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

Sign up for our newsletter to hear more about your favorite books and indie booksellers.

Amanda Palmer on Recording Her Audiobook, the Weird Places She Writes, and Fear

If you already follow Amanda Palmer, author of The Art of Asking, on Twitter, then you probably know that lately she’s been busy grieving, battling Lyme Disease, recording with her father, and preparing to have her first baby with her husband Neil Gaiman. So we were incredibly pleased that she took time out from her nonstop, go-go-go life, to answer a few questions for us via email.


[Judy Oldfield] My understanding of the way audiobooks are made is that narrators—even when it’s the author narrating their own work—are given a script that they can’t stray from. It’s hard for many authors. Was it hard for you?

[AP] No, it wasn’t hard. It was actually really helpful to be in the recording studio at that exact moment. I was in New York for three straight days of recording and the book itself was in final editing stages, which meant that I was sitting there with a pencil, changing lines, scratching out repetitive words, saying things like, “Wait . . . that doesn’t actually makes sense, does it?” And I’d stop and ask the audio engineers, “Does that makes sense?” And they acted as editors along with me.

So in a sense, I was still finishing up the script, and lucky for me. Because reading aloud brings new problems into light that silent reading just doesn’t highlight. And it also really solidified my own personal relationship with the book, to just sit there for three days and read the whole thing, in front of an audience, even if the audience was just audio engineers and a rep from the publisher. It was like doing a live performance and seeing how the emotional arcs actually hit me, and hit the people listening. Truth be told, there were two or three times I looked out the studio into the control room and made sure they were crying . . . or at least close to crying. I choked up at least three times.

[JO] In The Art of Asking, you wrote about needing a lot of privacy in order to create. What’s the most unusual place you’ve written something (be it blog posts, your book, or music)?

[AP] Ha. Well—I’ve written in a lot of strange places, especially since getting a phone and being able to leave myself notes and voice memos anytime. Bathrooms everywhere. Friends’ homes. Subways. Closets at parties. One of my favorite birth-spots for a full song was in a keg room of a nightclub in Portland, OR, where I wrote “Astronaut”. I held a gun to my head that night because the guy I was writing it about was in the audience for one night and one night only. And so I just did it. An immediate audience has often been my mother of invention.

[JO] People have very strong opinions on you and your work. I have a friend who says that listening to your former band The Dresden Dolls got her through her divorce. But I’ve also read critics who’ve dismissed you for anything from your appearance to your mistakes (real or perceived). Any idea why you provoke such strong responses from people?

[AP] Sure. I think people with strong emotions elicit strong emotions. It used to bother me more, but I’ve come to realize that it’s just part of the game of life. It’s especially true when you’re a woman, and the more of the world I see, the more I see people being fearful of women who live out loud, mistakes or no. And I figure my job is just to get on with it, and not to cower, and not to try to please people.

[JO] Your TED Talk has 7 million views. Your book, The Art of Asking, is a bestseller. What’s the most surprising thing that’s happened to you because of the talk or the book?

[AP] The most surprising? Honestly the most surprising thing is when I’m walking down the street in New York and a super bad-ass looking hoodlum-esque teenager passes me on the street, takes his headphones off, and says, “Wait, are you that TED girl? I just saw your TED talk and I loved it. That asking shit is dope.” That’s happened multiple times. And I’m always astoundingly happy.

[JO] You’ve recently gone back to crowdfunding, though in a newer, more sustainable way. How has Patreon helped you as an artist?

It’s liberated me. There’s 5,500 people currently entrusting me with their credit cards basically saying, “Go ahead and make art, and charge as needed, forever,” which feels like a massive relief and responsibility at the same time. It’s like I got access, suddenly, to a magic highway spur that bypasses the entirety of the mass media, the music industry, and the entire establishment.

But there are moments when it just feels surreal to be so far off the grid, with absolutely nobody in the “real world” paying attention to the madness that is going on outside the city.

But then again, that’s the modern world. There’s always so much going on nowadays that you don’t know about. Sometimes it feels like me and my fans live in a cave, and I worry that we need more air.

[JO] Libro.fm is a new company. We’re the independent bookstore for digital audiobooks. As a writer, an entrepreneur, and an advocate of independent bookstores, what advice do you have for us?

