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.

This is the book for literary nerds. This is the book for period Anglophiles. For those whose guilty pleasure rests in just a small puddle of blood. Whether you’re a fan of Jane Eyre, or just looking for a great, fun novel to sink your teeth into, this is the book you need to lose yourself in. Funny, intelligent, on-point—I loved getting to know Jane Steele, and hated having to leave her world.  —Jocelyn

 

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Jane Steele Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780399169496
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons - March 22nd, 2016


This is the perfect book for those looking for something deeper, richer than your average summer read. Set in England on the eve of World War I, it hosts a fascinating cast of characters that worm their way into your heart and refuse to leave. It’s a novel about transitions: from peace to war, from innocence to adulthood. It’s about love and loss, and the ways lives are not only defined but also forged and refined by the hardships endured.  —Jax

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The Summer Before the War Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780812993103
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House - March 22nd, 2016


Complex in both style and content, Nguyen’s The Sympathizer offers an original and wholly rewarding reading experience. Our narrator chronicles Saigon’s fall and the political and personal fallout that ensues. A U.S.-educated Viet Cong mole, he undermines the country that has molded him to serve the country of his birth. As his external life collapses so too does his internal, evoking a heartbreaking, darkly comic view of what nationalism truly means.  —Dillon

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The Sympathizer: A Novel (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction) Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780802123459
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Grove Press - April 7th, 2015


Yanagihara writes the interior epic to heart-aching perfection, following four college roommates through three decades of relationships, careers, struggles and triumphs. At the novel’s heart is Jude, determined to keep hidden his past and its terrible effects on his every present. A Little Life is a deeply felt journey through male friendship, love, trust and hurt, quietly building and connecting, drawing you in page after page. It’s an emotional challenge to read, but one that pays off in the lives you come to love. —Melinda

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A Little Life Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780804172707
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor Books - January 26th, 2016


When it comes to music, a guy with an opinion is a cognoscente while a chick must be a drooling fangirl. Teenage girls are the number one purchasers of music, and yet too often when women care about culture it is assumed to be for superficial, and thus invalid reasons. You should buy this book because Jessica Hopper's work exists to expand the world of music connoisseurship beyond these tired polarities. Unless of course you're part of that sacred cabal of "men" who "get it." There are plenty of Bob Dylan books in the music section, filed under D. –Molly

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The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic Cover Image
$17.95
ISBN: 9780983186335
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Featherproof Books - May 12th, 2015


Robert Peace was a bold, brilliant young man who fought to overcome the vicious social injustice and racism that still underlies American life. With commanding honesty and depth, Hobbs—who was Peace’s close friend—traces Peace’s unique and tough childhood in Newark, his accomplishments, his murder. An illuminating account of struggle and a brutal reality-check about poverty, class, and “The American Dream” that many of us don’t want to acknowledge. —Julia

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The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781476731919
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner Book Company - July 28th, 2015


Yanagihara writes the interior epic to heartaching perfection, following four college roommates through three decades of relationships, careers, struggles, and triumphs. At the novel’s heart is Jude, their emotional epicenter, their eternal mystery, determined to keep hidden his past and its terrible effects on his every present. Written beautifully and meticulously, A Little Life quietly builds and connects, capturing the small things, effortlessly working its way into your heart, leaving you broken wide open by its stunning end. I love this book.

Reviewed by: Melinda
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A Little Life Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9780385539258
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Doubleday Books - March 10th, 2015


If you can bear to have lived it, I can at least bear to listen. In some ways this line is the heart of Cynthia Bond’s debut novel, Ruby. Every sentence seems infused with the contradiction of dark history and memory paired with the expansive reach of love and light. Spanning the depth of racial and sexual brutality in a small town in East Texas, we watch Ruby Bell grow from a beautiful child to a feral woman—someone that is plagued by what she has seen. Ruby is haunted. She lives a fever dream where ghosts talk to her, and history assaults her, and yet, there is one person, Ephram, the gentle deeply observant man that has loved Ruby his whole life that may be able to redeem her pain. Bond’s lyricism and talent has been compared to Toni Morrison or William Faulkner, and there is no denying such comparisons, but this book is also a stunning, poetic, part ghost story/part love story that stands fiercely on its own. This is an exquisite lasting read. —S.M.C.

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Ruby (Oprah's Book Club 2.0) Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780804188241
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Hogarth - February 10th, 2015


This history of oral contraception is carried along by its engaging cast of characters. The Birth of the Pill is timely, important, and sure to spark conversation.—Rachel

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The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780393351897
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - October 19th, 2015


A fascinating and unusual story of World War II, told through the perspective of…books. Desperate for diversion, and fighting an enemy who burned books publicly, American soldiers wanted to read. Publishers came together to produce cheap, portable paperbacks of bestselling and classic titles that fit the pockets of a soldier. The effect that those books had on the war and on an entire generation of soldiers cannot be overstated. I promise you’ve never read a history book like this before. —Kat

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When Books Went to War: The Stories That Helped Us Win World War II Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9780544570405
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mariner Books - October 27th, 2015


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