Indie Picks: September 2015

The IndieNext bestseller list is one of the best places to find out what’s hot at independent bookstores around the United States. Based on reporting from hundreds of independent bookstores, here’s a sampling of some of the best nonfiction books right now.

Take a look, and remember to #ChooseIndie.


Being Mortal

Being Mortal

by Atul Gawande

H-is-for-Hawk

H Is for Hawk

by Helen Macdonald

I-Am-Malala

I Am Malala

by Malala Yousafzai

Think-Like-a-Freak

Think Like a Freak

by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner

David-and-Goliath

David and Goliath

by Malcolm Gladwell

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Indie Picks: July 2015

From the moment you enter Village Books in Bellingham, WA, you feel their love of books. They very carefully curate their selections, and understand the wants and needs of their community. They are such booklovers, that when co-owner Chuck Robinson recently set off on an epic cross-country bicycle journey, he specially rigged his helmet to listen to audiobooks. Unfortunately, his homemade system couldn’t beat out the roar of the wind whipping by, but he reports that he’s looking forward to listening to his selection of books from Libro.fm on his drive back. We’re excited to follow his journey, and even more excited that indie stores like Village Books are not just surviving, they are thriving.

So what better choice than Village Books to give us advice on what books to listen to this month? Here’s what booksellers Hayden, Hana, and Claire recommend.


village-books-cover
Village Books

Bellingham, WA

Warm-Bodies

Warm Bodies

By Isaac Marion

This is my favorite book! Marion has crafted a blatantly hopeful examination of what it is to be human and how we connect with one another using the most gruesome setting and narrator. Our undead hero R is dissatisfied with his existence as a zombie until he makes the unusual decision to save Julie and the two form an unlikely bond. Through this bond R explores love, family, friendship, the struggle to survive, and all the little things that makes life worth living. A funny, poetic, and powerful testament to storytelling.

Hayden


Bossypants

Bossypants

By Tina Fey

Tina Fey is just the sort of woman you want to run off into the sunset with (and by that I mean sit on the couch in sweatpants, eating cheese puffs, and watching Friends reruns with). Her hilarity coupled with her honestly about growing up, being successful, and trying to be an adult makes for a humorous page turner you’ll want to read again.

Hayden


An-Object-of-Beauty

An Object of Beauty

By Steve Martin

One of the things that I love about reading Steve Martin’s books is that in my head, as I’m reading, I hear his voice telling the story. The other, is how incredibly smart the writing is. This one tackles the world of high art, complete with color reproductions throughout. It’s a great story, very imaginative and smoothly written. How could it not be? It’s Steve Martin, after all.

Claire


Glory-OBriens-History-of-the-Future

Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future

By A. S. King

What if you could see snippets of the future? If you started piecing together horrific events that have yet to happen? Events like women’s rights being obliterated, or another civil war. All of this Glory sees when she makes eye contact with someone. She sees their descendents, and puts together a horrific history of the future. But is the future fixed? Or does she even have a place in it at all?

Hana


Bloomability

Bloomability

By Sharon Creech

Oh my goodness, I think every preteen should read at least one book by Sharon Creech. She has a wonderful way of portraying growing up and how hard it can be simply to figure out who you are, let alone how to be comfortable with that knowledge. Her book Bloomability is particularly close to my heart. It explores the importance of travel, of seeing and experiencing beyond your own borders, and taking advantage of all the “bloomabilities” (or possibilities, if you will) life offers you, no matter how disguised they may be. Another Creech favorite of mine is titled Ruby Holler.

Hana


Do you have a favorite local indie bookstore? Let us know in the comments.

Indie Picks: June 2015

Each month we turn to some of our favorite indie sellers for advice. We love to hear about what they are reading and the books they are currently pushing into their customers’ eager hands. This month, we turned to Politics & Prose, an independent bookstore that first opened its doors in Washington, D.C. in 1984. Booksellers Brad, Janice, Cristina, Mark, and Alan give recommendations about everything from financial nonfiction to zombies, memoir to short stories.


