Impressive Indie books of 2022
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30 Impressive Indie Books of 2022

30 IMPRESSIVE INDIE BOOKS OF 2022 is a book list of indie press and indie author books that cover a range of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Presses include Two Dollar Radio, Mason Jar Press, Split/Lip Press, and more.

30 Impressive Indie Books of 2022

Curated by Joe Walters & the IBR team

Impressive indie books of 2022 features books from small presses and indie authors

The results are in! Indie books were impressive in 2022.

Some of our all-time favorite books came out this year. They were daring, unique, funny, important. We’ve learned so much about the world over the past few years, and indie presses and indie authors have been adapting right along with it, investing in themselves and their stories. These books can alter world-views, deepen knowledge, and make minutes on this earth enjoyable.

This year’s impressive indie book list covers a wide range of genres and interests so that you can find whatever you need in your next reading experience: to learn, to elevate, to escape; it’s all here and all indie.

We’ve sifted through a lot of books this year: from the big indies to the small presses with the biggest hearts to the authors doing it all themselves. Some really excellent books have come to us this year, and somehow, we managed to get this list down to 30 indie books.

Here’s our list of impressive indie books of 2022.

#1. My Volcano

by John Elizabeth Stintzi

My Volcano by John Elizabeth Stintzi indie book cover featuring a hawk staring on a green background

Publisher: Two Dollar Radio

Genre: Literary / Disaster Fiction

About the Book:

My Volcano is a kaleidoscopic portrait of a menagerie of characters, as they each undergo personal eruptions, while the Earth itself is constantly shifting. Parable, myth, science-fiction, eco-horror, My Volcano is a radical work of literary art, emerging as a subversive, intoxicating artistic statement by John Elizabeth Stintzi.

On June 2, 2016, a protrusion of rock growing from the Central Park Reservoir is spotted by a jogger. Three weeks later, when it finally stops growing, it’s nearly two-and-a-half miles tall, and has been determined to be an active volcano.

As the volcano grows and then looms over New York, an eight-year-old boy in Mexico City finds himself transported 500 years into the past, where he witnesses the fall of the Aztec Empire; a Nigerian scholar in Tokyo studies a folktale about a woman of fire who descends a mountain and destroys an entire village; a white trans writer in Jersey City struggles to write a sci-fi novel about a thriving civilization on an impossible planet; a nurse tends to Syrian refugees in Greece while grappling with the trauma of living through the bombing of a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan; a nomadic farmer in Mongolia is stung by a bee, magically transforming him into a green, thorned, flowering creature that aspires to connect every living thing into its consciousness.

With its riveting and audacious vision, My Volcano is a tapestry on fire, a distorted and cinematic new work from the fiercely talented John Elizabeth Stintzi.

#2. Light Skin Gone to Waste

by Toni Ann Johnson

Light Skin Gone to waste is on impressive indie books of 2022 list.

Publisher: University of Georgia Press

Genre: Short Story Collection / African & African American Literature

About the Book:

In 1962 Philip Arrington, a psychologist with a PhD from Yeshiva, arrives in the small, mostly blue-collar town of Monroe, New York, to rent a house for himself and his new wife. They’re Black, something the man about to show him the house doesn’t know. With that, we’re introduced to the Arringtons: Phil, Velma, his daughter Livia (from a previous marriage), and his youngest, Madeline, soon to be born. They’re cosmopolitan. Sophisticated. They’re also troubled, arrogant, and throughout the linked stories, falling apart.

We follow the family as Phil begins his private practice, as Velma opens her antiques shop, and as they buy new homes, collect art, go skiing, and have overseas adventures. It seems they’ve made it in the white world. However, young Maddie, one of the only Black children in town, bears the brunt of the racism and the invisible barriers her family’s money, education, and determination can’t free her from. As she grows up and realizes her father is sleeping with white women, her mother is violently mercurial, and her half-sister resents her, Maddie must decide who she is despite, or perhaps precisely because of, her family.

