The May 2021 Indie Next List Preview

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Indie Next: Booksellers Recommend logoHere are the 24 Indie Next List and six Now in Paperback picks on the May 2021 Indie Next List flier.

The May title list is also viewable as a collection on Edelweiss and on the Indie Next List page as an Excel file alongside PDFs for the month’s flier and shelf-talkers. Learn more about ABA’s recent refresh for the Indie Next List program and visit Matchbook Marketing’s program page to sign up to send the free Indie Next List e-newsletter to customers.

Additionally, to mark the start of the new month, the April Indie Next List picks are available as a flier and shelf-talkers, along with past lists, on the Indie Next List page on

The 24 Indie Next List Picks for May

# 1 Pick: Great Circle: A Novel by Maggie Shipstead
(Knopf, 9780525656975, $28.95, May 4, Fiction/Literary)
Great Circle is about two women 100 years apart: pilot Marian Graves and Hadley Baxter, the actress cast to play the famous pilot. This epic novel is fascinating, adventurous, and well-written, with great characters, historical details, and fantastic settings. Don’t miss this journey!”
—Kathy Morrison, Newtown Bookshop, Newtown, PA

Project Hail Mary: A Novel by Andy Weir
(Ballantine Books, 9780593135204, $28.99, May 4, Science Fiction/Action & Adventure)
“Remember how much you loved The Martian? Prepare to love this book even more. I found myself engrossed from the very beginning, and every page brings a new delight. Weir writes incredible characters that leave a mark you’ll feel long after you’re done.”
—Mattie Shepard, Gramercy Books, Bexley, OH

People We Meet on Vacation: A Novel by Emily Henry
(Berkley, 9781984806758, trade paper, $16, May 11, Romance/Romantic Comedy)
“What fun! This delightful book should be in every beach bag this summer. A hilariously comedic rom-com with memorable characters, set in varied vacation spots in various years. I enjoyed the changing timeline and seeing the relationship as it grew through the years.”
—Shelley Lowe, Monkey and Dog Books, Fort Worth, TX

Crying in H Mart: A Memoir by Michelle Zauner
(Knopf, 9780525657743, $26.95, April 20, Biography & Autobiography/Memoir)
“I was struck by just how much I loved this book for how it walks through grief not as a way to leave it behind, but as a way to remember its exact shape. I’m grateful for its funny, self-deprecating, and wise observations, and for its difficult beauty.”
—Steve Haruch, Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN

The Last Thing He Told Me: A Novel by Laura Dave
(Simon & Schuster, 9781501171345, $27, May 4, Fiction/Women)
“I adore Laura Dave and absolutely loved The Last Thing He Told Me. Wonderful characters, amazing writing, and a twisty plot kept me turning the pages as fast as I could. Truly unputdownable and a thoroughly enjoyable read!”
—Kaitlin Smith, Copperfield’s Books, Healdsburg, CA

Secrets of Happiness: A Novel by Joan Silber
(Counterpoint, 9781640094451, $27, May 4, Fiction/Women)
“No one is better than Joan Silber at revealing the hidden links that connect people. The small, human details in Secrets of Happiness feel at first like ripples in a pond, but they prove in the end to be mighty waves in an ocean the size of the world.”
—James Crossley, Madison Books, Seattle, WA

Mary Jane: A Novel by Jessica Anya Blau
(Custom House, 9780063052291, $27.99, May 11, Fiction/Literary)
“Mary Jane is 14 in 1975 and her summer nannying job is filled with surprises, spontaneity, and love as she is pulled into the family of the little girl she watches. A sweet and funny story of discovering yourself, your loved ones, and where you fit in. It really hit home for me.”
—Courtney Boches, Reads & Company, Phoenixville, PA

The Woman with the Blue Star: A Novel by Pam Jenoff
(Park Row, 9780778311546, $28.99, May 4, Fiction/Historical/World War II)
“In The Woman With the Blue Star, Jenoff continues to showcase herself as one of the masters of historical fiction, deftly intertwining emotional power with historical accuracy. Much like The Lost Girls of Paris, this is one our customers will be coming back for again and again.”
—Alex Brubaker, Midtown Scholar Bookstore, Harrisburg, PA

Mirrorland: A Novel by Carole Johnstone
(Scribner, 9781982136352, $27, April 20, Fiction/Thrillers/Psychological)
“You will tie yourself in knots trying to figure out what’s happening in Mirrorland, the story of two sisters growing up with different stories attached to the games they play, stories that take on a life of their own years later as buried memories come to the fore.”
—Pete Mock, McIntyre’s Fine Books, Pittsboro, NC

The Plot: A Novel by Jean Hanff Korelitz
(Celadon Books, 9781250790767, $28, May 11, Fiction/Thrillers/Psychological)
“I devoured this smart, suspenseful novel about a failed novelist who reignites his career with a stolen plot and gains fame and notoriety. Korelitz’s depiction of the book world is a treat for those of us in it, but her twisty, psychologically astute plotting will hold broad appeal.”
—Becky Dayton, The Vermont Book Shop, Middlebury, VT

Ariadne: A Novel by Jennifer Saint
(Flatiron Books, 9781250773586, $26.99, May 4, Fiction/Literary)
“Satisfying the need for more Greek/Roman transformational myths from much-needed other viewpoints, Jennifer Saint delivers tales of Ariadne and her sister Phaedra’s life on Crete and beyond. Less heroic yarn and more character inquisitiveness — a refreshing addition.”
—Michelle Bear, Edmonds Bookshop, Edmonds, WA

Madhouse at the End of the Earth: The Belgica’s Journey Into the Dark Antarctic Night by Julian Sancton
(Crown, 9781984824332, $30, May 4, Biography & Autobiography/Survival)
“What I love about polar expedition stories is imagining surviving the same situation. Madhouse at the End of the Earth is a fascinating study of chasing fame at any cost and the price paid when things go horribly wrong. A worthy addition to the canon of polar expedition history.”
—Tom Beans, Dudley’s Bookshop Café, Bend, OR

The Music of Bees: A Novel by Eileen Garvin
(Dutton, 9780593183922, $26, April 27, Fiction/Friendship)
“Comparing this book to Eleanor Oliphant left me a bit skeptical, but the comparison is fair and I’d even say that The Music of Bees stands on its own beautifully. Add in some interesting facts on bees and heartwarming stories of lovable, offbeat characters and you have a winner.”
—Pat Rudebusch, Orinda Books, Orinda, CA

The Newcomer: A Novel by Mary Kay Andrews
(St. Martin’s Press, 9781250256966, $28.99, May 4, Fiction/Women)
“Mary Kay Andrews knows how to put mystery and beach together to make a blockbuster novel. I know it’s really summer when a new novel by Andrews becomes available. The Newcomer is perfect for us right now. It’s got it all. I can’t wait to start hand-selling it.”
—Jean Lewis, Copperfish Books, Punta Gorda, FL

Pop Song: Adventures in Art & Intimacy by Larissa Pham
(Catapult, 9781646220267, $26, May 4, Biography & Autobiography/Women/Art)
Pop Song is an engaging blend of art criticism, memoir, and travelogue with the raw and confessional style of the microblogging generation. Larissa Pham’s prose bounces seamlessly and dexterously from looking outward to inward and back with equal attention, passion, and insight.”
—Matt Stowe, Greenlight Bookstore, Brooklyn, NY

Olympus, Texas: A Novel by Stacey Swann
(Doubleday, 9780385545211, $26.99, May 4, Fiction/Small Town & Rural)
“A gripping debut that takes all of the skeletons out of the Briscoe family closet and throws them on the front lawn. The depth of character development speaks to my own east Texan family, which feels disconcerting and scandalous. A page-turning read that you won’t want to end.”
—Charley Rejsek, BookPeople, Austin, TX

Hour of the Witch: A Novel by Chris Bohjalian
(Doubleday, 9780385542432, $28.95, May 4, Fiction/Historical/Thrillers)
“Trapped in a marriage with a violent man in Puritan New England, the fierce and resilient Mary Deerfield has the audacity to file for divorce in a time when women are accused of witchcraft for any non-conforming behavior. While historical, this story rings true for today.”
—Lisa Casper, Tattered Cover Colfax, Denver, CO

Fugitive Telemetry (The Murderbot Diaries #6) by Martha Wells
(Tordotcom, 9781250765376, $19.99, April 27, Science Fiction/Action & Adventure)
“I haven’t felt such joy reading a sci-fi series in a long time. Murderbot is just the best. If you’ve been putting off reading The Murderbot Diaries, go start right now!”
—Katherine Osborne, Letterpress Books, Portland, ME

Seed to Dust: Life, Nature, and a Country Garden by Marc Hamer
(Greystone Books, 9781771647687, $26.95, May 4, Gardening/Essays & Narratives)
“This book has the kind of calm coziness that will leave your mind abuzz with wonder and reflection about the natural world, gardens, and our place in them. Gardener or not, this book has lessons for us all on the kind of patience, quiet, and listening we could use a bit more of in this world.”
—Jacob Rogers, McNally Jackson Books, New York, NY

While Justice Sleeps: A Novel by Stacey Abrams
(Doubleday, 9780385546577, $28, May 11, Fiction/Thrillers/Legal)
“From the first pages, this crime novel from author/activist Stacey Abrams drew me into the world of the Supreme Court (and chess!) and the seedy underbelly of the U.S. government. This race through the streets of Washington, DC, also contains a deeply satisfying ending that I won’t give away.”
—Megan Birch-McMichael, The Silver Unicorn Bookstore, Acton, MA

Hot Stew: A Novel by Fiona Mozley
(Algonquin Books, 9781643751559, $26.95, April 20, Fiction/Literary)
“A young millionaire wants to turn an old Soho brothel into luxury condos, but the tenants aren’t going to leave without a fight. A riveting tale about wealth, class, gentrification, power, and gender, this story shows readers just how unjust the world can be. A 2021 must-read!”
—Jennie Minor, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC

Meet Me in Another Life: A Novel by Catriona Silvey
(William Morrow, 9780063020207, $26.99, April 27, Science Fiction)
“An absolutely incredible concept brought to life by a stunning new voice in literature. We get to know the two protagonists so completely as they live their lives. This novel has time travel, mystery, self-exploration, and at its heart true love. Just the best kind of storytelling.”
—Becky Doherty, Northshire Saratoga, Saratoga Springs, NY

Sorrowland: A Novel by Rivers Solomon
(MCD, 9780374266776, $27, May 4, Fiction/African American & Black/Gothic)
“Vern is a captivating protagonist from page one: gritty, determined, flawed, clever, and resourceful. The story slowly fills in all the details of a life that wasn’t what it seemed, and offers an ending you can’t predict. Sorrowland is beautiful, ugly, engaging, and awe-inspiring.”
—Sydne Conant, A Room of One’s Own Bookstore, Madison, WI

Folklorn: A Novel by Angela Mi Young Hur
(Erewhon, 9781645660163, $26.95, April 27, Fiction/Magical Realism)
“At its heart, Folklorn is a haunting and lyrical novel about mythology, science, generational trauma, and identity, but it’s also much more. I took my time reading this since I wanted to really stop and think about the questions it raised. A truly memorable, genre-bending reading experience!”
—Grace Rajendran, University Book Store, Seattle, WA

May 2021 Now in Paperback

The Last Flight: A Novel by Julie Clark
(Sourcebooks Landmark, 9781728234229, $16.99, May 4, Fiction/Thrillers/Suspense)
“Two women, each with a good reason for wanting to escape her current life, switch plane tickets and identities. When one flight crashes, the action begins. This is a unique thriller that draws you in and has you turning the pages until the unexpected but perfect ending.”
—Terry Gilman, Creating Conversations, Redondo Beach, CA

Monogamy: A Novel by Sue Miller
(Harper Perennial, 9780062969668, $17, May 4, Fiction/Literary)
“Bookstore owner Graham’s first wife, Frieda, and current wife, Annie, both love him because he is a friend to all and larger than life. But after Graham’s unexpected death, secrets emerge that bring everything into question. A beautifully written, honest look at the deep but fragile bond of love.”
—Beth Mynhier, Lake Forest Book Store, Lake Forest, IL

One by One: A Novel by Ruth Ware
(Gallery/Scout Press, 9781501188824, $16.99, May 4, Fiction/Thrillers/Psychological)
“Erin and Danny are the in-house help that run a French chalet rental, and they enjoy it. But when 10 people come for the week from the tech company Snoop, they get a little more than they signed up for. I’ve loved all of Ruth Ware’s books, and One by One is no exception.”
—Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser, Roswell, GA

Pizza Girl: A Novel by Jean Kyoung Frazier
(Anchor, 9781984899002, $16, May 4, Fiction/Literary)
Pizza Girl presents us with an important sentiment: You cannot outrun the fact that the people who created you will always be a part of you to some degree or another. But you can work to grasp the ways in which you manifest that into who you are as an individual.”
—Jack Hawthorn, Raven Book Store, Lawrence, KS

The Silent Patient: A Novel by Alex Michaelides
(Celadon Books, 9781250301703, $17.99, May 4, Fiction/Thrillers/Psychological)
“Alicia was a talented painter and devoted wife until the night she was discovered still as a statue and covered in blood, having apparently killed her husband. The Silent Patient is an outstanding thriller with a shocking twist that will have you rethinking every riveting scene in this brilliant debut.”
—Luisa Smith, Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA

Utopia Avenue: A Novel by David Mitchell
(Random House Trade Paperbacks, 9780812987218, $18, May 4, Fiction/Literary)
“Another delightfully addictive novel from this masterful storyteller. We get in on the ground floor witnessing the formation and rise of a rock band in London just as the British Invasion is taking off. This is a wonderful book and perfect summer reading.”
—Cody Morrison, Square Books, Oxford, MS