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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

Jodi Piccoult is at her best in Leaving Time: A Novel. She drew me in with the story of Jenna Metcalf searching for her mother who vanished after a tragic accident over a decade earlier. Woven into the novel, is her mother’s research on elephants and their grief. Jenna investigates every lead she can find and finds two allies to help with her search. The combination of what they find, Jenna’s memories and the contents of a journal make for an exciting finish. This was a book that I finished and immediately read again…it is that good.

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Leaving Time (with bonus novella Larger Than Life): A Novel Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780345544940
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ballantine Books - April 28th, 2015


Essentially a book about grief and mourning, it is really a love story.  Didion writes analytically and almost antiseptically about death, but shares such a deep and personal experience that any reader who has ever experienced grief and loss will immediately recognize themselves.  It is in this way that the book becomes gentle reassurance for anyone who has felt out of place and misunderstood in the face of loss. A beautiful book about a difficult topic.

 

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The Year of Magical Thinking (Vintage International) Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781400078431
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - February 13th, 2007


Want to understand how the 1% amassed all of their money and power? Want to take power back? Graeber, one of the minds behind Occupy, traces the history of money from the earliest civilizations up to the housing market crash of 2018 and (too big to fail) bail-outs. Graeber introduces new ideas for changing our broken financial system. Viva La Revolution! - Jason

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Debt - Updated and Expanded: The First 5,000 Years Cover Image
$22.99
ISBN: 9781612194196
Availability: Backordered
Published: Melville House - October 28th, 2014


I had to get my hands on this after seeing Bregman's clear, assured take-downs of wealth inequality at Davos and on Tucker Carlson. His vision for a modern utopia where technological advancements benefit humans rather than oppress them includes universal basic income, a 15 hour workweek, and open borders. This radical, ambitious, and knowledgeable plan is a must read! - Clara

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Utopia for Realists: How We Can Build the Ideal World Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780316471916
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Back Bay Books - March 27th, 2018


For four hundred years to be Irish in Ireland was a crime. Its people, stubborn to a fault, did not take to fetters gently. Thomas Francis Meagher ached for a free Ireland though he spent most of his life in exile. Just in time for the Easter Rising centennial, Egan writes about Meagher with a fervor to match the man’s need for freedom. Meagher’s almost unbelievable life lit a fire in me. - Ivy

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The Immortal Irishman: The Irish Revolutionary Who Became an American Hero Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9780544944831
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mariner Books - March 7th, 2017


Written as imagined life narratives, this is the most interesting history book I've read all year. Hartman revisits old sources about urban, black Philadelphia to interpret them through the overlooked eyes of young black women navigating social change at the turn of the 20th century. Her methodology dials in on women’s lived experiences and reads like short stories. Love! - Clara

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Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Social Upheaval Cover Image
$28.95
ISBN: 9780393285673
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - February 19th, 2019


Tessa Fontaine’s The Electric Woman is enthralling. Moving between the sustained emergency of a collapse in her mother’s health, the complicated, flawed relationship she has with her mother, and her 5 months as a crew member in the traveling sideshow the World of Wonders, Fontaine writes of the layer after layer of heartache and grind. With lovely, clear prose, she invites the reader in to her attempts to explore and escape reality through the hard and fascinating traveling sideshow life. A tenderly written, captivating memoir. - Chorel

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The Electric Woman: A Memoir in Death-Defying Acts Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780374158378
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - May 1st, 2018


This book is laugh-out-loud amazing! Ramsey tells her story of being boosted suddenly into the limelight via YouTube and of all of the good (and bad) things she was able to use her platform to discuss. For those who are struggling to learn about the racial morass this country finds itself in, or wanting to find a way to speak compassionately to those who are a little dumb about it, this is the book for you. - Jax

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Well, That Escalated Quickly: Memoirs and Mistakes of an Accidental Activist Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9781538761038
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Grand Central Publishing - May 22nd, 2018


This is one of the strangest—and best-written—memoirs I’ve ever read. It tells the story of Michael’s aunt Harriet who, along with her husband Irving, is a very successful screenwriter. (She and Irving wrote Norma Rae, among other big movies.) Because Harriet has no children of her own, and because she senses “great potential” in Michael, she zeroes in on him when he’s still a very young child and essentially steals him (emotionally speaking) from his own family. Great awkwardness and emotional confusion follows. - Rico

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The Mighty Franks: A Memoir Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780374537807
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - May 29th, 2018


Whoever you are, whatever your political leanings, I urge you to read this story of two boys who fled their country, El Salvador, for a better life in the United States. Told with honesty and a lot of heart, The Far Away Brothers chronicles their journey, from their harrowing passage through the desert to their battles with the legal system in order to remain in a country where their lives are unthreatened. - Jax

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The Far Away Brothers: Two Young Migrants and the Making of an American Life Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781101906200
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Broadway Books - May 22nd, 2018


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