The August 2011 Indie Next List Preview

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Here’s a preview of the titles on the August Indie Next List flier, on its way to ABA member stores in the IndieBound movement.

A downloadable PDF version of the list will also be available beginning August 1 on and

The August 2011 Indie Next List Great Reads

#1 Pick: Iron House, by John Hart
(Thomas Dunne, $25.99, 9780312380342)
"How far would you go to protect your own blood? For Michael, it starts by breaking free of the crime family that made him a stone-cold killer. It ends walking a lonely road back to the orphanage he escaped from long ago. Iron House is built from greed, power, lust, and corruption, and Michael's fight is a searing portrait of a man in conflict with his past and present. Weaving together a story of betrayal and redemption that reaches back decades, John Hart once again creates a rock-solid thriller." -- Geoffrey Jennings, Rainy Day Books, Fairway, KS

Unsaid: A Novel, by Neil Abramson
(Center Street, $23.99, 9781599954103)
"In a story reminiscent of The Lovely Bones, a deceased veterinarian narrates the evolution of her lawyer husband who has been left behind with boundless grief, an unmanageable menagerie, and an unwinnable case following her death. This is a book for animal lovers and those who live with animal lovers; for those who love a good courtroom drama and for cynics who imagine all lawyers to be soulless; and for those interested in animal ethics who wonder if there are more communication possibilities to be developed with higher primates. Unforgettable!" -- Darwin Ellis, Books on the Common, Ridgefield, CT

The Family Fang: A Novel, by Kevin Wilson
(Ecco, $23.99, 9780061579035)
"If Salinger's fabled Glass siblings had been raised by avant-garde 1980s performance artists they might have turned out like Annie and Buster - Child A and Child B in their parents' performance art happenings. All families are odd in their own ways, and Kevin Wilson simply amplifies the confusion that all parents induce in their children. I loved the fringe art world setting with its weird blend of humor and discomfort, but the very familiar quest of adult children coming to grips with the legacy of flawed parents is at the hear of this funny, disquieting novel." -- Robert McDonald, The Book Stall At Chestnut, Winnetka, IL

The Call: A Novel, by Yannick Murphy
(Harper Perennial, $14.99, 9780062023148)
"This sweet, funny novel -- told in a series of call reports from a country vet -- details the life of a family whose peace is shattered when their young son is left comatose from a hunting accident. The warmth, humor and believability of the characters - including the four-legged variety - balance out the darker elements of the story and make The Call an absolute delight to read. E.B. White meets James Herriot with just a touch of Jonathan Safron Foer." -- Carol Schneck, Schuler Books & Music, Okemos, MI

Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline
(Crown, $24.00, 9780307887436)
"The world in 2044, is a mess. Energy sources are depleted, cities are jam-packed and the lives of average people are full of misery. In order to escape the hardships of everyday life, billions escape into the electronic virtual world OASIS. When the multi-billionaire creator of OASIS dies, he leaves his fortune in trust for the first avatar to complete three virtual quests. Wade Watts, a lonely teenage misfit, decides to compete and win the prize. Filled with references to 1970s and '80s pop culture, Ready Player One is a love story, a quest novel and a parable for the electronic age." -- John Hoover, Misty Valley Books, Chester, VT

Rules of Civility: A Novel, by Amor Towles
(Viking Adult, $26.95, 9780670022694)
"This flawless debut novel follows two young women, boarding-house roommates, making their way in 1938 Manhattan. A chance meeting with an enigmatic young businessman launches the pair into areas of society heretofore closed to them, where they encounter a large cast of characters both charming and repellent. With echoes of Fitzgerald, Towles evokes effortlessly the era of pre-war Manhattan, from the workplace politics of a law office secretarial pool to the alcohol-fueled lawn party of the Long Island gin-and-horses set. This is an astonishing book!" -- Matthew Lage, Iowa Book L.L.C., Iowa City, IA

Plugged: A Novel, by Eoin Colfer
(Overlook Hardcover, $24.95, 9781590204634)
"The bestselling author of the Artemis Fowl novels dedicates this, his first crime novel for adults, to fellow Irish writer Ken Bruen, who 'made him do it.' The result is an infectious blend of hardboiled lunacy mixed with Celtic black humor that is held together by Colfer's own glorious voice." -- Patrick Millikin, The Poisoned Pen, Scottsdale, AZ

The End of Everything: A Novel, by Megan Abbott
(Reagan Arthur Books, $23.99, 9780316097796)
"Innocence ends abruptly for 13-year-old Lizzie and Evie. As bone-deep best friends and neighbors, Lizzie thought there were no secrets between them. She sees Evie's family as perfect, especially her ideal, dazzling dad. But can we ever truly know one another? Evie disappears, and as the town frantically searches for the young girl, Lizzie becomes the focus of attention. She learns that perhaps she did not know her friend quite so well and perfection is an elusive state. Life can be confusing for 13-year-old girls, their bodies just awakening, their emotions not quite ready to be adult. Abbot perfectly captures the tragedy of vulnerability." -- Deon Stonehouse, Sunriver Books, Sunriver, OR

