The May 2020 Indie Next List Preview

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Here are the 20 Indie Next Great Reads and 12 Now in Paperback titles featured on the May 2020 Indie Next List flier. The May title list is also viewable as an Excel file on BookWeb and as a collection in Edelweiss. Beginning May 1, these titles will be featured on downloadable fliers and shelf-talkers on and

The April box mailing has been canceled; stores that would like to receive free copies of the printed Indie Next List flier should contact ABA Design & Production Manager Linda Ford. Fliers come in packs of 50 and ship free freight. 

The May flier also features ads encouraging customers to pre-order The Illustrated Crystallary by Maia Toll (Storey, 9781635862225, Hardcover, $19.95; on sale June 9) and Crooked Hallelujah by Kelli Jo Ford (Grove Press, 9780802149121, Hardcover, $26; on sale July 14) from their indie bookstore. Learn more about the pre-order flier ads here.

Note: Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, some publishers have elected to postpone the publishing dates for upcoming titles. Confirmed postponements are detailed below; additional updates may occur.

#1 Pick: Death in Her Hands: A Novel by Ottessa Moshfegh (now publishing June 23, 2020)
(Penguin Press, 9781984879356, $27)
“Ottessa Moshfegh is a modern-day Camus. A woman finds a note in the woods that proclaims someone is dead. Murdered, in fact. She investigates between dog walks and early evening naps but soon facts, memories, and suppositions entwine and overlap until the simple act of asking a question can unravel the thread of an entire life. Ponderous, violent, forgetful, and deft, Death in Her Hands is a genre-bender that teases you into asking, Is this noir? Horror? A whacked-out farce? Or a sly literary trick? I’ll tell you what it is — absolutely brilliant.” —Chris Lee, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI

The Book of Longings: A Novel by Sue Monk Kidd
(Viking, 9780525429760, $28)
“I absolutely could not put this book down. Sue Monk Kidd has written a narrative that not only centers on women who are missing from or largely ignored in scriptural accounts, but it focuses on their voices, stories, and hardships — their everyday lives and bigger-than-everyday longings. As Kidd is writing Ana’s story, Ana herself is writing the stories of women she’s learned about and women she knows. Her determination to give them voices weaves beautifully and reverently with Jesus’ teachings about reaching out to the marginalized and the forgotten.” —Anastacia Compton, Roundabout Books, Bend, OR

The Paris Hours: A Novel by Alex George
(Flatiron Books, 9781250307187, $26.99)
“Alex George has woven a beautiful tapestry of a historical novel in The Paris Hours through four colorful, intertwining threads. Each of the characters will touch your heart with their stories of love, loss, the ravages of war, and their search for answers and a path to pick up the broken pieces of their lives. Lush with descriptions of 1927’s Paris and the appearance of many famous cultural figures of the era, The Paris Hours will transport readers to a time and place they will be reluctant to leave until the last unexpected moment.” —Betsy Von Kerens, The Bookworm of Omaha, Omaha, NE

Hollywood Park: A Memoir by Mikel Jollett
(Celadon Books, 9781250621566, $27.99)
Hollywood Park is the kind of memoir that will turn you completely inside out before it lets you go. Within the specificity of his story, Mikel Jollett has somehow managed to make space for all of us — the intricate voice of his child and adolescent selves is one every reader will easily hear in their own head. This book is a brilliant and raw balancing of the accounts that make up a self, and I have nothing but respect for the vulnerability it took Jollett to step down from the stage he’s used to occupying as a musician and into a story that readers everywhere will hold in their hands and hearts for a very long time.” —Afton Montgomery, Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver, CO

All Adults Here: A Novel by Emma Straub
(Riverhead Books, 9781594634697, $27)
“A single sudden and shocking occurrence jolts Astrid Strick — widow, mother, and small-town stalwart — into reassessing her life, especially her failings with her three grown children. Even as she tries to find a path toward redemption, it’s clear her offspring are nursing different hurts. Straub’s lovely and charming comic novel explores the messy and dissonant truths that underpin the illusions we maintain about those closest to us. No one is at fault, and everyone is to blame. Even adults have to grow up. Utterly charming and completely engrossing.” —Anmiryam Budner, Main Point Books, Wayne, PA

Simon the Fiddler: A Novel by Paulette Jiles
(William Morrow, 9780062966742, $27.99)
“Simon Boudlin’s passion is to be the best fiddle player there is, beholden to no one and following his muse wherever it takes him. But when he meets the beautiful Doris Aherne, his plans change. Paulette Jiles once again captures the great promise and sweeping beauty of the Texas frontier in cinematic prose as poetic and lyrical as the tunes that pour forth from the fiddler himself. Simon joins that great pantheon of strivers for a better life, and readers will root for him every step of the way. Fans of News of the World can rejoice — with Simon the Fiddler, Jiles has done it again!” —Peter Sherman, Wellesley Books, Wellesley, MA