#3. Jerks

by Sara Lippman

Jerks by Sara Lippman indie book cover which features two people dressed from the 80s shaking hands after tennis

Publisher: Mason Jar Press

Genre: Literary Fiction / Short Story Collection

About the Book:

With JERKS, Sara Lippmann rides the proverbial clutch between wanting and having. Ambivalent mothers, aging suburbanites, restless teens, survivalist parents, and disaffected wives—desire is a live wire, however frayed, a reminder that life, for all its sputtering stall outs, is still worth living. The messy characters in these eighteen stories may hack up their bed sheets with group sex, anonymous sex, sexual history, infidelity, and a literal handsaw, but there’s tenderness, too, among the lust and rage. Even when fantasy offers a shortcut to oneself, without connection, it’s a lonely escape. With crisp precision, ample honesty and desperate humor, Lippmann delivers an irresistibly fraught cast of characters at various stages of undress.

#4. How to Build a Home for the End of the World

by Kelly Shinners

Publisher: Perennial Press

Genre: Science Fiction / Post-Apocalyptic

About the Book:

In the midst of widespread drought, the Sorensens have been relatively sheltered in their hometown of Fox Lake, Illinois. But, when all the water in their lake disappears overnight, family bonds begin to unravel. Seventeen-year-old Mary-Beth, hell-bent on saving the girl she loves, convinces her father, Donny, to go on a road trip to California. Along the way, they meet inventors and academics, ancestors and desert healers, angels and ghosts, all while reckoning with the faultlines of their past to imagine a better future, a remade home in the world.

Framed as a case history of post-apocalyptic times, How To Build a Home for the End of the World considers how people negotiate care in the throes of ever-unfolding crisis.

5. Faith

by Itoro Bassey

Faith indie book cover itoro bassey from malarkey books

Publisher: Malarkey Books

Genre: African & African American Fiction / Coming of Age

About the Book:

Faith is a coming-of-age tale about Arit Essien, a first-generation Nigerian-American woman born and raised in the U.S. who resettles in Nigeria. The novel is a meditation where several generations of women riff on ideas of faith, expectation, identity, and independence. It’s a poignant conversation between the dead and the living, the past and the present, and a young woman grappling to find her place in it all.

#6. How to Turn Into a Bird

by Maria Jose Ferrada

Publisher: Tin House Books

Genre: Coming of Age / Hispanic & Latino Fiction

About the Book:

From the award-winning author of How to Order the Universe, María José Ferrada beautifully details the life and lessons of an unconventional man and the boy who loves him. 

After years of hard work in a factory outside of Santiago, Chile, Ramón accepts a peculiar job: to look after a Coca-Cola billboard located by the highway. And it doesn’t take long for Ramón to make an even more peculiar decision: to make the billboard his new home.

Twelve-year-old Miguel is enchanted by his uncle’s unusual living arrangement, but the neighborhood is buzzing with gossip, declaring Ramón a madman bringing shame to the community. As he visits his uncle in a perch above it all, Miguel comes to see a different perspective, and finds himself wondering what he believes―has his uncle lost his mind, as everyone says? Is madness―and the need for freedom―contagious? Or is Ramón the only one who can see things as they really are, finding a deeper meaning in a life they can’t understand from the ground?

When a local boy disappears, tensions erupt and forgotten memories come to the surface. And Miguel, no longer perched in the billboard with his uncle, witnesses the reality on the ground: a society that, in the name of peace, is not afraid to use violence.With sharp humor and a deep understanding of a child’s mind, How to Turn Into a Bird is a powerful tale of coming of age, loss of innocence, and shifting perspectives that asks us: how far outside of our lives must we go to really see things clearly?

#7. Throwing Shadows

by Jerry Roth

Publisher: Brigids Gate Press

Genre: Horror / Short Story Collection

About the Book:

A woman develops an unhealthy obsession with a scarecrow. A boy plays with a Ouija board and receives a terrifying warning of murder. A down-on-his-luck father learns what happens when you die in your sleep. These stories and six more frightening tales await the reader within the pages of Throwing Shadows: A Dark Collection.

Throwing Shadows will feed that hungry dark side that lives in your cellar.

#8. Cul-de-sac

by Nick Perilli

Publisher: Montag Press

Genre: Fantasy / Experimental

About the Book:

The Oughtside has slipped in through the cracks in the world and judgment has come for Habre Circle. Some boy rips himself out of sleep paralysis to find his dead-end street overtaken by the Oughtside, a limbo where the dead are remade as clay bones, shadow and porcelain. An opaque mass of a human figure meets the boy at his front door, offering him employment as judge and jury of his neighbors’ banal lives. He accepts this unpaid call to adventure seemingly plucked from the video games and narratives that consume him, descending into the homes and experiences of his childhood friend, a former babysitter who is now a skeleton, a bitter elder, and more through cracked storytelling mediums. The neighbors, in turn, see the boy’s true maladjusted self, interacting with him and each other in a strange limbo the way they never could in life, all of them hurtling towards salvation or damnation.

