The Summer ’13 Indie Next List for Reading Groups

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Here’s a preview of the Summer ’13 Indie Next List for Reading Groups, which ABA member stores in the IndieBound movement will be receiving in the May Red Box.

Beginning with an intriguing selection of Top 10 titles and continuing through six discussion-starting categories, the latest Reading Group list features a wealth of outstanding books, including many that were Indie Next List choices in hardcover.

“Once again, the expertise of indie booksellers has resulted in a wonderful array of titles that offers something for groups of every kind and with every interest,” said ABA Development Officer Mark Nichols. “We are grateful for the wide representation of booksellers across the country who nominated their favorites. The twice-yearly Reading Group lists continue to garner the most requests for additional copies of any printed list that we produce.”

Among the many ways that indie bookstores use the list are as handouts at author events and special reading group nights and as take-aways on in-store displays.

Stores that would like additional copies of the Summer Reading Group List should contact Nichols.

Looking ahead, here are the upcoming deadlines for submitting Indie Next List nominations:

  • August 2013 List: June 4, 2013
  • September 2013 List: July 5, 2013
  • Banned Books Top Ten: July 16, 2013
  • Fall 2013 Children’s List:  July 16, 2013

The Summer ’13 Indie Next List for Reading Groups*

*Revised May 10, 2013, with bibliographic information for trade paper editions

The Top 10

1. The End of Your Life Book Club, by Will Schwalbe
(Vintage, 9780307739780, $15, available July)
“As a book group coordinator and leader, I can testify that there are many reasons for starting a book group, but this was the first time I heard of starting a book club because someone was dying. As unusual as this may sound, however, this is the story of what can happen when two (or more) people get together around books and find their relationship expanding even as the physical world seems to be shrinking. Warm, heartbreaking, uplifting, and ultimately true, The End of Your Life Book Club has the power to speak to any book group.” —Linda Bond, Auntie’s Bookstore, Spokane, WA

2. A Land More Kind Than Home: A Novel, by Wiley Cash
(William Morrow Paperbacks, 9780062088239, $14.99)
“The voices that bear witness to the events in Cash’s moving novel are haunting in their telling of a tale of innocent mistakes and evil incarnate in a small North Carolina mountain community. A charismatic preacher has a parish in his thrall. Mysterious goings on, both inside and outside of the shrouded little church, lead to tragedy for young Jess and his mute older brother, Stump. This is a heartbreaking, brilliant novel, both deeply Southern and utterly universal.” —Cathy Langer, Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver, CO

3. The Light Between Oceans: A Novel, by M.L. Stedman
(Scribner, 9781451681758, $16)
“World War I is over and Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia as a lighthouse keeper on remote Janus Rock. His young bride, Isabel, joins him, and they love their isolated life on Janus. Sadness descends, however, as they try unsuccessfully to start a family. A small boat washes ashore carrying a dead man and a beautiful, healthy baby girl whom they make their own, living happily until they go back to the mainland and begin to realize the consequences of their actions. With incredibly visual prose evocative of the time and place, compelling characters, themes of forgiveness and redemption, and a riveting plot that won’t let you put the book down, this is a great debut novel.” —Judy Crosby, Island Books, Middletown, RI

4. The Snow Child: A Novel, by Eowyn Ivey
(Reagan Arthur/Back Bay Books, 9780316175661, $14.99)
“This love story, set in Alaska, is really a love story about Alaska. Ivey describes the achingly beautiful landscape without making it seem an easy place to live. Based on an old fairy tale, this is the story of a childless couple who make a snow child one evening only to find a real little girl the next day. As the girl grows through the years, we know that this enchanting story will have the twists that we have come to expect with tales that teach us lessons about life. Friendships, marriage, parenthood, and survival — all set in an unforgiving but entrancing landscape.” —Valerie Koehler, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, TX

