Reading lists

The Best Books from Small Presses Fall 2021

Updated: Jan 26, 2023



Caitlin Hamilton Summie

With all the buzz that bigger publishers get, it can be hard to learn about titles from other, smaller presses, so Bookclubz is starting a quarterly column to highlight worthy releases from the small, independent, and university presses. Beware of equating small with anything less than mighty, though! Small press books win major awards, launch careers, and get reviewed in top notch outlets, so don’t miss these fabulous reads. Here are some titles to consider this fall.



Scattered Lights by Steve Wiegenstein 


Steve Wiegenstein’s short story collection, SCATTERED LIGHTS (Cornerpost Press), was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award in Fiction. In his commendation for the book, Charles Finch said it’s “a quiet, probing, masterful collection of stories set in his native Ozarks.” Sponsored by Caitlin Hamilton Marketing. 

What a Wonderful World This Could Be by Lee Zacharais


Lee Zacharais’s new novel, WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD THIS COULD BE (Madville Publishing), is about Alex, an unsupervised girl who at 15 falls in love with a 27-year-old photographer, whom she will leave when she comes under the spell of Ted Neal, a charismatic activist on his way to Mississippi for 1964's Freedom Summer. In 1971 Ted disappears while under FBI investigation. When he surfaces eleven years later, Alex must put her life back together in order to discover what true family means. said it’s “an intricate, complex tale that deftly examines the price of political action.” Historical Novels Review called the novel, "...deeply realistic and affecting.... Highly recommended." Sponsored by Caitlin Hamilton Marketing. 

Mother/Land by Ananda Lima


Mother/land, winner of the 2020 Hudson Prize, is focused on the intersection of motherhood and immigration and its effects on a speaker’s relationship to place, others and self. It investigates the mutual and compounding complications of these two shifts in identity while examining legacy, history, ancestry, land, home, and language. Sponsored by Black Lawrence Press.

A Sun Inside My Chest by Terri Kirby Erickson


Winner of the 2021 International Book Award for Poetry, this powerful book is here to show us that loss is a catalyst for loving more deeply, and in the dark night of the world, light will find us, whether or not we seek it. Sponsored by Press 53.

Wife | Daughter | Self by Beth Kephart 


This memoir in essays by acclaimed author and critic Beth Kephart is a lyrical meditation on marriage, caretaking an aging parent, and the intersection of art and identity. Author Megan Stielstra calls it "a masterclass in memoir." Sponsored by Forest Avenue Press. 




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