The Summer 2017 Indie Next List for Reading Groups Preview

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Here is a preview of the Summer 2017 Indie Next List for Reading Groups flier, which ABA member stores in the IndieBound movement will be receiving in the May Red Box.

In addition to the Top Ten favorites chosen by booksellers, the list presents 33 additional titles in eight categories — “Small Bites,” “Reflections on Life,” “Brave New Voices,” “Thrills & Chills,” “Scientifically Speaking,” “Beloved Wordsmiths,” “Encounters in History,” and “Family Ties That Bind” — that offer the promise of great discussions for reading groups of every kind.

The Reading Group list is ideal for use as a handout at author events and special reading group nights and as a takeaway at the cashwrap and in-store displays.

Booksellers are now encouraged to nominate their future handselling favorites for three upcoming lists:

  • August 2017 Indie Next List: Deadline June 2
  • September Indie Next List: Deadline July 5
  • Autumn 2017 Kids’ Indie Next List: Deadline July 14

Nominations can be submitted using the form found here; via e-mail to [email protected]; or by leaving comments on the book’s title page on either Edelweiss or NetGalley.

Stores that would like to receive additional copies of the Summer 2017 Indie Next List for Reading Groups should send a request to ABA Design and Production Manager Linda Ford.

The Summer 2017 Indie Next List for Reading Groups
(All titles are trade paperback unless otherwise noted)

The Top Ten

1. Milk and Honey, by Rupi Kaur
(Andrews McMeel, 9781449474256, $14.99)
“This short collection of poetry contains the intimate self-reflection of heartbreak that Kaur depicts through the four sections: ‘the hurting,’ ‘the loving,’ ‘the breaking,’ and ‘the healing.’ Through simple, touching lines and delicate illustrations, you find that Kaur is not only instructing you about loss and self-care, but is also instructing herself. Author and reader take a joint journey paired with comforting empowerments and wisdoms. Rupi Kaur gently makes room for you to consider yourself with grace and compassion in the midst of a mental storm.” —Jordan Hill, Odyssey Bookshop, South Hadley, MA

2. The Sympathizer: A Novel, by Viet Thanh Nguyen
(Grove Press, 9780802124944, $16)
“A most perfect book. Viet Thanh Nguyen’s writing is so intellectually clear as to be rarified. This novel made me truly understand my own thinking on the Vietnam War during that time. It resonated with me greatly in the way that it showed how evolving personal politics coupled with an inculcated belief system can impact so very many decisions. I love this book.” —Lucy Kogler, Talking Leaves Books, Buffalo, NY

Indies Introduce logo3. Temporary People, by Deepak Unnikrishnan
(Restless Books, 9781632061423, $17.99)
“From its strange, Kafka-esque scenarios to its wholly original language, this book is amazing on so many different levels. Unlike anything I’ve ever read, Temporary People is a powerful work of short stories about foreign nationals who populate the new economy in the United Arab Emirates. With inventive language and darkly satirical plot lines, Unnikrishnan provides an important view of the relentless nature of a global economy and its brutal consequences for human lives. Prepare to be wowed by this immensely talented new voice.” —Hilary Gustafson, Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, MI

Indies Introduce logo4. Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist, by Sunil Yapa
(Lee Boudreaux/Back Bay Books, 9780316386555, $15.99)
“This roaring debut charges at you swinging, landing emotional sucker punch after emotional sucker punch. The 1999 WTO riots spring to hypnotizing life in this book — a loud, bellowing ghost from the past, drawing deeply personal stories together in a stunning array of color, sound, and movement. Beneath its courageous layers, the core of Yapa’s book is humanity at its most vulnerable and passionate, a tenderness that only a master of the written word can perfect.” —Belinda Roddie, Copperfield’s, San Rafael, CA

5. Sleeping on Jupiter: A Novel, by Anuradha Roy
(Graywolf Press, 9781555977511, $16)
“In this stunning novel about suffering and healing, Roy explores the dark layers of life that we try to keep hidden. Ultimately hopeful despite the tragedies depicted, Sleeping on Jupiter is a breathtaking read that will transport and haunt you.” —Ann Mayhew, Magers & Quinn Booksellers, Minneapolis, MN

