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10 Great New Books From Small Presses

Good things come from small presses, and these novels, stories, and memoirs are top picks for Reader's Digest books editor Dawn Raffel.

Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante

Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels have gained her an ardent fan base, and comparisons to a fierce Jane Austen. Her latest, about two women friends in the late 60s and 70s, is the third in the series but can be read on its own—though you may well want to go back to the beginning. (Published by Europa Editions.)

Preparation for the Next Life by Atticus Lish

This brilliant debut novel centers on the explosive romance between an illegal Chinese immigrant and a Iraqi War vet suffering from PTSD, both trying to survive in the underbelly of New York City. Their story is a necessary shock to the system. (Published by New York Tyrant.)

Surrendering Oz by Bonnie Friedman

Reading Friedman is like having a conversation with a bracingly honest but fundamentally kind friend. In 15 pitch-perfect essays, she chronicles her hard-earned rejection of the cultural fairytales of womanhood as she comes fully into possession of her life. (Published by Estrucan Press.)

The Sea Inside by Philip Hoare

Hoare set out to discover the sea on a yearlong journey from the coast of Britain to the Azores, Sri Lanka, Tasmania, and New Zealand. The result is part travelogue, part memoir, and wholly absorbing: “The sea defines us, connects us, separates us. Most of us experience only its edges…” (Published by Melville House.)

Missing Reels by Farran Smith Nehme

This delightful confection of a novel is set in New York’s east village in the ’80s, and revolves around the quest for a missing silent movie. Nehme’s blend of nostalgia, edgy romance, and old-fashioned movie magic make for the perfect curl-up-with-it book. (Published by The Overlook Press.)

Venus on Mars by Jan Millsapps

This whip-smart novel about three generations of women linked by the red planet makes for invigorating reading: It’s fueled by tensions between men and women, space and earth, and art and science. Adventurous readers can also get a multimedia interactive book for tablet. (Published by Jaded Ibis.)

Monastery by Eduardo Halfon

Halfon’s linked stories zip us around the world from Tel Aviv to rural Guatemala to New York, offering surprise and revelation at every turn. (Published by Bellevue Literary Press.)

Fourteen Stories, None of Them Are Yours by Luke Goebel

Is this fiction? Truth? Stories or a novel? All bets are off in this wild, unclassifiable ride. Fans of wild men—think Neal Cassidy, Charles Bukowski, Barry Hannah—are in for a treat, as are intrepid readers ready to be haunted. (Published by FC2.)

The Tumble Inn by William Loizeaux

Loizeaux’s novel about two high school teachers who pull up stakes to run an inn in the Adirondacks is a crystalline evocation of marriage, family life, and community. (Published by Syracuse University Press.)

Cathedral: An Illness and a Healing by Bill Henderson

Diagnosed with cancer, Henderson determined to build a small stone cathedral on his property in Maine. This spiritual memoir is a moving account of faith and resilience. (Published by The Pushcart Press.)

Originally Published in Reader's Digest