The October 2023 Indie Next List Preview

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Here are the 25 Indie Next List and 6 Now in Paperback picks on the October 2023 Indie Next List flier.

The October title list is also viewable as a collection on Edelweiss and on the Indie Next List page as an Excel file alongside PDFs for the month’s flier and shelf-talker templates. Learn more about ABA’s recent refresh for the Indie Next List program and visit Matchbook Marketing’s program page to sign up to send the free Indie Next List e-newsletter to customers.

Additionally, to mark the start of the new month, the September Indie Next List picks are available as a flier, along with past lists, on the Indie Next List page on      

The 25 October Indie Next List Picks

#1 Pick: Death Valley: A Novel  
By Melissa Broder
(Scribner, 9781668024843, $27, Oct. 3, Fiction)
“A hike becomes a metaphysical journey straight into the center of grief, featuring literature’s most memorable cactus. Broder delivers us directly to the site of the wound and somehow makes us want to linger. Beautiful, exciting, and profound.”
—Kristen Iskandrian, Thank You Books, Birmingham, AL

Land of Milk and Honey: A Novel
By C Pam Zhang
(Riverhead Books, 9780593538241, 9780593538241, $28, Sept. 26, Fiction)

“Zhang’s gorgeous prose sets a stark contrast between a world destroyed and a seemingly pristine utopia. While darkness pervades this literary thrill ride, thoughtful questions about humanity save the reader from total madness.”
—Page Berger, Barrett Bookstore, Darien, CT

North Woods: A Novel
By Daniel Mason
(Random House, 9780593597033, $28, Sept. 19, Fiction)

North Woods is a novel about a house, its inhabitants, and the land over four centuries set in the hills of western Massachusetts. A gorgeous, layered tapestry in which the house and the woods play into the lives of those who live there.”
—Fran Keilty, Hickory Stick Bookshop, Washington Depot, CT

By Benjamín Labatut
(Penguin Press, 9780593654477, $28, Oct. 3, Fiction)

“One of the most fascinating books of the year. Labatut delivers a terrifying, dispassionate, utterly compulsive amalgam of fact and fiction, raising profound moral questions on unchecked scientific advancement and the dawn of AI.”
—Alex Brubaker, Midtown Scholar Bookstore, Harrisburg, PA

Starling House
By Alix E. Harrow
(Tor Books, 9781250799050, $28.99, Oct. 3, Fantasy)

Starling House has all the excellent, wry writing of A Spindle Splintered and A Mirror Mended. Still, it’s not a fairy tale retelling — just a deeply unsettling story with a house that might conceal the very gates of hell. Leave the lights on!”
—Christy Peterson, Vintage Books, Vancouver, WA

Family Meal: A Novel
By Bryan Washington
(Riverhead Books, 9780593421093, $28, Oct. 10, Fiction)

Family Meal is a heartbreaking story of love, loss, and grief. Cam returns to Houston after the love of his life, Kai, dies. He and his estranged best friend, TJ, try to work through their grief and past hurts. A painful, gorgeous read.”
—Kristen Beverly, Half Price Books, Dallas, TX

The Fragile Threads of Power
By V. E. Schwab
(Tor Books, 9780765387493, $29.99, Sept. 26, Fantasy)

“Like all of Schwab’s books, this will draw you in and dazzle you with her worldbuilding and characters, and keep you on the edge of your seat. A spectacular addition to the world of the Shades of Magic series!”
—Melissa Fox, Watermark Books & Café, Wichita, KS

Wellness: A Novel
By Nathan Hill
(Knopf, 9780593536117, $30, Sept. 19, Fiction)

Wellness will capture your heart from the very beginning. Heartbreaking, funny, thoughtful, endearing — readers will be entranced by Jack and Elizabeth’s story as they struggle for the elusive life of family, truth, and true love.”
—Betsy Von Kerens, The Bookworm of Omaha, Omaha, NE

Bright Young Women: A Novel
By Jessica Knoll
(S&S/Marysue Rucci Books, 9781501153228, $27.99, Sept. 19, Thriller)

“We all know the names of serial killers, but not the victims. Jessica Knoll tells their stories with compassion and respect. You’ll be shocked by the multiple miscarriages of justice that cut short the lives of so many bright young women.”
—Susan Kehoe, Browseabout Books, Rehoboth Beach, DE

Cleat Cute: A Novel
By Meryl Wilsner
(St. Martin’s Griffin, 9781250873309, $18, Paperback, Sept. 19, Romance)

