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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

Family drama with a rock-and-roll twist, Stone Arabia is the might-have- and should-have-beens for a pair of middle-aged siblings. Denise weathers her unexciting life, taking care of everyone, including the brother she can’t help but help. Nik’s poured all of his dreams and frustrations into the rock star he never was, chronicling his parallel, truer life in writing, absolving himself from responsibility for his honest one. A sad and true story; real, but cool.
Reviewed by: Jocelyn
Stone Arabia: A Novel Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781451617979
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Scribner - July 10th, 2012


A boy, age 11, no longer completely a child, not ready to be a man. Leaving an irrevocable past, not yet arrived at where his future will begin. A ship, neither on land nor in the sea, between countries and borders, racing over an invisible, ever-changing landscape beneath an endless sky. This is where adventures grow, for the most insignifant; where the moments that will define who you are, are found.

Reviewed by: Jocelyn
The Cat's Table (Vintage International) Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9780307744418
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Vintage - June 12th, 2012


This is one of the spookiest books I’ve ever read, and there is nary a vampire or zombie to be found in its pages. The villain is perfectly human, a monster of an average man compelled by fits of jealousy and revenge. The heroine is Luce, a reclusive young woman living in an old lodge in the mountains, who has taken in the children of her murdered sister. An incredible, addictive blend of southern crime fiction and nature writing. My pick for paperback of the summer.
Reviewed by: Kat
Staff Pick Badge
Nightwoods: A Novel Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780812978803
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - June 12th, 2012


This book is just stunning; it got under my skin in a big way. Francisco Goldman was vacationing in Mexico with his wife, Aura, when she was fatally injured in a bodysurfing accident. The autobiographical novel that he wrote in the years following is many things: a manifestation of his searing love and grief for Aura, an interrogation of his own role in her life and death, and a futile attempt to understand a random and terrible event. Highly recommended, and well worth any tears.
Reviewed by: Kat
Say Her Name Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9780802145802
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Grove Press - April 10th, 2012


Barnes’ slim masterpiece is well worthy of the Booker it won, and your hard-fought reading time as well. The narrator, Anthony, is an erudite man who has lived a life of calm introspection and is now retired. But his story is perhaps not as straightforward as he might have you believe, particularly his remembrance of an old love affair, and the consequences that he is just now beginning to see. Powerful and surprising.
Reviewed by: Kat
Staff Pick Badge
The Sense of an Ending (Vintage International) Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780307947727
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Vintage - May 29th, 2012


Told with a confessional tone in small, page-long chapters, With My Body is the story of a transformative first love that cannot be forgotten. The narrator is a married mother of three when she begins writing about her younger self, unearthing memories of a more passionate time that she is desperate but unable to return to. Raw, enthralling and at times brutally honest, this is a sexy literary read that is difficult to set aside.
Reviewed by: Kat
With My Body: A Novel Cover Image
$14.99
ISBN: 9780062122636
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Harper Perennial - June 19th, 2012


After a pandemic wipes out most of the human race, leaving behind zombies in its wake, the survivors fight to regain the cities they once inhabited. Zone One focuses on a group trying to retake Manhattan, fighting their way through the classic flesh eating undead, as well as Whitehead’s own creation, “stragglers”, who are stuck as they were when they died. Whitehead’s literary roots help make this a fresh take on the zombie apocalypse.
Reviewed by: Flannery
Zone One Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780307455178
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor - July 10th, 2012


This story of one man’s return to his childhood home twines through the history of his family, all haunted by the ghosts of their lives. The prose captures the chill of winter, the warmth and pain of life, and the wild woods and rivers on which the tale unfolds. This is a lovely, haunting debut that flows through time, blending reality with myth and memory.

Touch Cover Image
$14.95
ISBN: 9780393342390
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - April 30th, 2012


This is a harrowing story of a troubled family on the brink of disaster. After reading the first two pages, I HAD to find out how a father and son could possibly get to this place. This is a story about a dysfunctional family, school bullying, and the misunderstanding that tears them all apart. This one wrenched my heart.
Reviewed by: Clytia
Grace Cover Image
$21.00
ISBN: 9780758250926
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Kensington - April 1st, 2012


A beautifully written story told from the point of view of three WWII military wives. Sexism, racism, anti-Semitism and consumerism all play a big part in the lives of these women. During a time when you were taught to keep private pain private, all three find themselves coping with the damage done by war and history.
Reviewed by: Clytia
Next to Love: A Novel Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9780812982411
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Random House - May 15th, 2012


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