The best independent books you’ve never heard of

Who am I?

As an independent author, I’ve been lucky enough to find a wealth of other independent authors out there. People who are doing things that aren’t quite mainstream. Artists who are experimenting with the written word and doing truly unique things. Where the world is filled with books made for the sole purpose of being turned into movies, these authors are creating works of fiction that are suited for the written word. Masterpieces that will make you think and want to find even more new forms of fiction. Simply put, independent authors are pushing books into new realms that you simply can’t find in the mainstream market.


I wrote...

The Agora Files - Part 1

By Adam Oster,

Book cover of The Agora Files - Part 1

What is my book about?

When dying alone on the hot sands of the Mohave Desert, Cyrus has no regrets. He loves a challenge. Being tasked with running from San Francisco to Boston in fifteen days, while the United States government and a host of bounty hunters hunt for him, sounds like fun. Being at death’s door only a day into his trip doesn’t faze him either. It’s when he’s joined by fellow runner Eve, bringing new emotions to the surface, his confidence cracks.

The Agora Files follows Cyrus Rhodes, a smuggler in a dystopian near-future, as he unwillingly works to take down a corrupt government. This series is a non-stop thrill ride of a road trip across America that looks to expose who the real villains are.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Girl on the Red Pillow

Adam Oster Why did I love this book?

A thinly veiled discussion about depression, The Girl on the Red Pillow does something I never thought possible: make depression humorous and interesting. Well...it doesn't actually make depression humorous but allows for humor to exist in a story about the topic.

From the first moment you get to meet the wall building dwarf, to the final moment when Annalee finally comes to terms with her depression and looks toward the future, you will be urged forward as you hope Annalee finds the answer to her troubles, especially if you're someone who has dealt with their own wall-building dwarf.

By Angelika Rust,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Girl on the Red Pillow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An average abusive childhood, a tendency towards depression. Annalee's life could be normal. If only she could get rid of the dwarf. Annalee doesn't mind what people call her. After all, a name's just a name. What she does mind, though, is the dwarf trying to wall her in. Struggling between reality and hallucination, a black cat and a talking skeleton her only companions along the way, Annalee fights for her sanity, and a way out.


Book cover of The Astrocytoma Diaries: Me & My Brain Tumour

Adam Oster Why did I love this book?

The Astrocytoma Diaries by Ken Mooney is something I feel everyone absolutely must-read. At its most simplest, it's a first-hand account of what it is like to battle cancer. But its heart is much more than that. It's a detailed look at the human condition, of how a person can be given the terrible news that they have a tumor on their brain, and can choose to not only not give up, but face that battle head-on.

Read this book. It's heart-wrenching. But it's a book about survival. A book about war. A book about the human spirit. As well as being a book about cancer.

By Ken Mooney, Eleanor Hopkins (illustrator), Melissa Conlon-Flynn (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Astrocytoma Diaries as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

23rd May 2014. The day I was diagnosed with a brain tumour.

I faced diagnosis. I faced surgery (awake!) I faced radiotherapy. I faced chemotherapy. I got my treatment and I'm still here.

During treatment, I tried to keep a diary, a place to share my hopes and frustrations. It was also a place to discover a lot about myself, where humour and movies and music made the experience all the more bearable. This is not something anyone should ever have to go through. But this is how I came this far and tried to kick its ass.


Book cover of The Gospel According to St. Rage

Adam Oster Why did I love this book?

Loser girl turned punk rock superhero... Those six words should sell you on The Gospel According to St. Rage alone. But that still doesn't do this book any sort of justice because this isn't really a superhero book. Sure, Barbara may have the powers to cause flocks of birds to release their...um...payload onto her enemies with the simple flick of a finger, but she's not out to save the world, she's just out to finally live the life she's been hiding from.

Eisenbrey brought me back to my own high school days with this book that feels like a punk rock song. To those days of trying to make friends, of trying to define who I am. And she does so with rock star class.

By Karen Eisenbrey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Gospel According to St. Rage as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

Meet Barbara Bernsen, Former Invisible Girl.

Barbara isn't your typical high school junior. She's been invisible since the third grade. But when a magic hat brings her back into the light, Barbara is ready to take on the world. First priority? Start an all-girl garage band. Miraculous super powers were never in her plan, but sometimes you get what you need. Bullies and school shooters don't stand a chance.

Yes, we all love Wonder Woman, Black Widow, and Jessica Jones, but Barbara is the hero her high school deserves.

Truth. Justice. Rock & Roll.


Book cover of Time Out

Adam Oster Why did I love this book?

Although this book is only 16 pages long, it tells a story that could easily have been a novel, which is that she is capable of condensing something so dense down to so few words without making it feel like anything was left out. Here we see a rather fantastical time travel tale, but one that, although at first seems quite light-hearted, ends up being one of the darkest of such tales I've ever read...and the most thought-inducing.

I loved this book and have a very difficult time reviewing it without giving too much away, but if you've got a spare thirty minutes (you know, for you slow readers), I'd highly suggest you pick this one up immediately.

By J. Cassidy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Time Out as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Given a key that offers all the joy that time has, Ben is more than a little sceptical. It's too much to believe that he really could save his wife, go back to a time when everything was still full of promise or even see the dinosaurs...
“Try it. Go on, prove me wrong.”


Book cover of The Year of Dan Palace

Adam Oster Why did I love this book?

Like a male version of Eat Pray Love, where the main character doesn't seem to really learn anything from the experience and already started out rather selfish, The Year of Dan Palace shows us Dan's ongoing struggle with love in a world where he believes the end is nigh. His constant internal battle with himself over how he wants to live his life is at the forefront of every single moment in this captivating text, as we find ourselves yelling at the book in an attempt to convince Dan to get over himself and just start living life for once.

This book will grab you and hold you until you finish the final pages, all the time hoping that Dan does find some happiness, or at least validation of his greatest fears, by the time the book ends.

By Chris Jane,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Year of Dan Palace as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Dan Palace has always played it safe. He chose the safe job. Married a safe woman. Rarely travels far from home. But something is missing – until a man named Tucker Farling delivers a doomsday prediction that changes his life. In the final minutes before the New Year, Dan musters the courage he desperately needs to embark on a quest to find that missing “something”: the sense of adventure and true magic he remembers from his youth, along with the love of his ex-wife, who has hated him since their wedding night nine years before. When things don’t go as…


You might also like...

The Festival of Sin: and other tales of fantasy

By J.M. Unrue,

Book cover of The Festival of Sin: and other tales of fantasy

J.M. Unrue Author Of The Festival of Sin: and other tales of fantasy

New book alert!

Who am I?

I’m an old guy. I say this with a bit of cheek and a certain amount of incongruity. All the books on my list are old. That’s one area of continuity. Another, and I’ll probably stop at two, is that they all deal with ordinary people caught in extraordinary circumstances—those curveballs of life we flail at with an unfamiliar bat; the getting stuck on the Interstate behind a semi and some geezer in a golf cap hogging the passing lane in a Buick Le Sabre. No one makes it through this life unscathed. How we cope does more to define us than a thousand smiles when things are rosy. Thus endeth the lesson.

J.M.'s book list on showing that somebody has it worse than you do

What is my book about?

The Festival of Sin is a three-story light sci-fi arc about a young boy rescued in 6000 BCE and taken to the home planet of the Hudra. Parts two and three are exploratory excursions. It's a fish-out-of-water series. More than fish-out-of-water. Fish-on-another-planet.

Plus, there are two fantasy stories dealing with people who must overcome "supernatural" circumstances, things well beyond the realm of common understanding. 

The Festival of Sin: and other tales of fantasy

By J.M. Unrue,

What is this book about?

The Festival of Sin is a three-story light sci-fi arc about a young boy rescued in 6000 BCE and taken to the home planet of the Hudra. Parts two and three are exploratory excursions. It's a fish-out-of-water series. More than fish-out-of-water. Fish-on-another-planet.

Plus, there are two fantasy stories dealing with people who must overcome "supernatural" circumstances, things well beyond the realm of common understanding. 


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in punk rock, dinosaurs, and depression?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about punk rock, dinosaurs, and depression.

Punk Rock Explore 43 books about punk rock
Dinosaurs Explore 89 books about dinosaurs
Depression Explore 84 books about depression