My Year of Living Indie

poetry_readingJacqueline Hopkins-Walton, a member of a Facebook group I belong to, recently asked us to kick in our “top ten” favorite books we read in 2012. Five immediately came to mind, several others I can’t name because they’re not officially published yet or I had a hand in editing, and the rest resulted from a quick consultation with my Kindle.

Only one book was put out by a large publisher.

In fact, a further consultation with the K-dude revealed that with the exception of The Maltese Falcon, nearly every book I read in 2012 was written by an indie author.

Curiosity? Solidarity? Poverty?

Yes, all are true. When, in late 2011, I started testing the waters prior to self-publishing my second novel, Drawing Breath, I met a bunch of great, funny, quirky, generous authors who’d decided to chuck pitching to the Big Guys and go their own way. Curious, I read a bunch of affordable—and frequently free—books that didn’t have a flightless waterfowl on their spines. Some needed some work. Some were good. Some were pretty amazing.

I didn’t consciously make a choice to avoid the big names. A few of my favorite trad-published authors, like Michael Chabon, Joyce Carol Oates, and Ian McEwan came out with books this year and I will read them, eventually, when the budget allows. (Before you suggest my local library, I am a big fan, although Marion the Librarian does not care for my slow reading pace, which resulted in my returning Ian McEwan’s Solar only halfway done under threat of large fines and manual dispossession.)

My TBR indie list sort of…evolved. Friends came out with new books. Other authors recommended their favorites. One thing led to another. My involvement with Indies Unlimited brought me closer to inspirational, heartbreakingly talented, funny, smart authors from around the world.

Doesn’t mean I won’t sink into a big-name book again. In fact, two are waiting on my nightstand: Jeffrey Eugenides because I’ve adored him since Middlesex and The Virgin Suicides, and Jane Green, because I won her latest in a Goodreads Giveaway.

This year in reading just happened. And I’m very happy about it. It’s a lovely feeling, looking down my Kindle directory and seeing so many friends’ names.

So, in no particular order, these were my favorite books I read in 2012:

Jimmy Mender and his Miracle Dog by Leland Dirks
Joe Café by JD Mader
Dissolute Kinship: A 9/11 Road Trip by David Antrobus
My Temporary Life by Martin Crosbie
Upgrade by Stephen Hise
Bad Book by Stephen Hise, KS Brooks, and JD Mader
Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines by Carol E. Wyer
The Sable City and Death of a Kingdom by M. Edward McNally [from the same series; The Norothian Cycle, so it counts as two!]
Charmed Life by Susan Bennett

What were some of your favorites?


1. I am a relatively slow reader, and it’s been a busy year.
2. Which means I probably read about thirty books.
3. So I do what I can. And this only one reader’s opinion.
4. There are many, many wonderful authors I’ve yet to read.
5. Even ones I know.
6. Your actual mileage may vary.

15 thoughts on “My Year of Living Indie

  1. avcarden says:

    We share a similar reding list except for three of the above I have read the same as you. Though I can be a very fast reader and there are a lot more titles of indie authors on my list. Plus a few like Dean Koontz and some Scandinavian authors. I read Solar a couple of years ago by the way. And of course I mustn’t forget Drawing Breath by someone called Laurie E Boris. I can highly recommend that, it’s fab. 😉

  2. carolewyer says:

    Firstly, let me say how chuffed to bits I was that one of my books has appeared on your list. Secondly, I have to agree with you entirely. Like you, this year I have started to read a wide variety of Indie books and have been impressed with the talent that is out there. My background is in Literature and my early years were spent reading vast volumes of Proust, Shakespeare, Chaucer and a ridiculously lengthy list of classics. As I have got older I have found I am very open to all genres and have enjoyed the variety I have been able to pick up.
    I am one of those irritating speed readers who gobbles books faster than she can eat pasta (and believe me when I say i do that quickly).On holiday it is not unusual for me to get through 11-14 books so the Kindle has been really useful as I can now pack clothes instead of books.
    I too have read some of those on the list above and of course (like your previous visitor) an exceptionally good book called Drawing Breath. They have been entertaining and well written. If a person who likes Chaucer, Byron, Camus and Descartes can say that, then there must be hope for all Indie authors! Someone like me will download your book and read it. 🙂

  3. acflory says:

    @avcarden – must be something going round because I’ve caught it too. 🙂 I’ve read 5 of the above [btw Laurie The Winds from Miilark [book 3] is my favourite – dark and quite brilliant] plus a number more, including the ones from that Boris woman. 😀 Other favourite indies on my list are Lord David Prosser [the Barsetshire series], Candy Korman [Candy’s Monsters], John Barlow [Hope Road] and a sci-fi series that hasn’t been published [I’m nagging the author weekly but so far he’s not listening].

    I do have a few trad. books on my Kindle – China Mieville is a long time favourite – but 95% are indies. Sadly there’s some carbon mixed in with the diamonds but not that many.

      • acflory says:

        I know the feeling. I’ve just ordered 2 more books to add to my list. I’ve always read a lot but I’ve read more this last year than ever before. Damn Kindle. 🙂

  4. Yvonne Hertzberger says:

    I am the slowest reader on Earth, bar none. Yes, really. But I, too have read five of these and would agree. One I would add that I thought was wonderful is Rosanne Dingli’s Camera Obscura. Here’s to Indies. Yay!

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