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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.

Looking for more book group recommendations? Find curated book lists for the following categories:

Surviving 2020: Books That Will Make You Believe in Humanity
Strong Women Through the Ages
Book Group Sleepers: Great Books Your Group May Have Missed

How do you see? How do you see strength? Evil? Resilience? Tragedy? Hope? Hopelessness? Love? Lefteri asks these questions in The Beekeeper of Aleppo. This story is about a young man, Uri, his wife Afra, and their escape from war-torn Aleppo. They experience the unimaginable loss of war and it’s up to Uri to get all he has left—his wife—to the safety of the UK. Uri and Afra are gentle people and so is the book. It doesn’t hide the horrors the two suffer, but the revelations of these atrocities are veiled and tragic, not bloody or graphic. The text reflects Uri’s spirit and perspective. Lefteri spent time volunteering in refugee camps and has worked with refugees in the UK. Her deep knowledge of their plight, both acute and long term, has produced an empathetic account of survival and love. This is a must-read. - Judi Heher, Bookshop Santa Cruz Book Group Amabassador

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The Beekeeper of Aleppo: A Novel Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9781984821218
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ballantine Books - August 27th, 2019


Fans of Strout’s Olive Kitteridge will be thrilled with this follow-up. Olive remains as brutally honest and irritable as ever, her world packed with complexities that befuddle and amuse her. The genius of Strout’s juicy prose is found in her characters and how their stories illustrate what it is to be human: vulnerable, sweet, disappointing, heartbreaking, heartwarming. We recognize ourselves and our neighbors in these stories—and maybe our book group members, too! - Jennifer Wood, Bookshop Santa Cruz Book Group Ambassador

Don’t miss a special evening celebrating Olive, Again with A Literary Soirée with Elizabeth Strout on October 29th.

Learn more about our Ambassador program.

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Olive, Again (Oprah's Book Club): A Novel Cover Image
$21.60
ISBN: 9780812996548
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House - October 15th, 2019


Where does the cycle of violence begin and how does it end? What is justice and who is justified? There are no easy answers and this book offers none. Set against the backdrop of a fictionalized version of the 1992 Los Angeles riots, two families linked by tragedy struggle with the legacy of death, racism, and a flawed court system. This book is so timely and important. It has wrapped itself around my heart and refuses to let go. - Ivy

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Your House Will Pay: A Novel Cover Image
$26.99
ISBN: 9780062868855
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ecco - October 15th, 2019


Rivers Solomon seems to consistently bring something fresh and completely unprecedented to the genre in a most magnificent way. I’ll let you read the back of the book for the plot, as there’s so much going on—from the Middle Passage to magical mer-people to shared memories and the strength of one young person to save her people. Solomon pulls it all off with aplomb. It’s a little book that packs a lot of punch about historical trauma and the ways we integrate our history into our lives, and helps us think about what history we are responsible for carrying. I can’t stop thinking about this one. - Jax

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The Deep Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9781534439863
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Gallery / Saga Press - November 5th, 2019


Saeed Jones has written a memorable, powerful coming-of-age memoir, with his keen awareness of the intersection of multiple identities: to be black, to be gay, to know that being both of these can be deadly in this world. It is as much a testament to surviving the world as it is to surviving one’s own self, as Jones demonstrates with his compelling writing. Even more, it is an ode to single motherhood, an account of the determination it takes to change one’s life, and what one’s life can look like after being changed. - Billy

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How We Fight for Our Lives: A Memoir Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781501132735
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Simon & Schuster - October 8th, 2019


In the Dream House is an incredible follow-up to the glorious Her Body and Other Parties. Carmen Maria Machado has written an honest and harrowing memoir about her psychologically abusive relationship. Machado contrasts her memories with true examples of oppression in queer history and with narrative tropes. A beautiful exploration of the reality of abuse in queer relationships and a necessary account that subverts any idea of what a memoir can be. - Natalie O.

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In the Dream House: A Memoir Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781644450031
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graywolf Press - November 5th, 2019


Framed as a counternarrative to Dee Brown’s famous Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, David Treuer’s book sets out to dispel a common myth that indigenous civilization effectively ended in 1890, when more than 300 Lakota men, women, and children were massacred by the U.S. Army. Treuer engages with the transformation and ongoing rebirth of Native identity and culture. This is a deeply personal work that is equal parts history and memoir, and if you loved Tommy Orange’s There, There, it will be right up your alley. It may well be the most important book you read all year. - Travis

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The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9781594633157
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Riverhead Books - January 22nd, 2019


This delightful book is hard to categorize. Written by Sasha Sagan, the daughter of astronomer Carl Sagan and writer-producer Ann Druyan, For Small Creatures is part memoir, part history, part science, and all heart. Raised by her famous parents as ethnically Jewish but not religious, Sasha Sagan was taught from a young age to find the miracle in the natural world that surrounded her. When her own daughter was born, Sagan was committed to continuing this way of upbringing but wanted to make sure that her daughter also had a sense of ritual and meaning that Sagan herself felt so deeply inside but had a hard time naming. Reflecting on nature, history, science, art, and literature, Sagan tells the story of how across eons and cultures, humans have always developed a way to mark the nature of time’s passing, of life, of death, and of the phenomenon of feeling. In charming prose, she offers a wonderful way to find meaning in everyday life.  - S.M.C.

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For Small Creatures Such as We: Rituals for Finding Meaning in Our Unlikely World Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780735218772
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons - October 22nd, 2019


Terry Tempest Williams’s latest work is powerful, poetic, and absolutely necessary—an offering for how to understand, survive, grieve, and challenge our current political and environmental crises, acting as both balm and tonic. Written with an open heart, a seeking mind, and unfathomable honesty, these essays range from conservation activism to life in the desert, from plumbing the depths of personal grief to public outrage. She speaks to the natural erosion of all things, and how in that loss, there is also strength and reformation, a way to hope. - Melinda

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Erosion: Essays of Undoing Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780374280062
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Sarah Crichton Books - October 8th, 2019


In her elegant collection of essays, acclaimed Scottish poet Kathleen Jamie considers how time and place shift within a rapidly changing world, unearthing the past and untethering the present, whether while on an archeological dig in Arctic Alaska, in the Highlands, or stopped along a country road. A combination of longer think pieces and shorter meditations, with lyrical simplicity as its through line, Surfacing is itself a welcome practice in timelessness. - Melinda

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Surfacing Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780143134459
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - September 24th, 2019


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