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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

Karen Piper’s fascinating memoir is a surreal and starkly honest look at growing up on the secretive China Lake military base in the Mojave Desert, where Piper’s parents designed missiles for the U.S. Navy. With wit and humor, she explores the dichotomies of being raised in a strict but loving Baptist household by parents whose day jobs were to create some of America's most fearsome weapons of war. This memoir is perfect for fans of Tara Westover’s Educated. - Stuart

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A Girl's Guide to Missiles: Growing Up in America's Secret Desert Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780399564543
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Viking - August 14th, 2018


In 2016, fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad became the first hijab-wearing Muslim American woman to compete -and medal- in the Olympics. Her inspiring memoir details how she challenged stereotypes surrounding black and Muslim woman in America, and how she overcame self-doubt, racism, misogyny, and Islamophobia to proudly represent the United States on the world stage. - Stuart

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Proud: My Fight for an Unlikely American Dream Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780316518963
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Hachette Books - July 24th, 2018


This memoir is an ode to clever, curious girls who strain against the path. Dillard approached childhood with a furious joy, consuming everything her quiet upbringing offered with an infectious vitality. "I read some few books with such reverence," Dillard writes, "I didn't close them at the finish, but only moved the pile of pages back to the start." I felt the same. - Katherine

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An American Childhood Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9780060915186
Availability: Backordered
Published: Harper Perennial - October 15th, 2013


A retablo is a devotional painting, often laid on tin and depicting, as Solis describes in his introduction, “some terrible rift in a person’s life that they survive thanks to the intercession of the Divine.” This memoir-in-vignettes from the celebrated playwright and poet Solis is a series of treasures: absorbing, vivid, sensitive, and sorrowful. Solis, who grew up in El Paso, deftly and humbly depicts individual formative moments (an encounter with a young border-crosser in a field near his home, excruciating first loves, a venture south of the border). The divine in these retablos is not always visible, but the retablos themselves are full of grace. - Chorel

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Retablos: Stories from a Life Lived Along the Border Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9780872867864
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: City Lights Books - October 23rd, 2018


Nicole Chung’s clear and introspective memoir brings new light to the search for identity and navigating both the past and the future when surrounded by the complexity of those who love you. As a transracial adoptee, the incongruity of growing up happy yet uncomfortably different leads her to search out the truth about her birth parents when she is on the brink of becoming a parent herself. This unique, difficult, and often surprising journey considers what one needs most in the world to belong. - Melinda

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All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781936787975
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Catapult - October 2nd, 2018


I experienced every emotion I’ve ever experienced, plus maybe one or two new ones, while reading this book. “Dirty River” is about a queer, disabled, woman of color building community, facing her trauma, and building a better life for herself. A clever voice and an incredible life makes for a great read. - Wren

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Dirty River: A Queer Femme of Color Dreaming Her Way Home Cover Image
$18.95
ISBN: 9781551526003
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Arsenal Pulp Press - November 3rd, 2015


The stunning follow up to her 2005 memoir in verse, Jane, this book's form is what makes it so powerful. Part true crime, part memoir, The Red Parts is most interesting when the moving personal story of grief at its core becomes a cultural critique of America's obsession with violence against women. - Kristi

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The Red Parts: Autobiography of a Trial Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781555977368
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graywolf Press - April 5th, 2016


In this captivating account of one of history's most brilliant rulers, Pulitzer Prize-winning Stacy Schiff introduces us to a Cleopatra we have not met before and, in this case anyway, truth is far more interesting than fiction. I've been talking about it for years and can't see myself not bringing up this amazing woman in conversation any time soon. Can't recommend it enough! - Emma

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Cleopatra: A Life Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780316001946
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Back Bay Books - September 6th, 2011


Shapiro tells the story of her surprise ancestry test that revealed that her father is not her biological father and therefore her identity, especially being raised deeply connected to Judaism, may not be as defining as she had believed. This book moved me as it dove deep into belonging, identity, family secrets, parenting, and the ties that bind in our ever-connected world. - Casey

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Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love Cover Image
$24.95
ISBN: 9781524732714
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Knopf - January 15th, 2019


This is a gut-wrenching and heart-opening. As Glennon recovers from multiple addictions, and deals with her husband’s infidelity, she goes on a deep spiritual journey and  rediscovers herself and a new relationship with god. She is a living example of how to be a Spiritual being, mother, and feminist. Impossible to put down, my wife and I both read this book in under three days. - Jason

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Love Warrior: A Memoir Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781250075734
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Flatiron Books - September 12th, 2017


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