The Winter 2013 – 2014 Indie Next List for Reading Groups Preview

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    Here is a preview of the Winter 2013 2014 Indie Next List for Reading Groups, which ABA member stores in the IndieBound movement will be receiving in the November Red Box.

    In addition to booksellers’ Top 10 favorites, the list presents titles in six discussion-starting categories — Exciting New Voices, New Works From Old Favorites, Intrigue Past and Present, Unconventional Delights, Life Journeys, and Compelling Reads for All Ages — that offer something for reading groups of every kind. In response to booksellers’ suggestions, for the first time, under the category of Compelling Reads for All Ages, the Reading Group list features six Young Adult titles that hold strong appeal for adults as well.

    The twice-yearly Indie Next List for Reading Groups is the most requested of any printed list that the American Booksellers Association produces. Stores are encouraged to use the list as a handout at author events and special reading group nights and to present it as a take-away in in-store displays.

    “We are grateful to the many booksellers across the country who nominated their favorites to make this another outstanding list for Reading Groups,” said ABA Development Officer Mark Nichols. “Now, we hope booksellers will take a few minutes to nominate some of the outstanding titles publishing at the beginning of the new year for the January and February Indie Next Lists:

    • November 5 is the nomination deadline for the January 2014 Indie Next List.
    • December 3 is the nomination deadline for the February 2014 Indie Next List.

    Stores that would like to receive additional copies of the Winter 2013 – 2014 Indie Next List for Reading Groups should send a request via e-mail to Nichols.


    The Winter 2013 – 2014 Indie Next List for Reading Groups

    THE TOP TEN

    1. A Tale for the Time Being: A Novel, by Ruth Ozeki
    (Viking, 9780670026630, $28.95; paperback due 12/31/13: Penguin Books, 9780143124870, $16)
    “Nao, a suicidal Japanese girl, postpones her death as she grows closer to her 104-year-old great-grandmother, a Buddhist nun. Ruth, an American author with writer’s block, discovers a diary washed ashore on her remote island in the Pacific Northwest. Ruth becomes obsessed with Nao and her diary, and readers will be drawn in as their stories intertwine. Ozeki’s creatively constructed novel, complete with footnotes, Japanese characters, and appendices, will have readers marveling at the leaps in time and the connection that bring the two women together in this witty, daring, and thoughtful novel.” —Cheryl Krocker McKeon, Book Passage, San Francisco, CA

    2. The Round House: A Novel, by Louise Erdrich
    (Harper Perennial, 9780062065254, $15.99)
    “In this multilayered story, Erdrich perfectly captures the voice of Joe Coutts, the 13-year-old son of the Ojibwe tribal judge and his wife, a tribal enrollment specialist. Joe’s treacherous passage to manhood, fraught with the magnetism of his Ojibwe culture, the poverty of the reservation, his rich and multigenerational extended family, and the pressure of fitting in with his gang of friends, is suddenly upended when his mother is brutally raped. The intricacies of tribal law, grief, the desire for revenge, the bonds of friendship, kinship, and loyalty, and the legal limits of justice are all brilliantly presented. An outstanding book group selection.” —Darwin Ellis, Books on the Common, Ridgefield, CT

    3. Escape From Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West, by Blaine Harden
    (Penguin Books, 9780143122913, $15)
    Escape From Camp 14 is both unbelievable and unforgettable. Even if you think you can imagine the brutality of life in a North Korean prison camp, you simply cannot. Harden’s central character, Shin, was born in the camp and Harden describes Shin’s ghastly life and remarkable escape in rich detail. This is an important book and should be read and discussed by all, especially policymakers, in order to better understand the ruthless regime that controls North Korea.” —Karen Emmerling, Beach Books, Seaside, OR

