The December 2012 Indie Next List Preview

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Here’s a preview of the titles on the December 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 December 1 on and

The December 2012 Indie Next List Great Reads

#1 Pick: Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, by Jon Meacham
(Random House, $35, 9781400067664)
“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. Quite simply, Meacham has written a masterpiece!” —Christopher Rose, Andover Bookstore, Andover, MA

A Possible Life: A Novel in Five Parts, by Sebastian Faulks
(Henry Holt and Co., $25, 9780805097306)
“This incredible novel traces the separate trajectories of five unforgettable lives in five different time periods. Each life story is expertly etched by Faulks, and each could stand alone, but the stories become even more compelling as they join to form a provocative whole.” —Jenny Lyons, The King’s English, Salt Lake City, UT

Life Among Giants: A Novel, by Bill Roorbach
(Algonquin, $24.95, 9781616200763)
“Roorbach has given readers a totally unique family saga that is infused with love, sex, and murder. This is the kind of story that takes you on a journey from the very first page and races right along to the unforgettable conclusion. I was drawn in by the characters, both sympathetic and despicable. This is a great book to recommend to everyone.” —Barbara Kelly, Portland Bookstore, University of Southern Maine, Portland, ME

City of Dark Magic: A Novel, by Magnus Flyte
(Penguin Books, $16, 9780143122685)
“Sarah, a music graduate student in Boston, finds solace, courage, and a kindred spirit through a piece of music written in 1830 by Beethoven. She will need these attributes and more when she accepts a job cataloging newly discovered papers of Beethoven at the Prague Castle. Pollina, her favorite pupil, warns her that Prague is a city steeped in blood, and Sarah soon learns this to be true as seven people at a fundraiser, including her mentor, jump to their deaths. Suicide or murder? Mix in experiments with a time-warping drug, a 400-year-old dwarf, a handsome prince, and a U.S. senator willing to commit murder to keep her dark secrets hidden, and the result is a fast-paced, hilarious, sexy, suspense novel, richly layered with history and music that will leave you begging for more.” —Karen Briggs, Great Northern Books and Hobbies, Oscoda, MI

Hand for a Hand, by T. Frank Muir
(Soho Crime, $25, 9781616951818)
“A dismembered hand is found on a golf course green with a note addressed to Scottish DCI Andy Gilchrist consisting of just one word: Murder. The subsequent investigation gets too close to home for Andy when family members become involved. Set in historic St. Andrews with dour characters and dreary weather to set the mood, this first in a new series is a real nail-biter until the last page.” —Rita Moran, Apple Valley Books, Winthrop, ME

Because I Said So!: The Truth Behind the Myths, Tales, and Warnings Every Generation Passes Down to Its Kids, by Ken Jennings
(Scribner, $19.99, 9781451656251)
“Did your mom ever tell you not to swallow your gum because it would stay in your stomach for seven years? Ever wonder if that was true? In his new book, Jennings, the witty, charming Jeopardy! champ, gets to the bottom of the old wives’ tales your parents told you and uncovers the truth. If you’ve got kids, read this so you can lie informatively, and if you don’t have kids, read this so you can undermine your friends who do!” —Flannery Fitch, Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA

The Confidant: A Novel, by Helene Gremillon, Alison Anderson (trans.)
(Penguin Books, $15, 9780143121565)
“Infertility and infidelity lie at the heart of this very French romance. In 1975, Camille, a young Parisian editor who has just lost her mother, receives an unusual letter of condolence, the first of a weekly series of lengthy reminiscences from an anonymous source concerning events and people in wartime France from 1939 to 1943. Is it an author with a novel method of getting an editor’s attention or a bona fide memoir of prewar France? And is Camille really the intended recipient? Family secrets, unsuspected for 30 years, shake Camille to her core in this suspenseful and intricately plotted debut.” —Darwin Ellis, Books on The Common, Ridgefield, CT

The Black Box, by Michael Connelly
(Little, Brown, $27.99, 9780316069434)
“Detective Harry Bosch is haunted by the memory of a beautiful young Danish photojournalist murdered during the riots following the Rodney King verdict. The killing was never solved and is forgotten by all but Bosh. Despite the reluctance of his bosses to reopen the case because they fear that focusing on the killing of the blond when there were so many other victims of color will inflame the community, Bosch is determined to find the ‘black box’ that will pull all the clues together. This is classic Connolly. I couldn’t put it down.” —Deon Stonehouse, Sunriver Books, Sunriver, OR

