The October 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 October 2020 Indie Next List flier. The October title list is also viewable as an Excel file on BookWeb, as a collection on Edelweiss, and featured on downloadable fliers and shelf-talkers on and

The October flier also features an ad encouraging customers to pre-order Dark Tides by Philippa Gregory (Atria, 9781501187186, Hardcover, $28, on sale November 24) from their indie bookstore. Learn more about the pre-order flier ads here.

Additionally, the September Indie Next Great Reads are available for download on a flier and shelf-talkers, along with past lists, on the Indie Next List page on The September Indie Next List’s 12 Now in Paperback titles are also featured with bookseller quotes on a downloadable flier and shelf-talkers

The 20 Indie Next Great Reads for October

#1 Pick: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue: A Novel by V.E. Schwab
(Tor Books, 9780765387561, $26.99)
“Epic, beautifully written, heartwarming, and heartbreaking, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is a contemplation on life, death, what it means to make your mark on the world, and why we feel it’s important to do so. Addie makes a deal with a demon so she can live her life the way she wants to. But, like most deals, there are strings attached — and these strings make it so she is forgotten by everyone she meets. Dancing about time, the book shows Addie’s life over 300 years and takes a closer look at her modern life — after a boy in a bookshop remembers her. Months later, I’m still thinking about this book and how beautiful it is; my words don’t even come close to doing it justice. Read this book.”
— Lindsey Pattavina, R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison, CT

Hench: A Novel by Natalie Zina Walschots
(William Morrow, 9780062978578, $27.99)
Hench is absolutely terrific! Walschots has found a fresh, original, feminist angle on the tropes of superheroes and supervillains in this smart, lively novel. Anna is barely subsisting from temp job to temp job — even supervillains need someone to do their data entry — when she becomes collateral damage in a superhero’s intervention. Injured and jobless, she fights back by collecting data on the negative effects caused by superheroes. As Anna’s research goes viral, she’s tapped for a new job with the supervillain, giving her an opportunity to use her skills to fight back against the so-called forces of good. Very highly recommended!”
—Carol Schneck Varner, Schuler Books, Okemos, MI

White Tears/Brown Scars: How White Feminism Betrays Women of Color by Ruby Hamad
(Catapult, 9781948226745, trade paper, $16.95)
“This book could not have come at a better time as a vital contribution to antiracist and intersectional feminist literature. Hamad is extremely thorough in her examination of white feminism and its long history of weaponization against BIPOC. This work is accessible to newcomers to these topics, and illuminating for those who have some background in these discussions. Hamad shows us how deep the betrayal of white feminism goes, into politics, the media, and our interpersonal relationships, so that we might call it out and stop it in its tracks.”
—Nikki Siclare, Newtonville Books, Newton Centre, MA

The End of the Day: A Novel by Bill Clegg
(Gallery/Scout Press, 9781476798202, $28)
“Bill Clegg gracefully weaves together character-driven vignettes to reveal 60 years of secrets and regrets over the course of a single day. The central characters have known each other since childhood, but while their paths parted ways long ago, the mystery around why is now threatening to come clean. Moving seamlessly from Connecticut to Kauai, from present day to the past, the unbreakable nature of their connections becomes clear. The power in Clegg’s writing is his ability to bring uncomfortable situations and characters to life without judgment, allowing them their humanity while not absolving them of guilt. This gentle writing style is what makes The End of the Day an emotionally powerful novel.”
—Luisa Smith, Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA

A Deadly Education: A Novel by Naomi Novik
(Del Rey, 9780593128480, $28)
A Deadly Education takes a fresh stab at the magical boarding school setting in this inventive and compelling new novel from Naomi Novik. Galadriel Higgins is a student at Scholomance, a dangerous institution full of things that don’t just go bump in the night, they tend to maim and murder the students. In such a perilous place, it’s important to have friends. Unfortunately, Galadriel is a sarcastic misanthrope with a potent affinity toward mass destruction and death, but she might have to start relying on her non-magical charms to get out of this school alive. With a wink to all your favorite series, A Deadly Education is guaranteed to enthrall!”
—Heather Herbaugh, Mitzi’s Books, Rapid City, SD