    4. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore: A Novel, by Robin Sloan
    (Picador, 9781250037756, $15)
    “In Mr. Penumbra’s bookstore, books written in code are available for free and around the clock to members of a mysterious society. Can Google break the code that humans haven’t been able to decipher after 500 years of trying? Can a prop master from Industrial Light & Magic create a faux book to replace an ancient codex? Book clubs will enjoy this fun, informative trip inside Silicon Valley, the art of code-breaking, 15th century fonts, printing presses, and the love of books.” —Barbara Olic-Hamilton, The Rediscovered Bookshop, Boise, ID

    5. Telegraph Avenue: A Novel, by Michael Chabon
    (Harper Perennial, 9780061493355, $16.99)
    “On the surface, Telegraph Avenue is the story of Archy and Nat — longtime proprietors of Brokeland Records, a community staple in the variegated neighborhoods of Oakland, California — who face an invasion of Walmart proportions. But intertwined with their struggle is an exploration of so much more: love, in all its forms; race; gentrification; modern medicine; blaxploitation films; vinyl records; and the absolute greatness of jazz and funk. I don’t think there’s another writer alive who can structure a sentence the way Chabon does, and he’s given us yet another masterful, unsparing novel, whose vivid characters will inhabit your heart long after the final page.” —Amanda Hurley, Inkwood Books, Tampa, FL

    6. The Dinner: A Novel, by Herman Koch
    (Hogarth, 9780385346856, $14)
    “Paul, his brother Serge, and their wives, Claire and Barbara, are gathered in an upper-class restaurant to discuss a serious problem concerning their children. During the several courses of the dinner, Paul, the narrator, slowly reveals a horrific crime committed by their boys. Which parents know about the crime, what do they know, and what are their intentions? What would you do? How far would you go to protect your children? How much responsibility do parents actually bear for the actions of their children? Perfect for book club discussions!” —Jean-Paul Adriaansen, Water Street Books, Exeter, NH

    7. Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness, by Susannah Cahalan
    (Simon & Schuster, 9781451621389, $16)
    “In her brave and breathtaking memoir, young journalist Cahalan recounts her terrifying ‘month of madness.’ The result reads like a mystery novel that will have you rapidly turning pages to find out what happened as the illness, which baffled countless doctors and threatened to take Susannah’s life, progressed. Perfect for book groups, Cahalan’s account raises important questions about identity, the diagnosis of mental illness, the resilience of the human brain, and the strong bond of family.” —Nikole Bonacorsi, the river’s end bookstore, Oswego, NY

    8. Schroder: A Novel, by Amity Gaige
    (Twelve, 9781455512126, $15)
    “This is a heartbreaking story about a life’s unraveling after every last strand is torn. In his youth, Eric Schroder assumes the last name Kennedy and an invented identity to fit in as a New Englander and make a clean break from his German past. As a young man, he falls deeply in love and is happier than he ever thought he could be, but soon the world he has built with his young wife and daughter can no longer stand the strain because of the lies at its foundation. Gaige addresses the reader from the point of view of Schroder as he writes a letter of apology and explanation to his wife for having taken to the road with their daughter. Schroder will light a conversational fire under your book group!” —Susan Buschmann, Anderson’s Bookshop, Naperville, IL

    9. Accelerated: A Novel, by Bronwen Hruska
    (Pegasus, 9781605985190, $14.95)
    “What starts off as a send-up of overscheduled, gifted children and the Rambo-like parents and elite schools that create them quickly turns into a tale of a huge pharmaceutical conspiracy. When Sean reluctantly caves in to the pressure that New York City’s most prestigious school exerts on him to start medicating his son, Toby, for seemingly nonexistent issues, there are disastrous consequences. Sean must gather his allies close and his enemies closer if he wants to take on this bedrock of prestige and wealth, whose arms of power extend eerily into every aspect of his life. A fast-paced read covering a topic about which every reader should be concerned.” —Emily Crowe, Odyssey Bookshop, South Hadley, MA

    10. The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving: A Novel, by Jonathan Evison
    (Algonquin Books, 9781616203153, $14.95)
    “What a heartfelt journey we travel in this capriciously tragic story of Benjamin Benjamin Jr., caregiver extraordinaire. His charge, Trev, is a 19-year-old suffering from Duchenne muscular dystrophy, or, as Ben describes him, ‘a pretzel with a perfectly healthy imagination.’ Ben is suffering, too. He is trying to recover from a personal tragedy that has left him without a family or a job. To read this book is to be in a constant, conflicting state between tears and laughter.” —Lynn Riggs, Books & Company, Oconomowoc, WI

    EXCITING NEW VOICES

    A Constellation of Vital Phenomena: A Novel, by Anthony Marra
    (Hogarth, 9780770436407, $26; paperback due 2/11/14: Hogarth, 9780770436421, $15)
    “Set in Chechnya after the collapse of the Soviet Union, this remarkable novel tells the story of a group of villagers caught in the midst of a brutal war for independence. The fallout is dreadful, and deprivation and terror threaten to break families apart, setting father against son, sister against sister, even as the individuals struggle to maintain a shred of humanity. It is this tension that Marra beautifully portrays through an unforgettable cast of characters and with his extraordinary use of language. Like an alchemist, he succeeds in transforming the worst that human beings can do to each other into an affirmation that, in spite of all, life has value, families endure, and love prevails.” —Sheila Daley, Barrett Bookstore, Darien, CT

    Good Kings Bad Kings: A Novel, by Susan Nussbaum
    (Algonquin Books, 9781616203252, $14.95)
    “Set in a privatized nursing home and told through an ensemble of young voices, Good Kings Bad Kings explores the lives of youths with disabilities and their caretakers — their imperfections, their personalities, and their love. By taking the stigma out of disability and focusing on each character’s humanity, this story also becomes a rallying cry to pay close attention to the businesses that provide care for these vulnerable members of society. Nussbaum’s important novel which won the PEN/Bellwether Prize for socially-engaged fiction, deserves a wide readership.” —Hannah Johnson-Breimeier, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI

    The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat: A Novel, by Edward Kelsey Moore
    (Knopf, 9780307959928, $24.95; paperback due 1/21/14: Vintage, 9780307950437, $15)
    “Odette, Clarice, and Barbara Jean are three of the best friends you will ever have the pleasure to meet. Odette is the strong one, who speaks her mind, regardless of the consequences. Well, she also sees ghosts like her Mama did, but she doesn’t tell her friends about that. Clarice plays by the rules and makes sure that everyone else does, too. Well, except for her cheating husband, but she doesn’t tell her friends about that. Barbara Jean rose up from a broken home to have the nicest house, nicest husband, and most perfect life in town. Well, except for drinking herself into oblivion every night while she grieves for her lost child, but she doesn’t tell her friends about that. Sometimes, the things we don’t tell our friends are the things they already know, and they love us anyway. This book gives readers so much to talk about!” —Jessilyn Norcross, McLean & Eakin Booksellers, Petoskey, MI

    Wash: A Novel, by Margaret Wrinkle
    (Grove Press, 9780802122032, $16)
    “Written as a first-person narrative from the perspectives of both a slave owner in the 1800s American South and a slave born of an African mother, Wash opens reader’s eyes to the social and political nature of this era in American history. Wrinkle cleverly weaves cultural differences and similarities together into a sometimes troubling, sometimes delightful tale. In just one statement: ‘I take what I have and I make what I can with it,’ Wash describes how he came to understand the life he’d been born into, how his ancestry guided his life before he was even born, and how truly futile a dream could be to an enslaved person. Highly recommended!” —Melanie Mayberry, Cornerstone Cottage Kids, Hampton, IA

    The Yellow Birds: A Novel, by Kevin Powers
    (Back Bay Books, 9780316219341, $14.99)
    The Yellow Birds should be required reading for the President, the Congress, and the entire Military Industrial Complex. Powers’ novel describes in lyrical language the intensity and the confusion of war. Young men who have barely left boyhood face battle for the first time in Iraq, a country and a people that they know little about. For those fortunate enough to return home, the war comes with them and affects their families as well. In eloquent prose, Iraq war veteran Powers unveils the hidden costs of war for the average American. Truthful and painful, The Yellow Birds will join the classics of war fiction.” —Joan Grenier, Odyssey Bookshop, South Hadley, MA

