together now, after he has kept them apart for all these years? The story is both warmly funny and heartbreaking as the two sisters share their perceptions and insights into the man who abandoned his first family. This is a thoroughly enjoyable read!” —Fran Duke, Where the Sidewalk Ends, Chatham, MA

    Vanessa and Her Sister: A Novel, by Priya Parmar
    (Ballantine Books, 9780804176392, $16)
    “This novel tells the story of sisters Vanessa and Virginia Stephens, later to become Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf. Vanessa, an emerging painter, tells their stories in her journal accompanied by the letters and telegrams of their families, husbands, and the many brilliant artists and painters in their circle. It is a story of art, literature, betrayal, emotional upheaval, and, above all, the many complicated forms love takes. Set against the backdrop of Edwardian England, a time of sweeping social transformations, Vanessa and Her Sister is a moving portrait of a brilliant family.” —Staci Rice, Bluebird Books, Hutchinson, KS

    We Never Asked for Wings: A Novel, by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
    (Ballantine Books, 9780553392333, $16)
    “Letty Espinosa relies on her mother to raise her two young children while she works two jobs to provide for them. When her mother decides to return to Mexico, Letty has to find a way to be a full time mother and also work. Timely questions of undocumented immigration, heartbreaking injustice, and the quest for the American Dream are rescued from despair by an inspiring set of characters whose love and friendship offer hope for Letty and her family.” —Cheryl McKeon, Book Passage, San Francisco, CA

    Intriguing Worlds

    The Buried Giant: A Novel, by Kazuo Ishiguro
    (Vintage, 9780307455796, $16)
    “Ishiguro’s new novel is a work of wonder, transport, and beauty. A recurrent theme in his earlier books, always shown with great originality, is the matter of what happens after we have lost our way. In The Buried Giant, Ishiguro explores losing direction, memory, and certainty, as the primary characters cling to remnants of codes of behavior and belief. Which is the way through the forest? Where might our son be? And where is the dragon, and who shall seek to slay her? Set in the time just after King Arthur’s reign, Ishiguro’s tale, with striking, fable-like rhythm and narrative, shows how losing and finding our way runs long, deep, and to the core of things.” —Rick Simonson, The Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, WA

    A God in Ruins: A Novel, by Kate Atkinson
    (Back Bay Books, 9780316176507, $17.99)
    “In this companion novel to Atkinson’s bestseller, Life After Life, she tells the story of Ursula’s brother Teddy, the favorite of his mother and his sisters. Teddy’s story is no less moving than Ursula’s, skipping backward and forward in time from his dotage to childhood and times in between. The heart of the story is WWII and Teddy’s years as an RAF pilot making forays deep into German territory, an experience that will color the rest of his long life. This wonderful novel totally immerses readers in a different world and at the same time makes them question many things about their own.” —Sarah Goddin, Quail Ridge Books & Music, Raleigh, NC

    Get in Trouble: Stories, by Kelly Link
    (Random House Trade Paperbacks, 9780812986495, $16)
    “Link’s latest collection of short stories only cements her reputation further as an American wizard of fiction. Her genre-bending stories are, on the surface, about the weirdest of subjects: modern-day Egyptian pyramid burials, robot boyfriends, spaceship ghost stories. But the people who inhabit them are infinitely recognizable in both their bad impulses and their moments of grace: your neighbors, your friends, or even yourself, as seen through a fun-house mirror.” —Kate Lechler, Square Books, Oxford, MS

    The Water Knife: A Novel, by Paolo Baciagalupi
    (Vintage, 9780804171533, $16)
    “The near-future depicted in The Water Knife is disturbing and disorienting in its familiarity. Imagine an America so scraped away by ecological disasters — hurricanes, dust storms, and drought — and the brutal struggle to control the water supply that results in a refugee crisis in the Southwest rivaling those that have devastated third world nations. This book moves like a high-octane thriller but includes a wealth of warnings about where America and the world at large may be headed: a dark future where the brutal reality of everyday survival makes people, corporations, and governments do terrible things.” —Vladimir Verano, Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, WA