5. The Orchardist: A Novel, by Amanda Coplin
(Harper Perennial, 9780062188519, $15.99)
“Set in rural Washington State in the early 20th century, The Orchardist tells the story of Talmadge, who has lived alone since his sister disappeared from their home and orchard when he was a young man. His life is changed when two young pregnant teens, escaping from a horrific situation, arrive at the orchard and he decides to let them into his life. Lyrically written, this is a moving book about a man’s life, the land on which he lives, and the consequences of caring about others.” —Nancy Felton, Broadside Bookshop, Northampton, MA

6. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, by Cheryl Strayed
(Vintage, 9780307476074, $15.95)
“The inspiring story of Strayed’s solo journey on the Pacific Crest Trail snags you from the beginning and keeps you engaged the whole way through. It was a bold move considering that she had no backpacking experience prior to her trip, but in the years following her mother’s death and the subsequent dissolution of her family, Strayed was no stranger to bold moves. The challenges, both external and internal, that she endures while on the trail are balanced with stories about her life leading up to her brave decision to hike alone for months in the rugged Western wilderness. This is a story of survival in every sense of the word, and one that will stick with you long after you finish reading.” —Deborah Castorina, Waucoma Bookstore, Hood River, OR

7. A Good American: A Novel, by Alex George
(Berkley Trade, 9780425253175, $16)
“In these crazy, sad times, when fear and greed seem to be defining our responses, it was wonderful to be reminded of the irreplaceable role immigration has played in making our country great and of the various ways of being ‘a good American.’ Frederick and Jette flee Prussia in 1904 and make their new home in Missouri. Their story is told by their grandson, James, and like the best family stories, is filled with the coincidences, missed connections, and both the tragedy and magic of ordinary life. George breaks your heart with the quiet sacrifices and secrets of his characters but never forgets the wonder and humor of living. Carrying the reader across the generations with music and food, religion and prohibition, racism and patriotism, A Good American makes this unique family’s story seem familiar in the best of ways.” —Leslie Reiner, Inkwood Books, Tampa, FL

8. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry: A Novel, by Rachel Joyce
(Random House Trade Paperbacks, 9780812983456, $15)
“‘He walked so surely, it was as if all his life he had been waiting to get up from his chair.’ Recently retired Harold Fry receives an unsettling letter from a co-worker from years past. Queenie is dying in hospice and when Harold sets out to post a return letter, he is seized by the idea that if he keeps walking, Queenie will live. So begins a pilgrimage of personal transformation for Harold — and quite possibly for the reader as well. Insightful and touching, this journey will stay with readers for quite some time.” —Julia MacDonald, The Yankee Bookshop, Woodstock, VT

9. Running the Rift: A Novel, by Naomi Benaron
(Algonquin Books, 9781616201944, $14.95)
“This beautifully written work is set in Rwanda at the beginning of the Hutu-Tutsi tensions and is told through the eyes of Jean Patrick Nkuba, a talented runner who is hoping to be Rwanda’s first Olympic medal winner in track. The complicated relationships set against this violent background take Jean Patrick through a decade in which his very way of life is undone. As stark as this story is, the redemption Jean Patrick finds in running and the love and sacrifice exhibited by his family make Running the Rift an incredible read.” —Jan Sloan, The King’s English, Salt Lake City, UT

10. The Dog Stars: A Novel, by Peter Heller
(Vintage, 9780307950475, $15)
“It is 10 years after the end of civilization. Few survived the illness that wiped out most of the population of the U.S. Hig, a pilot, and his dog, Jasper, live in and defend an airport with Bangley, a gun-obsessed gruff man with no second thoughts about killing intruders. Somehow, Hig has maintained his conscience, continues to yearn for more to life, and sets out to find it. Heller has written a masterpiece full of language so beautiful it will break your heart and then fill it back up.” —Hannah Johnson-Breimeier, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI

Exciting New Voices

The Age of Miracles: A Novel, by Karen Thompson Walker
(Random House Trade Paperbacks, 9780812982947, $15)
“The end of the world does not come with a bang but with a whisper in Walker’s wonderful debut novel. Earth’s rotation is slowing, the days are becoming longer, gravity mutates, radiation spikes, but still, life must go on. The narrator is 12-year-old Julia, and she chronicles everything she sees happening in the world around her, from shock and panic to people desperate to maintain normal routines. This is not a flashy, bombastic, apocalyptic novel, but rather the story of how a family manages through unimaginable circumstances.” —Jason Kennedy, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk: A Novel, by Ben Fountain
(Ecco, 9780060885618, $14.99)
“Fountain has created a sort of inverted Odyssey in which our hero, Billy Lynn, comes home from the Iraq war to find a whole new catalog of trials and challenges awaiting him and the rest of Bravo Company before they are shipped back to the Gulf. Taking place on a single day, at a Thanksgiving football game in Dallas, the novel not only gives us a fresh take on how we view capitalism, materialism, ourselves, our country, and our military, but also provides a wonderfully empathetic, tragic hero in Billy Lynn, at once a brave and fearless fighting machine while still a very innocent and confused young man.” —Robert Sindelar, Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, WA

Birds of a Lesser Paradise: Stories, by Megan Mayhew Bergman
(Scribner, $15, 9781451643367)
“Before declaring ‘We don’t read short stories,’ book clubs should take a chance with Bergman’s collection of 12 tales linked by themes of family loyalty, deference to nature, and connection to animals. Quirky and unusual settings give another discussable quality to these tales: the Southeastern coast; an isolated New England farm; the Florida Keys in 2050 after the oceans have died. Bergman’s characters are breathtakingly sensitive and observant, and the collection is alternately heartbreaking and humorous.” —Cheryl Krocker McKeon, Book Passage, San Francisco, CA

The Book of Jonas: A Novel, by Stephen Dau
(Plume, 9780452298972, $16)
The Book of Jonas is a meditation on war told from the viewpoint of a 15-year-old Muslim war orphan who has been given asylum in the U.S. The author’s spare, lyrical style will be enjoyed by both male and female readers, and the choices made by the book’s main characters — and the consequences of those choices — will make for fascinating book club discussions.” —Jill Hendrix, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC

City of Women: A Novel, by David R. Gillham
(Berkley Trade, 9780425552963, $16)
“In this powerful debut, Gillham gives voice to the remarkable women left to defend the home front in war-torn Berlin. He masterfully juxtaposes their courage and determination in the face of opposition with fear, loneliness, and despair. Impeccably told, City of Women is a sensual, suspenseful read filled with extraordinary characters and exceptional moments of resilience, humanity, and grace.” —Anderson McKean, Page & Palette, Fairhope, AL

The Expats: A Novel, by Chris Pavone
(Broadway, 9780770435721, $15)
“Kate Moore is a former CIA agent who gradually comes to find that her husband is operating in just as big a shadow world as the one she formally inhabited. As the story of fraud, theft, and chicanery plays out across Europe, the reader is immersed in a style of thriller reminiscent of Eric Ambler, Graham Greene, and John le Carré. There is a level of intelligence here rarely found in genre fiction, and it marks a major debut.” —Bill Cusumano, Nicola’s Books, Ann Arbor, MI

In the Shadow of the Banyan: A Novel, by Vaddey Ratner
(Simon & Schuster, 9781451657715, $16, available June)
“Ratner’s remarkable debut novel transforms her childhood experiences of living through the horrors of the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia into the finest of literary fiction. The story is narrated by the precocious Raami, whose privileged life is shattered when soldiers ravage Phnom Penh and send her aristocratic family to work camps in the countryside. The powerful writing sweeps you along like the broad Mekong River through years of heartbreaking loss, hard labor, and starvation, and yet somehow, like Raami, you emerge from the book sobered, but with spirit unbroken. A powerful testament to the tenacity of love and family in the face of unspeakable inhumanity.” —Caitlin Caufiled, Odyssey Bookshop, South Hadley, MA

No One is Here Except All of Us: A Novel, by Ramona Ausubel
(Riverhead Trade, 9781594486494, $16)
“An isolated hamlet in south central Europe, 1939. The Jewish residents decide the only way to survive is cut all ties with the rest of the world and to act as if the world is only what and who they see within their own village. A young girl shares the story of her community and how it changes. Imaginative, complex, and gently rewriting relationships, No One Is Here Except All of Us is hypnotic. I’ve never read anything like it.” —Becky Milner, Vintage Books, Vancouver, WA

