Best Indie Books of 2012


Karen Schechner, Editor

Indie publishing exploded in 2012. With nearly a quarter of a million titles self-published in the U.S. this year alone, just about everyone can now name at least one self-published superstar. Along with writing Kirkus Star-worthy literary fiction and memoirs, self-pubbed authors left no political point of view unexamined, no self-help topic unexplored, no deep-space planet uncharted.

Kirkus Indie covered an impressive range this year: a memoir about a pit bull that “smells like fresh-cut grass, baked pork, and a hint of unmentionables,” a literary neonoir mystery that takes place in modern-day Ireland, a legal procedural set in Boston and a book of poems from a Jesuit priest/English professor who writes of martini-sipping rhinos. Indie editors Ryan Leahey, David Rapp and I narrowed this worthy assemblage to our top 100 titles arranged alphabetically and sorted into 13 categories (sci-fi/fantasy, children’s & young adult, memoir, etc.). Whether it’s a psychological thriller or madcap mystery, we hope you’ll find the next breakout bestseller in the Best Indie Books of 2012.

BYE BYE BLACKBIRD by Eileen Berry
ESSAYS & ANTHOLOGIES
Released: Aug. 1, 2010

"An extraordinary, nuanced collection by a gifted poet."
Merging geographic precision with detailed lyricism, Berry's collection of poetry spans continents and states of the soul. Read full book review >
CONFESSIONS OF A TRANSSEXUAL PHYSICIAN by Jessica Angelina Birch
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: July 16, 2012

"An honest, heartfelt memoir about coming out and transitioning. "
Birch's candid new memoir recalls her punishing adolescent boyhood and the difficult pursuit of self-realization. Read full book review >

NOTES TO THE BELOVED by Michelle Bitting
ESSAYS & ANTHOLOGIES
Released: Jan. 15, 2012

"Not a perfect collection—but it comes close."
Bitting (Good Friday Kiss, 2008, etc.) returns with earthy, adventurous and existential free verse. Read full book review >
THE KENNEDY RIFLE by JK Brandon
Released: Jan. 9, 2012

"Sexy, savvy and utterly satisfying."
The first installment of Brandon's saga features Phoenix-based ballistics expert Michael Cole in an un-put-down-able thriller noir. Read full book review >
IMPORTANT NONSENSE by Steven Brutus
Released: April 12, 2012

"A fine philosophical text to aid in considering the big ideas."
Brutus' first book of philosophy offers a glimpse into the minds of some of history's greatest thinkers. Read full book review >

Released: March 22, 2012

"Highly readable, this engaging manual never veers from its focus of providing the basic skills one needs to tell a story that can truly make a difference."
Smart, well-delivered and timely advice to help advocates and spokespeople tell the most effective stories. Read full book review >
THE FINAL RACE by Oliver Chiapco
THRILLERS
Released: Aug. 14, 2012

"A page turner of the highest order."
An intriguing, thought-provoking fusion of medical thriller and apocalyptic fiction. Read full book review >
INTO THE CHILD by Shannon Colleary
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Oct. 25, 2011

"A hysterical account of pregnancy that will resonate with readers who've been through it before."
Debut author Colleary chronicles 40 weeks of pregnancy in this irreverent account. Read full book review >