6. Dinner With Edward: A Story of an Unexpected Friendship, by Isabel Vincent
(Algonquin, 9781616206949, $14.95)
“This slim memoir enchanted me. Author and reporter Isabel Vincent recounts her friendship with the delightful, elderly Edward. Isabel reveals how their relationship deepened over the course of many wonderful dinners that Edward cooks for her, and how they were able to help one another move through grief and on to better places in their lives, even as Edward faces the end of his. The food descriptions are a highlight as well; I’ve marked many of the recipes and expect to use them all.” —Kathi Kirby, Powell’s Books, Portland, OR

7. Dark Matter: A Novel, by Blake Crouch
(Broadway Books, 9781101904244, $16)
Dark Matter is a thrilling science fiction ride for people who don’t think they like science fiction! While it is suspenseful and exciting, it also explores themes of humanity, the paths not taken, what matters most, and the meaning of reality. Fast, fun, and a little mind-bending, this is a consummate summer read.” —Tova Beiser, Brown University Bookstore, Providence, RI

8. All the Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders
(Tor Books, 9780765379955, $15.99)
“A breathtaking feat. Anders has tossed together every possible gyration and inversion theme of science fiction and fantasy and nailed the landing with literary panache and cogent observations on the fate of the world and the human heart.” —Chris Hsiang, Books Inc., San Francisco, CA

9. The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, by Phaedra Patrick
(MIRA, 9780778319801, $15.99)
“I loved it! It was delightful. I think fans of books like Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand and The Rosie Project will really enjoy The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, and I can envision it as a very successful book group pick. I love hand-selling this title, which is one of my go-to recommendations.” —Isabel Berg, BookEnds, Winchester, MA

10. Be Frank With Me: A Novel, by Julia Claiborne Johnson
(William Morrow Paperbacks, 9780062413727, $15.99)
“An appealing book with a droll, deadpan sense of humor, Be Frank With Me is the story of how strangers enter one another’s lives and improbably — sometimes against their better judgment — become family. This is a great book club pick.” —Nancy Banks, City Stacks Books & Coffee, Denver, CO

Small Bites

100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write, by Sarah Ruhl
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 9780374535674, $15)
“100 Essays is an amazing dissection of the nature of play, actors, and audience. Sarah Ruhl has a keen eye and sharp wit. A true blend of playwright and parent, she mines her children’s curiosity for flashes of revelation about art and life. You don’t have to be intimate with theatre — or parenting — to love Ruhl’s insight, humor, and sense of wonder. With essay titles such as ‘Everyone is famous in a parade,’ ‘On nakedness and sightlines,’ and ‘Chimpanzees and audiences,’ you know you are in for a wild ride.” —Jennifer Norton, The Homer Bookstore, Homer, AK

WHEREAS: Poems, by Layli Long Soldier
(Graywolf Press, 9781555977672, $16)
“Layli Long Soldier challenges the very language that allows treaties to be made and to be broken. She subverts the technicality of such documents by demonstrating its non-place in daily life, and instead Soldier focuses on wielding language — the texture, the gaps, the sound of it, the roundness — creating a new conveyance from within our existing one. These avenues of knowing, these narratives rise like sunlight off heavy snow, blinding with apparentness, with presence and urgency.” —Amanda Ibarra, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC

What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours, by Helen Oyeyemi
(Riverhead Books, 9781594634642, $16)
“This is a stunning collection of short stories. Me, while reading: ‘Oh, this story will be my favorite... Oh no, this one is better... THIS ONE IS THE BEST.’ This is definitely the strongest collection I’ve read in years. Oyeyemi’s writing is simply beautiful, but we all expect that from her at this point. I loved picking up the familiar threads and faces from story to story.” —Allison Senecal, Old Firehouse Books, Fort Collins, CO