The Roots of the Olive Tree: A Novel, by Courtney Miller Santo
(William Morrow Paperbacks, 9780062130525, $14.99)
“Set in northern California, Santo’s debut features five generations of strong women who live in an old house on an olive grove. The women know there is a secret to harvesting the last of the olive crop to produce an oil so pure that it seems to enhance longevity. Rich with secrets, this lovely novel winds through the lives of each woman as a geneticist seeks the reason for their youthfulness. Santo gives readers an intimate look into how a family of women copes with tragedy, love, childbirth, and infidelity. Not to be missed!” —Annie Philbrick, Bank Square Books, Mystic, CT

New Works From Old Favorites

Arcadia: A Novel, by Lauren Groff
(Voice, 9781401341909, $15.99)
“In New York State in the late 1960s, a group of idealists loosely organize a utopian community in a field centered by a decaying mansion called Arcadia House. This is the story of Bit, a little boy quietly witnessing the dysfunctional craziness of his commune family. As an adult, Bit becomes a photographer, still observing and creating memories of the people around him. This is a great book for book groups — one that will lead to many different discussions about human character, family, historical perspective, and the nature of love.” —Kelly Walters, Village Books, Bellingham, WA

Canada: A Novel, by Richard Ford
(Ecco, 9780061692031, $15.99)
“Richard Ford’s latest novel is not one to be rushed. While the plot sounds sensational — robbery, murders, a flight across the Canadian border — Ford’s laconic, measured prose forces the reader to slow the pace and savor the story. This is a novel about actions, intentions, and consequences, as well as about belonging, introspection, and the solitary nature of life. Powerful and atmospheric, Canada will excite and gratify Ford’s fans and introduce newcomers to a masterful American writer.” —Tova Beiser, Brown University Bookstore, Providence, RI

Flight Behavior: A Novel, by Barbara Kingsolver
(Harper Perennial, 9780062124272, $16.99, available June)
“Dellarobia Turnbow, who is ready to run away from her unsatisfactory life on a Tennessee farm, comes across a river of flame on the mountain behind her home: millions of Monarch butterflies. The insects, wintering in Appalachia instead of their traditional Mexican grounds, open Dellarobia’s circumscribed life, slowly drawing her out into the wider world. Kingsolver’s precise prose, deep characters, and provocative questions — evidence versus faith, duty versus choice, facts versus perception — will resonate with readers as they contemplate the real world and its global changes.” —Erica Caldwell, Present Tense, Batavia, NY

Gold: A Novel, by Chris Cleave
(Simon & Schuster, 9781451672732, $16)
“Cleave is one of the luminaries of modern fiction and his talent shines just as brightly as the title of Gold. In a novel based on the world of competitive cycling, Cleave offers all of the trauma, dedication, and courage of that elite society, but more importantly shows us those same attributes in the lives of his other characters, particularly eight-year-old Sophie, who suffers from leukemia. This is a novel that both inspires and informs, eliciting sadness and exhilaration in equal measure while showing empathy for the human condition. Gold is a reading experience not to be missed.” —Bill Cusumano, Nicola’s Books, Ann Arbor, MI

Love Anthony, by Lisa Genova
(Galley Books, 9781439164693, $16)
“In her new novel, Genova provides a unique view of unconditional love through Anthony, a boy with autism. His mother, Olivia, and neighbor, Beth, live on the island of Nantucket, where they meet on the shore and later discover how different yet troubled in similar ways their family lives are. Ultimately, the voice and thoughts of Anthony will slowly compel each of them to make a change that is positive. These women become truly admirable in their efforts, and Anthony is unforgettable.” —Kathleen Dixon, Islandtime Books & More, Washington Island, WI

