The August 2015 Indie Next List Preview

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Here are 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 2015 Indie Next Great Reads

#1 Pick: Circling the Sun: A Novel, by Paula McLain
(Ballantine Books, 9780345534187, $28)
“Reading Circling the Sun reminded me of the deep pleasure of solid storytelling: the vast landscape of colonial Kenya, complicated and compelling historical characters, love, suffering, and adventure combine to create a captivating narrative. McLain imagines the African childhood and early adulthood of real-life horse trainer and pioneering female aviator Beryl Markham, as well as her social milieu, which included Denys Finch Hatton and Karen Blixen, who, as Isak Dinesen, wrote Out of Africa. Markham lived a fascinating and uncompromising life filled with danger, ill-fated romance, and stunning bravery, and McLain does justice to her memory with this sensitive and beautifully written portrayal.” —Rhianna Walton, Powell’s Books, Portland, OR

Kitchens of the Great Midwest: A Novel, by J. Ryan Stradal
(Pamela Dorman Books/Viking, 9780525429142, $27.95)
“In the story of Midwestern chef savant Eva Thorvald and the people — and foods — that touch her life, Stradal has created a picture of the American foodie revolution of the past 25 years and of its intersections with class, economics, family, and culture. Along with irresistible characters and stories, this is a novel about the potential that food and cooking offer for joy and empowerment, for snobbery and shame, and for identity and reinvention. Beautifully structured and affectionately and hilariously written, this is a novel that — like Thorvald’s exclusive pop-up supper club — everyone is going to be talking about!” —Jessica Stockton Bagnulo, Greenlight Bookstore, Brooklyn, NY

Fishbowl: A Novel, by Bradley Somer
(St. Martin’s Press, 9781250057808, $24.99)
“Somer uses the unusual device of a goldfish plunging off of a high-rise balcony to tie together the disparate stories of the building’s inhabitants. As our hero, Ian, plummets past floor after floor, he glimpses the lives of the residents — witnessing birth, heartbreak, new love, and all of the pathos and wonder that comprise human existence. Although Ian has only a goldfish’s seconds-long capacity for memory, readers will find themselves returning to the essential truths of Somer’s characters again and again.” —Jill Miner, Saturn Booksellers, Gaylord, MI

Armada: A Novel, by Ernest Cline
(Crown, 9780804137256, $26)
“This new work from Cline definitely will not disappoint the myriad fans of Ready Player One. On the contrary, it is another magical, nerdy romp through science fiction and fantasy pop culture where the thing that happens to the hero is exactly the thing every sci-fi lover secretly — or not so secretly — dreams will happen to them! A successful screenwriter, Cline fills this tale with super-cool action, relatable characters, and inventive plots. I loved it!” —Heather Duncan, Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver, CO

The Girl Who Slept With God: A Novel, by Val Brelinski
(Viking, 9780525427421, $27.95)
“A cautionary tale, a coming-of-age story, a family drama, a religious and social commentary, and an examination of the bond between two sisters, Brelinski’s debut is remarkably multilayered and complex. At times audacious and even disturbing, it is above all an honest novel, tackling the definitions of love and morality and challenging the things we seem to never want to think or talk about. This demands to be read!” —Belinda Roddie, Copperfield’s Books, San Rafael, CA

You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost): A Memoir, by Felicia Day
(Touchstone, 9781476785653, $25.99)
“Day has penned what is sure to be an instant cult classic. By turns funny, insightful, inspiring, and all-too-familiar, she maps her rise from lonely homeschooled girl to internet darling, along the way revealing her struggles, her insecurities, her stubbornness, and, most transparently, her utterly relatable story of finding her way while not fitting in. For anyone who has woken up to realize they are not where they wanted to be, Day’s honest book is for you!” —Anna Eklund, University Book Store, Seattle, WA

Barefoot to Avalon: A Brother’s Story, by David Payne
(Atlantic Monthly Press, 9780802123541, $26)
“This memoir is the most courageous book I have ever read. The author takes readers with him as he endeavors to make sense of his relationships with his parents and siblings, mental illness, personal shortcomings, and the journey to becoming a writer. The book leaves readers amazed at how much pain the heart can hold and still emerge peaceful, whole, and full of hope. Payne holds nothing back, and his depictions of events are real and full of all that makes us human, both the good and the bad.” —Sharon Wheeler, Purple Crow Books, Hillsborough, NC

Dragonfish: A Novel, by Vu Tran
(W.W. Norton, 9780393077803, $26.95)
“Tran has written a highly original noir mystery involving Suzy, a Vietnamese immigrant, and her police officer ex-husband, Robert. Suzy goes missing in Las Vegas and her current husband, Sonny, enlists Robert’s help to track her down. During his search for Suzy, Robert discovers a packet of letters written by her to Mai, Suzy’s long-lost daughter, who is now a professional gambler living in Las Vegas. Suspenseful, cinematic, and haunting, Tran’s storytelling is superb, and Dragonfish is an excellent debut.” —Sherri Gallentine, Vroman’s Bookstore, Pasadena, CA