The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race, by Jesmyn Ward
(Scribner, 9781501126352, $16)
“Jesmyn Ward helms a beautiful diversity of writing and writers of color to address the injustices and dangers of this country for its citizens of color. But while ignited by flames of rage and despair for the deaths that gave birth to BlackLivesMatter, these pieces burn with love — for family and friends, writers and poets, and the unnamed dead who came before, for communities under fire, for children and self, and for hope for the future.” —Jocelyn Schratter, Book Shop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA

Reflections on Life

M Train, by Patti Smith
(Vintage, 9781101910160, $16)
“Patti Smith’s newest literary creation is not another Just Kids, and you don’t want it to be. Instead, M Train stands alone, separate. This new memoir is written with Smith’s bold and confident voice and in the poetic prose fans will recognize and grasp tightly. The ways in which Smith navigates these pages — with an organization that isn’t stifling but welcomed, and with imagery that isn’t flowery but generous and lovely — prove, yet again, that the woman is a wonder and a fierce literary and artistic talent, that she is an ever-evolving stylist and a natural storyteller. M Train has earned its place on your bookshelf next to Just Kids and your other favorite memoirs.” —Lauren Korn, Fact & Fiction, Missoula, MT

Indies Introduce logoThe Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir, by Thi Bui
(Abrams ComicArts, 9781419718779, Hardcover, $24.95)
“Thi Bui grew up in the U.S., but her family’s ties to Vietnam, the land of her birth, underlie everything. The Best We Could Do is a powerful family memoir in graphic format. Sometimes there are no words to describe the pain, the brutality, the fear, the memories: all are stronger in pictures. It is hard to imagine this story being told any other way. This is a remarkable debut, and I look forward to sharing it.” —Becky Milner, Vintage Books, Vancouver, WA

Life Without a Recipe: A Memoir, by Diana Abu-Jaber
(W.W. Norton & Co., 9780393353778, $15.95)
“I often look at memoirs and think, why is this person’s life worth reading about? Everyone falls in love, gets married, has issues with parents, becomes a parent, deals with illness and death; why is this special? And then I read a book like Diana Abu-Jaber’s Life Without a Recipe, in which these quotidian events become magical through her gifted use of language and her astonishing storytelling, and I’m a believer again. Don’t miss this one.” —Carol Horne, Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, MA

Last Things: A Graphic Memoir of Loss and Love, by Marissa Moss
(Conari Press, 9781573246989, $18.95)
“I finished reading Last Things and immediately felt as if all the wind had been knocked out of me. I’ve loved Marissa Moss since I was a kid reading American Girl magazine, but seeing her work with new, adult eyes is gut-wrenching. This book is a raw, personal, vulnerable glimpse into grief, yet there’s hope in pockets, too. I found myself talking about it with anyone who would listen.” —Annie B. Jones, The Bookshelf, Thomasville, GA

Brave New Voices

The Atomic Weight of Love: A Novel, by Elizabeth J. Church
(Algonquin, 9781616206901, $15.95)
“In The Atomic Weight of Love, a group of strong, well-educated women give up their own careers to follow their husbands to Los Alamos, where patriotism and blind faith conflict with their desire to pursue their own careers and be more than mothers and housewives. I devoured this one, and it will be great for book clubs, too.” —Emily Adams, Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, WA

Indies Introduce logoRabbit Cake, by Annie Hartnett
(Tin House, 9781941040560, $15.95)
“Twelve-year-old Elvis Babbitt is learning to deal with loss and grief. So is her 15-year-old sister, Lizzie, and their father. Their wife/mother drowned — while swimming in her sleep — and now their world has no center. Elvis pours herself into her volunteer job at the zoo and is determined to solve the mystery of her mother’s death. When Lizzie’s not sleepwalking, she bakes rabbit cakes — 1,000 of them! — and their dad has resorted to wearing his wife’s clothes and makeup. Got the picture? Hartnett’s story of a family in crisis is equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking. You’ll want more than a single slice of Rabbit Cake, you’ll want to devour the whole thing!” —Bill Reilly, the river’s end bookstore, Oswego, NY