The Politics and Prose team sporting their Libro.fm shirts!
The Politics and Prose team sporting their Libro.fm shirts!

Politics and Prose

Washington, D.C.

How-to-Speak-Money

How to Speak Money

By John Lanchester

The 2008 financial collapse had a profound impact on the thinking and writing of John Lanchester. First, in I.O.U., he provided a very shrewd and literate analysis of the crisis. Then, in the social novel Capital, he depicted how the easy-money era had affected not just greedy speculators but played out in the lives of residents of a representative London neighborhood. Now he’s gone back to basics and written a sort of glossary for economic and financial jargon. His aim, as he says at the start of How to Speak Money: What the Money People Say—and What It Really Means, was to enable people to read the business pages or watch televised economic programs and understand what they’re seeing and hearing. With his journalist’s knack for writing lucidly and making the abstract concrete, Lanchester is particularly well-suited to help us navigate through the obscure terms and arcane concepts that have shrouded the workings and institutions of the financial world. As he showed in his previous books, and does again here, he can present economic principles and financial matters in clear and often entertaining ways.

Brad


The-Girl-With-All-The-Gifts

The Girl With All the Gifts

By M. R. Carey

This is the zombie survival novel for people who hate zombie survival novels. The Girl With All the Gifts takes a tired genre and adds new perspective while mixing believable science and relatable human relationships. While the story closely follows the struggles of a young undead girl, Melanie, learning how to cope with what she is, the narrator hops between characters giving depth and authenticity. Epic disasters and narrow escapes will keep you glued, but it’s the characters that will have you thinking about this book for weeks after finishing it.

Janice


Lila

Lila

By Marilynne Robinson

Lila joins Home and Gilead in Marilynne Robinson’s moving trilogy about the lives and faith of an Iowa town in the 1940s and ‘50s. This third novel is a prequel to the first. Lila is the young wife of the elderly Reverend John Ames, the woman whose look of “furious pride, very passionate and stern,” Ames sees in the face of the seven-year-old son he addresses in Gilead. Much lies behind that “look”; Lila’s fury stems from the mystery of her parentage and why she was abandoned as a child, her subsequent rescue/abduction by the itinerant Doll, and their impoverished years on the road. Lila’s pride makes her a self-sufficient survivor and a woman of high moral standards; she’s seen too much of low ones, and while she may be poorly educated, she has a passion for understanding “why things happen the way they do.” This quest for wisdom, along with compassion and loneliness, draw Lila and the old man together; both are thunderstruck at the good fortune of their unexpected marriage. Robinson is eloquent about this unlikely couple, showing how their mutual attraction was physical, emotional, and intellectual—an inevitable match or, as Ames believes, one made in heaven—a sure sign of grace.

Book Notes


A-Long-Way-Gone

A Long Way Gone

By Ishmael Beah

Beah’s memoir offers true accounts of his experiences at a young age fleeing Sierra Leone and being forced to become a rebel fighter in the early ’90s. Soon enough, Beah is brainwashed as a child soldier to rely on guns and drugs until he is rescued and sent to a rehabilitation program. A Long Way Gone allows readers to attempt to understand the truth behind child soldiers, as Beah continued in his career to recount his story and shed light on his experiences. His memoir, though traumatic, is a beautiful expression of the hope for humanity and self-forgiveness despite a life of crime and unforgettable hardships.

Cristina


The-Assasination-of-Margaret-Thatcher

The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher

By Hilary Mantel

In addition to her Cromwell novels, both of which focus on the same protagonist, Hilary Mantel’s work shows off a range of styles and a rich diversity of subjects. Consistent throughout, however, is a commitment to quality. Her new collection of short fiction, The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher, is as dazzling as her previous work. The opening story, “Sorry to Disturb,” is a complex sketch of an English woman living in Saudi Arabia. She is frustrated and bored by the strictures of Saudi customs and the complications that arise when simple courtesy encourages unwanted advances. The story “How Shall I Know You?” recounts the overnight adventure of an author who agrees to speak before a neighborhood literary society; Mantel describes how expectations crash into reality with very funny results. These fictions are rich in predicament and flawless in execution.

Mark L.


The-Laughing-Monsters

The Laughing Monsters

By Denis Johnson

If Graham Greene were writing his boozy, pointed, and insect-infested thrillers in a post-9/11 world, they would be like The Laughing Monsters. The novel tells the story of a veteran spy with fluid affiliations and fickle loyalties attempting to monetize instability in Central Africa. Operating in a socio-political atmosphere defined by sectarian interests and a War on Terror, Denis Johnson’s spy must navigate both this new paradigm and his feelings for his partner/target/fixer’s fiancée. As in his previous work, notably Tree of Smoke and Train Dreams, Johnson demonstrates lyricism and emotional agility, coupling his elegant prose with a plot soaked in grimy realism. The Laughing Monsters provokes as it entertains; this is a literary journey not to be missed.

Alan


How-to-Build-a-Girl

How to Build a Girl

By Caitlin Moran

I’ve been a huge fan of Caitlin Moran’s non-fiction since reading How to Be a Woman a few years ago. When I found out she was writing a novel, I was ecstatic. She did not let me down. Laugh-out-loud funny and heartrendingly honest, How to Build a Girl is the story of Johanna Morrigan’s climb out of the English projects and into London’s world of music journalism. In short, it is a fictionalized account of Moran’s life. (Fans of How to Be a Woman will particularly enjoy the novel because of this . . . I would even call the two books companion pieces.) This is a tale of a girl growing up and includes all her “firsts”—her first sexual experiences, first job, first love, and the first time feeling the heavy weight of responsibility. Perhaps it is a bit trite to say that I laughed and I cried, but nevertheless, that’s what happened. I wish I could read this book again for the first time.

Janice


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Indie Picks: May 2015

Independent booksellers are the best book curators out there, so each month we’re going to highlight what our friends at indie bookstores are reading (and listening to). Here’s what Andrea, Hannah, Kirstyn, Lily, and Matt from McLean & Eakin Booksellers are recommending.


mclean-eakin

McLean & Eakin Booksellers

Petoskey, Michigan

American-Gods

American Gods

By Neil Gaiman

Considered by many to be the ultimate masterpiece from a master of storytelling, and winner of the Hugo, Nebula, Locus and Bram Stoker Awards, American Gods is a powerful piece of fantasy that will appeal to lovers of the genre and skeptics alike. Shadow has been released from prison just after the death of his beloved wife. Out of the blue, he is approached by a stranger calling himself Mr. Wednesday, who offers him a job. With nothing to lose, Shadow takes it and finds himself thrown into the center of a conflict for the very soul of America. You see, the old gods are not dead, they have merely taken on new forms and identities as their former worshippers moved across the Atlantic. They live here, in America and they, the old gods of Egypt, Russia, Scandinavia, Africa, the British Isles and everywhere else that has yielded immigrants to the New World, are fighting for everything they have created against the new gods of technology and business that have arisen on the new soil. What could, in the hands of a less skilled writer, have become an overdramatic and overwritten fantasy, is, in Gaiman’s hands, a dark and gripping tale that cuts to the heart of what it is to be human.

Hannah


Freakonomics

Freakonomics

By Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner

Everyone lies. Realtors lie to sell property faster. Holding out to sell your home for an extra $10,000 only means $150 for the realtor, so waiting for a better price isn’t always the priority they tell you it is. Our law enforcement lie to create or hide “crises” when it serves them to do so. In the run up to the Atlanta Olympics, law enforcement grossly under reported violent crime to increase their chances of winning the Olympic bid. They continue to do so; the Atlanta police department “lost” more than 22,000 reports in 2002 alone! But guess what? There is one thing that doesn’t lie: it’s the numbers Steven D. Levitt, an economist with the University of Chicago, uses the numbers to give greater definition to what many of us see as a very grey world. He is not the kind of economist who is interested in the trade deficit or inflation rates. No, he wants to know if drug dealers make so much why do many still live at home or if naming your child “Loser” will ruin his/her life. Levitt asks these questions and many more in his book, Freakonomics and lets the numbers do the answering. This is the kind of book that will drive your friends and family crazy because you won’t be able to shut up about it.

