From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at IndieBound.org, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:
Goodbye, Vitamin: A Novel by Rachel Khong (Holt, $26, 9781250109163). "It seems impossible that Khong could tuck so much kindness, honesty, and eclectic humor into one little book! Questioning her life choices in the midst of a major breakup, Ruth, our narrator, returns home to care for her father, an Alzheimer's patient, and gives daily dispatches full of love, rich observations, and clever, unique jokes. Stuffed with rich descriptions of food and cooking and anchored by imperfect-but-tireless familial love, this book goes down as smoothly as a cool glass of water and is as nourishing and thoughtful as it is fun at every turn." --Annie Harvieux, Magers & Quinn Booksellers, Minneapolis, Minn.
South Pole Station: A Novel by Ashley Shelby (Picador, $26, 9781250112828). "Prepare yourself for a frozen and fun adventure in the Antarctic. Cooper Gosling apparently does not have enough cold weather or oddball people in her Minneapolis life, so she heads to the South Pole Station to try to reclaim her career as a painter. Ashley Shelby has collected a wonderful cast of quirky characters in this southernmost ice box and readers are in for a treat when they meet this bunch of scientists, artists, medics, and misfits. Bundle up and enjoy the ride!" --Pamela Klinger-Horn, Excelsior Bay Books, Excelsior, Minn.
Smoke: A Novel by Dan Vyleta (Anchor, $16.95, 9781101910405). "Imagine a world where every dark thought you possessed was revealed by a wisp of smoke. And what if a portion of society could hide their darkness, while others were forever stained by their sins? Set in an alternative England, this tale reveals what really lies behind this sinful soot through the eyes of three teenagers who begin to question all they have been told. Smoke is a brilliant combination of fantasy and historical fiction, where layers of mystery and glimmers of truth will keep readers feverishly turning pages until the very end." --Luisa Smith, Book Passage, Corte Madera, Calif.
For Ages 4 to 8
This Book Will Not Be Fun by Cirocco Dunlap, illustrated by Olivier Tallec (Random House, $17.99, 9780399550614) "This is a hoot! Who can resist a glow-in-the-dark kung fu worm? And an impromptu dance party with impossible creatures? You, too, just might find yourself 'shaking [your] bottom,' as it were." --Tegan Tigani, Queen Anne Book Company, Seattle, Wash.
For Ages 9 to 12
Walking With Miss Millie by Tamara Bundy (Nancy Paulsen, $16.99, 9780399544569). "Staying with her grandma in Rainbow, Georgia, was not Alice's idea, and she is sure life is about to get a lot worse now that she's been coerced into walking cranky, old Miss Millie's mean dog. When the dog refuses to budge without his owner, Alice ends up on daily walks with Miss Millie and having conversations that change her life. Miss Millie can be crusty, but Alice learns that years of segregation have filled her heart with pain, compassion, bravery, and kindness. Alice has her own heartaches, and over time she confides in Miss Millie and a true friendship is born. I loved the witty banter between these two as they gradually open up to each other, and their remarks about the town residents they run into are priceless. Highly recommended." --Ellen Davis, Dragonwings Bookstore, Waupaca, Wis.
For Teen Readers
Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy (Balzer + Bray, $17.99, 9780062418357). "I loved everything about this book! Ramona is spectacular in her extraordinary ordinariness (and I mean that in the very best way). She is every girl, sure of herself until she isn't and struggling to find her way while remaining true to herself. Her supporting characters are the kids we encounter every day. They are gay, straight, black, white, struggling, privileged, confident, and questioning, but they are not 'issues.' They are just regular kids, and their stories are spectacular. This is the perfect addition to the We Need Diverse Books canon and exactly what bookstore shelves should be filled with!" --Laura Donohoe, Spellbound Children's Bookshop, Asheville, N.C.
[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]