User menu

Shopping cart

0 Items $0.00

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.

When I Was a Child I Read Books by Marilynne Robinson

Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Marilynne Robinson, author of the novels Gilead, Home, and (my personal favorite) Housekeeping, has turned her focus back to nonfiction. In her new collection, Robinson writes to different themes, speaking toward faith in the modern world, to politics and the dangers of our current public discourse, to paying homage to literary figures of our past. Robinson’s intelligence is clear and deep—this is a wonderful collection for the literary reader who longs for reflection.

Reviewed by: 
S.M.C.
When I Was a Child I Read Books: Essays Cover Image
$24.00
ISBN: 9780374298784
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - March 13th, 2012

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson

Expanding on some of the themes found in her autobiographical novel, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, Winterson writes in her new memoir about being adopted and raised by Pentecostal parents. The first half of the book is a series of stories and snapshots from Winterson’s young life as a girl and of her relationship with her adoptive, religious zealot mother who was thwarted and abusive. The second half of the memoir feels as if it’s almost written in “real-time” and tells of Winterson’s quest to find her biological parents. In some ways, Winterson has done for the feeling of displacement and yearning that comes with being adopted, what Joan Didion did for grief in Year of Magical Thinking: written a singular story that captures a universal topic. With woven words and tactile imagery, she has created a raw narrative of survival, wit, and the importance of claiming identity.
Reviewed by: 
S.M.C.
Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? Cover Image
Email or call for price
ISBN: 9780802120106
Availability: Out of Print
Published: Grove Press - March 6th, 2012

Rez Life by David Treuer

Part memoir, part journalism, and part history, David Treuer’s Rez Life uses his novelist eye to talk to reservation life from past to present. Treuer, a member of the Ojibwe tribe of northern Minnesota, grew up on Leech Lake reservation but was educated in mainstream America. Whether he is writing about the labyrinth of policy that goes into a fishing treaty, or the circumstances surrounding his grandfather’s death, Treuer explores how poverty, politics, and preservation of native language and culture are constant struggles of crisis—but also enduring and courageous ways of life.

Reviewed by: 
S.M.C.
Rez Life: An Indian's Journey Through Reservation Life Cover Image
Email or call for price
ISBN: 9780802119711
Availability: Out of Print
Published: Atlantic Monthly Press - February 7th, 2012

Lions of the West by Robert Morgan

Lions of the West is written by an award-winning historian, poet, and novelist who traces the lives of 10 early Americans that played significant roles in the country’s westward expansion. From Thomas Jefferson to Johnny Appleseed, Robert Morgan uses keen historical research to sharpen the stories of those whose visions pushed America to settle the frontier. With portraits, maps, battle plans, and honesty about the complexities of conquering land whether it be 1743 to the California Gold rush of 1849, Morgan has created a richly authoritative biography that reads like an epic novel.

Reviewed by: 
S.M.C.
Lions of the West Cover Image
Email or call for price
ISBN: 9781565126268
Availability: Out of Print
Published: A Shannon Ravenel Book - October 18th, 2011

Maphead by Ken Jennings

Written by Ken Jennings (the very Ken Jennings who was a record-winning “Jeopardy!” contender) this is a charming, witty book. Written with a blend of memoir, humor, anecdote, and serious research, Jennings breaks into the world of maps. From map making, to map collecting, to Google maps, to the ways pop-icons plan their tour stops, Jennings has written a surprisingly delightful title whose aim is to “rescue geography from irreverence.” Truly this is perfect for the know-it-all in your life, who could stand to know a little bit more.

Reviewed by: 
S.M.C.
Maphead: Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography Wonks Cover Image
Email or call for price
ISBN: 9781439167175
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Scribner - September 20th, 2011

Don’t Shoot by David Kennedy

After hearing Kennedy on NPR, I knew that he had that special something that meant he should be listened to. As a professor at a College of Criminal Justice, Kennedy brought in all kinds of speakers from Gang members to police officers to help his students gain understanding of the real-world facets of criminal justice and life. But after hearing the complexities and humanity in each speaker, Kennedy realized that it was crucial that he and his class not be the only one to hear this multifaceted view. Bringing together gang members, their families, community service providers, and the police in one place—an agreement was born that was dubbed Operation Ceasefire—the result was Boston city violence plummeted by almost two-thirds. This book explains the inside story of that first ‘ceasefire’ meeting and the importance and difficulty of implementing the program in other cities around the nation.

Reviewed by: 
S.M.C.
Don't Shoot: One Man, A Street Fellowship, and the End of Violence in Inner-City America Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9781608192649
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Bloomsbury USA - September 27th, 2011

The Grace of Silence by Michele Norris

Michele Norris of NPR’s All Things Considered set out to write a book about “the hidden conversation on race” that was taking place around the country since the election of President Obama. Norris was interested in the continuing phenomenon she felt when interviewing people about what they weren’t saying when race came up; people were being careful and she wanted to know why. Then, when interviewing her own family about race and silence, a family secret was revealed and suddenly Norris’s journey to understanding the complexity of racial legacy became a more immediate and intensely personal story. The Grace of Silence illuminates the ways that silence and revelation are deeply imbedded into how we have racial dialogue. I cannot get the ending words of this memoir out of my head, and nor do I want to. This is a beautiful, telling, and wonderful read.

Reviewed by: 
S.M.C.
The Grace of Silence: A Family Memoir Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780307475275
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Vintage - September 6th, 2011

Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones

Dana is the secret daughter of James, who is married and has another family across town. Set in Atlanta in the 1980s, and struggling with her shame and anger when she realizes that she is the illegitimate daughter, Dana becomes obsessed with her half-sister Chaurisse, who has no idea that Dana and her mother exist. And then one day, Dana and Chaurisse’s paths inexorably cross, and the secrets kept, begin to unravel. This is a disquieting coming-of-age novel that examines the obligations and bonds that make up love and family.

Reviewed by: 
S.M.C.
Silver Sparrow Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781616201425
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Algonquin Books - May 8th, 2012

The Boy in the Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbøl

Starting with a phone call that leads to a child, drugged but alive in a suitcase, this Danish mystery is a perfect blend of Tanya French and Stieg Larsson—as psychologically driven as it is plot driven—a page turner so riveting that you may want to gear up if you plan to sit within arm’s length to this book’s reader.

Reviewed by: 
S.M.C.
The Boy in the Suitcase (A Nina Borg Novel #1) Cover Image
Email or call for price
ISBN: 9781569479810
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Soho Crime - November 8th, 2011

Irma Voth by Miriam Toews

This novel is a great fit for John Irving fans, with its blend of humor, deep pathos, and wrought exploration of family and friendships. Irma Voth is a Mennonite girl whose family moved from Canada to a small and even more insulated Mennonite community in Mexico. When Irma marries a local and is ostracized by her father, she must discover on her own the way of the world in order to survive. This is an amazing, original novel that should be at the top of anyone’s wish list.

Reviewed by: 
S.M.C.
Irma Voth: A Novel Cover Image
Email or call for price
ISBN: 9780062070180
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Harper - September 6th, 2011

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - S.M.C.'s Reviews