At a magazine that reviews thousands of books a year, it’s easy to see the forest. Many of the books submitted to us for review in the Indie section tend to plant themselves along broad trend lines, even if they don’t fall into the evergreen categories of capital-L Literature, memoir, self-help, etc. Last year, first-person pet perspectives were popular; “Thanks, Obama” screeds hit it big earlier this year. Lately, we’ve seen a trend of books about horse abuse, unfortunately. There are, of course, bright spots among the bunch, and as Kirkus’ Indie editors, Karen, David and I take a lot of pride in sorting through and highlighting the books that rise above their neighbors.
Often, however, what sticks out most to us is a book that doesn’t quite fit—an outlier that catches our attention because it’s not part of the forest. What jumps to mind for me is The Metropolis Organism by Frank Vitale, a multimedia book about how the “form and function of a metropolis look uncannily similar, from a distance, to those of biological entities.” Karen thinks of Sutro’s Glass Palace, which we called a “lavishly illustrated volume” that details the history of the Sutro Baths, a now-defunct San Francisco bathhouse. And for David, “one that springs to mind immediately is Bulletin of ZOMBIE Research: Volume 1,” a starred book we called “a collection of scientific reports on how best to control and manage the worldwide-spread of Zooanthroponotic Occult MetaBiomimetic Infectious Encephalitis—zombies!” “It’s a truly unique idea, executed well,” David told me. For books that stand out like this, don’t think we’ll forget. – Ryan LeaheyRyan Leahey is an Indie editor at Kirkus Reviews.