The September 2016 Indie Next List Preview

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Updated: August 8, 2016

The September Indie Next List flier, now on its way to stores in the IndieBound movement, features the month’s Indie Next Great Reads, Now in Paperback titles, and Revisit & Rediscover backlist favorites.

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

The September Indie Next Great Reads

#1 Pick: Commonwealth: A Novel, by Ann Patchett
(Harper, 9780062491794, $27.99)
“Patchett leaves behind the exotic locales and intricate plots of State of Wonder and Bel Canto for an even darker and more difficult place to navigate — the interior of a blended family over the course of several decades. While more domestic than many of her previous novels, Commonwealth offers plenty of intrigue and surprises as Patchett explores the interaction of a group of children forced into each other’s lives because of their parents’ impulsive choices. With keen insight, tears of both sorrow and joy, and some real — if dark — humor, Patchett pulls readers into this complex family’s world, and we are eager for every detail.” —John Christensen, Arcadia Books, Spring Green, WI

Mischling: A Novel, by Affinity Konar
(Lee Boudreaux Books, 9780316308106, $27)
“Sisters Stasha and Pearl are accustomed to the imaginative interior life they share as twins, but in Josef Mengele’s ‘Zoo’ at Auschwitz they must find refuge in that life in order to survive. Readers descend into the violence and despair of the Holocaust as experienced through the eyes of the twins but are protected by an innocence that is also urbane and by a sardonic playfulness that does not shy from horrors but transforms them into fortitude and resilience. Konar has achieved the unlikely — Mischling simultaneously haunts and inspires.” —Kelly Pickerill, Lemuria Bookstore, Jackson, MS

A Gentleman in Moscow: A Novel, by Amor Towles
(Viking, 9780670026197, $27)
“Through Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov’s ordinary encounters and activities within the bounds of the four walls of post-revolutionary Moscow’s Metropol Hotel, where he is under house arrest, Towles deftly guides readers across a century of Russian history, from the Bolshevik uprising to the dawn of the nuclear age under Krushchev. Grandiloquent language and drama reminiscent of Tolstoy gradually give way to action and tradecraft suggestive of le Carré in this lovely and entertaining tale of one man’s determination to maintain his dignity and passion for life, even after being stripped of his title, belongings, and freedom. Reading A Gentleman in Moscow is pure pleasure!” —Becky Dayton, The Vermont Book Shop, Middlebury, VT

The Underground Railroad: A Novel, by Colson Whitehead
(Doubleday, 9780385542364, $26.95)
“Whitehead’s new novel is much more than the story of a runaway slave, Cora, who fights her way to the North; it is also a phantasmagorical look at race in America. In this instance the railroad is literal — a train roaring through tunnels constructed like a subway, leading Cora to several unlikely destinations. Like the travels of Gulliver, each of Cora’s stops on the railroad is a different version of America, displaying the varied ways in which Americans view race and manifest destiny. With exquisite prose, Colson digs deep into the troubled heart of America, exposing prejudice, tolerance, hatred, violence, and love as readers stop at each distinct station. Cora is a hero for the ages, and Whitehead is a writer who can guide us, like a station master, into the light. This is a fantastic novel.” —William Carl, Wellesley Books, Wellesley, MA

The Nix: A Novel, by Nathan Hill
(Knopf, 9781101946619, $27.95)
“Hill’s debut is remarkable because it does both the little things and the big things right. It is an intimate novel of identity and loss, the story of a boy abandoned and the man now trying to recover. It also paints a vivid portrait of America and its politics from the 1960s to the present. The Nix overflows with unforgettable characters, but none more clearly rendered than Samuel Andersen-Anderson and his mother, Faye, both bewildered by life and struggling to repair the rift between them. From intimate whispers to American news cycles, this astounding novel of reclamation is guaranteed to sweep readers off their feet.” —Luisa Smith, Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA

Leave Me: A Novel, by Gayle Forman
(Algonquin Books, 9781616206178, $26.95)
“Filled with poignant, heartwarming insights into the incessant demands of marriage and motherhood, Leave Me brilliantly shows readers that sometimes you really do have to run away from it all in order to discover what really matters. In her adult debut, Forman provides a frank and moving story about losing and finding yourself by embracing the power of forgiveness, the inevitability of growth, and the stubbornness of love.” —Anderson McKean, Page and Palette, Fairhope, AL

