Hut's Place
 Weekly Words about New Books in
Independent Bookstores

December 13, 2015
 No One 'Big' Book - Across the Country, Indies Selling 'Right' Books For Their Customers  

As independent bookstores head into their peak selling season - that is, the 10 days before Christmas - people are asking, "So what's the Big Book this year?" And, happily for independent bookstores, there is no one such book. Indies specialize in selling the right book to the right person, which means that their bestseller lists at this time of year reflect the varied interests of their customers and of the region where they are located. On the national front, fiction titles like the Pulitzer Prize-winning All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr, and Lauren Groff's well received study of a modern marriage, Fates and Furies, share the spotlight with Rogue Lawyer, by legal thriller master John Grisham, and Felicity, the latest collection of poems by indie favorite Mary Oliver.

Then, when you look at different regions of the U.S., you also find bestselling titles that are unique to that part of country, often written by  authors from that area. That explains, for example, why Humans of New York: Stories, Brandon Stanton's intriguing collection of photographs of and interviews with people from The Big Apple is on the New England and New Atlantic Independent Bestseller lists. Move to the South and the latest Mitford novel, Come Rain or Come Shine, by longtime Southern writer Jan Karon, is solidly ensconced as a top seller. Heading to the middle of the country, the Heartland Independent Bestseller List features Kitchens of the Great Midwest, J. Ryan Stradal's debut novel about a young woman who becomes an iconic chef.

Up in the Pacific Northwest, the beloved and recently deceased Montana author Ivan Doig is still riding high. His last novel, Last Bus to Wisdom, a lively and poignant coming-of-age story about a boy and his great-uncle on a cross-country odyssey, is fighting All The Light We Cannot See for the top spot. And in celebrity-conscious Southern California, we find actor Ethan Hawke's Rules For A Knight, a small but inspiring tale, in the form of a knight's letter to his sons on living a meaningful life.

For independent booksellers, it's not the Big Book that counts; it's the Right Book. Whether the book is for loved ones, for friends and colleagues or for yourself, the goal of these booksellers is to help you find volumes of pleasure for everyone on your list.

You Go, Girls - Graphic Novels With Strong Female Leads

Among the most popular books for children and teens nowadays are comics and graphic novels. Author/artist Raina Telgemeier is a particular favorite of young readers with two illustrated autobiographical stories, Smile and Sisters. But coming on strong is a young comics artist named Noelle Stevenson, the creator of the web comic Nimona. Stevenson started Nimona while a student at Maryland Institute College of Art. The comic was first published in June 2012 and doubled as Stevenson's senior thesis; now it has been published in print as a graphic novel, much to the delight of young adult fans. Nimona is an impulsive young shape-shifter with a knack for villainy who teams with supervillain Lord Ballister Blackheart to cause some serious trouble. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren't the heroes everyone thinks they are.

Stevenson is also co-author of another hit - the Lumberjanes series. Volumes 1 and 2 are in bookstores, with a third due next Spring, and the adventures of five feisty teenage girls at a very strange summer camp have earned both middle and high school graphic novel fans. In Book One, we meet Jo, April, Mal, Molly and Ripley - five best pals determined to have an awesome summer together...and they're not gonna let any insane quest or an array of supernatural critters get in their way! But when the girls stumble onto a mysterious force wreaking havoc in the camp, it is a race through the woods as the Lumberjanes work together to save not only their friends, but maybe even the whole world! Book Two continues the girls' butt-kicking adventures and answers some questions left hanging. This is welcome feminist fare, done with a light and humorous touch, and worth checking out for both reluctant readers and graphic novel aficionados.

Many of you already have a favorite local bookstore, but for those of you without such a relationship, this link will take you to a list of Northern California indie bookstores by region.
If you live or work elsewhere, you can click here to find the nearest indie bookstore by simply entering your postal code.  

Join the
Get Hut's Place
Every Week -
No Charge!

If You're Already a Subscriber, How About Forwarding to a Friend?

Your e-mail will
never be shared!

Hi, I'm Hut Landon. I previously owned a local independent bookstore and was head of the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association (NCIBA) in San Francisco for many years. Now semi-retired, I work part-time as an independent bookseller.

My goal with this newsletter is to keep readers up to date about new books hitting the shelves, share what indie booksellers are recommending in their stores, and pass on occasional news about the book world.

I'm not into long, wordy reviews or literary criticism; I'd like HUT'S PLACE to be a quick, fun read for book buyers. If you have any friends who you think might like receiving this column each week, simply click on "Forward this email" below and enter their email address. There is also a box in which to add a short message.

COMMENTS, FEEDBACK                    
I always love hearing from folks, so please feel free to let me know what you're reading, make a comment, or ask a question. Email me anytime.