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Bookshop Santa Cruz staff recommendation:

The following books are recommended by our staff as great choices for book groups. Sign up for our Book Ends email newsletter to receive more great book group recommendations.

I loved Naomi Novik’s Uprooted so much that I have spent years awaiting Spinning Silver, and it did NOT disappoint. Spinning is not a sequel to Uprooted, but it follows in a similar style: adventure fantasy loosely inspired by a classic fairy tale and set in medieval Eastern Europe. Different from Uprooted, however, Spinning is told from the rotating viewpoints of a sizeable cast of characters, centering around three strong but very different female characters. Novik does a fantastic job of building excitement and constantly accelerating the plot. Overall, even though it’s set in winter (too much winter!) in a cold region, I found it the perfect summer read.

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Spinning Silver: A Novel Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780399180996
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Del Rey - May 7th, 2019

I loved Naomi Novik’s Uprooted so much that I have spent years awaiting Spinning Silver, and it did NOT disappoint. Spinning is not a sequel to Uprooted, but it follows in a similar style: adventure fantasy loosely inspired by a classic fairy tale and set in medieval Eastern Europe. Different from Uprooted, however, Spinning is told from the rotating viewpoints of a sizeable cast of characters, centering around three strong but very different female characters. Novik does a fantastic job of building excitement and constantly accelerating the plot. Overall, even though it’s set in winter (too much winter!) in a cold region, I found it the perfect summer read.



This book is subtle yet surreal, and a bit of a ride. With characters anyone can relate to, and actions that aren't so easy to relate to, this is the perfect summer read. The story winds its way along and the reader wants to try and figure out what is going to happen. Tuck this in your bag for the times when you have a moment to escape into the story. You will want to read it to the end as quickly as you can. Enjoy! —Karen Burgess, Book Group Ambassador

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Clock Dance Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780525563020
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - April 30th, 2019

This book is subtle yet surreal, and a bit of a ride.  With characters anyone can relate to, and actions that aren't so easy to relate to, this is the perfect summer read.  The story winds its way along and the reader wants to try and figure out what is going to happen.  Tuck this in your bag for the times when you have a moment to escape into the story.  You will want to read it to the end as quickly as you can.  Enjoy! —Karen Burgess, Book Group Ambassador



In this faced paced novel, Contreras draws upon her life to create a novel that reads like a thriller and coming of age story set in her native Columbia. Chula is drawn to her live-in maid, Petrona who comes from a guerrilla-occupied slum. As the relationship between Petroana and Chula grows, so does the danger they find themselves in. I felt I was reading a diary of both Chula and Petrona's everyday lives. This only added to the depth of the story for me. The last half of the book I was rushing to devour every word. I was left heartbroken with the taste of reality both faced.

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Fruit of the Drunken Tree Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780525434313
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor - June 4th, 2019


This timely novel is framed as a college love triangle involving two friends and their new professor, but it’s much more than that. Told from multiple perspectives in Pennsylvania, Berlin and Paris, each storyline presents a nuanced look at loneliness and intimacy. The events take place in 2008, but Berman intelligently grapples with many of today’s #MeToo issues. - Kristi

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The Learning Curve: A Novel Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780399589348
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House - May 28th, 2019


Ted Chiang is one of the best modern speculative fiction writers, and his writing encompasses the breadth of the human experience. The stories in this collection are subtle, introspective, and incredibly smart, and Chiang masterfully explores themes of science, theology, fate, heartbreak, and love. I can’t recommend this highly enough for fans of literary science fiction. - Stuart

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Exhalation: Stories Cover Image
$25.95
ISBN: 9781101947883
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - May 7th, 2019


This novel is, in a word, devastating. It opens as Romy Hall is on the way to prison to serve a life sentence for murder. As much the story of Hall’s life in prison, it’s the story of her past--her childhood on the streets of San Francisco, her experiences as an exotic dancer, and the circumstances surrounding her crime. I can’t recommend this one enough. - Rico

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The Mars Room: A Novel Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781476756585
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner - May 7th, 2019


Aslan is one of the smartest religious scholars out there. This book reads as both a study of Islam and a commentary forces impacting religion in the modern world (he is especially adroit about extremism and orthodoxy). His perspective will make you fall in love with the beauty of the world’s second-largest religion and think deeply about how we navigate faith in the 21st century. - Clara

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No god but God (Updated Edition): The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780812982442
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - August 30th, 2011


At 21, Johnson was kidnapped and held captive by her abusive ex-boyfriend in the soundproof room where he intended to kill her, but her incredible memoir isn’t about that. It’s about the before and after, a reminder to believe survivors when they do the hard work of telling their stories. Johnson tells hers through lyrical prose that turns even the ugliest tragedy into something beautiful. - Kristi

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The Other Side Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781935639831
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tin House Books - July 15th, 2014


General Dumas’ story deserves epic operas and an acclaimed HBO series it’s so thrilling and adventurous. As the son of a Marquis and a Haitian slave, Dumas rose to the highest ranks of the French army and commanded the respect of nations. Reiss’ quest to uncover Dumas’ story is a joy to read and discovering the seeds of his son’s novels is an eye-opening pleasure. - Clara

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The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo (Pulitzer Prize for Biography) Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780307382474
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Broadway Books - May 14th, 2013


Published just three years after 9/11, this is a powerful meditation on the intention behind and consumption of war photography. Sontag explores the necessary act of acknowledging violence while challenging ourselves to respond to it with empathy, not apathy. Today, when acts of mass violence are as common as the hashtags that represent them, this book feels particularly urgent. - Kristi

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Regarding the Pain of Others Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780312422196
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Picador - February 2004


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