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.

BEAMISH BOY by Albert Flynn DeSilver
Released: June 1, 2012

"A beautifully written memoir of awakening and self-acceptance."
DeSilver's memoir recounts the adolescent and young-adult experiences that shaped his writing and artistic endeavors as an acclaimed poet. Read full book review >
THE TENANT LAWYER by Eric Dinnocenzo
Released: Nov. 18, 2011

"A notable debut that infuses an engrossing legal procedural with deep empathy."
A young attorney struggles to humanize the law—and himself—in this quietly absorbing legal tale. Read full book review >

Released: May 1, 2009

"The bighearted Yellow Umbrella discovers unexpected poignancy at a depth deeper than that of most children's books."
Author and artist Dunn turns an everyday object—a yellow umbrella—into a touching tale about the joy of giving selflessly and how small acts of compassion can transcend cultural boundaries. Read full book review >
Repeaters by Erica Ferencik
Released: Sept. 17, 2011

"The gripping pursuit and protection of the love of a lifetime."
The petrifying tale of a chain of reincarnations that can only be broken by finding true love. Read full book review >
PADD YOUR WEALTH by Keith Fevurly
Released: Nov. 10, 2011

"Easily situated to be the primary source for getting your financial life in order."
An authoritative, all-in-one guide to personal financial planning. Read full book review >

Released: Oct. 20, 2011

When ever-resilient, stubborn Atticus Gunner teams up with Butch Gorpon to uncover the mystery behind the deaths in an island community, the duo discovers that something far greater is in the works.

Atticus Gunner is offered $310,000 in addition to a 32-foot sailing sloop, the Moonhawk, as compensation for assuming the role of school administrator and police officer on Washington Island. On his way to the island, he encounters a boat full of drunkards, who later try to shoot at the Moonhawk. From his arrival on the island, Atticus has his hands full. In fact, his first full day culminates in a barroom brawl with the Cline boys, an event that foreshadows the no-nonsense attitude that Gunner will enforce throughout the story. The potential sabotage of his boat and his meeting with local psychic, Cynthia, who anoints him the warrior that will fight off the darkness, put an intriguing twist in the plot. Perhaps the book's most compelling element is the author's ability to weave character relationships, especially the budding friendship between Atticus and Butch, the school board president. Nevertheless, Atticus' relationship with his two daughters, Stacie and Inger, is beautifully portrayed, particularly the scenes on the Moonhawk where readers realize that Atticus is an individual of substance—he will not let anyone harm his family or friends. As the deaths of several island boys confirm, those that harm Atticus' family or friends will face retribution. The novel shines with engaging dialogue, seamless transitions and kinetic plot development, making the story flow smoothly. Read full book review >

Released: April 22, 2012

"A quietly powerful story, at times harrowing but ultimately a joy to read."
In this novel, life turns toward a dark horizon for a precocious adolescent grieving for her father in 1941 Tennessee. Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 15, 2012

"A stinging indictment of urban politics-as-usual."
Cronyism and corruption stifle the cable TV industry in this hard-hitting memoir. Read full book review >