Eggshells, by Caitriona Lally
(Melville House, 9781612195971, $16.99)
“Every once in a while I meet a character who I just want to hold on to and never part ways with. Vivian Lawlor is such a character, and I am deeply grateful to debut novelist Caitriona Lally for introducing me to her. From the first sentence, I was captivated by the oddball logic of her wandering words. I don’t think I ever got through more than a page without having to stop for a moment just to smile. With lyrical prose, clever wordplay, and surprising emotional depth, Eggshells is a touching novel and an absolute joy to read.” —Jason Foose, Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe, AZ

Indies Introduce logoHomegoing: A Novel, by Yaa Gyasi
(Vintage, 9781101971062, $16)
“This gorgeous debut reads like a novel in stories. The prose is beautiful, but just as impressive is how well you get to know each generation of characters in so few pages. Gyasi has given us the next great novel of the African diaspora.” —Lexi Beach, Astoria Bookshop, Astoria, NY

Thrills & Chills

Broken River: A Novel, by J. Robert Lennon
(Graywolf Press, 9781555977726, $16)
“Reading Lennon’s newest novel is like watching a train narrowly avoid hitting a stalled car by changing tracks, only to collide full force with a fallen tree, which was just at that moment struck by lightning — all in slow motion. I mean this in the best possible way, of course.” —Stephanie Albrecht, East City Bookshop, Washington, DC

Redemption Road: A Novel, by John Hart
(Thomas Dunne, 9781250132116, $16.99)
“John Hart is the master when it comes to writing thrillers! In Redemption Road, he weaves a story that I couldn’t put down from the first page. His protagonist, Elizabeth, is the kind of cop who believes in what she does and seeks to serve. Honest, caring, and loyal, she does her job extremely well, but she struggles with her own secrets and vulnerability and suffers personally for those she tries to help. Hart illuminates the goodness and evil of those who are supposed to be helpers in society and takes us on a wild ride that brings justice and redemption. An absolutely fabulous thriller! Loved it! A must-read!” —Stephanie Crowe, Page & Palette, Fairhope, AL

Before the Fall, by Noah Hawley
(Grand Central Publishing, 9781455561797, $15.99)
“Noah Hawley’s Before the Fall is a rare gem: a thriller that grips you from page one, a mystery that keeps you guessing until almost the very end, and a heartfelt story of personal connection — and disconnection. Hawley’s prose propels the masterfully structured story forward even in flashback, showing how we as humans can tear each other down, but that lifting each other up will always triumph in the end.” —Maureen Stinger, Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA

Darktown: A Novel, by Thomas Mullen
(Atria/37 INK, 9781501133879, $16)
Darktown, the story of Atlanta’s first black police unit, is a suspenseful crime novel of the first order, and it’s one of the most penetrating examinations of pre-Civil-Rights-era Atlanta that I — having grown up here and read and sold books about the city for over a quarter of a century — have ever read.” —Frank Reiss, A Cappella Books, Atlanta, GA

Scientifically Speaking

The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration Into the Wonder of Consciousness, by Sy Montgomery
(Atria, 9781451697728, $16)
“Playful, curious, affectionate, and unique are only a few ways to describe the unexpected, intelligent companions that may be discovered within Sy Montgomery’s The Soul of an Octopus. Octopuses (not octopi) seem to be often mischaracterized as fearful monsters of the deep, yet in introducing us to Athena, Octavia, Kali, and Karma, Montgomery opens a window beneath surface impressions of cephalopods. Observing these creatures as they solve puzzles, go on blind dates, corral crabs, camouflage appearance, and establish heartwarming bonds through their human interactions is highly entertaining.” —Kevin Johnson, Maria’s Bookshop, Durango, CO

