The August 2013 Indie Next List Preview

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

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 2013 Indie Next List Great Reads

#1 Pick: Hothouse: The Art of Survival and the Survival of Art at America’s Most Celebrated Publishing House, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, by Boris Kachka
(Simon & Schuster, 9781451691894, $28)
“Roger Straus, editor and publisher at FSG, was loved, loathed, feared, and admired, and the publishing house with which he came of age was — and still is — perhaps the mightiest producer of quality literature in America. Hothouse perfectly captures the often uneasy alliance between commerce and culture. Through anecdotes and firsthand reminiscences, Kachka weaves a compelling and sometimes hilarious history of 20th century American publishing featuring the geniuses, the egotists, and the neurotics — namely the most important voices in writing and publishing — during a golden era of American literature.” —Mark LaFramboise, Politics and Prose Bookstore and Coffeehouse, Washington, DC

Brewster: A Novel, by Mark Slouka
(W.W. Norton, 9780393239751, $25.95)
“The setting is Brewster, New York, in 1968, at the peak of the Vietnam War.  Sixteen-year-old Jon Mosher, the son of Jewish immigrants who escaped Europe during WWII, is searching for his own escape from a dead-end town and his guilt over his older brother’s death. He meets fellow student Ray Cappicciano and together they struggle to make sense of their quickly changing world.  Jon discovers his strength in running track with his high school team, and Ray finds a similar outlet as a fighter. Raw and brutal at times, the well-drawn characters of this poignant story stay with you well after the book is closed.” —Helen Markus, Hearthfire Books of Evergreen, Evergreen, CO

Snow Hunters: A Novel, by Paul Yoon
(Simon & Schuster, 9781476714813, $22)
“With poetic language, this slim volume paints the unlikely portrait of a poor North Korean prisoner of war who, almost by chance, begins a new life in a low-key port city in Brazil rather than return home. Taken in by a kindly Japanese tailor, Yohan masters the trade, learns the language, and slowly becomes a member of this odd foreign family of two. A touching portrayal of immigrant life, isolation, and the search for human connections in a strange new world.” —Darwin Ellis, Books on the Common, Ridgefield, CT

Babayaga: A Novel, by Toby Barlow
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 9780374107871, $27)
“Moving from ancient Russia to the dawn of the New World, stretching into an endless future, but mainly rushing madly around postwar Paris, Babayaga covers a lot of ground. Vengeful witches hunt, charm, and wage battle. Evil scientists hatch sinister plans. A dashing spy runs a crew of outcast mercenaries. A good-hearted police inspector stays on his case, even in the form of a flea! And hapless Will, ad man/CIA informant, is caught in the whirlwind, which just might be the best thing that’s ever happened to him. Babayaga crackles with an electric energy driven by its hilariously inventive plot, clever prose, and outrageously eccentric cast of characters.” —Sarah Hinckley, Hudson Booksellers, Marietta, GA

Paris Was the Place: A Novel, by Susan Conley
(Knopf, 9780307594075, $26.95)
“Conley, author of the acclaimed memoir The Foremost Good Fortune, has written an exquisite debut novel. American Willow Pears lives and teaches in Paris at a center for immigrant girls who have requested asylum in France. The culture, flavor, keen detail and observation, and literature of Paris, India, and the U.S. are lyrically interwoven in a story about hope, love, family, forgiveness, expectation, risk, loss, and letting go. Breathtaking and a must-read!” —Susan K. McCann, Essex Books, Centerbrook, CT

The Ghost Bride: A Novel, by Yangsze Choo
(William Morrow, 9780062227324, $24.99)
“Set on the Malay Peninsula in the late 19th century, this debut novel tells the story of Li Lan, whose father promises her in marriage to the recently deceased son of a wealthy local family as a means of discharging his considerable debt. When the dead son begins visiting Li Lan in her dreams, she becomes increasingly desperate to escape him. After an accidental overdose of a sleeping draught separates her soul from her body, Li Lan must navigate the world of the dead with the aid of two allies — Fan and Er Lang — neither of whom are what they appear to be. Full of danger, romance, and eerie beauty, this is the tale of a young girl’s quest to find her own destiny and choose love over duty.” —Billie Bloebaum, Powell’s Books at PDX, Portland, OR