Matt


Seriously-Im-Kidding

Seriously . . . I’m Kidding

By Ellen DeGeneres

Ellen is one of those people that just make me laugh, no matter what it is that she says. Reading her book was no different. I had to stop myself from laughing out loud in public places. This is just a cute, goofy book, that is a great way to pass time if you enjoy her humor. Ellen seems to be telling parts of her story, some of which I still do not know if they are true. The book is compiled from short journals, stories, and other forms of her writing, that don’t always make since, but still entertain. If you are looking for a quick, entertaining book, you need to pick this one up!

Andrea


My-Story

My Story

By Elizabeth Smart & Chris Stewart

I know what you’re thinking. How could I ever be so in love with a memoir written by a girl who was abducted from her bedroom at knife-point. I do not have an answer for you. However, I cannot remember a book that I got lost in as much as Elizabeth Smart’s My Story. Don’t get me wrong, there are certainly some points in the book that made me cringe and wonder how on earth Elizabeth was able to pen what many of us would think was unimaginable. I think that’s what made me fall so in love with this book. Elizabeth is smart and leaves no rock unturned as she recounts the events she was forced to experience and how she survived them. Elizabeth is truly one of my heroes after learning of her strength and courage to remain optimistic in the darkest of times. It may have taken her 10 years to write, but I am so glad that she didn’t allow anybody else to tell her story. Elizabeth is truly and inspiration and we could all use even a little bit of her strength and courage.

Kirstyn


Divergent

Divergent

By Veronica Roth

In a world where everyone must fit themselves into one of five factions, choices about how to live your life are extremely limited. Sixteen-year-old Beatrice Prior has more choices than most: when she takes the compulsory test that is supposed to reveal a sixteen-year-old’s suitability for a certain faction, her results are “inconclusive”. She shows equal ability for membership in Abnegation, the selfless faction of her birth; Dauntless, the courageous faction that has always fascinated her; and Erudite, the so-called “genius” faction that she despises. In a nutshell, she is Divergent. When Beatrice chooses a faction, Dauntless, the hard part is supposed to be over. But the truth is far from it. If Beatrice, now calling herself Tris, wants to be Dauntless, she must rank in the top ten of her group of initiates, some of whom have been preparing for this all of their lives. The rankings are decided by violent fights, random acts of daring and idiocy, excruciatingly painful tests that delve into the fabric of your fears, and frankly, whether or not those in charge despise you. In the weeks that follow her choice, Tris must remake herself in the image of the Dauntless, figure out a complicated relationship with an enigmatic instructor named Four, and most of all, watch her back: Divergence isn’t safe, and there are people who want her dead. Divergent is a fascinating read, and is entirely un-put-downable. The realistic and utterly human characters of Tris, Four, and their friends and family, as well as their intriguing world, draw in you into the story and keep you there. It is a fresh and show-stopping addition to the ranks of teen literature, and is sure to delight anyone who is tired of the same-old, same-old.

Lily


What are you reading and listening to right now? Let us know in the comment section. To get more recommendations and audiobook news delivered to your inbox, sign up for the Libro.fm newsletter.

Indie Picks: April 2015

At Libro.fm, we are big fans of independent bookstores. When browsing their shelves, I always stop and take a look at the staff recommendations, most often hand written, on a shelf-talker. There’s something enchanting about a slip of paper (the shelf-talker) coming from a knowledgeable and passionate bookseller that no algorithm will ever replace. These booksellers are the best book curators out there so each month we’re going to highlight what they are reading (and listening to). Here’s what Robert, Alex, Lizzie, Emily, Pete, Kevin and Elaine are recommending right now:


third-place-books

Third Place Books

Seattle, Washington

The-DinnerThe Dinner

By Herman Koch

“This is the kind of book you are ashamed of for liking so much. You should be outraged, disgusted, and horrified by this family and their awful behavior. And you are at times. But you also end up reading along with a devilish smile as you cheer on the narrator in a story that surprises over and over again.”

