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S.M.C.'s Reviews

Susan McCloskey has worked at Bookshop Santa Cruz since graduating from UCSC in 2000. She is the former Event Coordinator at Bookshop and continues to consult for the store. In her other life, she is a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. She believes in story, and loves the meld of working with books, narrative, and people.

Arcadia by Lauren Groff

Arcadia, a beautiful and raw novel, is centered around a boy named Bit, nicknamed for his small size. I am unsure how to describe the scope of this novel—the way Groff’s language brings us into Bit’s world, the intimacy, the wonder, the confusion, the worry and the hope he holds as a child, and then the shattering grief, and quiet, determined bravery he develops as a man.

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ISBN: 9781401341909
Availability: Out of Print
Published: Hyperion Books - October 2nd, 2012

Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks

Oliver Sacks could write about something as banal as binder paper and make it compelling, but he doesn’t; he takes on the subjects that already intrigue us and then offers his physician’s insight—a mix of curiosity, keen observation, and empathy. His latest is about hallucinations. Sacks weaves together stories of his patients with stories of his own experience, and with elegance and detail, he describes what hallucinations tell us about the structure and composition of our brains. And more thought provokingly, he suggests how the hallucinated experience is essential to the human experience, how it is built into our myths, our folklore, and our faith.
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ISBN: 9780307957245
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Knopf - November 6th, 2012

Living Beautifully by Pema Chödrön

In her new book, Buddhist writer Pema Chödrön returns to the concept of “groundlessness”—the feeling of orienting and peace that can come when you truly let go. The teachings she presents here—known as the Three Commitments—provide a wealth of wisdom for learning to step into the unknown: to be completely, fearlessly present even in the hardest times and the most difficult situations. When we learn to let go of our fear, we can expand fully into any moment, and in that expansion, live more fully and answer each situation with compassion and opening.
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Living Beautifully: with Uncertainty and Change Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781590309636
Availability: Out of Print
Published: Shambhala - October 9th, 2012

More than Human by Tim Flach

Photographer Tim Flach (best known for his other photo books, Equus and Dogs) has yet again created a photo compilation of animals that astounds. The book is filled with animal portraits of all kinds, from the panda to the chicken. The picture of the chimpanzees had me weeping; the chicken made me want to break into a free and wild dance; and the bats made me nervous, with their darkened hidden plots. There are grand schemes and pure emotion suggested in each of these photographs. Flach captures the animal world in a way that I have never seen before; he offers a felt sense of connection between animal and human.
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S.M.C.
More than Human Cover Image
By Tim Flach (By (photographer)), Lewis Blackwell (Text by)
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ISBN: 9781419705526
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Harry N. Abrams - October 1st, 2012

Elsewhere by Richard Russo

In Elsewhere, Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist Richard Russo (Empire Falls) describes his childhood town of Gloversville (a town that is reminiscent of those in his fiction). Gloversville was like the Detroit of New York, industrious and built around a leather-producing plant. When the demand for leather begins to drop, the town itself seems to crumble. Russo’s mother, who raises Richard mostly by herself, tries to overcome her surroundings by instilling in Richard that there is an ‘elsewhere’ away from Gloversville. The writing is poignant, funny, and bittersweet. You can feel the boy in Russo, the child who is trying hard to do better, and go further, for himself and also to please his mother. A moving, honest, and original read.
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Elsewhere: A memoir Cover Image
$25.95
ISBN: 9780307959539
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Knopf - October 30th, 2012

The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe

Will Schwalbe grew up devoted to reading, and when his mother was diagnosed with cancer, it took on a whole new meaning. While waiting together through doctor visits, hospital stays, and chemotherapy sessions, he and his mother discussed books they had each been reading and began to exchange titles—thus creating the “End of Your Life Book Club.” There is a candid honesty in this memoir of these two wonderful conversationalists, and the book certainly serves as a eulogy to Will’s mother. It is also a book about the love within family, the love of faith and dialogue, of authors and story, and ultimately, of reading.
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ISBN: 9780307594037
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - October 2nd, 2012

Later Poems Selected and New: 1971–2012 by Adrienne Rich

Published posthumously, this collection of Adrienne Rich’s poetry reaches back to some of the early poems that marked Rich not only as a poet of undeniable talent, but also a poet who would take her voice into the realms of politics and activism, filling in some of the voids around silence and secrecy. At her death in March 2012, Rich left behind a manuscript of work that speaks for her concern with a poetics of relation, the importance of the craft, and a mirror of the nuances of the world in which we live. With 10 new poems added to her older ones, this collection embodies Rich’s tenacity and her ability to reach toward and examine that which affects our days.
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Later Poems Selected and New: 1971-2012 Cover Image
$39.95
ISBN: 9780393089561
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - November 5th, 2012

The Round House by Louise Erdrich

Louise Erdrich’s fine, tender, and candid new novel, The Round House, is told through 13-year-old Joe, who lives on an Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota. When his mother is brutally attacked, Joe tries to seek his own justice in an adult world of flawed bureaucracy and broken systems. He begins to collect the old stories that have been handed down, stories that inform his understanding about what happened to his mother, and the novel reads as part mystery, part spiritual quest. He is a boy on the cusp of history, of grief and anger and forgiveness, and of a culture that is woven into him. You won’t want to miss this.
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The Round House: A Novel Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9780062065247
Availability: Backordered
Published: Harper - October 2nd, 2012

Dear Life by Alice Munro

Alice Munro has the ability to smash through the genre of short story writing and claim her place as one of the best writer’s in literary craft. Rules don’t seem to apply to Munro’s stories; she can span 100 years in 15 pages. She shatters the idea of happy endings, and instead ends with a question. She takes children and makes them old, in their wizened stoic views. Dear Life is a collection to be celebrated not only because it is a deft example of literary finesse, but also because it is a mirror for the human experience.
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Dear Life: Stories Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780307596888
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Knopf - November 13th, 2012

Blasphemy by Sherman Alexie

Sherman Alexie’s stories pack a punch. Most of them center on Native Americans living in the Pacific Northwest, and with irreverence and depth, he makes us care about and relate to each of his characters. In Blasphemy, 15 of Alexie’s best-known and most acclaimed stories are paired with 15 new stories, and the result is an exuberant romp into the fringe of experience and to the mundane made extraordinary—small-town basketball leagues, marriages gone sour, the cord that pulls between an elder and his nephew. This is Alexie at his best, offering up his own America in a damn good collection.
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Blasphemy: New and Selected Stories Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780802120397
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Grove Press - October 2nd, 2012

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