[AP] Don’t let Amazon and Audible get you down.

[JO] What challenges or fears are you facing right now? What are you doing to overcome them?

Oh dear lord . . . nice timing. I’m eight months pregnant. I have NO IDEA what is about to happen to me, I feel like I’m about to fall of an existential cliff, and I’m just bracing myself for an unknown reality over which I will have little control. And what am I doing to overcome them? Nothing, really, except trying to put every piece of zen wisdom I’ve ever lean red into practice. There is only now, now and now. And now. Whatever happens: birth, death, change, catastrophe . . . it will still be now, and it will still be fine. There is never ever any space for regret or fear. It’s poison.


The Art of Asking is our Book of the Month. Use the code WeLoveAmanda at check out to get 25%.

Book of the Month: The Art of Asking

Each month, the Libro team selects a book that we believe will spark dialogue and discussion for our listeners. Our goal is to create an open space for our audiobook listening community to ponder ideas, pick minds, and talk about what we love most: books. This month we’ve chosen The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help by Amanda Palmer.

I was initially drawn to this novel after hearing about Amanda Palmer’s fascinating life story, one that wanders down many paths but ultimately ends in the single realization that asking is a key component of success in life. Frozen as a living statue, Amanda Palmer posed in a wedding dress asking passersby for their pocket change. As a musician, she asked for the literal support of her audience as she flung herself into their arms crowdsurfing. And when Palmer asked fans to support her independent album, she was met with the world’s most successful music Kickstarter. Amanda Palmer is a singer-songwriter, crowdfunding pioneer, and TED speaker, who is definitely not afraid to ask for help. Her TED Talk, on which this book is based, has more than seven million views.

In her memoir, Palmer delves into a paralyzing fear so many people face, that of admitting to needing and asking for help, and how it affects their lives and relationships (including her marriage to novelist Neil Gaiman). Through her revelations, she discovers the emotional, philosophical, and practical aspects of asking for help.

The Art of Asking will inspire its readers to rethink their ideas about asking, giving, art, and life. There is a piece of advice for everyone here—something to take away, apply, or learn from. Not only do her ideas have practical applications in real life relationships and day-to-day situations, but also in career and business decisions. I loved her thoughts on building community. In asking for help we allow others to support us. Moments like this are the foundation for relationships, communities, and life. Palmer tells us of the value in taking risks by asking for what we want and need, a skill most people shy from. Palmer flips the idea of asking as “weakness” on its head, calls it strength, and shows her audience that some of the best creations are those that are built together.

I also absolutely loved the music this audiobook features. It’s a special addition not found in most books. Hearing both her songs and writing allowed me to grasp the entirety of all that is Amanda Palmer, to see her from all sides as a musician, performer, speaker, and writer.

This is a book that speaks for itself. Amanda Palmer has a unique perspective full of valuable, applicable, and unparalleled ideas on life. Palmer’s story is just plain interesting, so it’s no wonder that her words spring to life and make for a tremendously entertaining listen.


The Art of Asking is our August Book of the Month. Make sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to join our month-long conversation.

A Traveler’s Guide to Listening

The only drawback to being on the road for days at a time is the whole “keeping your sanity” thing.

Trust me, I know the deal. And I can honestly say that audiobooks will alleviate some of that highway-induced crazy. Yesterday we crafted a list of great books for traveling with children. Today we bring you books just for wandering adults.

Here are some humorous, educating, and inspiring titles that are particularly suited to your ramblin’ needs.


Big-Sur

Big Sur

By Jack Kerouac

Big Sur is an inspirational account of Jack Kerouac’s experience living in California while dealing with alcoholism, fame, and the realities of adulthood. This is the sort of narrative of strength and self-discovery that propels us all to our limits and provides hope in carrying on.


I-Am-Malala

I Am Malala

By Malala Yousafzai

I Am Malala details how the young Malala Yousafzai’s incredible fight for equality merited winning the Nobel Peace Prize and took her on a life-changing journey around the world. I Am Malala will teach you that you cannot be prepared for every bump in the road, but that you can learn to respond to life’s ups and downs with grace and courage.


