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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

When it comes to beautiful prose, this book has a spot at the top of my 2011 list. Van Booy’s sentences are so exquisite and perfectly weighted that you could spend an hour reading a single page. But you won’t, because the story and the characters insist that you continue. It takes place in Athens and circles around a peculiar love triangle between three lost souls. Just stunning.

Reviewed by: Kat
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Everything Beautiful Began After: A Novel Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9780061661488
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Harper Perennial - July 5th, 2011


This novel has been much-buzzed all year. It won the Orange prize and was a finalist for the 2011 National Book Award. Here at Bookshop, we like to think we called it. This book enthralled us so much when it was excerpted in the 2010 Best American Nonrequired Reading that we practically begged for a copy, and when we got one we were not disappointed.

Reviewed by: Kat
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The Tiger's Wife: A Novel Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780385343848
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - November 1st, 2011


Brockmeier’s novel links together a number of characters with a single dazzling premise: one morning, the world wakes up and discovers that pain has become visible. Headaches glow white, cuts shimmer, back pain flares and ebbs. Our pain can no longer be kept secret, and the effects of this phenomenon are startling and far-reaching. You must read this!

Reviewed by: Kat
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The Illumination Cover Image
$24.95
ISBN: 9780375425318
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Pantheon - February 1st, 2011


This is a unique and wonderful coming of age story. How do I describe the characters of this book? We watch two siblings recreate magic with a Rabbit they name God, we watch a best friend promise to witness unspeakable acts, and we watch the world stretch and break as war and terror become common day. This is a beautiful, magical story, well worth the read.

Reviewed by: S.M.C.
When God Was a Rabbit: A Novel Cover Image
Email or call for price
ISBN: 9781608195343
Availability: Out of Print
Published: Bloomsbury USA - May 17th, 2011


This is an excellent read for anyone who grew up in an artistic setting, has spent time around quirky people, or has experienced bizarre family drama. Wilson's novel is arressivly hilarious, often leaving you no choice but to read passages out loud to anyone nearby but it also deals with very serious family issues in a nuanced and deft manner.

Reviewed by: Nici
The Family Fang: A Novel Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780061579035
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Ecco - August 9th, 2011


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
Email or call for price
ISBN: 9780743276702
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Simon & Schuster - September 6th, 2011


I was almost late to work multiple times because Tina Fey is just so wet-your-pants funny. Not only is this a great book--full of pointed humor, witty observations, and less-than-helpful suggestions--but the audio version puts it all in her voice and her cadence. She's a brilliant comedian and an acute social observer—you should totally take her advice. –Nici

Reviewed by: Nici
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Bossypants Cover Image
$29.98
ISBN: 9781609419691
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Little, Brown & Company - April 5th, 2011


Before Atonement, Ian McEwan had already made a name for himself with the publication of one of his earliest novels. Child in Time actually won the Whitbread Award after its release in the late 1980’s. I’m giving you the time frame about when McEwan wrote this book because I want to emphasize that he wrote it long was before the topic of missing children had become a trend. So it is with extraordinary tenderness and insight, that Ian McEwan takes us into the dark territory of a marriage devastated by the loss of a child. What makes this book stand out is the way that time is distilled and such a hard subject is somehow approached with eloquence and intention rather than thrill and shock value. Ultimately this is a love story built on hope and truth and surrender.

Reviewed by: S.M.C.
The Child in Time Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9780385497527
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Anchor - November 2nd, 1999


Laurence Cosse, well known for her Europa hit A Novel Bookstore, has written what could be called a thriller, if you're so inclined. The protagonist, Louise, is a young French woman who is sideswiped by a car on her way home from work. Terrified, she flees, and the next morning, she and the rest of the world learn the identity of one of the crash victims: Princess Diana. Cosse's skillful narration turns what we now think of as tabloid fodder and ancient history back into the present moment—she recalls the shock and grief of many after that fateful accident, and uses it as a backdrop to Louise's mounting fear that she will be apprehended.

Reviewed by: Kat
Staff Pick Badge
An Accident in August: A Novel Cover Image
By Laurence CossÉ, Alison Anderson (Translated by)
$15.00
ISBN: 9781609450496
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Europa Editions - August 30th, 2011


Man Booker Prize finalist Sebastian Barry has written a novel that lends itself to an open dialogue about memory and history. Set in County Sligo, Ireland, Barry tells the unforgettable story of Roseanne McNulty. Roseanne is nearing her 100th year and is living in a residential hospital. When one of the doctors begins to interview Rose, he finds himself immersed in the Irish conflict in its immediacy as Rose’s aging memory seems to bring the past to the present moment. The story that unfolds is mesmerizing and elegant and begs to question the vision that is it possible restore with language that which has been taken away by history? This is a wonderful read.

Reviewed by: S.M.C.
The Secret Scripture: A Novel Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780143115694
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Penguin Books - April 28th, 2009


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