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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

Hilarious and poignant, the fascinating novel brings us into the strange world of Cheryl Glickman, whose awkward, anxiety-fueled tendencies make us cringe in discomfort--or from the realization that we see ourselves in her thoughts and behaviors. The prose is smart and evocative, leaving the reader with new insights about what it means to love and be loved. - Kristi

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The First Bad Man: A Novel Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781439172575
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner - September 8th, 2015


The first half of this brilliant and intriguing novel takes place at the Biennale in Venice, where a world-weary freelance writer might be falling in love. The second part is set in Varanasi, India, where a world-weary Brit is going mad or finding nirvana, or both. Are the two characters the same guy? Are the stories connected? Dyer lets you come to your own conclusions. - Rico

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Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9780307390301
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - April 6th, 2010


Lucia Berlin's 43 captivating short stories are a sucker punch to your heart. Each one is alluring and provides an intimate insight into Berlin's life full of loss, heartbreak, and addiction. I have fallen in love with her writing and savored this collection with all of its tragedy, humor, and unpredictability. - Natalie O.

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A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9781250094735
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Picador - August 2nd, 2016


This lovely and lyrical novel circles around a village tavern along the Thames after the mysterious happenings of a stormy night. An ensemble of unique characters reckon with the impossible, the power of storytelling, and the complexities of family in this warm feel-good tale. Brilliant use of folklore. - Clara

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Once Upon a River: A Novel Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780743298070
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Atria/Emily Bestler Books - December 4th, 2018


Set at a summer sleep-away camp, this debut novel explores the complexities of female friendship over time from adolescence through early adulthood. Perennials offers readers a unique look at the bliss and beauty of girlhood, as well as the grief of growing up and remembering when and where you lost your innocence. - Kristi

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Perennials: A Novel Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780399589331
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - June 12th, 2018


The way this country reviles people in need of government assistance has always appalled me. As a child of parents who have, at one time or another been those people, Maid resonated. Land thoughtfully recounts her experiences being a working mom with no support and abusive partners, proving yet again how this country is built on the backs of the invisible and ignored. - Karena

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Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780316505116
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Hachette Books - January 22nd, 2019


Countering the assumption of the Middle Ages as stagnant and prejudiced, Menocal explores the diverse, flourishing world of Muslim Spain. I was fascinated by the cultural exchange between Muslims, Christians, and Jews that nourished such unique art, poetry, philosophy, and architecture. Beautiful history writing with a hopeful message. - Clara

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The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews, and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780316168717
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Back Bay Books - April 2nd, 2003


Friends, this is it. This is the book we’ve been waiting for. And now I can’t get it out of my head, and the pit of my stomach, and my aching heart. It is that good, that gorgeous, that brutal, surreal, tender, enlightening, bitingly funny, and unbelievably truthful. And it’s short stories, so I urge you to savor them one at a time, if you can. Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah is here, and I say not a moment too soon. - Melinda

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Friday Black Cover Image
$14.99
ISBN: 9781328911247
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mariner Books - October 23rd, 2018


The rough and tumble lives of the five Dunbar brothers include a house without a father or mother, a pet mule named Achilles, and daily tests of brute strength and will that end in bloody feet and black eyes. Still, the love between brothers is something no one can come between—until a figure from their past returns to break one brother apart from the rest. Markus Zusak, acclaimed author of The Book Thief, spins a heartbreaking tale of boys and men, mothers and fathers, pain and the space for forgiveness. Ages 14 and up. - Tera

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Bridge of Clay Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781984830159
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Knopf Books for Young Readers - October 9th, 2018


At the age of 30, Jedidiah Jenkins decided to “happen to life” instead of letting life happen to him and embarked on an 18-month bike trip from Oregon to Patagonia. The resulting book is both a delightful adventure and a thoughtfuljourney into his own soul. Travel frees him to make unencumbered relationships with his past, his spirituality, his identity, his family, and his sense of self in ways that leave me feeling alive, inspired, and ready to pack my own bags. - Melinda

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To Shake the Sleeping Self: A Journey from Oregon to Patagonia, and a Quest for a Life with No Regret Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781524761387
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Convergent Books - October 2nd, 2018


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