Orphan #8: A Novel, by Kim van Aldemade
(William Morrow Paperbacks, 9780062338303, $14.99)
“In 1919, tragedy strikes in New York City and four-year-old Rachel is separated from her brother Sam and sent to a Jewish orphanage, where Dr. Mildred Solomon, in the name of research, subjects her to experiments with X-rays, leaving Rachel disfigured, bald, and the brunt of cruelty by other orphans. To Dr. Solomon, Rachel is just a number, Orphan Number Eight. Years later the tables are turned when Dr. Solomon ends up with cancer and reliant on morphine in Manhattan’s Old Hebrews Home, where Rachel is the attending nurse. Will Rachel take her revenge or treat her patient with mercy? This powerful and stunning debut, based on a little-known true story, will remain with readers long after the last page is turned.” —Karen Briggs, Great Northern Books & Hobbies, Oscoda, MI

Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase: A Novel, by Louise Walters
(Putnam, 9780399169502, $26.95)
“Working in a used bookstore, Roberta has a habit of keeping letters or notes she may discover in the used books she receives. One day, her father brings her an old suitcase filled with books that belonged to her grandmother. In one of the books, Roberta finds a letter written by her grandfather to her grandmother, months after he supposedly died in the war, referencing a dark secret from over 70 years ago. A story of love lost, secret love, and love found, set in the English countryside during WWII and in a bookstore in modern England, Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase had me hooked with the simple line, ‘In wartime, people become desperate.’” —Sylvia Smith, Bookmiser, Roswell, GA

Dancing With the Devil in the City of God: Rio de Janeiro on the Brink, by Juliana Barbassa
(Touchstone, 9781476756257, $27)
“Rio de Janeiro is one of the world’s most exotic cities and much in the news over the past few years, hosting both the World Cup in 2014 and the upcoming 2016 Olympics. Journalist and Brazilian native Barbassa presents a complex portrait of a city, country, and society attempting to present the best possible face to the world while having to confront numerous problems, particularly a level of crime that is almost beyond belief. Barbassa’s description of this massive change being attempted from on high and the resulting disruption to an entrenched society is informative, instructive, and mesmerizing as she strips bare the glitter and glitz of the famous beaches and gives us a revealing portrait of the true Rio.” —Bill Cusumano, Square Books, Oxford, MS

The Marriage of Opposites: A Novel, by Alice Hoffman
(Simon & Schuster, 9781451693591, $27.95)
“Hoffman’s newest 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

Barbara the Slut and Other People, by Lauren Holmes
(Riverhead, 9781594633782, $27.95)
“Holmes’ stories are powerful, sweet, tenderhearted, and honest depictions of contemporary experience. She navigates the thresholds of relationships, sex, and life-changing choices with poignancy and authenticity, bringing lovably imperfect characters to life through their struggles to negotiate the demands of culture as they strive to balance personal decisions and desires. A bold and beautiful debut.” —Sarah Nemire, Bookbug, Kalamazoo, MI

Let Me Explain You: A Novel, by Annie Liontas
(Scribner, 9781476789088, $26)
Let Me Explain You opens with an e-mail message written by Stavros Stavros Mavrakis, Greek immigrant and restauranteur, to his three grown daughters and his ex-wife. He is dying, with just over a week left to live, he believes, and his e-mail message outlines how he wants these women’s lives to be better — if only they will follow his sage advice. From this concise and brilliant setup, the novel takes off with vivid, endearing characters and captures the tender complexity of relationships between parents, children, and siblings. With the quirkiness and humor of a light read combined with true depth of insight into relationships, this is a wonderful debut from a promising new writer.” —Jamaica Ritcher, BookPeople of Moscow, Moscow, ID

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, by Natasha Pulley
(Bloomsbury, 9781620408339, $26)
“It takes a special talent to have a reader truly suspend disbelief, but Pulley succeeds spectacularly well in this debut. In 1880s London, Thaniel Steepleton is a telegraphist whose life is saved by a very timely pocket watch. When he meets its maker, Keita Mori, his entire life is upended and made more beautiful — and dangerous. The clock is ticking on this new friendship, and Thaniel must use his ingenuity and previously untapped bravery to save Keita’s life and his own future. Fans of David Mitchell and Erin Morgenstern will be intrigued, and I think it’s safe to say that we can expect great things from Pulley.” —Amanda Hurley, Inkwood Books, Tampa, FL

Multiply/Divide: On the American Real and Surreal, by Wendy S. Walters
(Sarabande Books, 9781941411049, trade paper, $15.95)
“In Multiply/Divide, Walters sifts through the weird, quietly horrifying wreckage that structural racism has left behind in everyday American life and presents something like a mythology, but stranger because, of course, it is real, and we have never known life without it. Her prose is as clear as day, her stories are candid, and only a poet could have written a book of essays like this. City by city, over radio waves and under the street, Walters beautifully maps for us what should have been obvious: that nearly all of our heartbreak — and even our joy — is rooted in this mythology.” —Daniel Poppick, BookCourt, Brooklyn, NY

