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.

LAY SAINTS by Adam Connell
THRILLERS
Released: April 23, 2012

"A stylish reimagining of the psychic mystery genre."
Influence peddling—the telepathic kind—fuels the big city in this hard-boiled but soulful fantasy thriller. Read full book review >
BLACKHEART'S LEGACY by Sally Copus
CHILDREN'S AND TEEN
Released: June 23, 2010

"Middle-grade readers (boys especially): Don't dillydally; grab this nearly flawless book."
In the first book of debut author Copus' planned series, a boy and his grandmother travel back in time to hobnob with marauding pirates in search of hidden treasure. Read full book review >

THE LONG DRUNK by Eric Coyote
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Nov. 20, 2011

"An unshakable noir with a protagonist learning along the way, but beyond the more overt genre traits is a rewarding story of a man's unconditional love for his faithful companion."
A vagrant turned amateur sleuth investigates a murder in Coyote's debut novel and series opener of the Homeless Detective Trilogy. Read full book review >
I'M NOT PERFECT. SO WHAT? by Julie Dahnke

"A wonderful confidence-booster for kids at home and school."
A young girl builds self-esteem in Dahnke's debut children's book. Read full book review >
THE IMMORTALISTS by Gabriel David
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Dec. 7, 2011

"David's compelling debut successfully incorporates pop culture, profanity and religion into a resonant exploration of existence."
An unapologetic, perverse, yet spiritual first novel that follows one man's mistakes and triumphs when he learns that he can live forever. Read full book review >

BLACK ART by V.T. Davy
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Oct. 30, 2012

"An extremely satisfying read, as thrilling as it is humane."
Set in the modern-day Channel Islands and Dresden, Germany, Davy's neonoir mystery follows a transgendered (female to male) man investigating the disappearance of a famous actress' grandmother during World War II. Read full book review >
THE CHRONICLES OF IONA: EXILE by Paula de Fougerolles
Released: May 25, 2012

"Exciting, immersive and authentic."
This historical novel, set in sixth-century Scotland, relates the struggles of St. Columba to establish his monastery and of Aedan mac Gabran to gain a kingship. Read full book review >
TULIPANO by Walter De Hoog
Released: Aug. 29, 2012

"A lush, unsparing narrative that honors history and emotion."
This meandering but mesmerizing memoir details the political and social turmoil of World War II through the eyes of an intrepid courier for the headquarters of the Italian resistance movement. Read full book review >