The Art of Waiting: On Fertility, Medicine, and Motherhood, by Belle Boggs
(Graywolf Press, 9781555977498, $16)
“At the point in my life when I think I can’t possibly read more about having kids or not having kids, The Art of Waiting arrives. My ambivalence was quickly erased by the way Boggs makes the various experiences of others known and understandable, and by the way she places her own experience into a larger context.” —Angela Schwesnedl, Moon Palace Books, Minneapolis, MN

Lab Girl, by Hope Jahren
(Vintage, 9781101873724, $16)
“From beginning to end, this book filled me with laughter, wonder, and the sudden urge to find the nearest mass spectrometer and give it a hug. It is, at heart, a romance. This is the story of one woman’s lifelong passion for biology — how she found it, how she discovered in science an incredible new world invisible to most of us, and how through her love of plants she found amazing, wonderful people.” —Marita Rivir, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Cincinnati, OH

Eruption: The Untold Story of Mount St. Helens, by Steve Olsen
(W.W. Norton & Co., 9780393353587, $16.95)
“It was a volcano versus an irascible octogenarian named Harry Truman, or so the story went. Steve Olson has rescued the story of the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980 from the taglines we were fed on the evening news that spring and which have come to define it ever since. A gripping read in the vein of an Erik Larson book.” —Jeff Battis, City Lights Books, San Francisco, CA

Barkskins: A Novel, by Annie Proulx
(Scribner, 9780743288798, $20)
“In narrative traditions all over the world there are stories of the forest, its place in people’s myriad ways and doings, and its place beyond those ways, unfathomable, mysterious. No one sets out to write myths, but this beautiful, honed, light-on-its-feet story carries more mythic gravity and resonance than anything I have read in years.” —Rick Simonson, The Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, WA

Beloved Wordsmiths

Britt-Marie Was Here: A Novel, by Fredrik Backman
(Washington Square Press, 9781501142543, $16)
“It’s a bit maddening how quickly author Fredrik Backman sweeps one into his stories! I hardly had a moment to commit myself to sitting down and reading before Britt-Marie was commanding that I read just a page more and a page more. Backman writes characters like a portrait artist uses charcoals to create an image of someone. Soon it doesn’t matter how much time has elapsed sitting reading; what matters is the lives of the characters he has drawn, because they are people who have become important to you.” —Connie Griffin, Bookworks, Albuquerque, NM

LaRose: A Novel, by Louise Erdrich
(Harper Perennial, 9780062277039, $15.99)
LaRose is another absolute gem from Louise Erdrich. Just as with The Round House, the characters in this book will break your heart and make you realize how hard it is sometimes to be alive and how we all need each other so much. Erdrich’s writing is so quietly beautiful you have to read LaRose slowly to savor it.” —Stefanie Kiper, Water Street Books, Exeter, NH

In the Unlikely Event: A Novel, by Judy Blume
(Vintage, 9781101873984, $15.95)
“It was an absolute delight to read a Judy Blume novel again for the very first time. It felt like a treat, like a special event. These characters are so relatable and real that you become instantly invested. The way that Blume writes first love is so sweet and spot-on that it is almost painful, and I could not get over the fact that she, herself, lived this nightmare of a story. This will be my new go-to gift for anyone and everyone in my life.” —Natalie Sober, A Very Little Bookstore, Summerville, SC

Another Brooklyn: A Novel, by Jacqueline Woodson
(Amistad, 9780062359995, $14.99)
“With each book she writes, Jacqueline Woodson continues to exceed my expectations. Another Brooklyn moved me with its beautiful language and its stirring simplicity. Like Toni Morrison, Woodson captures the very essence of the time, place, and lives of her characters. Her writing is strong, simple, pure, and easy enough to devour in a sitting but satisfying enough to make me reflect, reread, and dwell upon it for days after. I am thrilled that Woodson has written another adult novel so that more readers have a chance to see what they have been missing.” —Lorna Ruby, Wellesley Books, Wellesley, MA