The Knockout Queen: A Novel by Rufi Thorpe
(Knopf, 9780525656784, $26.95)
“To say I admire The Knockout Queen feels inadequate, though I do admire a great deal of it: its voice, depth, structure — you name it. But it’s more honest just to say I love The Knockout Queen; I loved reading it, I felt involved in it, and, finally, I was so moved by its ending. This is an epic tale of friendship, one where the magnitude sneaks up on you quietly — but when it strikes home, it rings so brilliantly true.” —Will Walton, Books Are Magic, Brooklyn, NY

The Book of V.: A Novel by Anna Solomon
(Henry Holt and Co., 9781250257017, $27.99)
“Astounding! In the talented hands of Anna Solomon, the lives of three women in different eras come to life with equal vibrancy. A compelling look at the roles of women through time (ancient Persia, 1970s D.C., and Brooklyn in 2016), as well as what it means to have and use power and to feel safe in a relationship. So much material here for discussion. I cannot wait to put this into the hands of our readers!” —Caitlin Doggart, Where the Sidewalk Ends Bookstore, Chatham, MA 

Sea Wife: A Novel by Amity Gaige
(Knopf, 9780525656494, $26.95)
“Wherever you go, your anxieties go with you — even (or especially) if you go live on a boat to sail the world with your spouse and small children. Nothing will ever be the same for Juliet, Michael, and their family after their harrowing year at sea, and no reader will be the same after reading this taut, brilliant novel. I can’t stop thinking about it.” —Mary Laura Philpott, Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN

Network Effect: A Murderbot Novel by Martha Wells
(, 9781250229861, $26.99)
“Martha Wells’ Murderbot Diaries has become one of my favorite series of all time, and Network Effect is a perfect addition. Murderbot is still trying to figure out what it wants after hacking its governor module. In the meantime, it spends its days protecting the humans it cares about. Of course, everything goes terribly wrong when a friend shows up to kidnap Murderbot and its humans are along for the ride. Network Effect isn’t just fun and action-packed, it’s also emotional and thought-provoking. I love Murderbot!” —Sophie Giroir, Cavalier House Books, Denham Springs, LA

Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre by Max Brooks (now publishing June 16, 2020)
(Del Rey, 9781984826787, $28)
“This was a blast to read. Kate and Dan Holland have an opportunity to move into an eco-friendly community called Greenloops in the shadow of Mt. Rainier. Kate’s therapist asks her to keep a journal, and this is how their story is preserved. Because after Mt. Rainier erupts, horrible things happen at Greenloops. Really horrible things…” —Ann Nye, Excelsior Bay Books, Excelsior, MN

The Fixed Stars: A Memoir by Molly Wizenberg (now publishing August 4, 2020)
(Abrams Press, 9781419742996, $25)
“I have enjoyed Molly Wizenberg’s writing for years, and this book was no exception. I loved the mix of science and research with confessional truth-telling about longing and identity. As a mother of two small children, I clung to this story of discovery. And as a human, I cherished Wizenberg’s exploration of the realization that our stories are never done being written. This book was a balm for my soul.” —Sarah Fischer, Downbound Books, Cincinnati, OH

Pretty Things: A Novel by Janelle Brown
(Random House, 9780525479123, $28)
“Nina Ross is a grifter, just like her mom. She didn’t have a lot growing up, and they were always on the move. Vanessa, heiress of a family fortune, is a famous Instagram influencer. Everyone loves her, but her smile hides a past filled with tragedy. Nina and Vanessa’s lives become intertwined as part of a long con. Pretty Things is excellently written, with an intricate plot full of twists. I loved absolutely everything about this book. I highly recommend it.” —Rebecca Minnock, Murder by the Book, Houston, TX

Grown Ups: A Novel by Emma Jane Unsworth (now publishing August 18, 2020)
(Gallery/Scout Press, 9781982141936, $27)
Grown Ups is told with humor and angst (both causing laughter and anxiety) in traditional prose supplemented with emails, texts, and social media columns and comments — much like our lives today. Jenny is living in London and tethered to her Instagram as her real life is slightly falling apart. This book is filled with fantastic writing and insights relevant to the modern balance of social media life with real life. I don’t want to say too much more, other than I will miss Jenny now that I’ve finished reading.” —Melissa Summers, Main Street Books, Davidson, NC

A Children’s Bible: A Novel by Lydia Millet
(W.W. Norton & Company, 9781324005032, $25.95)
“In A Children’s Bible, the age-old war between kids and their parents, children and adults, is reimagined through the lens of Biblical devastation. The result is harrowing and, in unexpected moments, hilarious. Millet has created a story that feels both folkloric and brand new, a tale as much about environmental cataclysm as it is about fighting for the people, things, and ideas that remain right and true, no matter how high the water gets. I love Millet’s perfectly tuned sentences as much as the ambition of this novel, which I’ll continue thinking about for a long time.” —Kristen Iskandrian, Thank You Books, Birmingham, AL

On Lighthouses by Jazmina Barrera, Christina MacSweeney (Transl.)
(Two Lines Press, 9781949641011, $19.95)
“Jazmina Barrera’s On Lighthouses is a thoughtful, lovely meditation on isolation and connection. She travels the world, meeting friends, kin, strangers, and historical figures, all while seeking out lonely lighthouses and digging deep into her solitary ‘collecting’ process. The book is as liminal as its subject — separate from others, but in service to them; not urgent, but just possibly the single slight thing needed to keep a reader from the rocks.” —Helen Zuckerman, Community Bookstore, Brooklyn, NY

Take Me Apart: A Novel by Sara Sligar
(MCD, 9780374272616, $27)
“In this delicious psychological thriller, we learn what it means to take on the job of archiving a famous person’s memories as found in papers, photos, and diaries. As Kate begins the daunting task, it does not take her long to find an uneasiness creeping into her heart and mind concerning how Miranda Brand died years before. And when she begins to wonder about Miranda’s son, Theo, and his potential involvement in the death, things get very scary, indeed. This is a grand debut that will give you chills and thrills, and a chance to hone your investigative skills. Have fun!” —Linda Bond, Auntie’s Bookstore, Spokane, WA

Siri, Who Am I?: A Novel by Sam Tschida (now publishing June 16, 2020)
(Quirk Books, 9781683691686, trade paper, $15.99)
“Rarely do I pick up a novel with such buoyancy and humor, full of the good in people, yet poignant in the face of difficult truths. Siri, Who Am I? is laugh-out-loud funny (as we say in the business) starting from the moment Mia wakes up in the hospital with short-term amnesia. As she uses social media to figure out where she lives, who she knows, and who she is — in the world and in her soul — she rediscovers the folks in her life and meets new friends along the way. You’ve got to go on this journey with Mia.” —Heidi Raak, Yardstick Books, Algona, WI

Braised Pork: A Novel by An Yu (Indies Introduce)
(Grove Press, 9780802148711, $25)
“An astonishing look at a new widow’s attempt to make sense of her husband’s death and her newfound independence, through which she rediscovers her love of painting, forms new and profound bonds, rekindles previously dormant familial relationships, and ultimately finds peace in uncertainty. Set in Beijing and Tibet, Braised Pork is a poetic reflection on life and all of its meandering, unpredictable messiness.” —Jake Cumsky-Whitlock, Solid State Books, Washington, DC

The Hilarious World of Depression by John Moe
(St. Martin’s Press, 9781250209283, $27.99)
“This book made me laugh and cry immediately after I started reading. John Moe took a hard topic and made it so much easier — taking the world of mental health and illness and making it easy to understand and connect with. It’s a great read, and everyone should have the pleasure of reading it.” —Kaylyn Schafer, Wordsmith Bookshoppe, Galesburg, IL

The May 2020 Indie Next List Now in Paperback

Ask Again, Yes: A Novel by Mary Beth Keane
(Scribner, 9781982106997, $17)
Recommended in hardcover by Anderson McKean, Page and Palette, Fairhope, AL

The Binding: A Novel by Bridget Collins
(William Morrow Paperbacks, 9780062838100, $17.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Angela Shores, Adventure Bound Books, Morganton, NC

Cat Person and Other Stories by Kristen Roupenian
(Gallery/Scout Press, 9781982101640, $16)
Recommended in hardcover by Courtney Flynn, Trident Booksellers & Café, Boston, MA

Greek to Me: Adventures of the Comma Queen by Mary Norris
(W.W. Norton & Company, 9780393357868, $15.95)
Recommended in hardcover by David Enyeart, Common Good Books, St. Paul, MN

The Guest Book: A Novel by Sarah Blake
(Flatiron Books, 9781250110275, $17.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Dana Brigham, Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MA

The Islanders: A Novel by Meg Mitchell Moore
(William Morrow Paperbacks, 9780062840073, $16.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Robert Angell, Spring Street Bookstore, Newport, RI

Rough Magic: Riding the World’s Loneliest Horse Race by Lara Prior-Palmer
(Catapult, 9781948226981, $16.95)
Recommended in hardcover by Travis McGuire, Skylark Bookshop, Columbia, MO

Rules for Visiting: A Novel by Jessica Francis Kane
(Penguin Books, 9780525559245, $17)
Recommended in hardcover by Ann Carlson, Waterfront Books, Georgetown, SC

The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna: A Novel by Juliet Grames
(Ecco, 9780062862839, $17.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Patricia Moody, Hickory Stick Bookshop, Washington Depot, CT

Southern Lady Code: Essays by Helen Ellis
(Anchor, 9780525562924, $15.95)
Recommended in hardcover by Beth Reynolds, Norwich Bookstore, Norwich, VT

The Tenth Muse: A Novel by Catherine Chung
(Ecco, 9780062574084, $16.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Francoise Brodsky, Shakespeare & Co., New York, NY

Trust Exercise: A Novel by Susan Choi
(Holt Paperbacks, 9781250231260, $15.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Samuel Krowchenko, Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, MI