10 Independently Published, Good Books to Put On Your Reading List


10 good books, from food and public radio essays to photos about living in a van.

A lot of writers (even really good ones) often struggle with the pile of rejection letters from major publishing houses, but in the day and age of the internet, finding a small, independent publisher that’s willing to take on the title, or even branching out and self-publishing is getting easier and easier.

That being said, the market is saturated, and there are certainly as many bad books out there as their are good ones. But if you’re looking to support the small scale, independently minded authors and publishers, here are ten titles that are worth some space on your bookshelf:

1. “Bikeonomics: How Bicycling Can Save the Economy”

Cycling author and activist Elly Blue has written the book that any bike lover has been dreaming of. “Bikeonomics: How Bicycling Can Save the Economy” is essentially the guide to why bikes will save the world. Because if you ever thought that bicycling was just something that made people feel good, think again. It creates jobs, helps the environment and provides opportunities for expanding public space.

For the reader who: wants a good argument the next time someone at a dinner party asks if there are really any good reasons to ride a bicycle. 

2. “Eat Awesome”

If you have ever debated on going vegan, or simple sticking to a more plant-based diet, Paul Jarvis’ “Eat Awesome” should set you off on the right foot. His self-published e-book is a hassle-free, down to earth guide on eating well, and makes a plant-based diet not seem intimidating in the slightest.

For the reader who: always wanted to know how to make cashew cream.


3. “The New American Road Trip Mix Tape”

Thirty-two years old and post-breakup, writer Brendan Leonard is debating on what to do with his life. He sets off to do what many before him have done: go on a journey. A climber, he makes his way across the West, living out of his car, staying on couches, spare beds and many a National Park ground. While “The New American Road Trip Mix Tape” is certainly written by a lover of climbing, even if you’ve never gone near a rock wall you can still find the beauty in this book, because ultimately it’s an exploration of what it means to be human, have relationships and create a meaningful life no necessarily bound by the constrictions of normal society. And yes, there is an actual mix tape.

For the reader who: is dreaming of dropping everything and living simply.

4. “Women on Wheels”

From biking to work to biking with kids, “Women on Wheels” by April Streeter a guidebook intended for women. The pocket book is small enough so you can stash it in your purse or backpack, and ensure that you have all the cycling tips you need no matter where you are.

For the reader who: wants to live a two-wheeled lifestyle but just needed the know-how. 

5. “Home is Where You Park It”

If you have ever drooled over glorious photos of Airstreams, then you need this book. “Home is Where You Park It” is a collection of photos by Foster Huntington. When he himself left his job in 2011 and bought a VW Vanagon, he started meeting travelers that had done the same, and he decided to document them. This book shows some of his favorites, highlighting the true beauty in living simply and taking part in, as Huntington calls it, “van life.”

For the reader who: really is focused on the TINY in “tiny living” and loves cabin porn. 

6. “Choose Yourself”

In a changing world where the economy has tanked and jobs have disappeared, how do you move forward? It’s a new world, and in “Choose Yourself”, James Altucher wants to remind us that in this day and age, success is not about connections or credentials, it’s about you and how much you are willing to believe in yourself to succeed, both inward and outward. Don’t wait for someone else to make you happy, do it yourself, and start doing it today.

For the reader who: needs a kick in the pants to get inspired and move forward. 

7. “APE”

This book gets back to the first paragraph of this article: we live in a time of self-publishing, but how do you make that publishing successful? “Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur” by Guy Kawasaki is essentially a guidebook for how to succeed at self-publishing, not just building a career as an author, but as an entrepreneur. This is no get-rich-quick-scheme, this is a guide to navigating the world of self-publishing and helping you put in the hard work to make yourself successful.

For the reader who: has ideas, wants to write about them and wants their words to be read.


8. “Bouquet”

With limited edition reprints of wine and food books, Eat Drink is certainly a niche publisher, but “Bouquet” is sure to resonate with any bon vivant. It’s the account of G.B. Stern (1890-1973), an author, playwright, and critic, and her four-month tour of vineyards in France in 1926. Beautifully bound and printed on FSC-certified paper, this isn’t just a book, it’s a work of art.

For the reader who: needs a book that’s more impressive than their wine collection. 

9. “All the Dancing Birds”

Winner of the 2013 Independent Publisher Book Awards, “All the Dancing Birds” by Auburn McCanta is a story told from the perspective of a woman suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. A look into dementia in a way that only words can do.

For the reader who: simply needs a good, heart-wrenching book for the reading list. 

10. “Just Three Minutes, Please? Thinking Out Loud on Public Radio”

Why are stories on Public Radio so compelling? Because the people that put them together manage to get a lot of information and emotion into a very short amount of time. “Just Three Minutes, Please? Thinking Out Loud on Public Radio” by Michael Blumenthal is a collection of those kinds of stories, poignant essays, all commissioned by West Virginia Public Radio. To get a message, and often complex messages, across in a matter or minutes and a matter of words is a skill that deserves our respect.

For the reader who: never turns off NPR and spends Sundays on the couch listening to archived “This American Life” episodes. 

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Images: Home is Where You Park ItSemi RadEat Drink

Anna Brones

Anna Brones is a food + travel writer with a love for coffee and bikes. She is the author of The Culinary Cyclist and Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break. Catch her weekly column, Foodie Underground.