With an Air of Mystery

The Art Forger: A Novel, by B. A. Shapiro
(Algonquin Books, 9781616203160, $14.95)
“A fascinating look at today’s art world, this novel depicts the challenges and difficulties of making art for a living. When a gallery owner offers Claire Roth both money and a solo show if she paints a copy of a stolen Degas, her conscience wars with her need for rent money and her desire for artistic recognition. Her conscience loses the fight, and soon she is swept into a puzzling mystery about the painting’s origins and the value of artistic expertise. A terrific read and great for discussion!” —Susan Taylor, Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany, NY

Broken Harbor: A Novel, by Tana Fench
(Penguin Books, 9780143123309, $16)
“French has written another compulsively readable, darkly disturbing Irish mystery with plot twists that will take your breath away. Broken Harbor has been turned into a remote, upscale yuppie development that went bust with the rest of the country in the financial crisis. The few occupied houses stand surrounded by the skeletons of homes that will never reach completion — an eerie, unsettling place full of disappointed dreams. In one of those houses, the dream has turned into a nightmare: the father and two children are dead, the kitchen looks like a slaughterhouse, and the mother is clinging to life by a thread. French is a master, and her latest is a great book club choice.” —Deon Stonehouse, Sunriver Books, Sunriver, OR

Defending Jacob: A Novel, by William Landay
(Dell, 9780440246138, $7.99)
“Engrossing from the first page, Defending Jacob will keep you on the edge of your seat, and then it will break your heart. What appears to be the story of a lovely family with a teenage son becomes a nightmare of suspicions, accusations, isolation, condemnation, and, ultimately, tragedy, when an assistant district attorney and his wife watch as their only son is arrested for the murder of a classmate. We tend to see those we love with our hearts, which is not always the same as reality, and life can come crashing down in a hurry. I was blown away by this book!” —Susan Wasson, Bookworks, Albuquerque, NM

The Gods of Gotham: A Novel, by Lyndsay Faye
(Berkley Trade, 9780425261255, $16)“It is 1845 in New York City and its first police force has hit the streets at the same time the potato famine has hit Ireland. As the Irish pour into the city so does the hatred, bigotry, and violence that Timothy Wilde, a newly hired copper star, is expected to eradicate. The Gods of Gotham transports the reader back to the sights, smells, sounds, and lingo of 1840s New York City utilizing vivid characters, a stunning setting, and language that will grab you and not let go.” —Karen Briggs, Great Northern Books and Hobbies, Oscoda, MI

The Keeper of Lost Causes, by Jussi Alder-Olsen
(Plume, 9780525478812, $16)
“Copenhagen homicide detective Carl Morck was wounded in a crime scene ambush that killed one of his partners and crippled another. When Morck returns to work, friction with his colleagues leads to his being put in charge of Department Q, a new unit created to solve cold cases. Morck sets up his office in the basement near the furnace room with one helper, a Syrian immigrant named Assad, who is delegated to spend half his time as a janitor. The case Morck settles on is full of enough twists and turns to satisfy any Stieg Larsson fan, and Assad is full of humor and unique talents that keep Morck and his cold case moving forward to its satisfying conclusion.” —Ray Nurmi, Snowbound Books, Marquette, MI

Discussion Guaranteed!

The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green
(Dutton Juvenile, $17.99, 9780525478812)
“A cancer support group might seem like an unlikely place to meet your true love, but for Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters the stars align and these two sweetly cynical souls find each other at an interesting moment in their lives. In a story brimming with mystery, humor, and lots of love, Hazel and Augustus show readers that life is made up of a million moments worth noticing — much like a night sky filled with stars.” —Julie Wilson, The Bookworm, Omaha, NE

The Lifeboat: A Novel, by Charlotte Rogan
(Reagan Arthur/Back Bay Books, 9780316185912, $14.99)
“On one level this book is a thrilling mystery — a lifeboat survival story in the aftermath of the sinking of a luxury ocean liner. But it is much more than that. It is a beautifully written book that asks many thought-provoking questions: Is the main character, Grace, weak or strong, conniving or hapless, or some complex combination of traits and motives? Rogan forces you to think and try to decide. This is the perfect book for book groups and is guaranteed to get the conversation going right down to the nitty gritty!” —Pamela McFeeley, Elm Street Books, New Canaan, CT