A Great Reckoning: A Novel, by Louise Penny
(Minotaur, 9781250022134, $28.99)
“There is something rotten at the Sûreté academy, and the now-retired Chief Inspector Armand Gamache has been brought in to clean it up. In the meantime, a strange map has been found in Three Pines. Old friends, new characters, murder, and history combine in another irresistible tale from Penny, whose writing is always compassionate, funny, and literate. This latest in the series is not to be missed.” —Kathy Magruder, Pageturners Bookstore, Indianola, IA

Darktown: A Novel, by Thomas Mullen
(Atria/37 INK, 9781501133862, $26)
Darktown is a knockout novelization of the history of Atlanta’s first black police officers, who were appointed in 1948. Deftly merging social history with crime fiction, the story follows two of the new recruits as they secretly investigate the murder of a young black woman. It is a mission fraught with danger as the black officers come up against bigoted white officers and the insidious racism of an Atlanta still under Jim Crow. Mullen spins an immersive tale out of this friction, and it is his willingness to engage with this time period and to let its ugly realities shape and inform the course of the investigation that elevates this novel from a standard procedural.” —Nneoma Amadi-Obi, Politics & Prose Bookstore and Coffeehouse, Washington, DC

The Gentleman: A Novel, by Forrest Leo
(Penguin Press, 9780399562631, $26)
“Fast-paced, funny, and extremely enjoyable, The Gentleman has fantastic elements and intriguing characters tied together with smart dialogue and timing reminiscent of a Baz Luhrman film. Badly behaved Victorian ladies, indolent poets, an exasperated editor, intrepid British adventurers, steampunk inventors, omniscient butlers, a genteel Devil, and a number of cunning plans combine to make this debut novel exciting and amusing.” —Jennifer Richter, Inkwood Books, Haddonfield, NJ

Little Nothing: A Novel, by Marisa Silver
(Blue Rider Press, 9780399167928, $27)
“Silver turns the oral tradition into fine literature with Little Nothing, a masterful work of fairy tale and folklore. Pavla, a dwarf born in Eastern Europe in the early 20th century, is a survivor who magically adapts time and again in order to overcome cruelty. Danilo loves her and is obsessed only with protecting her. This is a story of the power of transformation and the gift of finding the love we need, if not the love we seek.” —Maureen Stinger, The Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA

The Risen: A Novel, by Ron Rash
(Ecco, 9780062436313, $25.99)
“The most overused cliché in the book business is ‘page-turner,’ so I will ask indulgence when I declare that The Risen by Ron Rash is a page-turner in the truest sense of the phrase. The Risen explores a young boy’s coming of age, sibling rivalry, a decades-old mystery, and extreme life choices. It is an exciting read for all who appreciate literature at its finest.” —Jake Reiss, Alabama Booksmith, Birmingham, AL

Lady Cop Makes Trouble: A Kopp Sisters Novel, by Amy Stewart
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 9780544409941, $26)
“Stewart’s follow-up to Girl Waits With Gun is equally fascinating. Based on the life of Constance Kopp, the first female deputy sheriff in New Jersey, this tale takes readers from rural New Jersey to the mean streets of New York City in 1915. With grit, smarts, and utter determination, Constance tracks a convict who escaped her custody. Despite the astounding restrictions on a woman’s life in the early 20th century, Constance takes every risk to capture her suspect. Complemented by the historical notes that Stewart provides, Lady Cop is both informative and loads of fun.” —Kathy Kirby, Powell’s Books, Portland, OR

Razor Girl: A Novel, by Carl Hiaasen
(Knopf, 9780385349741, $27.95)
“Welcome back to Southern Florida! In the land of flimflam artists, illegal substances, and scantily clad women, disgraced detective Andrew Yancy is just trying to get his job back. Merry Mansfield, master of the car crash scam, insinuates herself into Yancy’s life with brazen confidence. As it turns out, he needs her more than he could ever anticipate. Reality TV stars, redneck kidnappers, mobsters, and corrupt developers cross paths throughout this novel in hilarious, nonstop action. Hiassen is at the top of his game with quirky characters, rapid-fire banter, and Wodehouse-like plotting.” —Cindy Pauldine, the river’s end bookstore, Oswego, NY