“Meryl Wilsner is a must-read author! Grace and Phoebe’s sexy sapphic love story centers around their training as members of the US Women’s National soccer team. Spicy and sweet, you'll fall in love so fast and be sad when the book is over.”
—Andrea Richardson, Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA

Godkiller: A Novel
By Hannah Kaner
(Harper Voyager, 9780063348271, $18.99, Paperback, Sept. 12, Fantasy)

“In a world scarred by warring gods and brutal battles, a godkiller sets off on a quest with an unlikely crew. This is immersive, diverse, and full of rage against the world and those who ruined it. This book doesn’t relent — I want more!”
—Anna Rose Carleton, The Well-Read Moose, Coeur d'Alene, ID

Our Strangers: Stories
By Lydia Davis
(Bookshop Editions, 9798987717103, $26, Oct. 3, Short Stories)

“Lydia Davis is in a rare arena of master short story writers.  She celebrates language, never using an unnecessary word. Just perfect sentences, unexpected images, and stories that make you laugh and cry and stay with you forever.”
—Gayle Shanks, Changing Hands, Tempe, AZ

Chenneville: A Novel of Murder, Loss, and Vengeance
By Paulette Jiles
(William Morrow, 9780063252684, $30, Sept. 12, Historical Fiction)

“Paulette Jiles has done it again. John Chenneville’s travails through the post-Civil War US are written in a way that is thoughtful, profound, and fluid like poetry. Even if you’re not familiar with Jiles, once you read it, you'll want more.”
—Vicki Honeyman, Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, MI

Sword Catcher
By Cassandra Clare
(Del Rey, 9780525619994, $30, Oct. 10, Fantasy)

“I grew up reading Cassandra Clare. Here I am as an adult, reading her adult debut, a masterwork of worldbuilding and beautiful respect for her own history woven in. Sword Catcher is the next unstoppable force in the world of adult fantasy.”
—Caitlyn VanOrder, Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC

Starter Villain
By John Scalzi
(Tor Books, 9780765389220, $28.99, Sept. 19, Science Fiction)

“Scalzi makes the absurd feel completely normal. Charlie is a down on his luck guy who gets thrust into the world of super villains and genetically-engineered cats. Fans of the spy genre will love the subverted super villain clichés.”
—Scott Patnesky, Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver, CO

The Hive and the Honey: Stories
By Paul Yoon
(S&S/Marysue Rucci Books, 9781668020791, $26, Oct. 10, Short Stories)

“Paul Yoon portrays 400 years of violence suffered by Korean people, dispersed by uncontrollable events with profound consequences on their lives. His concise, incisive stories bring all of these tales to life and probe universal truths.”
—Bill Cusumano, Square Books, Oxford, MS

Bright Lights, Big Christmas: A Novel
By Mary Kay Andrews
(St. Martin’s Press, 9781250285812, $24, Sept. 26, Fiction)

“Nothing gets you in the holiday spirit like a festive read. Mary Kay Andrews delivers in her latest holiday story. Centered in NYC, the most spirited holiday city, this is a perfect read to enjoy in front of a Christmas tree and a cozy fire.”
—Angela Sides, Monkey and Dog Books, Fort Worth, TX

Wildfire: A Novel
By Hannah Grace
(Atria Books, 9781668026274, $18.99, Paperback, Oct. 3, Romance)

“A fantastic follow-up to Icebreaker. A one-night stand with emotions left on the table leave Russ and Aurora thinking of each other. When the two end up as camp counselors, sparks fly. If you love a good summer romance, this is it.”
—Kyle Churman, Werner Books, Erie, PA

How to Say Babylon: A Memoir
By Safiya Sinclair
(Simon & Schuster, 9781982132330, $28.99, Oct. 3, Memoir)

“This extraordinary memoir explores self-actualization at the crossroads of womanhood and Black liberation. Sinclair’s poetic brilliance brought grace to even her most excruciating experiences. I am in awe of her compassion and transcendence.”
—Evisa Gallman, Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee & Books, Philadelphia, PA

The Hurricane Wars: A Novel
By Thea Guanzon
(Harper Voyager, 9780063277274, $30, Oct. 3, Fantasy)

“In this lush, romantic debut, two mortal enemies are forced into an arranged marriage to save their countries from each other and forces that threaten their world. I loved the intricate world, its politics, and the steamy romance!”
—Haley Calvin, The Novel Neighbor, Webster Groves, MO

The Premonition: A Novel
By Banana Yoshimoto, Asa Yoneda (Transl.)
(Counterpoint, 9781640093713, $24, Oct. 10, Fiction)

“Have you ever felt haunted by something from your childhood? A vague memory on the edge of remembrance? Yoshimoto unravels hidden grief, loneliness, and family secrets in The Premonition. Originally published in the ‘80s, this is timeless.”
—Jenny Gilroy, E. Shaver, Bookseller, Savannah, GA

A Holly Jolly Ever After: A Christmas Notch Novel
By Julie Murphy, Sierra Simone
(Avon, 9780063222649, $24.99, Oct. 10, Romance)

“A gloriously spicy holiday romance that is hilarious and heart wrenching — celebrating holiday joy while tackling topics like religion and purity culture. Holly Jolly is a trademark balance of laughter, spice, and everything nice!”
—Jenni Marchisotto, Mysterious Galaxy Books, San Diego, CA

Company: Stories
By Shannon Sanders
(Graywolf Press, 9781644452516, $27, Oct. 3, Fiction)

“Members of a big, multigenerational Black family — with branches bohemian and bourgeois — live vibrantly in this debut collection of fiction. Linked together in a glittering chain of language, their stories create a treasured heirloom.”
—James Crossley, Madison Books, Seattle, WA

Landscapes: A Novel
By Christine Lai
(Two Dollar Radio, 9781953387387, $26, Sept. 12, Fiction)

“A celebration of co-creation at its best. Christine Lai chronicles the days of the end in a subdued manner. She makes sure we know that we all have something at stake in the climate crisis, and we can continue to reach towards each other in the end.”
—Tay Jones, White Whale Bookstore, Pittsburgh, PA

The Free People’s Village: A Novel
By Sim Kern
(Levine Querido, 9781646142668, $26.99, Sept. 12, Science Fiction)

The Free People’s Village goes so hard! Sim Kern’s masterpiece burns with righteous fury. This book doesn’t pull punches — instead of hopelessness, it sliced straight through frustration, fatalism, and ennui and made me want to fight back.”
—Shana Hausman, All She Wrote Books, Somerville, MA


The 6 Now in Paperback Titles

Don’t Fear the Reaper: A Novel
By Stephen Graham Jones
(Gallery/Saga Press, 9781982186609, $18.99, Sept. 26, Horror)

“Not just a worthy sequel to My Heart is a Chainsaw, but one that, after you’ve read it, you can’t imagine the first book without. Jones has a true gift — he can make you shudder in horror and tear up in the same sentence.”
—Olivia Morris, Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, MA

Gilded Mountain: A Novel
By Kate Manning
(Scribner, 9781982160951, $18, Oct. 10, Historical Fiction)

“An epic tale! Sylvie Pelletier is the daughter of a mine worker in early 1900s Colorado. She glimpses at how the wealthy owners live and is changed forever. A full-bodied historical novel relatable to today’s issues of wage inequality.”
—Paula Frank, The Toadstool Bookshop, Nashua, NH

The Hero of This Book: A Novel
By Elizabeth McCracken
(Ecco, 9780062971296, $18.99, Oct. 3, Fiction)

“Is this a memoir or a novel? Does it matter? A very well-written story about memoir writing, following a writer who, in the wake of her mother’s death, travels to London. A great examination of the grieving process and what it does to art.”
—Alex Einhorn, Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA

Lucy By the Sea: A Novel
By Elizabeth Strout
(Random House Trade Paperbacks, 9780593446089, $18, Sept. 12, Fiction)

“I’ve read quite a few pandemic books in the last year, but this one stands out. Strout has produced a meditation on memory as much as a character study as Lucy, William, and their neighbors grapple with the pandemic and political divides.”
—Emily Crowe, An Unlikely Story, Plainville, MA

A Merry Little Meet Cute: A Novel
By Julie Murphy, Sierra Simone
(Avon, 9780063222595, $17.99, Sept. 26, Romance)

“What do you get when Julie Murphy and Sierra Simone co-write a rom-com? You get the story of an adult film star and a former bad-boy boybander in a Hallmark-style holiday movie. It’s a sex-positive, body-positive romance full of good cheer!”
—Cathy Berner, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, TX

The Passenger
By Cormac McCarthy
(Vintage, 9780307389091, $18, Sept. 26, Fiction)

The Passenger is Cormac McCarthy’s best novel. Not his best since The Road, not his best since The Border Trilogy, not his best since Blood Meridian; his best, ever. It’s an astonishing work of art, and I feel grateful to be alive to read it.”
—John Duvernoy, The Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, WA