From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at IndieBound.org, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:
Wade in the Water: Poems by Tracy K. Smith (Graywolf Press, $24, 9781555978136). "In Wade in the Water, Smith masterfully makes herself into a medium through which the voices of other (forgotten) people can become poetry. 'I Will Tell You the Truth About This…' is a haunting and beautiful poem written using the letters and statements of African-Americans who enlisted as soldiers in the Civil War. Here, Smith is simultaneously the declarer and the creator of a space wherein others may be given room to declare. It is this balancing act that brings out the heart and beauty of Wade in the Water. The impersonal is made intimate, the world is made individual, and through it all, Smith guides us with true poetic sense. Wade in the Water is a necessary, beautiful book!" --Eli Sorich, Magers & Quinn Booksellers, Minneapolis, Minn.
The Italian Party: A Novel by Christina Lynch (St. Martin's Press, $25.99, 9781250147837). "Chris Pavone's The Expats meets Amor Towles' A Gentleman in Moscow in this delightful novel. Scottie and Michael Messina are newlyweds when they arrive in Italy in April of 1956, where Michael is supposed to head up a new division of Ford. There is so much unknown between any typical pair of newlyweds, but Michael and Scottie harbor deeper secrets from each other, among them Michael's true occupation as a spy for the American government. Lynch evokes the period of the 1950s--Betty Crocker, Wonder Bread, and an entrenched distrust of Communism--in a story that froths with gossip and is sweetened by intrigue, stirred with the complex history of Italian and American relations. Delicious and positively drinkable." --Becky Petterson, Bloomsbury Books, Ashland, Ore.
Blue Self-Portrait by Noémi Lefebvre, translated by Sophie Lewis (Transit Books, $15.95, 9781945492105). "I'm not sure I can prepare you for this book. I thought I knew what I was getting into, and a mere 140 pages later I landed on a different continent altogether. Noémi Lefebvre has produced a riveting story in Blue Self-Portrait, one that investigates the many variations of a thought, of a memory. Our narrator looks at her exchange with a pianist from every possible vantage point, arriving at both confusion and conclusion within the same second. Lefebvre is a master of the sentence, and some of these passages unfurl with all the introspection and music of Marcel Proust. Sophie Lewis' translation is a most welcome import into our canon that will be appreciated for its poetry and its audacity." --John Gibbs, Green Apple Books on the Park, San Francisco, Calif.
For Ages 4 to 8
Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor: The Woman Who Loved Reptiles by Patricia Valdez, illustrated by Felicita Sala (Knopf, $17.99, 9780399557255). "I'm not sure if I love the illustrations or the text more, but together they're utterly engrossing. I love this book! Such a wonderful story and so well done. Inspiring!" --Justus Joseph, Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, Wash.
For Ages 9 to 12
Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake (Little, Brown, $16.99, 9780316515467). "Ivy Aberdeen has just suffered two huge losses: Her family's home has been destroyed by a tornado, and her secret notebook where she draws pictures of girls holding hands has vanished--only to reappear as pages left in her locker by a mysterious reader. It's not the best moment to get a crush on her new friend June, but Ivy perseveres through changing emotions and fears to figure out where she belongs in her world. Beautiful prose, characterization, and themes. Highly recommended!" --Cecilia Cackley, East City Bookshop, Washington, D.C.
For Teen Readers
The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton (Freeform, $17.99, 9781484728499). "In a world where people are born gray and sallow, only a Belle and her powers can bring forth beauty. But being a Belle may prove dangerous for Camellia Beauregard, as she discovers in the royal court of Orleans, where secrets and danger lurk behind every sparkling facade. The Belles is a rich, opulent, intoxicating book--reading it feels like eating the most decadent cupcake you've ever tasted in your life. The atmosphere Clayton creates is sumptuous, and her characters are compelling, ambitious, and beautiful, though some only on the outside. I was blown away by this novel and can't wait for the author's next gorgeous book." --Emily Hall, Main Street Books, St. Charles, Mo.
[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]