2012 Indie Next Highlights Featured on Downloadable Flier & Shelf-Talkers [4]

Twenty top titles from this year’s Indie Next lists, including each month’s #1 Indie Next Great Read and eight additional titles that garnered especially strong support from independent booksellers nationwide, are featured on the just-released 2012 Indie Next Highlights List.

To help stores promote these indie favorites, Highlights titles are included on a downloadable flier [5] with jacket images and bookseller quotes, and on shelf-talkers [6] with bookseller quotes.

“This year’s Indie Next Highlights List provides booksellers with a ready-made marketing tool for the holiday season,” said ABA Development Officer Mark Nichols. “Each of these outstanding fiction and nonfiction titles were chosen by the expert booksellers at ABA member stores from the hundreds of thousands of books published in 2012 as the best of the best. Each makes a great recommendation for customers searching for just the right holiday gift or for the perfect post-holiday read.”

The 2012 Indie Next Highlights List

The Age of Miracles: A Novel, by Karen Thompson Walker
(Random House, $26, 9780812992977)
“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

The Art Forger: A Novel, by B.A. Shapiro
(Algonquin, $23.95, 9781616201326)
The Art Forger is a clever and gripping story. Claire Roth, a talented artist, finds herself intricately involved in the seedier side of art forgeries when she makes a questionable deal to forge a Degas masterpiece. Just like a fine painting, this is a many-layered literary thriller about love, betrayal, and authenticity. Shapiro builds the story with pitch-perfect suspense and plot twists that you don’t see coming. While you are drawn deeply into the story, Shapiro outlines big questions about morality, fame, and truth in a world that is all about creating illusion for the sake of beauty. A masterpiece!” —Lanora Haradon, Next Chapter Bookshop, Mequon, WI

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats: A Novel,by Jan-Philipp Sendker
(Other Press, $14.95, 9781590514634)
“This is one of the most beautiful love stories I’ve ever read. Two people, doomed to a life of misery, find pure happiness in sharing their love even when time, distance, and family keep them apart. While you are reading this wonderful novel, your life might actually change; you will notice things you never did before, and your senses will be heightened and sharpened whether hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling, or even seeing. Read this book — you will neither regret nor forget it.” —Jean-Paul Adriaansen, Water Street Books, Exeter, NH

Beautiful Ruins: A Novel, by Jess Walter
(Harper, $25.99, 9780061928123)
“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

Canada: A Novel, by Richard Ford
(Ecco, $27.99, 9780061692048)
Canada, Richard Ford’s long-awaited new 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

Carry the One: A Novel, by Carol Anshaw
(Simon & Schuster, $15, 9781451656930)
“Carmen and Matt’s wedding was festive, full of dancing, drinking, and celebrating the joining of two lives. But for Carmen and Matt their wedding night would not be remembered solely with joy, but rather as the night a car full of their relatives and close friends headed out into the dark and accidentally killed a young girl on a lonely stretch of road. The occupants of that car and the wedding couple would be shackled by the guilt of that night for years to come. Carry the One examines the subtle shades of change this tragic accident causes in their lives. It is a compelling story of friendship, loss, betrayal, and life at its most real.” —Deon Stonehouse, Sunriver Books, Sunriver, OR

Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat, by Bee Wilson
(Basic Books, $26.99, 9780465021765)
“Interest in the evolution of human food culture has always been popular. In Consider the Fork, Wilson invites readers to examine this evolution in a new light. She discusses the transformation of kitchen tools and utensils throughout human existence as well as the implications these transformations have on how humans cook and eat. Wilson’s air of curiosity and amusement makes for an enjoyable read; pots and pans have never been more interesting, and the intermingling of anthropology, history, and sociology is certain to spark further thought next time a spork or a blender is encountered.” —Lucy Beeching, Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA

The End of Your Life Book Club, by Will Schwalbe
(Knopf, $25, 9780307594037)
“What a remarkable book! Not only a love letter to his mom, but a love letter to books and their power to help us all remember both the struggle and the joy it is to be human and the grace we can find in our shared humanity. I fell head over heels for Mary Ann Schwalbe, thanks to her son’s meticulous and loving tribute. In someone else’s hands this is the kind of book that could have slipped into the maudlin or overwrought, but Schwalbe succeeds in portraying his mother’s quiet, humble, spot-on wisdom and beautiful daring with both restraint and passion. My copy is thoroughly dog-eared. Is there any better tribute?” —Laurie Paus, The Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, WA

Flight Behavior: A Novel, by Barbara Kingsolver
(Harper, $28.99, 9780062124265)

“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, $27, 9781451672725)
“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 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, providing sadness and exhilaration in equal measure and showing empathy for the human condition. Gold is a reading experience not to be missed.” —Bill Cusumano, Nicola’s Books, Ann Arbor, MI

A Good American: A Novel, by Alex George
(Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam, $25.95, 9780399157592)
“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