Robert
Third Place Books


The-Girl-With-All-The-GiftsThe Girl With All the Gifts

By M. R. Carey

“It’s April but your favorite holiday is Halloween and you’ve a pressing need to be scared: look no further than The Girl With All The Gifts. The adults have plans for the children, but Melanie has plans of her own. Transitioning from writing graphic novels (Hellblazer, Lucifer) Carey’s debut novel is a refreshing thriller you simply need to read.”

Alex
Third Place Books


A-Tree-Grows-In-BrooklynA Tree Grows in Brooklyn

By Betty Smith

“A bittersweet tale of an impoverished girl, Francie, coming of age in an unforgiving world set at the turn of the 19th century, this novel explores the harsh realities of women in society, work, and family as seen through Francie’s eyes. Simultaneously heart wrenching, hopeful, and beautiful.”

Lizzie
Third Place Books


DelancyDelancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage

By Molly Wizenberg

“The author’s passion for food shines through in her personal and fun style, and all of the recipes sound delicious. I love the introductions to the recipes, which lean heavily on what’s on hand or in season. This isn’t just a book about food, though; her marriage and internal life carry equal weight with the development of the titular Seattle pizzeria.”

Emily
Third Place Books


green-apple-books

Green Apple Books

San Francisco, California

NudgeNudge

By Richard H. Thaler & Cass R. Sunstein

“Nudge is a terrific book for anyone interested in how we make choices, public policy, politics and behavioral science. The way that governments and companies frame choices affects our behavior and well-being, often on a subtle level. A ‘nudge’: if Americans defaulted to donating organs upon death (with an option to opt out, of course) thousands of lives would be saved annually.”

Pete
Green Apple Books


I-ShudderI Shudder: And Other Reactions to Life, Death, and New Jersey

By Paul Rudnick

“This warm and witty memoir/fiction hits my comic sweet spot. I laughed out loud—OUT LOUD!—at least every three pages. Screenwriter, playwrite, and former film critic Rudnick, charmingly recalls detailed anecdotes from his childhood in Piscataway, off-Broadway productions, and showbiz personalities. One warning—some of these pieces appeared in  The New Yorker first.”

Kevin
Green Apple Books


book-passages

Book Passage

San Francisco, California

The-Secret-Wisdom-Of-The-EarthThe Secret Wisdom of the Earth

By Christopher Scotton

“Medger, Kentucky is a town that has been supported and then ruined by coal. Kevin and his mother are devastated. Kevin’s baby brother has died and his father blames Kevin. Fortunately, Kevin’s grandfather takes Kevin under his wing and shows him that he can be strong. Scotton brings us wonderful, complex characters including a brave hair dresser who stands up against the coal company’s removal of the mountaintops. You’ll be thinking about this book for a long time.”

Elaine
Book Passage


A-Fine-Summers-DayA Fine Summer’s Day

By Charles Todd

“It’s 1914, but Inspector Rutledge isn’t thinking about the war that is about to begin. He’s just become engaged and now he’s investigating the murder of a Dorset furniture maker with no known enemies who has been found hanging from a staircase. Soon there are more deaths. As this thriller unfolds, Rutledge has to choose between his duties to Scotland Yard and his patriotism. Charles Todd is a mother and son team who write with such clarity that it’s impossible to know who wrote which parts of their novels.”

Elaine
Book Passage


The-WhitesThe Whites

By S. M. Hulse

“Billy Graves’ problems as a detective with the NYPD got him assigned to the Night Watch. Invariably, each time his crew discovers something important, it gets referred to the day shift. Many cops speak of killers they know are guilty—yet can’t catch—as ‘whites’ after the elusive white whale in Moby Dick. When several ‘whites’ turn up dead, Billy suspects his former colleagues. Price/Brandt never hits a false note, as he balances Billy’s cop world with that of his family and old friends. I don’t know why Price has a different name here, but under either name, this guy writes a whale of a story.”

Elaine
Book Passage


What are you reading and listening to right now? Let us know in the comment section. To get more recommendations and audiobook news delivered to your inbox, sign up for the Libro.fm newsletter.