Shantaram

Shantaram

by Gregory David Roberts

Shantaram is the unbelievable epic based on Gregory David Roberts’ own life story. It follows the life of Lin, a well-known convict, who escapes maximum security prison in Australia and makes it to India, going on to spend the next decade dealing in the Black Market and underground slums of Bombay. Roberts’ writing takes on life of its own, and not only will you find yourself immersed in the world he has created, but you will also become more willing to see the adventure in travel, even if it’s not as illegal or far from home.


[vimeo 132559993 h=500&h=280]
The-Happiness-Project

The Happiness Project

By Gretchen Rubin

As a part of her Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin took a year to focus her energy on living each day to the fullest. Despite the seeming simplicity of her goal, Rubin’s challenge is very universally understood. As you listen to her story, you’ll start to think about what you could start doing in order to maximize your happiness. Who knows, maybe this road trip could be just the thing!


Me-Talk-Pretty-One-Day

Me Talk Pretty One Day

By David Sedaris

Me Talk Pretty One Day includes, among other things, the humorous narrative about the trials and tribulations of David Sedaris as he picks up everything, moves to France, and attempts to fit in there. Sedaris satirizes the stressful realities of travel, including language barriers and culture shocks, ultimately proving to be a comforting and humorous soundtrack to your own trip out of town.


Do you have any travel favorites you would add to the list? Let us know in the comments!

Summer Sales for Summer Reading

Whether you’re going on a long run in the sun or a long road trip from coast to coast, whether you’re digging in the garden or prepping for a big family barbecue, audiobooks are a great companion for summer activities. To help you out, we discounted a few for the month of June. And don’t forget to check out our Book of the Month, Where’d You Go Bernadette.


Showtime

Showtime

By Jeff Pearlman

In Showtime, Pearlman relates the facts, figures, and behind-the-scenes accounts of one of the most-loved (and some might say the most-hated) teams ever: The 1980s L.A. Lakers. Great for those who closely followed the Lakers at the time as well as those who know them by reputation only.


Kill-Switch

Kill Switch

By Neal Baer & Jonathan Greene

Before writing Kill Switch, Baer and Greene produced the wildly popular television show Law & Order. In using a novel format, they are able to tell a longer, more involved story. Claire, a forensic psychiatrist, faces dangerous killers; one is locked up, but the other has been following her for some time.


The-Beautiful-Ashes

The Beautiful Ashes

By Jeaniene Frost

The things Ivy has always seen, the things she has always thought of as hallucinations, are real. When her sister is taken, she teams up with Adrian to find her. Adrian has secrets he’s keeping from Ivy, but they’ll have to face them eventually. But those secrets could lead to a war that would doom them all.


Brothers-Rivals-Victors

Brothers, Rivals, Victors

By Jonathan W. Jordan

In Brothers, Rivals, Victors Jordan tells the story of Generals Eisenhower, Patton, and Bradley, whose teamwork, friendship, and leadership led to victory in World War II. Jordan uses the Generals’ own accounts to tell this story as you’ve never heard it before.


Masters-of-the-Air

Masters of the Air

By Donald L. Miller

Masters of the Air is a long but engrossing nonfiction account of the American bomber boys in World War II. With the style and flair of a gifted storyteller, Miller recounts the real turbulence the bomber boys faced in and out of the air.


The-Mission-The-Men-and-Me

The Mission, the Men, and Me

By Pete Blaber

Pete Blaber has used his extensive military training both in and out of combat. In The Mission, the Men, and Me, he recounts stories of survival and teamwork from dangerous war zones to the everyday experiences of modern life.


Dan-Gets-a-Minivan

Dan Gets a Minivan

By Dan Zevin

Marriage, dog, kids, minivan . . . that’s the path that Dan Zevin finds himself on in his memoir Dan Gets a Minivan. His hilarious take on his own life makes for laugh-out-loud fun, and his ease creates a relatability that parents and nonparents alike can connect with.


The-Extraordinary-Dad

The Extraordinary Dad

By Made for Success

It’s often said that children don’t come with an instruction manual. But if you want to raise your children well, this is about as close as it gets. The Extraordinary Dad lays out easy steps for parental success.


Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter to hear more about great sales!

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.