    NEW WORKS FROM OLD FAVORITES

    The Bartender’s Tale: A Novel, by Ivan Doig
    (Riverhead Trade, 9781594631481, $16)
    The Bartender’s Tale is a reflection by a son, Rusty, on the year he turned 12 and the events of that summer — events that would change his world forever. When a son loves his father, his inclination is to believe that everything about the man is perfect. But as the boy grows up, his beliefs are challenged. When a father loves his son, he will do whatever is necessary to protect him, even if that ‘anything’ requires keeping his mouth shut and occasionally telling a lie. This is also the story of a summer friendship between Rusty and Zoe, a friendship that for Rusty evolves into an adult love. While not a traditional love story, this rich, satisfying read will appeal to the romantic in each reader.” —Kerri Childs, Kerri’s Korner Bookstore, Fairmont, WV

    A Hundred Flowers: A Novel, by Gail Tsukiyama
    (St. Martin’s Griffin, 9781250022547, $15.99)
    “The words of Chairman Mao, ‘Let a hundred flowers bloom; let a hundred schools of thought contend’ prove to be a trap for Sheng, a high school teacher who dares to speak out against the Communist Party. He is imprisoned, leaving his wife and young son to make their home with his father, a retired university professor. Sharing their story through alternating voices, Tsukiyama is a masterful craftsman and storyteller, and the reader is quickly caught up in the turmoil of the early days of the Cultural Revolution in China.” —Elizabeth Merritt, Titcomb’s Bookshop, East Sandwich, MA

    In One Person: A Novel, by John Irving
    (Simon & Schuster, 9781451664133, $15.99)
    “As the beguiling Miss Frost puts it in this modern masterpiece of gender politics, ‘My dear boy, please don’t put a label on me — don’t make me a category before you get to know me!’ There is no writer, living or dead, who better humanizes the quirky, the misunderstood, the ‘different’ than John Irving. Here, through his bisexual protagonist, Billy, he tenderly explores the way American attitudes toward sexuality have — and have not — evolved in the past half-century. A heartbreaking, hopeful, complicated, and gorgeous story, In One Person is a must-read.” —Libby Cowles, Maria’s Bookshop, Durango, CO

    In Sunlight and In Shadow: A Novel, by Mark Helprin
    (Mariner Books, 9780544102606, $15.95)
    “This magnificent, sweeping story, set in post-WWII Manhattan, took my breath away. I was torn between racing along the swift river of the narrative and needing to pause to drink in luminous sentences and searing paragraphs. The author feeds the soul of the reader as he describes the depths of mind, heart, and spirit of characters whose lives have been shaped by the war, the culture, and the city. A deeply romantic and supremely intelligent novel.” —Karen Frank, Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, VT

    Is This Tomorrow: A Novel, by Caroline Leavitt
    (Algonquin Books, 9781616200541, $14.95)
    “When a 12-year-old boy disappears from his suburban Boston neighborhood, ripples spread far and wide. It’s the rigid 1950s, and a tight-knit community comes undone. The mystery is set up early, allowing the reader plenty of time to become invested in the characters and to identify those whose motives are questionable. How can characters the reader comes to feel protective of get beyond the tragedy? How can you get to tomorrow when time is stuck forever on one tragic day? Wonderfully written and a great choice for book clubs!” —Candy Purdom, Anderson’s Bookshop, Naperville, IL

    Live by Night: A Novel, by Dennis Lehane
    (William Morrow Paperbacks, 9780062197757, $16.99)
    “This is a stunning epic of a young Irish gangster in the vicious underworld of the Prohibition era who carries the loaded pedigree of being the son of the Boston police chief. Knocked off his game by his first great love, he falls prey to the Italian mob boss who makes him his own and then punishes him for his success. From Charlestown to Tampa to Havana, this stay-up-all-night page-turner is rich in both history and suspense.” —Elizabeth Houghton Barden, Big Hat Books, Indianapolis, IN