All That Followed: A Novel, by Gabriel Urza
(Henry Holt, 9781627792431, $25)
All That Followed sheds some much-needed light on a region with an incredibly rich cultural history and a painful, tormented political past. The story is told in short chapters from three different perspectives: Joni, an American who fell in love with a Basque woman and has lived in Muriga, a small Basque town, since the 1940s; Mariana, a young woman from Muriga whose husband belonged to the wrong political party and was kidnapped and murdered; and Iker, the young man who is in jail for that crime. Each voice has its own weight, an almost sultry flirtation between acknowledging history as it was while needing to create its own version of the story. An impressively nuanced debut.” —Elayna Trucker, Napa Bookmine, Napa, CA

Avenue of Spies: A True Story of Terror, Espionage, and One American Family’s Heroic Resistance in Nazi-Occupied Paris, by Alex Kershaw
(Crown, 9780804140034, $28)
“Dr. Summer Jackson was the chief surgeon at the American Hospital in Paris during the Nazi occupation. After observing the ever-escalating levels of Nazi brutality, Dr. Jackson, at great danger to himself and his family, became directly involved in an underground network that smuggled imperiled people to safety in Spain and Great Britain. A gripping true story of courage, this is a moving testimony to the power of the human spirit.” —Alden Graves, Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, VT

The Pope’s Daughter: A Novel, by Dario Fo
(Europa Editions, 9781609452742, trade paper, $16)
“This is a delicious narrative that refutes the traditional belief that Lucrezia Borgia was an absolute villain. As Fo declares, ‘there are two sides to every story,’ and this retelling offers the positive side of Borgia’s accomplishments, revealing both her humanity and her compassion. In his first novel, Nobel laureate and Italian Playwright Fo weaves an engaging tale both informative and humorous, while also portraying the violence of the Borgia family and the times in which Lucrezia lived, holding a mirror to the abuses of power in our own time.” —Stephanie Crowe, Page & Palette, Fairhope, AL

Black Chalk, by Christopher J. Yates
(Picador, 9781250075550, trade paper, $16)
“In Black Chalk, Yates has taken the traditional novel and tweaked it to create something very special. In Thatcher-era England, six first-year Oxford University students have come together as friends. As they get to know each other, an idea forms and quickly gains traction: they should play a ‘game,’ with the loser facing a consequence. All six agree, and the dares begin as innocuous fun. As time goes on, however, something shifts within the group and the stakes become much higher — even deadly. Fourteen years later, the remaining players meet in New York City to finish the ‘game,’ but what has transpired for them in the interim? And is winning worth the price? A gripping, sinister, and suspenseful read.” —Peggy Elefteriades, R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison, CT

The August 2015 Now in Paperback

The Boston Girl: A Novel, by Anita Diamant (Scribner, 9781439199367, $16)
Recommended in hardcover by Jenny Lyons, The Vermont Book Shop, Middlebury, VT

Crooked River: A Novel, by Valerie Geary (William Morrow Paperbacks, 9780062326607, $14.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Liz Heywood, The Babbling Book, Haines, AK

The Happiest People in the World: A Novel, by Brock Clarke (Algonquin Books, 9781616204792, $15.95)
Recommended in hardcover by Darwin Ellis, Books on the Common, Ridgefield, CT

Hold the Dark: A Novel, by William Giraldi (Liveright, 9781631490422, $14.95)
Recommended in hardcover by Helen Gregory, Maria’s Bookshop, Durango, CO

The Invention of Exile: A Novel, by Vanessa Manko (Penguin Books, 9780143127680, $16)
Recommended in hardcover by Anderson McKean, Page & Palette, Fairhope, AL

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, by Bryan Stevenson (Spiegel & Grau, 9780812984965, $16)
Recommended in hardcover by Sheryl Cotleur, Copperfield’s Books, Sebastopol, CA

The Long Way Home: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel, by Louise Penny (Minotaur Books, 9781250022059, $15.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Sharon K. Nagel, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI

Natchez Burning: A Novel, by Greg Iles (William Morrow Paperbacks, 9780062311085, $16.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Cody Morrison, Square Books, Oxford, MS

The Rosie Effect: A Novel, by Graeme Simsion (Simon & Schuster, 9781476767321, $15.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Kate Madison, Penguin Bookshop, Sewickley, PA

The Secret Place: A Novel, by Tana French (Penguin Books, 9780143127512, $17)
Recommended in hardcover by Joe Strebel, Anderson’s Bookshop, Naperville, IL

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League, by Jeff Hobbs (Scribner, 9781476731919, $16)
Recommended in hardcover by Shawn Donley, Powell’s Books, Portland, OR

The Story of Land and Sea: A Novel, by Katy Simpson Smith (Harper Perennial, 9780062335951, $15.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Sarah Goddin, Quail Ridge Books & Music, Raleigh, NC