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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

Sarah Broom’s memoir of her family in New Orleans—and the house that defined them while it was standing and as it was torn apart during Hurricane Katrina—is a searing portrait of identity, politics, race, and class. The urban history of New Orleans seeps both literally and figuratively through their family’s home and their tale of survival is a powerful story of displacement and connection throughout generations. This book is a must-read biography of our time. - Casey

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The Yellow House: A Memoir (2019 National Book Award Winner) Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780802125088
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press - August 13th, 2019


Ady Barkan is a force to be reckoned with, both before he received his devastating ALS diagnosis at the age of 32, and even more so now, three years in and bringing power and honesty to his roles as political activist, husband, and father. Writing with incredible intimacy, vitality, and humor, Barkan lays it all out in this memoir, his career as an organizer and his journey with illness. He has written a gift that is not just inspiring, but real. - Melinda

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Eyes to the Wind: A Memoir of Love and Death, Hope and Resistance Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9781982111540
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Atria Books - September 10th, 2019


From the very first line, Silver, Sword & Stone instantly drew me in and transported me to a Latin America I never knew: from the heights of the Peruvian Andes, into the depths of violent revolutions, and into what it means to be a Catholic in Central America. Widely published in The Washington Post, The New York Times, and National Geographic, among others, Marie Arana describes the lives of contemporary Latin Americans with exacting prose and a conversational tone. - Aric

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Silver, Sword, and Stone: Three Crucibles in the Latin American Story Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9781501104244
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Simon & Schuster - August 27th, 2019


I loved Naomi Novik’s Uprooted so much that I have spent years awaiting Spinning Silver, and it did NOT disappoint. Spinning is not a sequel to Uprooted, but it follows in a similar style: adventure fantasy loosely inspired by a classic fairy tale and set in medieval Eastern Europe. Different from Uprooted, however, Spinning is told from the rotating viewpoints of a sizeable cast of characters, centering around three strong but very different female characters. Novik does a fantastic job of building excitement and constantly accelerating the plot. Overall, even though it’s set in winter (too much winter!) in a cold region, I found it the perfect summer read.

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Spinning Silver: A Novel Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780399180996
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Del Rey - May 7th, 2019

I loved Naomi Novik’s Uprooted so much that I have spent years awaiting Spinning Silver, and it did NOT disappoint. Spinning is not a sequel to Uprooted, but it follows in a similar style: adventure fantasy loosely inspired by a classic fairy tale and set in medieval Eastern Europe. Different from Uprooted, however, Spinning is told from the rotating viewpoints of a sizeable cast of characters, centering around three strong but very different female characters. Novik does a fantastic job of building excitement and constantly accelerating the plot. Overall, even though it’s set in winter (too much winter!) in a cold region, I found it the perfect summer read.



This is my favorite flavor of Ondaatje. Atmospherically reminiscent of The English Patient, Warlight stands on its own as a uniquely great coming-of-age story wrapped in a riveting spy mystery. Immerse yourself in London’s criminal underworld and the shadowy figures of postwar espionage. Taking you from the depths of the Thames to the heights of London’s rooftops, Warlight takes you on a delicious journey.  —Clara

 

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Warlight (Vintage International) Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780525562962
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - April 2nd, 2019


This book is subtle yet surreal, and a bit of a ride. With characters anyone can relate to, and actions that aren't so easy to relate to, this is the perfect summer read. The story winds its way along and the reader wants to try and figure out what is going to happen. Tuck this in your bag for the times when you have a moment to escape into the story. You will want to read it to the end as quickly as you can. Enjoy! —Karen Burgess, Book Group Ambassador

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Clock Dance Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780525563020
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - April 30th, 2019

This book is subtle yet surreal, and a bit of a ride.  With characters anyone can relate to, and actions that aren't so easy to relate to, this is the perfect summer read.  The story winds its way along and the reader wants to try and figure out what is going to happen.  Tuck this in your bag for the times when you have a moment to escape into the story.  You will want to read it to the end as quickly as you can.  Enjoy! —Karen Burgess, Book Group Ambassador



In this faced paced novel, Contreras draws upon her life to create a novel that reads like a thriller and coming of age story set in her native Columbia. Chula is drawn to her live-in maid, Petrona who comes from a guerrilla-occupied slum. As the relationship between Petroana and Chula grows, so does the danger they find themselves in. I felt I was reading a diary of both Chula and Petrona's everyday lives. This only added to the depth of the story for me. The last half of the book I was rushing to devour every word. I was left heartbroken with the taste of reality both faced.

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Fruit of the Drunken Tree Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780525434313
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor - June 4th, 2019


This timely novel is framed as a college love triangle involving two friends and their new professor, but it’s much more than that. Told from multiple perspectives in Pennsylvania, Berlin and Paris, each storyline presents a nuanced look at loneliness and intimacy. The events take place in 2008, but Berman intelligently grapples with many of today’s #MeToo issues. - Kristi

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The Learning Curve: A Novel Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780399589348
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House - May 28th, 2019


Ted Chiang is one of the best modern speculative fiction writers, and his writing encompasses the breadth of the human experience. The stories in this collection are subtle, introspective, and incredibly smart, and Chiang masterfully explores themes of science, theology, fate, heartbreak, and love. I can’t recommend this highly enough for fans of literary science fiction. - Stuart

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Exhalation: Stories Cover Image
$25.95
ISBN: 9781101947883
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - May 7th, 2019


This novel is, in a word, devastating. It opens as Romy Hall is on the way to prison to serve a life sentence for murder. As much the story of Hall’s life in prison, it’s the story of her past--her childhood on the streets of San Francisco, her experiences as an exotic dancer, and the circumstances surrounding her crime. I can’t recommend this one enough. - Rico

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The Mars Room: A Novel Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781476756585
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner - May 7th, 2019


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