Cul-de-sac is an experimental fantasy that playfully explores the boundaries of genre and the power of a story’s medium. The book deftly weaves a narrative that guides you through the suspended places between life and death, the hunger and drive behind reconciliation, and the true cost of your past catching up with you.

#9. Unwieldy Creatures

by Addie Tsai

Publisher: Jaded Ibis Press

Genre: Asian & Asian American Fiction / LGBTQ+

About the Book:

Unwieldy Creatures, a biracial, queer, nonbinary retelling of Mary Shelley’s classic novel Frankenstein, follows the story of three beings who all navigate life from the margins: Plum, a queer biracial Chinese intern at one of the world’s top embryology labs, who runs away from home to openly be with her girlfriend only to be left on her own; Dr. Frank, a queer biracial Indonesian scientist, who compromises everything she claims to love in the name of science and ambition when she sets out to procreate without sperm or egg; and Dr. Frank’s nonbinary creation who, painstakingly brought into the world, is abandoned due to complications at birth that result from a cruel twist of revenge. Plum struggles to determine the limits of her own ambition when Dr. Frank offers her a chance to assist with her next project. How far will Plum go in the name of scientific advancement and what is she willing to risk?

#10. Singing Lessons from the Stylish Canary

by Laura Stanfill

Publisher: Lanternfish Press

Genre: Historical Fiction / Magical Realism

About the Book:

Georges Blanchard is revered in the small French town of Mireville both as a master serinette maker and for a miraculous incident in his childhood that earned him the title “The Sun-Bringer.” As his firstborn son, Henri Blanchard is expected to follow in his footsteps, but Henri would rather learn to make lace than music boxes. When Henri discovers a stash of American letters in his father’s drawer, he learns he’s not the firstborn son of Georges Blanchard at all: Henri has an older half-brother born to one of Georges’s American customers. When he crosses the ocean to encounter his half-brother at last, Henri discovers that there’s an entire world beyond Mirevilleace and there may be a perfect place for him yet.

#11. Dark Factory

by Kathe Koja

Dark Factory Kathe Koja book cover releasing in 2022

Publisher: Meerkat Press

Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy / Cyberpunk

About the Book:

Welcome to Dark Factory! You may experience strobe effects, Y reality, DJ beats, love, sex, betrayal, triple shot espresso, broken bones, broken dreams, ecstasy, self-knowledge, and the void. Dark Factory is a dance club: three floors of DJs, drinks, and customizable reality, everything you see and hear and feel. Ari Regon is the club’s wild card floor manager, Max Caspar is a stubborn DIY artist, both chasing a vision of true reality. And rogue journalist Marfa Carpenter is there to write it all down. Then a rooftop rave sets in motion a fathomless energy that may drive Ari and Max to the edge of the ultimate experience.

Dark Factory is Kathe Koja’s wholly original new novel from Meerkat Press, that combines her award-winning writing and her skill directing immersive events, to create a story that unfolds on the page, online, and in the reader’s creative mind.

#12. Rock Gods and Messy Monsters

by Diane Hatz

Genre: Magical Realism / Pop Culture

About the Book:

Aliens have hatched a rockstar. Brain extractions, falling body parts, and blood-vessel explosions have become the norm.

Alex’s dream job has turned into a nightmare. What should she do?

It’s the 1990s. Alex arrives to work at Acht Records, her improbable blonde hair streaked stress magenta and anger black. Her first duty is to wipe blood off her boss’s walls. It goes downhill from there.

Rock Gods & Messy Monsters is a humorous story about life inside a record company. Yet underneath and between the lines of satire and absurdism, the book is a cautionary tale.

It reminds us that dreams can be illusions.

Discovering who we really are takes courage and a commitment to self-love.

#13. A Three-Letter Name

by Annie Lisenby

Publisher: Parliament House

Genre: Young Adult Fiction / Fantasy

About the Book:

A touching YA fantasy for fans of A QUIET PLACE and PRINCESS MONONOKE.

Els never wanted to marry. Her calling was to protect her village from the feline beasts that prowl the forest at night, and love had no part in it. But after a fever steals much of her hearing, she is forced to decide between exile and marrying a stranger.

Samuel, Els’ new betrothed, is adjusting after an injury leaves him disabled. Never again will he be the great hunter and leader that his father expects, and after the girl he loves abandons him, he flees his village to escape scrutiny.

Before Els and Samuel can adapt to their life as a married couple, the very beasts that Els fended off spill more innocent blood, sending the village into a panic.

Now, there’s only one choice: hunt the beasts and kill every last one. And do it together.

Finding strength in their new disabilities, Els and Samuel must learn to listen with their hearts.

Their home and their lives depend on it.

#14. The Accidental Warriors

by Karl Fields

Genre: Middle Grade / Action & Adventure / Graphic Novel

About the Book:

Jalen Banneker has a confidence problem … as in, too much of it. But what his friends don’t know is that it’s all an act, hiding years of self-doubt.

But when an evil monster kidnaps his friend, Jalen must overcome his fears as he travels to a mystical world where he’ll have to defeat the monster, break an ancient curse, save his friend and find his way back home in time for dinner.

#15. Silver River Shadow

by Jane Thomas

Genre: Middle Grade / Action & Adventure Fiction

About the Book:

In 1946, Barney and Marion Lamm climbed into their two-seater plane and flew deep into the heart of the Canadian wilderness. Then one day the wonderful life they created was ripped apart.

Over seventy years later, their great-granddaughter Lizzie follows in their footsteps. Nobody ever tells Lizzie anything. Her mother’s dead and her father’s hiding in his work. Determined to know her family history, the truths she uncovers are laced with dangerous secrets.

Based on a true story and a real, raw quest for truth, Silver River Shadow shines a light on a country’s darkest secrets and unveils the mercury tragedy that still affects the Ojibway community in Canada’s northwestern Ontario today. With gorgeous illustrations, this beautifully written book is perfect for 8+ fans of Katherine Rundell, Tom Palmer and Onjali Rauf.

#16. Dream Pop Origami

by Jackson Bliss

Dream Pop Origami comes out from Unsolicited Press in July 2022

Publisher: Unsolicited Press

Genre: Memoir / Asian & Asian American Literature

About the Book:

Dream Pop Origami is a beautiful, ambitious, interactive, and engrossing lyrical memoir about mixed-race identity, love, travel, AAPI masculinities, and personal metamorphosis. This experimental work of creative nonfiction examines, celebrates, and complicates what it means to be Asian & white, Nisei & hapa, Midwestern & Californian, Buddhist & American at the same time. In this stunning collection of choose-your-own-essays and autobiographical lists, multiracial identity is a counterpoint of memory, language, reflection, and imagination intersecting and interweaving into a coherent tapestry of text, emotion, and voice.

#17. Halfway from Home

by Sarah Fawn Montgomery

Publisher: Split/Lip Press

Genre: Creative Nonfiction / Essays

About the Book:

When she left a chaotic home at eighteen, Sarah Fawn Montgomery chased restlessness, claiming places on the West Coast, Midwest, and East Coast, while determined never to settle. But it is difficult to move forward when she longs for the past. Now her family is ravaged by addiction, illness, and poverty; the country is increasingly divided; and the natural worlds in which she seeks solace are under siege by wildfire, tornados, and unrelenting storms. Turning to nostalgia as a way to grieve a rapidly-changing world, Montgomery excavates the stories and scars we bury, unearthing literal and metaphorical childhood time capsules and treasures.

Blending lyric memoir with lamenting cultural critique, Montgomery examines contemporary longing and desire, sorrow and ache, searching for how to build a home when human connection is disappearing, and how to live meaningfully when our sense of self is uncertain in a fractured world. Taking readers from the tide pools and monarch groves of California, to the fossil beds and grass prairies of Nebraska, to the scrimshaw shops and tangled forests of Massachusetts, Montgomery holds a mirror up to America and asks us to reflect on our past before we run out of time to save our future. Halfway from Home grieves a vanishing world while offering—amidst emotional and environmental collapse—ways to discover hope, healing, and home.