A Marker to Measure Drift: A Novel, by Alexander Maksik
(Knopf, 9780307962577, $24.95)
“This is the story of a young Liberian refugee, Jacqueline, who has come to a Greek island with shaky memories suffused with profound loss and shadowy images: holding the feet of her beloved sister, an orange cat, the Rolex watch on her father’s wrist, the clink of ice mixed with gin and lime in her mother’s glass, ghost boys with machetes. Maksik’s novel explores profound themes, both political and existential: Where does one find the courage to survive something horrific beyond description? How is it possible to negotiate incipient madness? Can the tiniest connection with another human being, the merest act of kindness lead one out of despair? I am haunted by the power of this book. Shattering and gorgeous, each sentence is a dagger to the heart.” —Amy Palmer, Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, VT 

The Gravity of Birds: A Novel, by Tracy Guzeman
(Simon & Schuster, 9781451689761, $25)
“At a lake retreat in New York State, Thomas Bayber, a young artist with great promise, meets the Kessler family. The family’s teenage daughters, Alice and Natalie, become enamored with Thomas, and jealousy unalterably affects the lives of all three for the next 40 years. In those years, Thomas becomes famous and Alice and Natalie disappear. Thomas informs his friend, an art professor, that there is one of his paintings that has never been shown — Kessler Sisters. An art authenticator is enlisted to help find the missing artwork, but Alice and Natalie must be found first. The reader slowly becomes aware of the connecting threads that bind these characters together through the years, and that leads to a surprising and satisfying conclusion.” —Nancy Nelson, Sunriver Books & Music, Sunriver, OR

The Longest Road: Overland in Search of America, from Key West to the Arctic Ocean, by Philip Caputo
(Henry Holt & Company, 9780805094466, $28)
“In 2011, with Congress in deadlock over pretty much everything, Caputo decides to travel from Key West, Florida, to the farthest point a road will take him in Alaska.  Along the way, he asks different people what it is that binds us together as a nation.  This book is part travel memoir and part philosophical treatise, and the journey with Fred, Caputo’s truck; Ethel, his airstream; and his wife and dogs is great fun.  The people they meet are unique and very opinionated, and the answers Caputo gets to his questions are interesting and thought provoking.” —Janice Hunsche, Kaleidosaurus Books, Fishers, IN

The Butterfly Sister: A Novel, by Amy Gail Hansen
(William Morrow Paperbacks, 9780062234629, paper $14.99)
“Ruby Rosseau believes that she has gone mad. Her suicide attempt at Tarble, a women’s college, leads to her dropping out and failing to graduate. Ten months later, a suitcase with her name on it arrives at her home via courier, but the suitcase belongs to a former classmate at Tarble who has gone missing. Ruby’s search for her friend leads her back to Tarble to face her past and the ghosts that threaten to destroy her life. It will take a ‘butterfly sister,’ someone who inspires metamorphosis, to save Ruby and her friend. Hansen’s debut tale of madness, mystery, revenge, betrayal, love, and literature will keep you guessing until the surprise ending.” —Karen Briggs, Great Northern Books & Hobbies, Oscoda, MI

The Rathbones: A Novel, by Janice Clark
(Doubleday, 9780385536936, $26.95)
“The quest of a young girl and her uncle becomes an odyssey through a century and takes the reader on a literary voyage unlike any in recent memory. The saga of the Rathbone whaling family brings echoes of Melville’s tale of obsession in a novel reminiscent of the great, sprawling moralistic books of the 19th century. This is storytelling at its finest!” —Bill Cusumano, Nicola’s Books, Ann Arbor, MI

Countdown City: The Last Policeman, Book II, by Ben H. Winters
(Quirk Books, 9781594746260, paper, $14.95)
“The second book in The Last Policeman trilogy, Countdown City turns darker as the destruction of the world gets closer. Life has come to a halt as everyone prepares for the last days, and vital services such as electricity and water are no longer available. Hank Palace is an out of work policeman who continues to believe that helping people is part of who he is. When an old friend asks for Hank’s help in locating her missing husband, he agrees and is helped along the way by his rebel sister, who may be onto a way to save the world. Part conventional mystery and part existential query, this book both entertains and provokes thought. I can’t wait for the final volume!” —Ann Carlson, Harborwalk Books, Georgetown, SC