Dear Life: Stories, by Alice Munro
(Knopf, $26.95, 9780307596888)
“‘Nothing changes really about love.’ This is the last line of the second story in this collection and it sums up a lot of what makes Alice Munro’s writing a gift to the world. Achingly real people in ordinary situations are illuminated by her words as an elusive shock of recognition grabs the reader. The four selections at the end are marvelous autobiographical sketches, with the last concealing the line from which the title is taken: ‘Just after my mother had grabbed me up, as she said, for dear life.’“ —Karen Frank, Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, VT

The Valley of the Shadow: A Cornish Mystery, by Carola Dunn
(Minotaur, $24.99, 9780312600679)
“The sights and sounds of the coast of Cornwall come alive in The Valley of the Shadow. The rescue of a drowning Indian man leads to a race against time to rescue his family, trapped in the smugglers’ caves on the rocky shore. Feisty retiree Eleanor Trewynn enlists her fellow villagers in tracking down those responsible for abandoning the refugees — but will the smugglers find her first? Dunn gives us a thoroughly enjoyable, cozy suspense novel — one with a social conscience.” —Carol Schneck Varner, Schuler Books & Music, Okemos, MI

Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality, by Jacob Tomsky
(Doubleday, $26.95, 9780385535632)
“Here is the authentic voice of the Front Desk Agent: funny, experienced, profane, and able to tell a good story or two. Tomsky shares his story of beginning as a parking valet and rising to the heights of the front desk, with a horrifying detour through the housekeeping department along the way. This book is packed with characters, anecdotes, celebrities, and useful information for any hotel guest, such as ‘Don’t be afraid to tip the Front Desk Agent if you are after an upgrade.’ Heads in Beds does for hotel workers what Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential did for restaurant workers. It should be an instant classic!” —Mary Muller, Market Block Books, Troy, NY

Memoir of the Sunday Brunch, by Julia Pandl
(Algonquin Books, $13.95, 9781616201722)
“Growing up the youngest in a family of nine can make a kid feel lost, but the alternative, moving to a far-off suburb while all the older kids stay behind, can be even worse. It’s a good thing then that the author was forced to tend to pancakes at a young age so she could further bond with her eccentric restaurateur father. Pandl shares family stories that will resonate with anyone from a large family, and some of the kitchen tales make Anthony Bourdain’s confessions seem tame. But most of all, this is the story of a woman’s bond with her father, built slowly with blocks of forced labor and family craziness, and then, when all that was swept away, rebuilt with the help of a lot of care and a bit of humor.” —Daniel Goldin, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI

Cold Quiet Country, by Clayton Lindemuth
(MP Publishing, $14.95, 9781849821667)
“Sheriff Bittersmith is called to investigate a violent crime, but it’s his last day in power and he wants to take his anger out on someone. There were no witnesses to the killing, but the victim’s daughter and the hired man have vanished into the impending snow storm. Handyman Gale G’wain is innocent of the murder and other crimes the sheriff’s bitter mind has ascribed to him, but he knows that he will never be given the chance to tell his story. Weak, wounded, and holed up in an unoccupied farmhouse, Gale loads the guns he finds there and gets ready to defend himself. Lindemuth’s story raises many questions about law, justice, and the difference between the two.” —Keri Rojas, Cornerstone Cottage Kids, Hampton, IA

Constantine the Emperor, by David Potter
(Oxford University Press, $34.95, 9780199755868)
“The impact of Constantine on Western civilization cannot be emphasized enough, yet the Roman emperor is mostly a creature of myth and legend. Potter brings this powerful, world-changing figure to life in a biography that gives true meaning to the man whose actions established Christianity in Europe. Examining the politics and conflicts of the late empire, Potter gives the reader an understanding of the forces that eventually led to a major religious and philosophical change.” —Bill Cusumano, Nicola’s Books, Ann Arbor, MI

The Boy in the Snow: An Edie Kiglatuk Mystery, by M.J. McGrath
(Viking Adult, $25.95, 9780670023691)
“Highly recommended for fans of Dana Stabenow’s Kate Shugak series, this follow-up to McGrath’s debut, White Heat, offers a view of the life of Inuits in Alaska. Half-Inuit Edie Kiglatuk is another strong heroine who has a troubled past but tries to do what she can to make things right. I look forward to learning more about what drives her in future books in this series.” —Nancy McFarlane, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC

The Great Pearl Heist: London’s Greatest Thief and Scotland Yard’s Hunt for the World’s Most Valuable Necklace, by Molly Caldwell Crosby
(Berkley Hardcover, $25.95, 9780425252802)
“This is the true story of the heist of the most valuable pearl necklace in the world in 1913 London by one of the biggest international jewel thieves and the man who sent him to jail. This little-known case is a great read about how Scotland Yard began to use forensic sleuthing to solve crimes as well as a compelling description of how the criminals were almost able to get away with the theft.” —Beth Carpenter, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC

The Valley of Unknowing, by Philip Sington
(W. W. Norton & Company, $25.95, 9780393239331)
“This well-crafted novel, set in the East German state in the 1980s, is an intricate story of subterfuge and betrayal that shares many features of the best thrillers. Sington offers not only a spot-on description of life in the former DDR, but also gives us real characters in a tale that provides engaging twists up to the very satisfying ending.” —Garry Jarman, Island Books, Etc., Mercer Island, WA

Hands-On Healing Remedies: 150 Recipes for Herbal Balms, Salves, Oils, Liniments & Other Topical Therapies, by Stephanie Tourles
(Storey Publishing, $18.95, 9781612120065)
“This book is an absolute smorgasbord of recipes for topical herbal remedies. A wonderful resource for experienced herbalists and those who enjoy working with essential oils, it’s also accessible for beginners and a great place to find inspiration to make gifts and remedies for family members who are new to herbalism. The design and layout make it a pleasure to use.” —Kristen Eaton, Phoenix Books, Essex, VT

Raised From the Ground: A Novel, by Jose Saramago, Margaret Jull Costa (Trans.)
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26, 9780151013258)
“Published in Portugal in 1980 and just now appearing in English, Saramago’s third novel was worth the wait. A pivotal book in the late Nobel laureate’s development, this tale marks the debut of Saramago’s inimitable literary voice: digressive, ironic, humorous, and graceful, but impatient with ‘lyrical tosh,’ it features a narrator who speaks as ‘we’ and embraces all of humanity in a drama of good versus evil. Scathing about the abuse of the poor by the rich and powerful, Saramago’s story is nonetheless written from a deep faith in the pure-heartedness and resilience of the human spirit, showing how even the most down-trodden will eventually rise up.” —Laurie Greer, Politics and Prose Books and Coffee Shop, Washington, DC

Song of the Vikings: Snorri and the Making of Norse Myths, by Nancy Marie Brown
(Palgrave Macmillan, $27, 9780230338845)
“As you read about 13th century storyteller Snorri Sturluson and his writing, you will also learn about the history of the fiercely independent Icelanders and their often difficult relationships with their Scandinavian neighbors. This book is full of blood-curdling tales of family rivalries all interwoven with stories of Norse gods and other mythical creatures of the sagas. Those who have read Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings will find some names that will sound oddly familiar!” —Dominica Borg, Norwich Bookstore, Norwich, VT

The December 2012 Now in Paperback

Angelmaker: A Novel, by Nick Harkaway (Vintage, 9780307743626, $15.95)
Recommended in hardcover by Jenn Northington, WORD, Brooklyn, NY

The Cove: A Novel, by Ron Rash (Ecco, 9780061804205, $14.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Eon Alden, City Lights Bookstore, Sylva, NC

Elegy for Eddie: A Maisie Dobbs Novel, by Jacqueline Winspear (Harper Perennial, 9780062049582, $15.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Flannery Fitch, Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA

The Invisible Ones: A Novel, by Stef Penney (Berkley Trade, 9780425253212, $16)
Recommended in hardcover by Bill Cusumano, Nicola’s Books, Ann Arbor, MI

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)
Recommended in hardcover by Daniel Goldin, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI

The Paris Wife: A Novel, by Paula McLain (Ballantine, 9780345521316, $15)
Recommended in hardcover by Jeanne Regentin, Between the Covers, Harbor Springs, MI

The Pilgrim: A Novel, by Hugh Nissenson (Sourcebooks Landmark, 9781402271014, $14.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Carol Katsoulis, Anderson’s Bookshop, Naperville, IL

The Professionals: A Novel, by Owen Laukkanen (Berkley, 9780425250495, $9.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Nancy McFarlane, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC

The Shooting Salvationist: J. Frank Norris and the Murder Trial That Captivated America, by David R. Stokes (Steerforth, 9781586022004, $17.95)
Recommended in hardcover by Christopher Rose, Andover Bookshop, Andover, MA

The Snow Child: A Novel, by Eowyn Ivey (Reagan Arthur/Back Bay Books, 9780316175661, $14.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Valerie Koehler, Blue Willow Book Shop, Houston, TX        

A Thousand Lives: The Untold Story of Jonestown, by Julia Scheeres (Free Press, 9781416596400, $15)
Recommended in hardcover by Pete Mulvihill, Green Apple Books, San Francisco, CA

White Truffles in Winter: A Novel, by N.M. Kelby (W.W. Norton, 9780393343588, $15.95)
Recommended in hardcover by Erica Caldwell, Present Tense, Batavia, NY