The Art of Waiting: On Fertility, Medicine, and Motherhood, by Belle Boggs
(Graywolf Press, 9781555977498, trade paperback, $16)
“Boggs tackles a variety of challenging topics throughout this cohesive collection of essays. With a knowledgeable, considerate, and honest mind, Boggs is somehow able to transform the clinical and sedate language of infertility treatments into a beautiful song of hope and transformation. The metaphors Boggs finds for her travails sing, and the patient quality of her narration stuns. The candidness of her voice, combined with her ability to find the perfect words to sum up data, studies, statistics, and personal experience, make The Art of Waiting a gift for all readers.” —John Francisconi, Bank Square Books, Mystic, CT

A Whole Life: A Novel, by Robert Seethaler
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 9780374289867, $23)
“Andreas Egger lived his whole life with nature as his most trusted companion. When humans, war, and debilitating events threatened him, he quietly climbed mountains, bathed in icy streams, watched the sun streak its intense color into the sky, and then put his head down and forged ahead. He lived eight decades, mostly alone, and faced death and privation with heroism, stoicism, and a depth of character rarely seen in the ‘modern’ 20th century. In this short novel, Seethaler has poetically created a character and a way of looking at the natural world that readers will never forget.” —Gayle Shanks, Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe, AZ

The Fortunes: A Novel, by Peter Ho Davies
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 9780544263703, $27)
“At a time of talk about building walls and isolationism, Davies offers a look at American history through the lives of a group of people who have helped to forge this nation — Chinese-Americans. Davies presents characters for whom the American dream is as elusive or as real as it would be to any others. Set in the California Gold Rush, 1930s Hollywood, and the present day, Davies’ tale is artfully told with passion and conviction, and readers will empathize fully with each generation of ‘outsiders.’” —Jessie Martin, Nicola’s Books, Ann Arbor, MI

Loner: A Novel, by Teddy Wayne
(Simon & Schuster, 9781501107894, $26)
(“David Federman, a gifted student who is both socially awkward and emotionally immature, is trying to find his place as a Harvard freshman. Enter the beautiful and sophisticated Veronica Wells, and David is hopelessly, obsessively in love for the first time. Suffice it to say this is not a match made in heaven, and it ends badly for everyone when David starts stalking Veronica and violates the school’s honor code — the first steps down a slippery slope towards a violent and tragic ending. David is by turns sympathetic and repellent, and Loner is a complex portrayal of alienation, gender politics, and class at the highest echelons of American academic life.” —Ellen Burns, Books on the Common, Ridgefield, CT

Pancakes in Paris: Living the American Dream in France, by Craig Carlson
(Sourcebooks, 9781492632122, trade paperback, $15.99)
“Pancakes and Paris make for a winning combination in this charming memoir. Readers will cheer for Carlson as he follows his dream of opening a restaurant in nother country. He faces many challenges, but perseveres until he reaches his goal. Thanks to Carlson it is now possible to get hearty pancakes and other treats at Breakfast in America, the first American-style diner in Paris. This is a perfect read for armchair travelers or for Francophiles planning their next trip to the City of Lights.” —Elizabeth Merritt, Titcomb’s Bookshop, East Sandwich, MA

The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate Discoveries From a Secret World, by Peter Wohlleben
(Greystone Books, dist. PGW, 9781771642484, $24.95)
The Hidden Life of Trees reads like a 250-page epiphany. Wohlleben knows trees inside and out, and his revelatory examination of the inner lives of forests provides evidence of what many sensitive nature-lovers long suspected: that trees form friendships, sustain one another, and should be viewed as more than a natural resource. This is the kind of writing that can profoundly affect the way we live on this planet.” —Stephen Sparks, Green Apple Books, San Francisco, CA