#18. The Autobiography of a Language

by Mirene Arsanios

Publisher: FuturePoem

Genre: Essays / Prose Poetry / Middle Eastern

About the Book:

“Here the mirror image of the almost hallucinatory, heart-rending loss of the familiar is literary defamiliarization. Arsanios both mourns and blasts apart the notion of the mother tongue, reminding us that for each “mother tongue” at least another tongue is silenced. Desire propels her genre-defying writing, which grief notwithstanding still manages to tongue languages, and that is her genius. –Mónica de la Torre

#19. Who Should We Let Die?

by Koye Oyerinde

Publisher: Atmosphere Press

Genre: Health / Policy

About the Book:

Embedded in the “Health for All by the Year 2000” slogan was the notion of health as a human right. Yet, when we don’t guarantee health services to all, we are unwittingly answering the question, Who Should We Let Die?

America doesn’t provide healthcare services as a right of citizenship. Instead, it has a treatment system dominated by profit-orientated healthcare insurers, hospital corporations, medical device companies, and pharmaceutical corporations. In Who Should We Let Die? Dr. oyerinde describes it as a GoFundMe health system because almost half of the supplicants on the eponymous website are there to raise funds to pay for hospital bills.

The Covid-19 pandemic has taught us that poorly handled local epidemics become pandemics. As enunciated in the Alma Ata Declaration, we need quality primary healthcare-based systems to detect diseases early and promptly alert health authorities to outbreaks. Such a system will not depend on GoFundMe campaigns or out-of-pocket payments for health services. Only a groundswell of demand by the public for good governance will get us to universal health coverage by 2030. Dr. Oyerinde presents illustrative anecdotes provoking conversations that could lead America and developing countries on their path to universal health coverage.

#20. Little Astronaut

by Maryann Aita

Publisher: ELJ Editions

Genre: Personal Memoir / Essays

About the Book:

Maryann grows up alone within a family of six, shrouded by her sister’s anorexia, her brother’s cancer, and her mother’s affair with alcohol. With her childhood consumed by her sister’s eating disorder, she braces for a future fraught with loss. Sinking deep into depression as a teenager, she struggles to understand what it means to love those around her, and questions whether being loved is worth the cost. After her sister’s recovery and her brother’s remission, she’s left to comb the depths of her loneliness and confront the darkest pall of her adolescence: her mother’s drinking. In moving from her hometown in Montana to New York City, she finds a place where those who are alone are not always lonely, and begins to define love, loneliness, and intimacy for herself.

Through experimentation with form, the book captures the perspectives of Maryann’s adult and childhood selves, as well as her experience of mental illness. Flipping through its pages, readers will discover a tapestry of image and white space, scenes written in screenplay, faux news articles, a one-woman show, a Punnett square, a poetry-prose hybrid, a report card, sketches, and math problems. LITTLE ASTRONAUT is a literary kaleidoscope blending the cerebral and emotional, and humor with darkness. The book explores anxiety and depression next to the intricacies of Barbie sex and a failed driving test. These essays dig into the tiny, intimate moments that stitch us together: awaiting sunrise on Christmas mornings with a brother, the unexpected grief of finding a wounded bird, and the meaning of objects passed between sisters. LITTLE ASTRONAUT is, at its heart, the story of a woman redefining intimacy after a lifetime of self-imposed detachment.

#21. Whole Body Prayer

by Yan Ming Li

Genre: Memoir / Spirituality / Asian & Asian American Literature

About the Book:

“The same energy that created stars and galaxies lies dormant within your belly.”

So begins Master Yan Ming Li’s spellbinding memoir recounting the challenges of growing up as a spiritually-gifted child in a land where exploration of the unseen realms was forbidden. Like a Chinese Harry Potter, Li found solace in a mysterious and powerful force he called the Light.

But this is not a work of fiction. It’s a true story. In the pages of this book, we learn how all of us can gain access to this benevolent, healing, and boundless Light.

It is, in fact, our birthright.

Raised under harsh conditions during the Cultural Revolution in Maoist, China, Li learned early on that he was born with a spiritual gift which he needed to keep secret. Li used the gift many times, nonetheless, to heal others, including members of his own family.

Since emigrating from China to the West in 1994, Li has shared his gift with people of every major religion. Now, he feels compelled to share his inspiring story and teaching with the world.