The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb: A Novel, by Melanie Benjamin
(Delacorte, $25.00, 9780385344159)
"In this marvelous fictionalized 'autobiography' of Mercy Lavinia Warren Bump, known by many names during her miniature life but most famously as Mrs. Tom Thumb, Vinnie becomes a heroine to America and the world during the Gilded Age. A leading celebrity as part of Phineas Barnum's human curiosities in his American Museum in New York City, Vinnie uses her intelligence and ambition to bring love and admiration to the 'small' world within the 'tall' world surrounding her. Benjamin offers a poignant story that will insert itself into every reader's heart." -- Carol Hicks, Bookshelf At Hooligan Rocks, Truckee, CA

Among the Wonderful, by Stacy Carlson
(Steerforth, $27.00, 9781586421847)
"Among the Wonderful is an historical novel rich with images of 1840s Manhattan and the exhibits -- both living and preserved -- that populate P. T. Barnum's American Museum. Outwardly freakish but inwardly just like you and me, the living, breathing, feeling human characters Stacy Carlson has created remind us of our common humanity. Ana Swift, one of Barnum's human exhibits, draws us into this world of hawkers and gawkers and voyeurs with uncommon intelligence, heart, and grace. Ana's story is universal: it is not what you see on the outside that truly counts. A remarkably beautiful story with characters that will stay with you long after the last page is turned. This is a book you will want to read again." -- Susan Morgan, The Yankee Bookshop, Woodstock, VT

The Adjustment, by Scott Phillips
(Counterpoint, $25.00, 9781582437309)
"Wayne Ogden has returned home from WWII, working as a caretaker and procurer for his debauched boss, while itching for the same action he had as a shady supply sergeant. It doesn't take long before he gets involved in blackmail, pornography, and murder even as he receives a bunch of mysterious letters from someone aware of his criminal past. Playing fast and loose with the dark side of the 'Greatest Generation,' Scott Phillips once again creates a tight, funny noir that's rich in character, and makes the profane sacred." -- Scott Montgomery, Book People, Austin, TX

Next to Love: A Novel, by Ellen Feldman
(Spiegel & Grau, $25.00, 9780812992717)
"The 'Greatest Generation' and the battles to defeat Germany in Europe during WWII have received generous and much-deserved attention. Ellen Feldman turns our attention to the home front in a moving and insightful story of three young women in a small New England town, two of whom lose husbands on the Normandy beaches, and one whose returning husband is haunted by what we now know as PTSD. How they attempt to rebuild their lives is a story beautifully told. Feldman's narrative also encompasses the racism and the anti-Semetism of those years as well as the nascent women's movement without ever seeming didactic. A brilliant book!" -- Marian Nielsen, Orinda Books, Orinda, CA

Domestic Violets: A Novel, by Matthew Norman
(Harper Perennial, $14.99, 9780062065117)
"The characters created by Norman move this story with moments worthy of laughter, cringing, crying, or some combination of all. Tom's moral compass is just loose enough that the reader will worry about him, while still being able to empathize with the details of his admittedly horrible situation. The story is really about the inner turmoil of a man who could be any of us, whose life has slipped from his control one tiny event at a time, and who, faced with the choice of soul-killing subservience to his family legacy or a radical rediscovery of himself and his powers, makes some interesting choices. This is the story of an underdog, and if you like to see a good man who has been knocked down get back up, this is the book for you." -- Evan Barker, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Lexington, KY

Girls in White Dresses, by Jennifer Close
(Knopf, $24.95, 9780307596857)
"This book is smart, hilarious, and sincere, a combination both rare and, here, perfectly balanced. The series of interconnected short stories features Isabelle, her family, and her group of close friends as Isabelle grows up and moves from being a reluctant member of her older sister's wedding party to attending numerous friends' weddings. But this is not just a book about getting married. It is a book about growing up, being a girl, being both a friend and a girlfriend, and trying to find one's place in the world. It is also incredibly funny -- laugh out loud, run into the next room to read sections to whomever will listen, spot-on funny! This lovely book should not only be shared among mothers, daughters, and friends, but be passed on to brothers, boyfriends, and dads too!" -- Sarah Baline, Politics & Prose Books &, Washington, DC