    Love Water Memory: A Novel, by Jennie Shortridge
    (Gallery Books, 9781451684834, $26; paperback due 1/14/14: Galley Books, 9781451684841, $16)
    “By the end of page one of Love Water Memory, readers care about Lucie and why she’s standing in frigid San Francisco Bay in an Armani suit. Shortridge’s fifth novel moves like a thriller, as along with Lucie we discover what led to her flight from her fiancé, Grady, and her high-powered career. In the hands of a less accomplished author, the plot could have become maudlin. Here, it’s credible. Grady is loving but flawed and the pre-amnesiac Lucie not always likable, but they fight for understanding and happiness, and readers will be cheering for them all the way.” —Cheryl Krocker McKeon, Book Passage, San Francisco, CA

    INTRIGUE PAST AND PRESENT

    The Andalucian Friend: A Thriller, by Alexander Soderberg
    (Broadway Books, 9780770436070, $15)
    “Fans of Stieg Larsson’s Millenium series, rejoice! A new high-octane thriller (first in a trilogy) is here from Sweden. Sophie Brinkmann, a single mother and nurse, finds herself in the middle of a war between international drug dealers when she meets and starts dating a book publisher named Hector Guzman. The police immediately contact Sophie to convince her to inform on Hector, who is actually the head of a criminal organization. Caught between the drug dealers and the unscrupulous police, and desperate to save her life and that of her son, Sophie turns to an ex-boyfriend for help. But he is an arms dealer, whose latest deal has angered his clients, unpredictable Russian mobsters. All these people collide in a tightly woven and highly suspenseful story that will keep you reading long into the night.” —Pierre Camy, Schuler Books & Music, Grand Rapids, MI

    Capital: A Novel, by John Lanchester
    (W.W. Norton, 9780393345094, $15.95)
    Capital begins with the households of London’s Pepys Road each receiving a card that states, ‘We want what you have.’ Those menacing and mysterious notes are the jumping off point for Lanchester’s brilliant exploration of modern London. From the financial trader in the midst of growing midlife and career crises, to the Pakistani family struggling with faith and family, to a dying woman and her street artist son, Lanchester effortlessly weaves myriad stories into brief chapters to create a written tapestry of remarkable color and depth.” —Catherine Weller, Weller Book Works, Salt Lake City, UT

    Istanbul Passage: A Novel, by Joseph Kanon
    (Washington Square Press, 9781439156438, $16)
    “As this novel opens, World War II has ended but Istanbul is still a hotbed of intrigue as refugees and spies try to find their footing in a new postwar world. Businessman Leon Bauer was drawn into the underworld of spies and spying, doing his bit during the war, but as the spies pack up to go home he is given one more assignment. The operation goes terribly wrong and his generally minor role in these affairs explodes into a deadly game of hide-and-seek. Set against a backdrop of fading wealth, dire poverty, mosques, bazaars, and the crumbling Ottoman city, Istanbul Passage is the story of a man trying to make the right decisions when all the choices are bad.” —Ray Nurmi, Snowbound Books, Marquette, MI

    The Malice of Fortune: A Novel of the Renaissance, by Michael Ennis
    (Anchor, 9780307951045, $15.95)
    “Ennis brings to life the chaos and mayhem of the Italy that inspired Machiavelli’s The Prince. An unlikely trio find themselves teaming up to solve the most notorious murder of the Italian Renaissance: the assassination of the Borgia Pope’s favorite son. Niccolò Machiavelli believes he can solve the mystery by studying human behavior. Leonardo da Vinci believes that carefully measuring all the elements of the crime will lead him to the killer. Then there is Damiata, the courtesan, who knows an unhealthy amount of Borgia secrets. This tale will keep you guessing right up to the thrilling conclusion.” —Sarah Harvey, Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver, CO