Whole Body Prayer is a meditation and healing technique developed by Li that returns us “original spirituality” by combining ancient practices from the world’s major religions.

#22. Fledgling

by Hannah-Bourne Taylor

Publisher: Aurum (The Quarto Group)

Genre: Memoir / Nature

About the Book:

Read the powerful account of one woman’s fight to reshape her identity through connection with nature when all normality has fallen away.

When lifelong bird-lover Hannah Bourne-Taylor moved with her husband to Ghana seven years ago she couldn’t have anticipated how her life would be forever changed by her unexpected encounters with nature and the subsequent bonds she formed.

Plucked from the comfort and predictability of her life before, Hannah struggled to establish herself in her new environment, striving to belong in the rural grasslands far away from home.

In this challenging situation, she was forced to turn inwards and interrogate her own sense of identity, however in the animal life around her, and in two wild birds in particular, Hannah found a source of solace and a way to reconnect with the world in which she was living.

Fledgling is a portrayal of adaptability, resilience and self-discovery in the face of isolation and change, fuelled by the quiet power of nature and the unexpected bonds with animals she encounters.

Hannah encourages us to reconsider the conventional boundaries of the relationships people have with animals through her inspiring and very beautiful glimpse of what is possible when we allow ourselves to connect to the natural world. 

Full of determination and compassion, Fledgling is a powerful meditation on our instinctive connection to nature. It shows that even the tiniest of birds can teach us what is important in life and how to embrace every day.

#23. Duplex

by Mike Nagel

Publisher: Autofocus

Genre: Memoir / Humor

About the Book:

Mike Nagel is spending too much time in his duplex. Mostly he’s hungover. There’s a squirrel in the attic, the ceiling’s caving in, and he’s not sure who to call about it. Not much else seems to happen in Mike Nagel’s Duplex, except of course everything happens there: a distinct mind is constantly working over the absurdity, meaninglessness, and mundanity of contemporary life in ways both laugh-out-loud funny and thoughtfully compelling.

#24. My Life of Crime

by Tyler C. Gore

Publisher: Sagging Meniscus Press

Genre: Essays / Humor

About the Book:

An awkward visit to a nude beach. A bike-pedaling angel careening through rush-hour traffic. The mystery of a sandwich found in a bathroom stall. A lyric, rainy-day ramble through the East Village. With the personal essays (and three other entertainments) in this debut collection, Tyler C. Gore reveals the artistic secrets of his life of crime: a charming wit, compassionate observation, perfection of style, and, over all, a winsomely colorful light tinged with just enough despair. Whether stewing over a subway encounter with a deranged businessman, confessing his sordid past as a prankster, or recounting his family’s history of hoarding, Gore is by turns melancholy, profound and hilarious. The collection culminates with the novella-length essay “Appendix,” a twisted, sprawling account of routine surgery that grapples with evolution, mortality, strangely attractive doctors, simulated universes, and an anorexic cat. My Life of Crime conjures up from the flotsam of an individual life something uncannily majestic: an insomniac contemplation of life in our eternal, twenty-four-hour New York City, infused throughout with its grit, humanity, unexpected romance, and the poignant intimacy of all the lives joined together within it.

#25. The World As We Knew It

edited by Amy Brady and Tajja Isen

Publisher: Catapult

Genre: Anthology / Climate & Environment

About the Book:

Nineteen leading literary writers from around the globe offer timely, haunting first-person reflections on how climate change has altered their lives—including essays by Lydia Millet, Alexandra Kleeman, Kim Stanley Robinson, Omar El Akkad, Lidia Yuknavitch, Melissa Febos, and more

In this riveting anthology, leading literary writers reflect on how climate change has altered their lives, revealing the personal and haunting consequences of this global threat. 
 
In the opening essay, National Book Award finalist Lydia Millet mourns the end of the Saguaro cacti in her Arizona backyard due to drought. Later, Omar El Akkad contemplates how the rise of temperatures in the Middle East is destroying his home and the wellspring of his art. Gabrielle Bellot reflects on how a bizarre lionfish invasion devastated the coral reef near her home in the Caribbean—a precursor to even stranger events to come. Traveling through Nebraska, Terese Svoboda witnesses cougars running across highways and showing up in kindergartens. 
 
As the stories unfold—from Antarctica to Australia, New Hampshire to New York—an intimate portrait of a climate-changed world emerges, captured by writers whose lives jostle against incongruous memories of familiar places that have been transformed in startling ways.