Me Before You: A Novel, by Jojo Moyes
(Penguin Books, 9780143124542, $16, available July)
“Moyes is a superb storyteller who weaves different perspectives seamlessly and without pause. Wheelchair-bound Will and his caregiver, Lou, embark on six months of an intricate and intimate relationship, with each finding a new kind of life for themselves and yielding little by little to one another. Told with aplomb and tenacity, Me Before You is haunting and fulfilling, a true love story.” —Charity McMaster, Schuler Books & Music, Lansing, MI

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain
(Broadway, 9780307352156, $16)
“This is a wonderfully important book that just may help the human race survive and thrive. In a clear and readable style combining emerging science and sociological perspective as well as deep empathy and intelligence, Cain does a superb job of making us think. Readers will recognize behaviors at both ends of the introvert/extrovert personality spectrum, as well as everything in between, and will feel empowered to find their own comfort level for living.” —Karen Frank, Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, VT

The World Without You: A Novel, by Joshua Henkin
(Vintage, 9780307277183, $15)
“A year after young journalist Leo Frankel is killed while covering the war in Iraq, his family gathers at their summer home in the Berkshires for a memorial service. The reunion is presented from the perspectives of Leo’s surviving family members: his mother and father, whose crumbling marriage is a casualty of Leo’s death; Thisbe, his young widow, who feels guilty over a new romantic involvement; his sister Lily, who introduced Thisbe to her new lover; another sister, Noelle, a convert to Orthodox Judaism; and Clarissa, the oldest sister, whose desire to become pregnant has become obsessive since Leo’s death. Henkin’s sympathy for his characters is remarkable, as is his ability to capture the complexity and nuance in family relationships — shifting alliances, old resentments, persistent family myths, and most enduring of all, love.” —Ashley Montague, Pennsylvania Book Center, Philadelphia, PA

In Another Place and Time

The Angel Makers, by Jessica Gregson
(Soho Press, 9781616951795, $14)
“Based on a true story, this tale involves a young orphan who lives with the town midwife in a remote area of Hungary. Together they help the town’s wives resolve their issues with their abusive husbands — with the help of arsenic. During World War I, these women learn to cope for themselves, and then take matters into their own hands after their husbands return. But will they get away with it?” —Beth Carpenter, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC

Beautiful Ruins: A Novel, by Jess Walter
(Harper Perennial, 9780061928178, $15.99)
“In 1962, a young Italian innkeeper unwittingly ends up taking part in the Hollywood ‘clean up’ of a love affair on the set for the film Cleopatra. Fast forward to present day Los Angeles: Pasquale Tursi shows up at the studio of a legendary Hollywood producer to find out the fate of the actress he met so briefly, so long ago. The ‘beautiful ruins’ refer not only to the stunning descriptions of the Italian coastline, but also to the winding path a life can take and the sweet middle ground that we sometimes discover when our dreams don’t pan out.” —Sarah Harvey, Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver, CO

The Chaperone: A Novel, by Laura Moriarty
(Riverhead Trade, 9780452298972, $16, available June)
“Silent film star Louise Brooks was accustomed to being the center of attention, but that is not the case in this exquisite novel about the summer of 1922, when 15-year-old Louise traveled to New York for dance training. At the center of this story is her chaperone, 36-year-old Cora Carlisle, who has reasons of her own for traveling to New York that fateful summer. Cora’s story is one of casting after the classic American dream with a few unexpected twists, and Moriarty’s writing captures it perfectly.” —Katherine Osborne, Kennebooks, Kennebunk, ME

The Cove: A Novel, by Ron Rash
(Ecco, 9780061804205, $14.99)
“Laurel Shelton and her brother live in a cove considered by many to be cursed. Crops fail, untimely deaths occur, and little light ever trickles down onto their plot of land. Their lives are largely isolated until Laurel discovers a mysterious and mute stranger playing the flute in the nearby woods. Set during the final months of WWI in the Appalachians of North Carolina, The Cove is a book that reveals the nature of humans to quickly ostracize those not like themselves and how easily people will demonize a group of people amidst the fever of war.” —Eon Alden, City Lights Bookstore, Sylva, NC