    White Dog Fell From the Sky: A Novel, by Eleanor Morse
    (Viking, 9780670026401, $27.95; paperback due 12/31/13: Penguin Books, 9780143124436, $16)
    “It is not difficult to get on the wrong side of the authorities in 1976 South Africa if you are black. Isaac Mutherthe, a young medical student, witnesses the murder of his friend by the authorities and now his life is in jeopardy and he must flee into neighboring Botswana, leaving his family behind. Without papers or prospects his options are few, but Isaac is fortunate to find work as a gardener for Alice Mendelssohn, a young American. When Isaac goes missing, Alice searches for him and in the process learns truths about herself and Africa that will change her life. Luminous writing and a poignant story make this a great book for discussions.” —Deon Stonehouse, Sunriver Books & Music, Sunriver, OR

    UNCONVENTIONAL DELIGHTS

    Albert of Adelaide: A Novel, by Howard Anderson
    (Twelve, 9781455509614, $15)
    Gunfight at the O.K. Corral meets Watership Down in this unique story of Albert, a duck-billed platypus who escapes from the Adelaide Zoo and heads north looking for the fabled ‘Old Australia,’ the land of peace and freedom for animals. The characters are a riot — drunken bandicoots, gun-slinging kangaroos, the dreaded dingoes, and even a Tasmanian devil. This is more fun than you could ever hope for as Albert, shy and unprepared, finds his inner strength, becomes a cool dude — ‘The Most Wanted Platypus in Old Australia’ — and saves the day. This is imagination at its very best. Delightful!” —Susan Wasson, Bookworks, Albuquerque, NM

    Alif the Unseen: A Novel, by G. Willow Wilson
    (Grove Press, 9780802121226, $16)
    “Alif is an Arab-Indian computer hacker who gets into deep trouble when he tries to erase himself from the web. His troubles only increase when he receives an ancient text — written by the mythological Jinn — that may be the key to unlocking a whole new way of programming. This smartly written, action-packed thriller is reminiscent of the early works of Neal Stephenson and William Gibson. Unpredictable to the very end — I could not put it down!” —James Wilson, Octavia Books, New Orleans, LA

    The Golem and the Jinni: A Novel, by Helene Wecker
    (HarperCollins, 9780062110831, $26.99; paperback due 12/31/13: Harper Perennial, 9780062110848, $15.99)
    “Wecker’s debut novel takes a magical flight back to New York at the turn of the 20th century. The Golem is a woman cast from clay, while the Jinni springs from fire. Both are old-world denizens in a very new world, a world and a time exquisitely rendered by Wecker. While the most obvious elements of the novel are fantastical and much of its magic dark, at its heart The Golem and the Jinni brims over emotionally with love and loss, with longing, and with what it means to ‘belong’ — or not. Wecker is part novelist and part alchemist, and she leaves the reader to wonder how she gave such vibrant life to her characters.” —Nick Petrulakis, Books Inc., San Francisco, CA

    Shine Shine Shine: A Novel, by Lydia Netzer
    (St. Martin’s Griffin, 9781250020413, $14.99)
    “Sunny and Maxon live in a beautiful house in a beautiful neighborhood. Maxon is a brilliant robotics scientist on a mission to the moon for NASA. Sunny is a perfect wife and mother, a perfect daughter and neighbor. Everything is proceeding according to plan — and then the unexpected happens. Shine Shine Shine is smart, funny, and quirky while also being insightful, rich, deep, and fully human. A perfect book club choice!” —Jane Oros, Gallery Bookshop & Bullwinkle’s Children’s Books, Mendocino, CA

    The Stockholm Octavo: A Novel, by Karen Engelmann
    (Ecco, 9780061995354, $14.99)
    “Emil Larsson, a mid-level bureaucrat in late 18th century Stockholm, is drawn into a web of intrigue and magic when Mrs. Sparrow, the proprietress of his favorite gambling den, insists on reading his cards because he is a ‘Seeker,’ who must find his ‘Eight’ to ensure a positive outcome in an event of historical importance. Fans of historical fiction will enjoy this sumptuous novel and appreciate the expertly explored Scandinavian setting.” —Susan Taylor, Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany, NY