Leave the World Behind: A Novel by Rumaan Alam
(Ecco, 9780062667632, $27.99)

“Eerie and timely, Leave the World Behind will be the next book to talk about. Rumaan Alam is now solidified as a must-read author for me. He lures the reader in with excellent character development as well as family drama when the book takes a sudden turn. Slowly and masterfully, he starts building tension and suspense while teasing the reader with ominous threats in the background. Before you know it, you’ve stayed up half the night racing to the end of the book. It’s a fast read but a powerful book asking important questions.”
—Katerina Argyres, Bookshop West Portal, San Francisco, CA

Keep Moving: Notes on Loss, Creativity, and Change by Maggie Smith
(Atria/One Signal Publishers, 9781982132071, $24)
“Maggie Smith hits the nail on the head with her stunning book of quotes and essays. This inspiring read gives you the validation to address your feelings and the permission to move forward with a new outlook. Much like a talk with a good friend, you feel heard and comforted. I devoured this treasure in one sitting and am starting a list of everyone I want to share it with.”
—Maxwell Gregory, Lake Forest Book Store, Lake Forest, IL

rough house: a memoir by Tina Ontiveros
(Oregon State University Press, 9780870710339, trade paper, $18.95)
rough house is an intensely moving and vivid story of author Tina Ontiveros’ childhood in poverty-stricken small towns and logging camps of the Pacific Northwest during the ’70s and ’80s. Throughout her story, Ontiveros shares poignant memories of a heartrending and complex relationship with her volatile father as she earnestly tries to come to terms with the impact these experiences have had on who she is and who she is to become. Her loss and grief seem insurmountable at times, but her resolve and hope for a better future shine through. rough house is a gripping and emotional journey that should not be missed.”
—Jennifer Green, Green Bean Books, Portland, OR

Stakes Is High: Life After the American Dream by Mychal Denzel Smith
(Bold Type Books, 9781568588735, $26)
“Here it is: The book we’ve been waiting for that we didn’t even know we were waiting for. This book is here to fan the flames of our righteous indignation and our demands for better sooner. This book will make your blood boil over just in time to bring it to the polls in November. Like a mother lion, it picks you up by the scruff of your neck — mewling and new to the world of antiracism — and demands that you walk on your own. Thank goodness this book exists.”
—Charlotte Colaluca, Mystery to Me, Madison, WI

Black Sun: A Novel by Rebecca Roanhorse
(Gallery/Saga Press, 9781534437678, $27.99)
“As an avid fantasy reader and an Indigenous person, I cannot adequately describe how much it meant to read Black Sun and be immersed in a non-white fantasy based on cultures from the Americas. This book is so well done! I loved all of the characters (especially the swashbuckling, magic-using ship captain), the settings were beautifully written, and the magic in this world is fascinating. If you’re looking for murderous sea women, larger-than-life crows, gods returning to avenge past violence, political intrigue, and dash of romance, look no further. I also really appreciate the way that queer and nonbinary characters are portrayed. Roanhorse has written a perfect high fantasy novel and I cannot wait to see where this series takes us next!”
—Hillary Smith, Copperfield’s Books, Calistoga, CA

Here We Are: A Novel by Graham Swift
(Knopf, 9780525658054, $22.95)
Here We Are is a beautiful evocation of love, memory, and magic. With mesmerizing prose, Swift tells the tale of Jack, Ronnie, and Evie, who form a bond in the summer of 1959 when they work together at a variety show in Brighton, England. Ronnie hires Evie to be part of his magic act, and the two soon fall in love. Jack, the show’s master of ceremonies, is Ronnie’s best friend but he knows little about Ronnie’s childhood experiences during the war. Fifty years later, Evie is looking back at their lives and what happened during the summer that changed everything. This quiet, compact novel soars with the grace and poignant feeling of Swift’s masterful writing.”
—Lori Feathers, Interabang Books, Dallas, TX

