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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

This vividly detailed book follows the lives of several slum dwellers, all with different positions and castes, whose lives intersect through one event. Boo completely removes herself from the narrative, letting the people pull you in, and the result is a fascinating look at a violently different culture that reads like a novel. This is non-fiction at its best.

Reviewed by: Flannery
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Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, death, and hope in a Mumbai undercity Cover Image
ISBN: 9781400067558
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Random House - February 7th, 2012

This ia a fast and enjoyable read with plenty of depth and emotional resonance. The backdrop of the Cultural Revolution shapes the lives of the three youths in this love triangle and Min's storytelling gives great insight into this chilling period.

Reviewed by: Nici
Wild Ginger: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780618380435
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Mariner Books - January 1st, 2004

I was floored by this novel. Told by Kevin, the blind protagonist, Touch and Go follows a road trip halfway across the nation to deliver a handmade casket to a dying grandfather in Florida. 

Reviewed by: Tracy
Touch and Go Cover Image
ISBN: 9781609530617
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Unbridled Books - September 27th, 2011

Yes of course this book is funny, but it's also bursting with tales of a whole generation of comics and artists, not to mention Peg's own charming, raucous, and occasionally ridiculous history.

Reviewed by: Erin
Nerd Do Well: A Small Boy's Journey to Becoming a Big Kid Cover Image
ISBN: 9781592407194
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Avery - June 5th, 2012

I picked up this book and was immediately swept up in its story. In the small town of Fox Hollow (in the Smokey Mountains) a child wakes from a nightmare in confusion, gravely hurt, and suddenly mute. Her family must struggle to figure out if what the child manages to tell about what happened that night is truth, or a hallucination brought on by the child’s fear and injury. Doubt, miracles, loss and survival, hurt and forgiveness collide in this wonderful novel. Not wanting to give too much away, this is a story that warms—where the characters are lovable and we find ourselves rooting for this small town community, holding heart and hope—and ultimately the power of healing found in hard to reach places.
Reviewed by: S.M.C.
The Healer of Fox Hollow Cover Image
ISBN: 9781936467358
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Vantage Point - July 1st, 2012

This is one of those reads that I picked up and instantly became wrapped up in, the whole time one small part of my brain being so excited that I had at last found that long sought perfect summer read. Mostly told through the point of view of high-spirited and fiercely determined 11-year-old Swan, one cannot help but fall in love with this vibrant young girl. As Swan's Arkansas family is exposed to their core after an unforeseen tragedy, Swan seems the only one who refuses to give up faith or spirit. It may sound cliche, but this really is that book that makes you laugh, hold your breath, and tear up. For fans of Fannie Flagg, this is that it summer read.
Reviewed by: S.M.C.
The Homecoming of Samuel Lake: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385344098
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - July 10th, 2012

A child lost at sea, a shipwreck, a siege, a remote island, and a hard-earned chance for survival—all of these things are the premise for the beginning of Michael Parker’s new novel, The Watery Part of The World. Taking a true fact from history about a young woman lost at sea in 1813 off the North Carolina coast, Parkers weaves a tale that is lyrical and haunting. Spanning 150 years with two interwoven stories, this novel speaks to love and sacrifice--Parker has beautifully written a literary adventure story about the power of endurance and the bonds that form in make-shift places. A perfect read for fans of Toni Morrison or Ian McEwan.
Reviewed by: S.M.C.
The Watery Part of the World Cover Image
ISBN: 9781616201432
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Algonquin Books - June 5th, 2012

When I finished this book, I turned it over and read it all over again. Seriously. Every chapter of this early 20th century period piece left me with a hauntingly beautiful image of life at the turn of the century. From the perspective of a lonely laborer named Robert Grainier looking back at the events of his life, there is a feeling of wonder and discovery in the realization of the American frontier. Really, though, I loved this book.
Reviewed by: Tracy
Train Dreams: A Novella Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250007650
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Picador - May 22nd, 2012

This interlocking collection of short stories swept me up and firmly invaded my heart. Each story features women attempting to deal with serious experiences, and sheds light on the inner struggles that we don't always share and sometimes won't even admit to. There's humor here, lurking in the shadows of their hearts. Schappell moves you through their lives with ease, beauty and honesty.
Reviewed by: Nici
Blueprints for Building Better Girls: Fiction Cover Image
ISBN: 9780743276719
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Simon & Schuster - July 10th, 2012

Three young lovers are lost in a wood. They were never in love with each other-in fact have never met. But heartache, and strange coincidence, has drawn them together, to face a most unusual and terrifying night, born of a Queen’s own desperation and loss. Inspired by--but not following--A Midsummer Night’s Dream, this contemporary faerie tale pits the most modern of troubles against the oldest: love, loss, and terrors made real in the night.
Reviewed by: Jocelyn
The Great Night: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250007384
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Picador - May 8th, 2012