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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

There are so many things I love about this book; I don’t know where to start. It is a genius retelling of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. It paints a striking picture of Midwestern small town America. It depicts the joy and despair of man’s best friend. It explores our relationship with both emotional and physical muteness. And ultimately it is just a damn good story.

Reviewed by: Kimberly
Staff Pick Badge
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: A Novel Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780061374234
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ecco - September 8th, 2009


Originally a short story depicting the creation of a supposed Vermeer painting, Vreeland expanded the vignette to tell the history of the piece from modern day to its inception. These 8 stories highlight significant moments in the work’s life, and intertwines the history of Holland with how lost masterpiece might make its way in the world—and the lives affected by it.

Reviewed by: Kimberly
Girl in Hyacinth Blue Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780140296280
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Penguin Books - October 1st, 2000


I love Hornby for his ability to capture the functioning dysfunctional life. He infuses these portraits with humor, wit, and just a little bit of grief. Juliet Naked is no exception. Three lives intersect: a fading indie musician, his biggest fan, and the girl that comes between them. A simple story of obsessive fandom and love belies a deeper truth behind the need for companionship.

Reviewed by: Kimberly
Juliet, Naked Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781594484773
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - September 7th, 2010


Where do you draw the line? When does the situation reach the point where more than simple attention is required-when action is needed, standing up for your rights and what you believe in? In a world where “Occupy” is more than a verb, SOPA, IPA, and ACTA lurking in the wings, Cory Doctorow presents a fable for the rapidly-approaching future.

Reviewed by: Jocelyn
Staff Pick Badge
Little Brother Cover Image
$12.99
ISBN: 9780765323118
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tor Teen - April 13th, 2010


The hot-blooded passion of love is as mysterious and powerful as the magic promised by this modern fairy tale. The 3 generations of powerful, independent, & unique women of the Owens family are both masters and victims to desire. Men want them, women want what they can promise – and the women themselves ceaselessly look for quiet love and happiness.

Reviewed by: Jocelyn
Staff Pick Badge
Practical Magic: 25th Anniversary Edition Cover Image
By Alice Hoffman, Alice Hoffman (Introduction by)
$17.00
ISBN: 9780425190371
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Berkley - August 5th, 2003


Bleak House, in true Dickensian fashion, explores the divide of classes, the false hope of wealth, & the hypocrisy of the legal system, while exploring the travails of a cast of characters as compelling as any found on primetime. Esther stumbles into secrets far-reaching and personal, testing her and others’ resolve for honor in the quest for happiness.

Reviewed by: Jocelyn
Staff Pick Badge
Bleak House Cover Image
By Charles Dickens, Nicola Bradbury (Introduction by), Nicola Bradbury (Notes by), Terry Eagleton (Preface by), Hablot K. Brown (Illustrator)
$13.00
ISBN: 9780141439723
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Penguin Classics - April 29th, 2003


Through a unique oral interview style, a memorable cast of characters tells the story of Buster Casey: childhood prankster, venom addict, demolition derby driver, and small town legend. This unforgettable novel will make you think, laugh, and (in my case) almost throw up - that's some powerful prose.

Reviewed by: Andrea
Staff Pick Badge
Rant: The Oral Biography of Buster Casey Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780307275837
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor - May 6th, 2008


I never thought I would be one of those silly people swooning over Austen, but when I read this at 21, I was sold. What I really like about P&P is that it explores several kinds of relationships - the hasty, too young, head-over-heels kind; the long-married and perfectly understanding kind; and the new, heart-fluttering, "So This Is Love" playing in the background kind.

Reviewed by: Andrea
Staff Pick Badge
Pride and Prejudice Cover Image
By Jane Austen, Vivien Jones (Editor), Vivien Jones (Introduction by), Tony Tanner (Introduction by), Vivien Jones (Notes by)
$9.00
ISBN: 9780141439518
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Classics - December 31st, 2002


Have you read an enjoyed A Brave New World or 1984 ? Do you love wacky dystopian societies that are just creepy enough to make you uncomfortable? Zamyatin did them first, and in my opinion, best. What is freedom? What is truth? And does love ensnare us, or free us as individuals? These are just a few of the questions asked here, you’re in for a heck of a ride.

Reviewed by: Erin
We: New Edition Cover Image
By Yevgeny Zamyatin, Clarence Brown (Translated by), Clarence Brown (Introduction by)
$15.00
ISBN: 9780140185850
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Classics - August 1st, 1993


“They seek him here, they seek him there…” so to reveal too much about this book would ruin the mystery. I can’t tell you the identity of the Scarlet Pimpernel who rescues French aristocrats from the jaws of the Guillotine, but I can tell you his story is full of laughs, intrigue, romance, and surprises. My all time favorite swashbuckler!

Reviewed by: Erin
The Scarlet Pimpernel (Dover Thrift Editions) Cover Image
$6.00
ISBN: 9780486421223
Availability: Backordered
Published: Dover Publications - August 6th, 2002


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