Dear Child: A Novel by Romy Hausmann (Indies Introduce)
(Flatiron Books, 9781250768537, $26.99)
“We’ve all heard the horror stories of women kept captive in basements, bearing children to madmen, only to escape after years of torture into a world they no longer remember and a public filled with fascination at their stories. Dear Child features two such women, both victims of the same abductor, but who suffer two very different fates. It is also the story of men who love too hard, in both the right ways and the wrong ways. At its heart it is the story of family, of what we will do to find those we’ve lost, how we love and show that love, and how we survive and come to peace with grief and guilt.”
—Deborah Magness, Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, WA

The Talented Miss Farwell: A Novel by Emily Gray Tedrowe
(Custom House, 9780062897725, $26.99)
“The small town of Pierson, Illinois, is so fortunate to have the bright, hard-working Becky Farwell as town treasurer. She really understands finances and how to get the most out of the town’s limited resources. But despite her best efforts, there is never enough to repair the roads, maintain the river walk, or fund the schools. In another world, people wonder what the story is behind the glamorous, high-flying art collector Reba Farwell, who has no visible means of support. Does it matter, as long she has an unfailingly discerning eye and gives great parties? Watch and wonder as the talented Miss Farwell keeps all the plates spinning in this totally absorbing study of obsession and deception.”
—Ellen Sandmeyer, Sandmeyer’s Bookstore, Chicago, IL

Down Along With That Devil’s Bones: A Reckoning With Monuments, Memory, and the Legacy of White Supremacy by Connor Towne O’Neill
(Algonquin Books, 9781616209100, $26.95)
“The past won’t go anywhere — especially the racist past endorsed by the contemporary enablers of the Nathan Bedford Forrest mythology. O’Neill’s combination of historical research on the ‘Southern Cause’ and Jim Crow racism, combined with visits the most contentious monuments to slavery, bring this work to visceral life. Down Along With That Devil’s Bones brings to mind Tony Horwitz’s Confederates in the Attic, but there’s much less to laugh about as O’Neill gives us the endless monumental horror of a country’s refusal to shake free from the roots of a long racist history.”
—Brian Lampkin, Scuppernong Books, Greensboro, NC

The Bell in the Lake: A Novel by Lars Mytting, Deborah Dawkin (Transl.)
(The Overlook Press, 9781419743184, $27)
“Perfect for fans of Kieran Millwood Hargrave’s The Mercies, this Norwegian bestseller is an atmosphere-lover’s dream. Set in the secluded village of Butangen in 1880, The Bell in the Lake chronicles its residents’ lives, all centered around a 700-year-old church and its mystical bells. Mytting effortlessly captures the push and pull between history and modernity, stringing his story with tension and moments of rare beauty. This novel is achingly real, as if one could step into the pages and find themselves looking up at the towering wooden staves.”
—Laura Graveline, Brazos Bookstore, Houston, TX

Dancing With the Octopus: A Memoir of a Crime by Debora Harding (Indies Introduce)
(Bloomsbury Publishing, 9781635576122, $27)
“Debora Harding pulls off a new kind of memoir here and keeps you continually on the hook. Written in short chapters, Harding describes growing up in the 1970s with a tough-love mother and a father she absolutely adores. Come along as the author sorts out her mother’s abuse and her father’s willful compliance, centering it all around a horrific random crime perpetrated against her at the age of 14. Seriously thought-provoking, beautifully written, and redemptive. If you like memoirs, this one is fantastic.”
—Peggy Mulqueen, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC

Confessions on the 7:45: A Novel by Lisa Unger
(Park Row, 9780778310150, $27.99)
“Lisa Unger is amazing! If you have not found her books yet, now is the time. Each one gets better and better. She is particularly good at female dynamics and relationships, as well as writing a twisted thriller that pretty much could be happening to someone you know. Confessions on the 7:45 may be my favorite one yet!”
—Laura Taylor, The Oxford Exchange, Tampa, FL

Solutions and Other Problems: Essays by Allie Brosh
(Gallery Books, 9781982156947, $30)
Solutions and Other Problems made me laugh out loud — like, deep belly laughter, which has been noticeably absent in my life for several months (for obvious global pandemic reasons). It also sometimes sucked the air straight out of my chest with its poignancy. And then two pages later, it had me laughing again. Brosh has a way of making the art of being human feel normal and magical and confusing and all-too-clear. I think this book might be exactly what people need right now — maybe even especially right now.”
—Brittany Wallace, Trident Booksellers & Café, Boston, MA

Magic Lessons: The Prequel to Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
(Simon & Schuster, 9781982108847, $27.99)
“I so wanted to read this slowly and savor every page since this may be the last time we get to venture into this world of magic and the Owens family. But as if entranced by Alice Hoffman’s magic, the pages were turning faster and faster and I devoured this book in two sittings. No one tells a story like Alice Hoffman, and I only hope she finds a way to bring this magical family back to us again in the future. I simply loved this book. It’s everything you want from Alice Hoffman — a great story of love and magic!”
—Julie Slavinsky, Warwick’s, La Jolla, CA

Cuyahoga: A Novel by Pete Beatty
(Scribner, 9781982155551, $27)
“Pete Beatty’s Cuyahoga is difficult to categorize: a slapstick epic, an upside-down creation story, a postmodern American myth. Whatever you call it, know that it’s a ribald, shaggy delight. Protagonist Big Son is what they call a ‘spirit’ in 1837 Ohio: more legend than man, a doer of larger-than-life feats. Narrator Medium Son, Big Son’s kind of jealous little brother, chronicles those feats, which seem to be tied to the falling fortunes of their home in Ohio City as neighboring Cleveland looms across the river. Told in lively, poetic language, Cuyahoga feels at once brand new and as old as its namesake river.”
—Danny Caine, Raven Book Store, Lawrence, KS

The October 2020 Indie Next List Now in Paperback

After the Flood: A Novel by Kassandra Montag
(William Morrow Paperbacks, 9780062889386, $16.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Kelli O’Malley, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI

All This Could Be Yours: A Novel by Jami Attenberg
(Mariner Books, 9780358361336, $15.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Liv Stratman, Books Are Magic, Brooklyn, NY

Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep
(Vintage, 9781101972052, $16.95
Recommended in hardcover by Beth Stroh, Viewpoint Books, Columbus, IN

Grand Union: Stories by Zadie Smith
(Penguin Books, 9780525559016, $17)
Recommended in hardcover by Bennard Fajardo, Politics and Prose Bookstore, Washington, DC

Imaginary Friend: A Novel by Stephen Chbosky
(Grand Central Publishing, 9781538731352, $16.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Tianna Moxley, the river’s end bookstore, Oswego, NY

Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA by Amaryllis Fox
(Vintage, 9780525564089, $16.95)
Recommended in hardcover by Sally Wizik Wills, Beagle and Wolf Books & Bindery, Park Rapids, MN

Mary Toft; or, The Rabbit Queen: A Novel by Dexter Palmer
(Vintage, 9780525432739, $16.95)
Recommended in hardcover by Katrina Bright-Yerges, Books & Company, Oconomowoc, WI

Ninth House: A Novel by Leigh Bardugo
(Flatiron Books, 9781250751362, $17.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Isabella Ogbolumani, Buffalo Street Books, Ithaca, NY

Things in Jars: A Novel by Jess Kidd
(Washington Square Press, 9781982121297, $17)
Recommended in hardcover by Jamie Southern, Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC

Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts: A Novel by Kate Racculia
(Mariner Books, 9780358410768, $15.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Anmiryam Budner, Main Point Books, Wayne, PA

The Vanished Birds: A Novel by Simon Jimenez
(Del Rey, 9780593129005, $17)
Recommended in hardcover by Samantha Tovey, Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver, CO

The World That We Knew: A Novel by Alice Hoffman
(Simon & Schuster, 9781501137587, $17
Recommended in hardcover by Mollie Loughlin, The Book Vine, Cherokee, IA