A House Without Windows: A Novel, by Nadia Hashimi
(William Morrow, 9780062449689, $26.99)
“Hashimi sets her layered and suspenseful novel at the crossroads of tradition and modernity in present-day Afghanistan. Her nuanced and well-paced tale tells the story of Zeba, who is accused of murdering her husband. In the Chil Mahtab prison, where Zeba awaits her trial and sentencing, she comes to know a colorful cast of female inmates, many of whom are ordinary women who have been snared in various traps of family honor and have been cast away by their families and by society. This is a compassionately written and moving page-turner.” —Marya Johnston, Out West Books, Grand Junction, CO

Now in Paperback

And Again: A Novel, by Jessica Chiarella (Touchstone, 9781501116117, $15.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Ellen Sandmeyer, Sandmeyer’s Bookstore, Chicago, IL

The Art of Memoir, by Mary Karr (Harper Perennial, 9780062223074, $15.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Susan Posch, The Book Shoppe, Boone, IA

Be Frank With Me: A Novel, by Julia Claiborne Johnson (William Morrow Paperbacks, 9780062413727, $15.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Bess Bleyaert, McLean & Eakin Booksellers, Petoskey, MI

Bell Weather: A Novel, by Dennis Mahoney (St. Martin’s Griffin, 9781250093813, $15.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Amelia Stymacks, Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, VT

Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflections on Race and Medicine, by Damon Tweedy, M.D. (Picador, 9781250105042, $16)
Recommended in hardcover by Tom Campbell, The Regulator Bookshop, Durham, NC

Don’t Suck, Don’t Die: Giving Up Vic Chesnutt, by Kristin Hersh (University of Texas Press, 9781477311363, $14.95)
Recommended in hardcover by Donovan Swift, Inkwood Books, Tampa, FL

Eileen: A Novel, by Ottessa Moshfegh (Penguin Books, 9780143128755, $16)
Recommended in hardcover by Christopher Phipps, DIESEL: A Bookstore, Oakland, CA

The Gates of Evangeline: A Novel, by Hester Young (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 9780425283172, $16)
Recommended in hardcover by Janice Hunsche, Kaleidosaurus Books, Metamora, IN

The Light of the World: A Memoir, by Elizabeth Alexander (Grand Central Publishing, 9781455599868, $15.99)
Recommended in hardcover by Carole Horne, Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, MA

Revisit & Rediscover

And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic, by Randy Shilts
(St. Martin’s Griffin, 9780312374631, $21.99) Originally published in hardcover in 1987
And the Band Played On fuses the thoughtfulness of history to the urgency of a great news story. In writing about the people affected by the AIDS epidemic — doctors, politicians, and, most of all, gay men — Shilts powerfully conveys not only his anger at official inaction, but also his love and compassion for the victims. Thirty years after the book’s publication, it continues to inspire, to move, and to drive a stronger engagement with issues and the truth of people’s lives. Every time someone worries that a devastating topic means a depressing book, I think of And the Band Played On. Like Schindler’s List or Behind the Beautiful Forevers, this book enlarges our understanding of the human story. It should be required reading.” —Michael Barnard, Rakestraw Books, Danville, CA

Geek Love: A Novel, by Katherine Dunn
(Vintage, 9780375713347, $16) Originally published in hardcover in 1989
“A stunning, gripping, and profoundly unforgettable tale of what it means to be a ‘freak,’ Geek Love is the story of the Binewskis, a couple whose traveling carnival is failing, when they decide, through the use of prescription drugs and radiation, to birth a line of ‘freakish’ children to save their business. Narrator Oly, their albino dwarf daughter, leads us through the unsettling journey of her siblings. The humanity portrayed through those whom we may see as the least human among us is captured brilliantly.” —Kelly Estep, Carmichael’s Bookstore, Louisville, KY

The Known World: A Novel, by Edward P. Jones
(Amistad, 9780061159176, $16.99) Originally published in hardcover in 2003
“When Jones’ first novel, The Known World, was published in 2003, it was a literary sensation; Jones was even compared to Toni Morrison and William Faulkner. Set in a fictional antebellum Virginia county with a protagonist who is a mixed-race slaveholder, this complex examination of slavery won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and a number of other literary awards. With a quiet restraint and luminous prose, it plumbs the depths of slavery’s harsh realities and anomalies. It is a rare wonder and should not be missed.” —Carole Horne, Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, MA