Encounters in History

Indies Introduce logoThe Mirror Thief, by Martin Seay
(Melville House, 9781612195599, $17.99)
“A genre-spanning tour de force that propels you on a quest through three cities and three moments in history, The Mirror Thief envelops you in its mysteries and conundrums, then dazzles with its love stories, heists, and unexpected characters. Seay’s debut succeeds not only as entertainment, but also as an intricate and lovely meditation on the shared nature of human creativity and experience across time. Brilliant.” —Anmiryam Budner, Main Point Books, Bryn Mawr, PA

Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution, by Nathaniel Philbrick
(Penguin Books, 9780143110194, $18)
“All you’ve forgotten about American history comes roaring back to life in Nathaniel Philbrick’s Valiant Ambition. History has seldom been told in so page-turning a disassembling of characters you never learn about in purely patriotic and ethnocentric reports of the Revolutionary War. George Washington is presented as more than a one-dimensional hero; Benedict Arnold is more than a conniving, deceitful traitor. Philbrick’s novel will confirm the conclusions you’ve always heard about both these men, but you’ll also see the parts that made up the sum. In Washington, the parts went together wonderfully; in Arnold, you’ll see how one man’s poison chemistry came close to changing the war.” —Mike Chesser, Bayou Book Company, Niceville, FL

Cooking for Picasso: A Novel, by Camille Aubray
(Ballantine, 9780399177668, $16)
“In this novel inspired by a real-life interlude, Picasso — in great secrecy — finds his way to a small town in the Côte d’Azur, France, in April 1936 at age 54. Aubray writes, ‘Nobody knows what happened to him that spring but he was painting and within a year he would create his greatest masterpiece about the Spanish Civil War, Guernica.’ Cooking for Picasso is about that magical time. Charming, fascinating, a love story, and even a forgotten and unknown painting! We are lost in Aubray’s gorgeous storytelling.” —Diane Garrett, Diane’s Books of Greenwich, Greenwich, CT

News of the World: A Novel, by Paulette Jiles
(William Morrow Paperbacks, 9780062409218, $15.99)
“Love, love, love. You can definitely judge this book by its cover. The writing inside News of the World is just as beautiful and compelling as the image on the outside. A must-read for lovers of historical fiction.” —Marlene England, Curious Iguana, Frederick, MD

Family Ties That Bind

A Doubter’s Almanac: A Novel, by Ethan Canin
(Random House Trade, 9780812980264, $18)
A Doubter’s Almanac is the heart-wrenching story of a mathematical genius who is, perhaps unsurprisingly, ill-equipped for life in the real world. From evocative descriptions of northern Michigan to the complex world of topology to the intricate relationships of a highly dysfunctional family, A Doubter’s Almanac is a compelling, fascinating read.” —Carol Schneck Varner, Schuler Books & Music, Okemos, MI

The Nest, by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
(Ecco, 9780062414229, $16.99)
“The Plumb siblings think they are close and want to be close, but the small matter of the trust fund their father left them — their nest egg — keeps getting in the way. This is a funny and touching story about family dynamics, growing up once and for all, and what happens when adult siblings try to be family without all that baggage getting in the way.” —Claire Benedict, Bear Pond Books of Montpelier, Montpelier, VT

The One-in-a-Million Boy, by Monica Wood
(Mariner, 9780544947214, $14.99)
“Monica Wood knows her characters better than most people know themselves. The One-in-a-Million Boy is a well-crafted, touching, and humorous story of healing and promise. I love the book.” —Jonathan Platt, Nonesuch Books & Cards, South Portland, ME

Harmony: A Novel, by Carolyn Parkhurst
(Penguin Books, 9780399562617, $16)
“Can there be any more powerless feeling than watching a loved one struggle to fit into the world? Love, worry, and frustration infuse every situation, and Carolyn Parkhurst does an absolutely beautiful job of bringing this to life in her new novel. Told in the alternating voices of Iris, the younger daughter, and Alexandra, the mother, Harmony follows the Hammond family as they uproot their lives in a desperate attempt to help Tilly, the oldest daughter, whose behavior swings violently between brilliant and alarming. The charm of the storytellers, together with the building suspense of the plot, create a powerful novel of familial love and inner strength.” —Luisa Smith, Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA