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Rico's Reviews

Rico has had a lot of different jobs over the years--carpenter, office manager, teacher, marketing copywriter--but he's spent most of his adult life selling books, first at Capitola Book Cafe and now at Bookshop Santa Cruz, where he manages the Fiction section. In his spare time he does a lot of birdwatching, backpacking, and woodworking. His short stories have appeared in dozens of magazines around the country--one was a Notable Story of the Year in the 2009 Best of the West anthology and two were nominated for the 2014 Pushcart Prize. His essay, "Of Human Carnage," was selected for Best American Essays 2016. Though he mostly reads literary fiction, he also loves outdoor adventure, history and anything about Africa. Aside from being around books all day, his favorite part of the job is making recommendations and turning people on to authors they haven't discovered yet.

 

 

 

 

 

Close to Birds by Roine Magnusson

Though less known in the United States, Magnusson has contributed to National Geographic and is an award-winning photographer in Sweden. In his latest book, he uses his prodigious skills (and a huge amount of patience) to capture absolutely stunning images of birds both rare and common. The photos are so perfectly crisp, so intimate, that you get a sense of each bird’s personality and mood. With over 200 terrific images and thoughtful commentary from naturalists Mats and Asa Ottosson, this is the perfect gift for the bird lover in your life. - RIco

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Close to Birds: An Intimate Look at Our Feathered Friends Cover Image
$39.95
ISBN: 9781611807103
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Roost Books - October 22nd, 2019

The Beautiful Ones by Prince

Though Prince has shed his mortal coil, I am utterly convinced he will never die. I’ve been a huge fan since the ’80s, when his unique voice, ridiculously witty lyrics, and irresistible dance grooves started taking over the airwaves. In addition to being a great songwriter, producer, singer, performer, dancer…the list goes on…he was also one of the best rock guitarists of all time. If you’re in doubt about this, listen again to “Let’s Go Crazy.” In any case, here, astonishingly, is the scrapbook/lyric sheet/photo collage/memoir-ish book he was working on when he transitioned to his next level of artistic brilliance. Like everything he ever created, it is utterly amazing. - Rico

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The Beautiful Ones Cover Image
By Prince
$30.00
ISBN: 9780399589652
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: One World - October 29th, 2019

Alta California by Nick Neely

In 1769, Gaspar de Portolá led a band of 64 Spanish explorers overland from San Diego north to what we now call the San Francisco Bay. Two hundred and fifty years later, Neely—who grew up in Portola (without the accent) Valley—set out to retrace the route, also on foot, in search of a deeper understanding of the Golden State’s history. Using passages from diaries kept during the original journey for comparison and contrast, he explores the biggest issues facing California today—water, agriculture, oil, gas, immigration, and development—while walking through a panorama that’s both beautiful and conflicted. - Rico

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Alta California: From San Diego to San Francisco, a Journey on Foot to Rediscover the Golden State Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781640091658
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Counterpoint LLC - November 5th, 2019

The Friend by Sigrid Nunez

When the narrator’s friend, another writer, dies suddenly, she inherits his Great Dane. Among many problems, she lives in a tiny New York apartment—that doesn’t allow pets. What follows is a brilliant and moving meditation on friendship, love (both Platonic and romantic), art and grief. I found this a profound and beautiful reading experience. - Rico

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The Friend: A Novel Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780735219458
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - February 5th, 2019

Quichotte by Salman Rushdie

An homage to Don Quixote, the novel tells the story of a television-obsessed South Asian man who sets out on a journey to win the heart of an actress he’s never met. Along for the ride is his imaginary son, Sancho. The book is also the story of Sam DuChamp, a mediocre and mostly failed author of spy thrillers—and the creator of Quichotte. Though one of the main characters is real, and a couple of the others are fictional, they are all fully realized, deeply human and absolutely compelling. As usual, Rushdie’s writing dazzles with intelligence, humor, breakneck pacing and brilliant turns of phrase. This is easily my favorite novel of the year. - Rico

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Quichotte: A Novel Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780593132982
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Random House - September 3rd, 2019

Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher

A novel in the form of recommendation letters? Sounds like a literary stunt but Schumacher absolutely nails it. While maintaining the book’s formal conceit, she perfectly blends satire and genuine human emotion, offering a hilarious commentary on modern academia through one professor’s tired pen and fading sanity. I unreservedly recommend (!) this book. - Rico

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Dear Committee Members Cover Image
$14.95
ISBN: 9780345807335
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor - June 23rd, 2015

The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner

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

The Dreamt Land by Mark Arax

A history and assessment of California’s (misguided) water distribution system and the population growth it has engendered, The Dreamt Land reads like an expansive, expertly crafted novel. Propelled by endless curiosity and the courage to go where his story leads, Arax captures the personalities and voices of farmers, land barons, developers, laborers, environmentalists, politicians, and consumers who depend on (and fight over) access to our state’s most precious natural resource, and details the shady dealings and political nonsense that determines who gets to profit from it. What Marc Reisner’s Cadillac Desert is to the Western United States, this book is to California—an imperative and timely work that will be around for decades to come. - Rico

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The Dreamt Land: Chasing Water and Dust Across California Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9781101875209
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Knopf - May 21st, 2019

Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan

Set in an alternative 1980s London in which extremely humanlike robots are available for purchase, this is the tale of Charlie, his love interest Miranda, and his robot-slash-friend Adam. As usual, McEwan’s writing is fantastic—smart, wry, and filled with a creeping menace that keeps you turning the pages in a rush. He tells the story with so many observant and insightful details, his “alternative” world feels like real life—and might actually be real life in the not-very-distant future. The book’s blend of the fantastical, the real, and the just plain weird is perfect for hardcore sci-fi fans as well as readers of literary fiction. - Rico

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Machines Like Me: A Novel Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9780385545112
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Nan A. Talese - April 23rd, 2019

A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Smiley’s masterpiece tells the story of an Iowa farmer who tries to divide his farm between his three daughters. As you might guess, things do not go as planned. A gorgeously written, sumptuous retelling of King Lear, the book exposes the dark truths in a typical American family. A haunting, unforgettable read. - Rico

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A Thousand Acres: A Novel Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781400033836
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor - December 2nd, 2003

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