The Magician King: A Novel, by Lev Grossman
(Viking Adult, $26.95, 9780670022311)
"Not since the seemingly never-ending wait for the seventh Harry Potter book have I been so antsy about a release. Lev Grossman's The Magicians, my favorite novel of 2009 by a landslide, cleverly combined aspects of classic fantasy with modern literature and pop culture. With that groundwork in place, Grossman takes us back to Fillory with The Magician King. Quentin is a powerful sorcerer and a royal monarch who is bored out of his mind. He embarks on a seemingly menial errand to collect back taxes from a faraway island and stumbles into an epic and momentously important quest to save the magical world. Grossman's trademark eloquent-yet-hip writing style flourishes in this sequel, a creative and entertaining novel well worth the wait." -- Greg Bruce, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI

Everything Beautiful Began After: A Novel, by Simon Van Booy
(Harper Perennial, $14.99, 9780061661488)
"Simon van Booy's heart-stopping novel takes place predominantly in Athens in the summertime - a hot, dizzying place where three characters forge a brief and unforgettable connection. This book will completely sweep you away. It brims over with small, perfect details and plot twists that must be read to be believed. I can't imagine a better summer read!" -- Kat Bailey, Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA

Coming Up for Air, by Patti Callahan Henry
(St. Martin's Press, $24.99, 9780312610395)
"Coming Up for Air, an emotional powerhouse of a story about Ellie Calvin, a well-to-do Atlanta wife and mother who must confront and make peace with her past, as well as that of her mother, before she can move forward with her life. Ellie's strength is inspiring and will speak to any reader grappling with midlife angst and self-doubt." -- Jill Hendrix, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC

In the Fabled East, by Adam Lewis Schroeder
(Douglas & McIntyre, $16.95, 9781553658122)
"This is a briskly paced yet acutely observed narrative moving between early 20th century France and colonial Vietnam and Laos. Across wrenching decades, the forces of history, place, and chance mold three striking characters who are connected at times only by the most fabled ideas of love. Surprising, at times breathtaking, always utterly believable. Fantastic!" -- Jennifer Indeliclae, Ebenezer Books, Johnson, VT

What Language Is: And What It Isn't and What It Could Be, by John McWhorter
(Gotham, $26.00, 9781592406258)
"This is a light-hearted investigation into how linguists view language. From languages that change tone for different tenses to languages that do not have any regular verbs, this is an entertaining foray into what language is and what it is not. I look forward to reading more from this talented linguist." -- Fran Wilson, Colorado State University Bookstore, Fort Collins, CO

Untold Story: A Novel, by Monica Ali
(Scribner, $25.00, 9781451635485)
"Spoiler alert! This perfect summer read ties into the recent Royal Wedding so tightly that one feels rather guilty in a faintly voyeuristic way. It is also fascinating as an imagined, but quite believable, character study. And best of all, it comes from the pen of the wonderful Monica Ali!" -- Dana Brigham, Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MA

The August 2011 Indie Next Now in Paperback

Adam & Eve: A Novel, by Sena Jeter Naslund (Harper Perennial, 9780061579288, $15.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Karen Briggs, Great Northern Books and Hobbies, Oscoda, MI

Bury Your Dead: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel, by Louise Penny (Minotaur, 9780312626907, $14.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Ann Carlson, Harborwalk Books, Georgetown, SC

City of Veils: A Novel, by Zoë Ferraris (Back Bay Books, 9780316074261, $14.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Martin Sorensen, Green Apple Books, San Francisco, CA

How to Be an American Housewife: A Novel, by Margaret Dilloway
(Berkley Trade, 9780425241295, $15)
Recommended in hardcover by Beth Carpenter, The Country Bookshop, Plainfield, VT

The Hundred-Foot Journey: A Novel, by Richard C. Morais (Scribner 9781439165652, $15)
Recommended in hardcover by Roberta Rubin, The Bookstall at Chestnut Court, Winnetka, IL

I Curse the River of Time: A Novel, by Per Petterson (Picador, 9780312429539, $15)
Recommended in hardcover by Natalie DelBusso, Wolfgang Books, Phoenixville, PA

Let’s Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship, by Gail Caldwell (Random House Trade Paperbacks, 9780812979114, $14)
Recommended in hardcover by Ellen Jarrett, Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MA

The Memory Palace: A Memoir, by Mira Bartók (Free Press, 9781439183328, $15)
Recommended in hardcover by Nancy Colalillo, Tome on the Range Books, Las Vegas, NM

Moonlight Mile: A Kenzie and Gennaro Novel, by Dennis Lehane (Harper, 9780061836954, $9.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Leslie Reiner, Inkwood Books, Tampa, FL

The Personal History of Rachel DuPree: A Novel, by Ann Weisgarber (Penguin, 9780143119487, $15)
Recommended in hardcover by Cheryl McKeon, Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, WA

Swamplandia!: A Novel, by Karen Russell (Vintage, 9780307276681, $14.95)
Recommended in hardcover by Michael Keefe, Annie Bloom’s Books, Portland, OR

The Typist: A Novel, by Michael Knight (Grove Press, 9780802145369, $14)
Recommended in hardcover by Simone Bratcher, Bookin’ It!, Belmont, NC