    LIFE JOURNEYS

    The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared: A Novel, by Jonas Jonasson
    (Hyperion, 9780140324643, $15.99)
    “On the eve of his 100th birthday, Allan Karlsson climbs out the window of the old folks home and catches a bus going as far as a fifty-crown note will take him. The journey ahead is full of surprises, including some unfortunate deaths but also some remarkable friendships. Interspersed are flashbacks to Allan’s previous life when, as an explosives expert, he played a key role in many historical events of the 20th century, meeting and dining with dignitaries such as Franco, Stalin, Churchill, de Gaulle, Chairman Mao, and Presidents Truman and Johnson. Now available in English, this international sensation is charming, engaging, and laugh-out-loud funny!” —Karen Briggs, Great Northern Books & Hobbies, Oscoda, MI

    Elsewhere: A Memoir, by Richard Russo
    (Vintage, 9780307949769, $15)
    “This is a heartfelt and intimate portrait of Russo’s relationship with his troubled mother and his coming to terms with what he could — or could not — have done differently, starting when he was a young boy and his parents’marriage failed. In the late 1960s, anxiety, depression, and obsessive compulsive disorder were not often diagnosed or treated, and effective coping strategies were not taught to families. Russo struggled with how to balance his mother’s needs with his own concerns — his wife and daughters and his teaching and writing. Insightful and painful in turns, this is a real life tale from one of our best storytellers.” —Liza Bernard, Norwich Bookstore, Norwich, VT

    The Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One Man’s Quest to Be a Better Husband, by David Finch
    (Scribner, 9781439189740, $16)
    “At the age of 30, married with two children, Finch learns he has Asperger’s Syndrome. He does not, however, use this diagnosis as an excuse for the behaviors that are jeopardizing his marriage. Instead, Finch chooses to learn all that he can about his individual characteristics, keeping notes to review so that he may change his ways and learn to improve himself. This is an amazing story of self-discovery and transformation that is a refreshing change of pace, one that will delight readers and offer a renewed sense of spirit.” —Arlene Lynes, Read Between the Lynes, Woodstock, IL

    Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety, by Daniel Smith
    (Simon & Schuster, 9781439177310, $16)
    “This is the kind of memoir you’ve likely never read before. To be human is to understand what anxiety is, but few understand anxiety as a true mental disorder. Smith’s real strength is his ability to provide the reader with very clear descriptions of what it means to suffer from chronic anxiety in ways that are both bracingly honest and self-deprecatingly funny. For readers who suffer anxiety, the world just may feel a tiny bit less lonely; for others, the hope is this book will give insight into, and compassion for, those who do.” —Jennifer Wills Geraedts, Beagle Books, Park Rapids, MN

    Mrs. Queen Takes the Train: A Novel, by William Kuhn
    (Harper Perennial, 9780062208293, $14.99)
    “The Queen has tried to stay up to date, practicing yoga and learning to surf the Internet, but decades of pomp and circumstance have taken their toll and Her Majesty needs a break. She sets off alone — well-disguised in a skull-motif hoodie — on a train to Scotland, only to be pursued by a motley crew of royal attendants determined to bring her home before she creates a royal scandal. This debut novel is thoroughly fresh and charming, an imaginative story about the most famous woman who almost no one really knows.” —Jody Misner Chwatun, Saturn Booksellers, Gaylord, MI

    Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, by Jon Meacham
    (Random House Trade Paperbacks, 9780812979480, $20)
    “It could be argued that few individuals have had a greater impact on the course of our nation’s history than Thomas Jefferson. Meacham’s engaging biography reveals the extraordinary skills of this uniquely gifted and driven man as well as his heart and soul. In a poetic, moving epilogue, Meacham explains Jefferson’s unabated appeal: ‘He endures because we can see in him all the varied and wondrous possibilities of the human experience — the thirst for knowledge, the capacity to create, the love of family and friends, the hunger for accomplishment, the applause of the world, the marshaling of power, the bending of others to one’s own vision.’ Jefferson’s story has never been more perfectly told.” —Christopher Rose, Andover Bookstore, Andover, MA