Traveling Light: A Novel, by Andrea Thalasinos
(Forge Books, 9780765333025, $24.99)
“In her glorious new novel, Thalasinos has created a modern middle-aged woman living in two different worlds, neither of which is making her happy. Paula Makaikis has been sleeping on a basement couch for most of her 10-year marriage to a hoarder and has hidden this fact from her family and friends. Her job as Director of Immigrant Studies in New York City is equally frustrating, until she is asked to translate the words of a dying Greek elder with a dog named Fotis who only understands commands in the Greek language. Suddenly, Paula takes a leave of absence from her job, adopts Fotis, and begins a journey that eventually will take her to Grand Marais, Minnesota, and a raptor rehab center. Her discovery that humans and animals can relate to each other and heal even the most wounded of either party is what makes this amazing novel so powerful.” —Kathleen Dixon, Islandtime Books & More, Washington Island, WI

The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World’s Greatest Piece of Cheese, by Michael Paterniti
(The Dial Press, 9780385337007, $27)
“While working in a deli, a young Paterniti encountered what was then considered the finest cheese in the world — Páramo de Guzmán. Too poor at the time to buy a taste, Paterniti instead vowed to one day meet this fascinating, magical cheese again. Years later, with family in tow, he made good on his vow by traveling to the rustic Spanish village where the cheese is produced. Enter Ambrosio, the brilliant, salt-of-the-earth cheesemaker with an infectious zest for life and a love for creating something simply and beautifully. Paterniti spent the next decade embedded in the rural village, playing Sancho Panza to Ambrosio’s Don Quixote while piecing together a meandering mélange of stories about food, flavor, love, loss, betrayal, and revenge. What begins as an investigative journalist’s foodie memoir becomes a culture study, a travelogue, a comedy, and an allegory. I got lost in this book!” —Nick Berg, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI

The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic: A Novel, by Emily Croy Barker
(Pamela Dorman Books/Viking, 9780670023660, $27.95)
“The great thing about Nora, the titular ‘thinking woman,’ is that she is completely relatable. Nora, a perennial graduate student who hasn’t made the best romantic choices, lands in another world that is rife with medieval attitudes toward women. She brings an analytical eye to a highly stratified, low-tech, but magical place, and by speaking truth to power she learns new lessons about herself. This beautifully written first novel reverberates with echoes of fairy tales and fantasy literature from Narnia to Harry Potter.” —Tonie Lilley, The Regulator Bookshop, Durham, NC

Return to Oakpine: A Novel, by Ron Carlson
(Viking, 9780670025077, $25.95)
“Thirty years after the heyday of their high school band, four men reunite in their hometown of Oakpine, Wyoming. One has returned to live out his last days, and he stands as the focal point as all of the men, and those close to them, examine how they’ve lived and what fulfills them. Carlson has written a beautiful novel full of soulful searching, gentle wisdom, and the clarity gained from acknowledging one’s weaknesses while still striving to love. By the end, it made me weep.” —Sheryl Cotleur, Copperfield’s, Sebastopol, CA

The Gamal: A Novel, by Ciaran Collins
(Bloomsbury, 9781608198757, paper, $17)
“Charlie McCarthy has always been different. For the inhabitants of Ballyronan, a tiny Irish village, Charlie is the Gamal, the village idiot, the fool.  But Charlie observes and has an incredible memory, and when something terrible happens to his best friends, James and Sinead, Charlie goes into shock. As a cathartic exercise, his doctor asks Charlie to write down his version of the events. Sometimes funny, sometimes moving, Charlie’s testimony jumps from the present to the past and back again, reflecting his confused and troubled mind. The Gamal is a highly original and heartbreaking story with an unforgettable narrator whose voice is like no other.” —Pierre Camy, Schuler Books & Music, Grand Rapids, MI

