As you all know, every month we promote the Indie Next list, the 20 recently published titles that have the most recommendations from independent booksellers. Are they the books that independent booksellers like the most? No, there are many factors involved, including how much the publishers push it, the genre (some kinds of books have broader appeal at indie bookstores than others), and whether there's an advance copy. If there's no advance copy, or even if it's only an egalley, I think the odds for making the list go a bit long. I had a local author ask me how to make the list, and that's another thing--you've got to time everything just right. You can't start a campaign once the book is already out.
I am glad to say that this year's Pulitzer Prize winner, The Sympathizer, was an April 2015 pick, but alas, The Sellout, the National Book Critics Circle Award winner, did not make the list. It's possible that his next book will, now that he's better known. There are always some long shots too, and I would say that Julia Reed's South: Spirited Entertaining and High-Style Fun All Year Long is this month's.
May 2016's #1 pick is The Atomic Weight of Love, by Elizabeth J. Church. The selected quote, from Anderson McKean of Page and Palette of Fairhope (a gulf town not too far from Mobile), Alabama. McKean writes: "Church deftly traces the life of Meridian Wallace, an intelligent young woman who is searching for who she is and what she wants to become. As America braces for entrance into WWII, Meri falls for the ambitious Alden Whetstone, a much older but brilliant scientist. Aspiring to be a ‘good wife,’ Meri abandons her own academic pursuits in ornithology to follow Alden to Los Alamos, but the years that follow are filled with dashed hopes and compromises. Over the decades of her marriage, Meri attempts to fill the void of unrealized dreams by making a home and reclaiming her sense of self. Filled with sharp, poignant prose, the novel mimics the birds Meri studies, following her as she struggles to find her wings, let go, and take flight. Church gives readers a thoughtful and thought-provoking examination of the sacrifices women make in life and the courage needed for them to soar on their own."
One thing that we find in the store is that some months are stronger than others. There are some months where we don't have any reads from staff on books but May is chock full of bookseller favorites. Sharon Nagel's rec from Eligible was included on the list. She's on a roll, as we've heard they'll be using one of Sharon's recs for June too. As you know, the Milwaukee Public Library is featuring Sittenfeld at their literary lunch, but I can assure you that Sharon, a huge Sittenfeld fan, would have read the book even if Sittenfeld did not come within a thousand miles of us. That's quite unlikely, as the author lives in St. Louis and the book is set in Cincinnati. I'm just making a point. Here is info on how to attend the lunch on May 3.
And here is Sharon Nagel's rec for Eligible:
“It is a universally acknowledged truth that a retelling of Pride and Prejudice must be cleverly written and wickedly funny. Sittenfeld has accomplished that and more with her fantastic new novel. The Bennet sisters have been transported to modern day Cincinnati. Jane is a yoga instructor, Liz, a writer for a women’s magazine, Lydia and Kitty do nothing but work out, and Mary spends most of her time in her room. The two older sisters live in New York, but have come home to check on Mr. Bennet who is recovering from a heart attack. The storyline is one that will be familiar to most Austen readers, but with some extremely funny twists.”
Sharon is also a big fan of Simon Van Booy's Father's Day and sent in a nomination. The rec is from Don Luckham, The Toadstool Bookshop, Keene, NH. And LaRose, the newest from Louise Erdrich, was recommended by Peter Sherman of Wellsley Books of Wellsley, Massachusetts, but we also sent in a nomination from Caroline Froh. Our rec nomination for Fredrik Backman's Britt-Marie Was Here came from Jen Steele, but Carol Schneck Varner of Schuler Books of Okemos, Michigan got the slot. And I sent in a recommendation for Everyone Brave is Forgiven from Chis Cleave, but the rec came from Casey Protti at Bookshop Santa Cruz.
Cleave, as you know, is visiting Boswell on May 5 and I'm going to be leading my first author conversation. And Fredrik Backman will be at Boswell too, also in conversation. We've just lined up Claire Hanan, senior editor at Milwaukee Magazine, to lead the discussion.
Like a good handout? We've got May Indie Next fliers for you to use as reference. We've also got some April ones left. The rule of thumb is that all the May books should be in store by May 10. Britt-Marie Was Here and Everyone Brave is Forgiven both come out May 3. Why not place a copy on hold with us now?
Top Books of 2016 — Booksellers Share Their Favorites
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