The Healing: A Novel, by Jonathan Odell
(Anchor, 9780307744562, $15.95)
“During the years before the Civil War, Master Ben purchases Polly Shine, a slave woman known to possess healing powers, to help ‘doctor’ his slaves suffering from a mysterious plague. Polly also needs to pass on her healing knowledge to the next generation and focuses on Granada, a young slave girl. Granada is not so willing to accept her gift and is not interested in learning anything from Polly. Despite Granada’s impatience and resistance, Polly teaches her that the gift of healing is much more than just learning to heal.” —Julia Barth, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, TX

Life Journeys

Memoir of the Sunday Brunch, by Julia Pandl
(Algonquin Books, $13.95, 9781616201722)
“Growing up the youngest in a family of nine can make a kid feel lost, but the alternative, moving to a far-off suburb while all the older kids stay behind, can be even worse. It’s a good thing, then, that the author was forced to tend to pancakes at a young age so she could further bond with her eccentric restaurateur father. Pandl shares family stories that will resonate with anyone from a large family, and some of the kitchen tales make Anthony Bourdain’s confessions seem tame. But most of all, this is the story of a woman’s bond with her father, built slowly with blocks of forced labor and family craziness, and then, when all that was swept away, rebuilt with the help of a lot of care and a bit of humor.” —Daniel Goldin, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI

Once Upon a River: A Novel, by Bonnie Jo Campbell
(W.W. Norton, 9780393341775, $15.95, available June)
“Teenager Margo Crane is on her own, headed up the Stark River in search of her mother in The River Rose, the boat left to her by her grandfather. A child of the river, Margo can handle herself on the water and can hunt, fish, and forage, but when she encounters a few unsavory men along her journey, the trouble begins. Alone and hungry, she meets Smoke, an old man living out his last days, and the two form an unlikely pair, helping each other when they both need it most. You won’t soon get Margo Crane out of your head — she’s one of a kind!” —Sherri Gallentine, Vroman’s Bookstore, Pasadena, CA

When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice, by Terry Tempest Williams
(Picador, 9781250024114, $15)
“When Ruth Williams died at age 54 and bequeathed her journals to her daughter, Terry Tempest Williams approached those journals with a mix of longing and expectation. What she found was not revelation but rather a bewilderment of blank pages: three shelves of journals, all empty. Now 54 herself, Tempest Williams considers these same journals. In quiet, incendiary, wise, and wondering meditations, Tempest Williams uses her mother’s mysterious legacy to explore the conjunction of family and nature, silence and voice, orthodoxy and freedom, the public and the private. As the words take wing, so does the reader’s imagination.” —Betsy Burton, The King’s English, Salt Lake City, UT

Where’d You Go, Bernadette: A Novel, by Maria Semple
(Back Bay Books, 9780316204262, $14.99)
“The best humorous fiction pokes gentle fun at human foibles while celebrating our shared humanity, and this wonderfully zany novel is the very best of its kind. To call a novel ‘zany’ seems to condemn it to the level of I Love Lucy reruns, but Semple’s book is zany in the best possible sense of the word: hilariously funny, fresh and engaging, and filled with twists and turns that keep you on your toes as it follows the story of renowned architect turned reclusive stay-at-home mom Bernadette, told by herself, her teenage daughter, her angry neighbors, and others. Absolutely delightful!” —Carol Schneck Varner, Schuler Books & Music, Okemos, MI

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson
(Grove Press, 9780802120878, $15)
“Readers familiar with Winterson’s Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit will have an inkling of the earnestness and pathos of this memoir as well as the source of this most perfectly chosen title quote, but no one should stop there: Winterson delivers far more than the expected exploration of Orange’s roots. This is a captivating book, quotable and brightly flecked with humor, a personal and at times painfully raw story about an adoptee’s lifelong search for love. It also makes the strongest case I’ve ever read for how a life can be saved by literature.” —Jennifer Indeliclae, Ebenezer Books, Johnson, VT