Shot All to Hell: Jesse James, the Northfield Raid, and the Wild West’s Greatest Escape, by Mark Lee Gardner
(William Morrow, 9780061989476, $27.99)
“Gardner’s Shot All to Hell is the riveting tale of the Old West’s most brazen crime. Over 130 years have passed since the death of Jesse James, yet we remain fascinated by this enigmatic outlaw and his gang. By 1876, the James-Younger gang was both feared and famous. The gang’s decision to rob the First National Bank in Northfield, Minnesota, would prove to be a disaster when the citizens rose up to defend their town. Gardner’s account of the crime and its aftermath is thorough and enthralling, and his recreation of the robbery and the shootout that followed a two-week manhunt is edge-of-your-seat exciting. Gardner’s passion for his subject and his vivid writing combine to make this the definitive book on the infamous crime.” —Christopher Rose, Andover Bookstore, Andover, MA

The Never List: A Novel, by Koethi Zan
(Pamela Dorman Books/Viking, 9780670026517, $27.95)
“Zan’s debut is a doozy! Part thriller, part mystery, and all spellbinding, The Never List leads the reader into a world of kidnapping, hostages, dank cellars, BDSM, and many wicked characters. Set in the present day, The Never List chronicles Sarah’s attempt to locate Jennifer, who disappeared shortly after their abduction and three-year captivity in a cellar of torture and abuse. Zan keeps the narrative lively with terse dialog, top-notch character development, an occasional red herring, and edge-of-your-seat confrontations. This engrossing book has Hollywood movie written all over it. Treat yourself and read this book!” —Nancy Simpson-Brice, Book Vault, Oskaloosa, IA

Massacre Pond: A Novel, by Paul Doiron
(Minotaur, 9781250033932, $24.99)
“Doiron just keeps getting better. Open Massacre Pond and you can smell the sweetness of the Maine woods, feel the dry leaves underfoot, and hear the birds singing at dawn. But the story offers far more than that: real Maine characters who might have just walked out of a local diner, issues that are as fresh as the latest headlines, and the kind of suspense that will keep your lights on far into the night!” —Rita Moran, Apple Valley Books, Winthrop, ME

The August 2013 Now In Paperback

The Bartender’s Tale: A Novel, by Ivan Doig (Riverhead Trade, 9781594631481, $16)
Recommended in hardcover by Betsy Burton, The King’s English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, UT

Battleborn: Stories, by Claire Vaye Watkins (Riverhead Trade, 9781594631450, $16)
Recommended in hardcover by Alise Hamilton, Andover Bookstore, Andover, MA

The Beautiful Mystery: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel, by Louise Penny (Minotaur, 9781250031129, $15.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Annie Crane, Lift Bridge Book Shop, Brockport, NY

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness, by Susannah Cahalan (Simon & Schuster, 9781451621389, $16)
Recommended in hardcover by Daniel Goldin, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI

Dear Life: Stories, by Alice Munro (Vintage, 9780307743725, $15.95)
Recommended in hardcover by Karen Frank, Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, VT

Elsewhere: A Memoir, by Richard Russo (Vintage, 9780307949769, $15)
Recommended in hardcover by Liza Bernard, Norwich Bookstore, Norwich, VT

Ghostman: A Novel, by Roger Hobbs (Vintage, 9780307950499, $14.95)
Recommended in hardcover by Jean-Paul Adriaansen, Water Street Books, Exeter, NH

Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality, by Jacob Tomsky (Anchor, 9780307948342, $15)
Recommended in hardcover by Mary Muller, Market Block Books, Troy, NY

Life Among Giants: A Novel, by Bill Roorbach (Algonquin Books, 9781616203245, $14.95)
Recommended in hardcover by Barbara Kelly, Portland Bookstore, University of Southern Maine, Portland, ME

Me Before You: A Novel, by Jojo Moyes (Penguin Books, 9780143124542, $16)
Recommended in hardcover by Charity McMaster, Schuler Books & Music, Grand Rapids, MI

The Other Woman, by Hank Phillippi Ryan (Forge Books, 9780765369130, $7.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Joan Lang, Front Street Book Shop, Scituate, MA

The Stockholm Octavo: A Novel, by Karen Engelmann (Ecco, 9780061995354, $14.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Susan Taylor, Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany, NY