    COMPELLING READS FOR ALL AGES

    Between Shades of Gray, by Ruth Sepetys
    (Speak, 9780142420591, $8.99)
    “The full extent of Stalin’s genocide will never truly be known, but it certainly had no boundaries. Ruta Sepetys stunningly portrays the devastation of Lithuania through the eyes of 15-year-old Lina and the story of her family’s deportation to Siberia. The camp scenes not only accurately display the horror of the Great Terror, but also show the courage and resilience of those who survived this colossal crime. Consider this the young adult version of Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.” —Bill Cusumano, Nicola’s Books, Ann Arbor, MI

    The Bully Book, by Eric Kahn Gale
    (Balzer + Bray, 9780062125132, $6.99)
    “Eric has recently begun sixth grade and just wants to be ‘normal’ and stay out of trouble. Unfortunately, other sixth-grade boys, and even his best friend from the previous school year, have decided he would make the perfect ‘Grunt.’ But why him? Eric is determined to find the answer because he knows the bullying will follow him until he graduates. Gale felt the same insults and name calling at the same age and decided to write The Bully Book for all those who have been singled out as ‘Grunts.’ An important book not just for students, but also for teachers and parents as they seek to stop the trauma of bullying that can last a lifetime.” —Karen Briggs, Great Northern Books & Hobbies, Oscoda, MI

    Every Day, by David Levithan
    (Ember, 9780307931894, $9.99)
    “Caught in the inexplicable fate of awakening each day in a different person’s body, ‘A’ has accepted his destiny. He is able to access the details of the life of the inhabited individual and can lead his or her life, but ‘A’ has never wished to return to any of them. This changes when he meets Rhiannon. Suddenly, there is a reason to question and alter his circumstances. With this intriguing premise, Levithan explores what it means to be human, and where compassion and understanding are rooted. Captivating and romantic.” —Mary Alice Garber, Politics and Prose Bookstore and Coffee House, Washington, DC

    Looking for Alaska: A Novel, by John Green
    (Speak, 9780142402511, 9.99)
    “Green writes with such a clear, consistent voice that readers will inevitably fall right in step with the story he’s telling, and right in love with the likes (and life) of a girl named Alaska. Beware the heartbreak, though, that follows that fall, as there is a complicated, elegant balance at work in this book. Green delivers both a sharply funny introduction to teenage boarding school life and a wonderfully nuanced look at the experience of loss and the questions it inevitably raises. The result is a beautiful, memorable, exquisitely real, and remarkably human book that both adults and teenagers will gravitate to, relate to, and recall again and again.” —Alison Morris, Wellesley Books, Wellesley, MA

    My Name Is Parvana, by Deborah Ellis
    (Groundwood Books, 9781554982974, hardcover, $16.95)
    “A young girl is in the custody of the Americans on a base in Afghanistan. She is not speaking and they believe she might be connected to a group of terrorists. While she is incarcerated, Parvana takes readers through her memories of the previous four years, when she and her family were building a school — a haven for young girls — and all the difficulties that went with the endeavor. Fans of Elllis’ Breadwinner series will be pleased to see Parvana again and will once again be impressed with her bravery and her strong sense of what is right in a scary and troubled world.” —Margaret Brennan Neville, The King’s English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, UT

    Wonder, by R.J. Palacio
    (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 9780375869020, hardcover, $15.99)
    “Aptly titled, this is one of those books that may cause the reader to stand up and cheer at the end. Without ever devolving into pathos, Wonder tells the story of a fifth-grade boy who overcomes a physical handicap to become the toast of his school as well as a model of humility and a triumph of the human spirit. A wonder indeed!” —Mary Grey James, Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN