The November 2018 Indie Next List Preview

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Indie Next List logo

Here are the 20 Indie Next Great Reads and 12 Now in Paperback titles featured on the November 2018 Indie Next List flier, which is on its way to stores in the IndieBound movement.

Beginning November 1, these titles will be featured on downloadable fliers and shelf-talkers on and

The November Indie Next List Great Reads

#1 Pick: Scribe: A Novel by Alyson Hagy
(Graywolf Press, 9781555978181, trade paper, $16)
Scribe is a novel about dystopian Appalachia following the Civil War, a place ravaged by sickness and divvied up by the brute strength of men and their ability to defeat any invaders. If that doesn’t pique your interest, its main character is a complicated woman with a highly valued skill: the ability to write. In the wake of war and widespread fever, she sustains herself by creating paper and ink and writing the most heartbreakingly poetic letters to help others declare their triumphs and sins. After getting a special request from an unusual passerby, she finds herself in danger and must flee the once-beautiful but now brutal farmland she’s always called home. Scribe is as deeply imaginative as it is viscerally emotional, and Alyson Hagy’s ability to temper darkness with light makes it a spellbinding novel.” —Morgan McComb, Raven Book Store, Lawrence, KS

Friday Black: Stories by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
(Mariner Books, 9781328911247, trade paper, $14.99)
“What a breathtaking collection. These stories are so artfully crafted and imaginatively constructed that at first blush they carry the same satisfaction as the best social satire out there and all the respect that goes along with the label; this collection, however, commands that and more. It is wrenching in its acute, precise indictment of white culture and its guardians, all the while offering language that is playfully impish in its originality. Adjei-Brenyah has an innate ability to create worlds that are familiar and distant and that feel like a privilege to be able to glimpse. This is not to be missed.” —Christen Thompson, Itinerant Literate Books, North Charleston, SC

Unsheltered: A Novel by Barbara Kingsolver
(Harper, 9780062684561, $29.99)
“A brilliant novel set in two different centuries, eras when lies trumped truth and superstition overruled science. Kingsolver illustrates human resiliency with insight, humor, and compassion in this deeply satisfying novel. While showing the cost of leadership built on false promises and lies, it also illustrates the strength of the human spirit with characters who will not be broken by their times. Kingsolver’s characters, including historical figures Mary Treat and Charles Landis, shine as they make their way through the maze of survival set before them. Great reading.” —Deon Stonehouse, Sunriver Books & Music, Sunriver, OR

The Collector’s Apprentice: A Novel by B.A. Shapiro
(Algonquin Books, 9781616203580, $27.95)
“What enormous fun Barbara Shapiro had in constructing this mini-universe of arts, artists, collectors, and grifters. Loosely based on Barnes Foundation founder Albert C. Barnes and his assistant, Shapiro’s fictional pair — Edwin Bradley, the collector, and the lovely but unlucky Paulien Mertens — flit from Europe to Pennsylvania and back in the 1920s. The joy of The Collector’s Apprentice is infectious as the reader is introduced to the salon of Gertrude Stein and becomes a voyeur of a passionate affair involving the great philanderer Henri Matisse. The Roaring Twenties, a whiff of the Talented Mr. Ripley, and a pinch of sex, murder, and mystery are the ingredients of this art thriller. With her bold brush strokes and vivid colors, Shapiro has created a Gauguin of a novel.” —Darwin Ellis, Books on the Common, Ridgefield, CT

Melmoth: A Novel by Sarah Perry
(Custom House, 9780062856395, $27.99)
Melmoth is evocative and atmospheric, the perfect book for a chilly night and the turning of the seasons. Through diaries, letters, and narration, we are introduced to the legendary Melmoth, who is cursed to wander the world alone and watch humans destroy themselves over and over. This quintessential gothic tale is set against the vivid backdrop of winter in Prague and populated by fully realized supporting characters and a protagonist with a hell of a secret. Melmoth, eternal witness to humanity at both its most banal and its most depraved, will haunt me.” —Chelsea Bauer, Union Avenue Books, Knoxville, TN

The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa, Philip Gabriel (Trans.)
(Berkley, 9780451491336, $20)
“The time comes when you’ve just had enough: enough bad news, enough hateful words, enough human suffering, enough gloom and doom. The perfect antidote for those times is The Travelling Cat Chronicles. This exquisitely sized book not only feels good in your hand, but its essence feels good in your brain. Satoru and his cat, Nana, travel miles and miles all over Japan looking for the perfect place for both of them. Both laughter and tears come with this book. It’ll make a cat lover out of even the most ardent resister! Treat yourself to a short reprieve from the world: read this book!” —Nancy Simpson-Brice, Book Vault, Oskaloosa, IA

The Lonesome Bodybuilder: Stories by Yukiko Motoya, Asa Yoneda (Trans.)
(Soft Skull Press, 9781593766788, trade paper, $16.95)
“Yukiko Motoya takes the mundane and brilliantly spikes it with the fantastical, the aberrant, and the all-out unexpected. These stories tilt the axis of reality by degrees, deftly inverting scenes of both solitude and cohabitation, pitting the personal against the domestic. Amid increasingly splashy motifs, The Lonesome Bodybuilder asks how we define ourselves through our relationships to others and whether our true identities can ever be known. Buoyant, charming, and layered with intent, this collection deserves a bevy of admirers.” —Justin Walls, Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills Crossing, Beaverton, OR

The Library Book by Susan Orlean
(Simon & Schuster, 9781476740188, $28)
“There is no one better at investigating the fascinating stories hiding in plain sight than Susan Orlean. The vivid descriptions of the fire that engulfed the Los Angeles Central Library in 1986 are burnished by the meticulous research she did on the history of libraries and on the shocking event that resulted in the destruction and damage of over one million books. The mystery of who would start such a fire is woven between stories of eccentric librarians and the transformation of Los Angeles in the 20th century. From memories of the blissful hours spent in the library of her youth to the historical significance of these repositories of our past, Orlean has crafted a love letter to the importance of the written word and those who devote their lives to its preservation.” —Luisa Smith, Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA

The Feral Detective: A Novel by Jonathan Lethem
(Ecco, 9780062859068, $26.99)
“Lethem’s latest is a treat for fans and new readers alike. His personal brand of detective fiction (shrewd character descriptions, razor-sharp dialogue, and scene-setting that engages all five senses) has always been indebted to the (wild) West Coast — Hollywood specifically — so it’s unsurprising that The Feral Detective is as satisfying as his New York novels. A compelling and timely tale of why even going off the grid won’t save you from going off your rocker.” —John Francisconi, Bank Square Books, Mystic, CT

A Ladder to the Sky: A Novel by John Boyne
(Hogarth, 9781984823014, $27)
“Maurice Swift is a man you won’t soon forget: handsome and charming, but above all else ambitious. He dreams of being the greatest writer of his generation and has no qualms about using the people in his orbit and conning his way to the top of his field. John Boyne has given us a truly memorable character in Maurice, but more than that, he’s given us a novel with an ingenious structure and terrific dialogue that entertains the larger question of who can ever really own a story. This is a fantastic, thoughtful tale that even in its darkest moments is a thrill to read.” —Erika VanDam, RoscoeBooks, Chicago, IL

Alice Isn’t Dead: A Novel by Joseph Fink
(Harper Perennial, 9780062844132, $19.99)
“Joseph Fink is my hero for making extreme anxiety a superpower and something from which a person can draw strength. Like the Welcome to Night Vale novels, Alice Isn’t Dead evinces a gentleness throughout the story, but as with Keisha, the protagonist, don’t mistake that for weakness. This novel is a road trip into the depths of human love even in the midst of experiencing inexplicable and weird horrors. It will linger with you long after you finish reading it.” —Christine Havens, BookPeople, Austin, TX

An Elderly Lady Is Up to No Good: Stories by Helene Tursten, Marlaine Delargy (Trans.)
(Soho Crime, 9781641290111, $12.99)
“Never underestimate 88-year-old ladies — nearly deaf, living alone, and using wheeled walkers — when it comes to murder. Elderly Maud has inherited a spacious apartment in downtown Gothenburg, Sweden, where she lives rent-free, but not trouble-free: there’s a celebrity who covets Maud’s larger apartment, an upstairs neighbor who loudly slaps his wife around, and an antique dealer who drools over the expensive art and artifacts housed in Maud’s place. You won’t want to miss Tursten’s clever stories with more murders solved (or not) by Detective Irene Huss of the shoe size 41.” —Karen Briggs, The Booknook, East Talwas, MI

Little: A Novel by Edward Carey
(Riverhead Books, 9780525534327, $27)
“I am astounded. I am charmed. I am awaiting the manifestation of pure joy this enchanting book will be for the ages. Anne Marie Grosholtz is as tall as the human heart but her outlook is to the moon. Orphaned at a young age, this child is apprenticed to a physician whose wax modeling lends a twist of the macabre and is a precursor to Marie’s wondrous involvement with French royalty, a revolution, and museums. Complete with elucidating illustrations, Little is a bold imagining of Madame Tussaud. To be clear, I love it! I love it! I love it!” —Jeanette Creager, Mitzi’s Books, Rapid City, SD

Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon
(Scribner, 9781501125652, $26)
“Telling the truth has always been a radical and political act, but Kiese Laymon writes in Heavy with a rare, vulnerable unity of personal urgency and political clarity. This is a story about how our country’s lies and thefts weigh heavily on the hearts and souls of its black mothers and sons. About how dishonesty about white supremacy, money, sex, and violence threads through our most intimate relationships and causes us to become strangers to ourselves. If Heavy is about lies, it is also fundamentally about the redemptive power of truth, stories, language, and joy. If there’s a way out of the loneliness of being human in a country that does not value or support humanity, Laymon suggests, it is in the connection we find in the words we toss to one another, like lifelines, like laughter.” —E.R. Anderson, Charis Books & More, Atlanta, GA

The Reckoning: A Novel by John Grisham
(Doubleday, 9780385544153, $29.95)
“John Grisham returns to Ford County and goes back in time in The Reckoning. The Banning family has been farming there for over a hundred years when its patriarch is called for duty in World War II. He returns a heavily decorated hero to his beloved community, his lovely wife, and his two children. Then, for no apparent reason, or none he shall ever reveal, he goes to town one day to murder the Methodist minister. With masterful storytelling, Grisham takes us through the war Pete Banning fought, a grueling trial, and deep into the human heart and psyche. Grisham is at his best in The Reckoning.” —Richard Howorth, Square Books, Oxford, MS

Those Who Knew: A Novel by Idra Novey
(Viking, 9780525560432, $26)
“This book packs a punch. While slender, every sentence, every word, is well-chosen and thought-provoking. However, as intellectually stimulating as it is, it’s still accessible and enjoyable. Every chapter, though small, gives you a snapshot of who a character is and drives the plot along. I picked this book up on a whim and from the very first page I couldn’t put it down. I can’t recommend this book enough!” —Erin Gold, Pages Bookshop, Detroit, MI

Marilla of Green Gables: A Novel by Sarah McCoy
(William Morrow, 9780062697714, $26.99)
“Many of us who grew up with Anne of Green Gables always wondered why neither Marilla or her brother, Matthew, married; we were also very curious as to what secret Marilla held in her heart regarding John Blythe. Now, Sarah McCoy answers these questions for us in her new book, Marilla of Green Gables. She begins the story when Marilla is only 13 and continues until just before Anne comes to Green Gables. This book is wonderfully and imaginatively written, a rendering that Lucy Maud Montgomery herself would approve of. McCoy brings Marilla to life and helps us understand how she became the woman she did. A must-read for all those who love Anne of Green Gables.” —Pat Trotter, Bookends on Main, Menomonie, WI

Wasteland: The Great War and the Origins of Modern Horror by W. Scott Poole
(Counterpoint, 9781640090934, $26)
Wasteland is as breathtaking as it is sensitive. The backdrop of bloodshed that is the Great War is almost its own character in Poole’s writing. The early lives and war experiences of each man lend themselves so well to the dissection of the works produced by those who returned but never really came back. Poole’s latest is dead on with sharp analysis and drinkable prose as he illustrates the hunger for horror, the almost compulsive need to relive and re-experience the trauma, and the irrevocable mark on the landscape of our psychology and pop culture.” —Bethany Kibblesmith, The Book Table, Oak Park, IL

Family Trust: A Novel by Kathy Wang
(William Morrow, 9780062855251, $26.99)
Family Trust is a novel that I did not want to end. From the start, I was completely immersed in the Huang family dynamic, complicated as most families tend to be. In one sentence you feel real sympathy for a character, and in the next you are laughing out loud. It is a true gem. From the first pages, I was completely swept in to the lives of the Huang family. I have a feeling this will be my go-to hand-sell for the fall! Those who loved The Nest and Crazy Rich Asians will eat this right up! A very well-written, highly enjoyable read.” —Kaitlin Smith, Copperfield’s Books, Sebastopol, CA

The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory
(Berkley, 9780399587689, trade paper, $15)
The Proposal is a smile in book form. When I realized it was about Carlos, the best friend from Guillory’s The Wedding Date, I smiled. Carlos is fun, smart, and loves to cook — he’s also not perfect, not horrible, just the normal quirks. Nikole has some issues too. The two meet, enjoy each other’s company, and try to make their quirks fit together. Guillory writes these wonderful, engaging romance stories that are totally realistic and charming — think of the best cocktail party story you’ve heard about how a couple met, and this book will be better. Funny, uplifting, and lighthearted, The Proposal is a perfect Friday night date.” —Julie Karaganis, Cabot Street Books & Cards, Beverly, MA

The November 2018 Indie Next List “Now in Paperback”

Fire Sermon: A Novel by Jamie Quatro
(Grove Press, 9780802128980, $16)
Recommended in hardcover by Will Walton, Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA

Green: A Novel by Sam Graham-Felsen
(Random House Trade Paperbacks, 9780399591167, $17)
Recommended in hardcover by Sue Roegge, Chapter2Books, Hudson, WI

Happiness: A Memoir: The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After by Heather Harpham
(Picador, 9781250301147, $18)
Recommended in hardcover by Luisa Smith, Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA

Heart Spring Mountain: A Novel by Robin MacArthur
(Ecco, 9780062444431, $16.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Joe Strebel, Anderson’s Bookshop, Naperville, IL

Hiddensee: A Tale of the Once and Future Nutcracker by Gregory Maguire
(William Morrow Paperbacks, 9780062684370, $16.99)
Recommended in hardcover by TJ Byrnes, Oblong Books and Music, Millerton, NY

The Mitford Murders: A Mystery by Jessica Fellowes
(Minotaur Books, 9781250170798, $16.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Sue Roegge, Chapter2Books, Hudson, WI

Signal Loss by Garry Disher
(Soho Crime, 9781616959753, 15.95)
Recommended in hardcover by Susan Taylor, The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany, NY

Sometimes I Lie: A Novel by Alice Feeney
(Flatiron Books, 9781250144850, $16.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Kate Towery, The Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA

Spineless: The Science of Jellyfish and the Art of Growing a Backbone by Juli Berwald
(Riverhead Books, 9780735211285, $16)
Recommended in hardcover by Sarah Reif, Kramerbooks, Washington, DC

Strangers in Budapest: A Novel by Jessica Keener
(Algonquin Books, 9781616208646, $15.95)
Recommended in hardcover by Linda Bond, Auntie’s Bookstore, Spokane, WA

White Houses: A Novel by Amy Bloom
(Random House Trade Paperbacks, 9780812985696, $17)
Recommended in hardcover by Cathy Langer, Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver, CO

The Wine Lover’s Daughter: A Memoir by Anne Fadiman
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 9780374537944, $16)
Recommended in hardcover by Penny McConnel, Norwich Bookstore, Norwich, VT