#26. Meat Lovers

by Rebecca Hawkes

Publisher: Auckland University Press

Genre: Poetry

About the Book:

Rebecca Hawkes has established herself as a provocative and vital new voice: rustic and risqué, candid and lyrical. Hawkes looks at the awkwardness of the strange era in which we find ourselves with a keen eye, where synthetic meat is grown in test tubes and love is procured through mercury screens.” – Leila Lois, Independent Book Review

A tenderly devastating look at our cows and ourselves by a remarkable new poet.

#27. When I Was the Wind

by Hannah Lee Jones

Publisher: June Road Press

Genre: Poetry / Asian & Asian American Literature

About the Book:

A wild and dreamy poetic journey through the wilderness in all of us.

In her debut poetry collection, Hannah Lee Jones brings readers on a mythic journey across a vast physical and metaphysical landscape. Four cardinal directions point the way through this inner wilderness, through trials and initiations, suffering and discovery, on a restless quest for deeper connection and wholeness. What emerges is a richly textured map of love and loss, a tapestry of hard-won truths both personal and universal. At turns mysterious, dreamlike, intimate, and illuminating, these poems explore what is wild and timeless in the human soul.

“Like stepping into a beautiful dream where women fly over orchards and we encompass the landscape. There are few collections of poems so meditative that I lose myself so deeply . . . WHEN I WAS THE WIND is a remarkable and gorgeous debut collection–you will be better having read these poems.”–Kelli Russell Agodon, author of Dialogues with Rising Tides

#28. Taste

by Jehane Dubrow

Publisher: Columbia University Press

Genre: Poetry / Physical Anthropology

About the Book:

Taste is a lyric meditation on one of our five senses, which we often take for granted. Structured as a series of “small bites,” the book considers the ways that we ingest the world, how we come to know ourselves and others through the daily act of tasting.

Through flavorful explorations of the sweet, the sour, the salty, the bitter, and umami, Jehanne Dubrow reflects on the nature of taste. In a series of short, interdisciplinary essays, she blends personal experience with analysis of poetry, fiction, music, and the visual arts, as well as religious and philosophical texts. Dubrow considers the science of taste and how taste transforms from a physical sensation into a metaphor for discernment.

Taste is organized not so much as a linear dinner served in courses but as a meal consisting of meze, small plates of intensely flavored discourse.

#29. Z is for Zapatazo

by Ruben Rivera

Publisher: Atmosphere Press

Genre: Poetry / Hispanic & Latino Poetry

About the Book:

Ruben Rivera, Ph.D., was born in New York City to a mixed-race Puerto Rican family and raised in southern California in that time “when children should be seen and not heard.” As a working-class brown Latino boy, Ruben was invisible in the public school curriculum, on TV and media – except for anomalies like Tonto whose name in Spanish meant Dummy – and America as a whole, even as the long-ignored were struggling to be seen and heard in the era of Jim Crow, Civil Rights, the Chicano movement, anti-war marches, and the threat of cold war doom.

In Z is for Zapatazo, Ruben’s poetry depicts family upheaval, social injustice, and suffering summarized by the Spanish word Zapatazo. But his writing also elaborates on the joys of love, family, faith, and hope for a better world. Experiences in the spaces between freedom and favoritism, ideals and reality, suffering and hope are rendered in a range of poetical forms with vivid imagery, deadly seriousness, and humor. Although his poetry has won awards in various contests, Z is for Zapatazo is Ruben’s first published collection.

#30. Between Every Bird, Our Bones

by emet ezell

Publisher: Newfound

Genre: Poetry

About the Book:

between every bird, our bones is reverence amidst ruin. emet responds to the violence of military occupation with domestic intimacy, trailed by medical debt and grackles. these poems inhabit the body on edge, cancerous and queer, migrating between texas and palestine. they ask: how to care for a place when you’re not allowed back?


Happy reading! Which indie books from 2022 did we leave off the list?


About the Curator

Joe Walters IBR founder

Joe Walters is the founder and editor-in-chief of Independent Book Review and a book marketing specialist at Sunbury Press. When he’s not doing editorial, promoting, or reviewing work, he’s working on his novel and trusting the process. Find him @joewalters13 on Twitter.


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