The Light Between Oceans: A Novel, by M.L. Stedman
(Scribner, $25, 9781451681734)
“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

The Lola Quartet: A Novel, by Emily St. John Mandel
(Unbridled Books, $24.95, 9781609530792)
“In her latest, St. John Mandel shows how relationships formed in high school, so often fraught with drama, can ebb and flow and fade and come back to haunt. Among her characters, the perception of what’s important and the potential impact of actions vary widely, and something as seemingly insignificant as a photograph can become riddled with layers of meaning, differing for each person who sees it. The writing is taut, the characters well wrought, and St. John Mandel’s characteristic infusions of moral ambiguity and complexity remind us, as good novels should, of what it means to be human.” —Emily Pullen, Skylight Books, Los Angeles, CA

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore: A Novel, by Robin Sloan
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $25, 9780374214913)
“Booksellers and book lovers alike will adore charming Mr. Penumbra and his towering stacks of mysterious, code-filled tomes, as well as the array of eccentric old men that make up the store’s late-night clientele. I now want to keep a log of our bookshop’s customers by Mr. Penumbra’s criteria: ‘You must keep precise records of all purchases. Time. Amount. The customer’s appearance. His state of mind. How he asks for the book. How he receives it. Does he appear to be injured. Is he wearing a sprig of rosemary on his hat. And so on.’ Wonderful!” —Andrea Aquino, Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA

Running the Rift: A Novel, by Naomi Benaron
(Algonquin Books, $14.95, 9781616201944)
“Named for the Rwandan god of thunder, Jean Patrick Nkuba is destined for Olympic glory. Pushing his body up the misty hills of his village, he dreams not only of fame, but also of bringing peace to his country and equality to his Tutsi compatriots. When the floodwaters of hatred and war with the Hutu burst out over his homeland, Jean Patrick must run a different kind of race in order to survive. Both beautiful and heart-rending, horrific and hopeful, this novel carries a message that deserves to be widely read.” —Amanda Hurley, Inkwood Books, Tampa, FL

Things That Are: Essays, by Amy Leach
(Milkweed Editions, $18, 9781571313348)
“This beautifully crafted little book is filled with weird, funny, oddly poignant, and plainly stunning vignettes about the natural world surrounding us. Leach uses words to describe animal and plant life that you swear aren’t real, only to discover, to considerable glee, their veracity. There’s something about the way all of her sentences come together that feels comfortable and almost euphoric. Each essay unfolds as if from the lips of an odd, old-time storyteller sitting at the edge of the firelight — you know all these things to be true, but you’ve just never heard them all put so eloquently.” —Seth Marko, UCSD Bookstore, La Jolla, CA

Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, by Jon Meacham
(Random House, 9781400067664, $35)
“It could be argued that few individuals have had a greater impact on the course of our nation’s history than Thomas Jefferson. Meacham’s engaging biography reveals the extraordinary skills of this uniquely gifted and driven man as well as his heart and soul. In a poetic, moving epilogue, Meacham explains Jefferson’s unabated appeal: ‘He endures because we can see in him all the varied and wondrous possibilities of the human experience —the thirst for knowledge, the capacity to create, the love of family and friends, the hunger for accomplishment, the applause of the world, the marshaling of power, the bending of others to one’s own vision.’ Jefferson’s story has never been more perfectly told. Quite simply, Meacham has written a masterpiece!”—Christopher Rose, Andover Bookstore, Andover, MA

The Vanishing Act: A Novel, by Mette Jakobsen
(W. W. Norton & Company, $23.95, 9780393062922)
“Minou is a 12-year-old girl who lives on a tiny, snow-covered island with her philosopher father, Boxman the magician, and a dog called No-Name. When a dead boy washes up on the island, Minou makes a connection between the boy’s arrival and her mother’s disappearance a year earlier. Using philosophy along with the power of her imagination, Minou tries to uncover the truth behind her mother’s absence. What she discovers is haunting and unforgettable. The Vanishing Act is a charming, fable-like story, beautifully told, and filled with magic!” —Valerie Arroyo, Brewster Book Store, Brewster, MA

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, by Cheryl Strayed
(Knopf, $25.95, 9780307592736)
“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

The Yellow Birds: A Novel, by Kevin Powers
(Little, Brown and Company, $24.99, 9780316219365)
The Yellow Birds should be required reading for the President, Congress, and the entire Military Industrial Complex. Powers’ novel describes in lyrical language the intensity and the confusion of war. Young men who have barely left boyhood face battle for the first time in Iraq, a country and a people that they know little about. For those fortunate enough to return home, the war comes with them and affects their families as well. In eloquent prose, Iraq war veteran Powers unveils the hidden costs of war for the average American. Truthful and painful, The Yellow Birds will join the classics of war fiction.” —Joan Grenier, Odyssey Bookshop, South Hadley, MA