Bookshop Santa Cruz offers a great way for Book Groups to save 15% on the titles they read, get special invitations to Book Group mixers, and receive email recommendations on excellent Book Group titles.

Register your Book Group at our information desk or online and get 15% off your Book Group picks (when ordering 5 or more copies) and have us hold the titles in one place for easy pick up for all your group members! Browse our new Book Group shelves in the Fiction room for staff recommendations, local book group choices, and information on running Book Groups.

Below are some staff recommendations of great books for Book Groups.

Look At Me by Jennifer Egan

Model's face burns off/
eighty screws can't fix her life/
but coming home might.
Reviewed by: 
Blair

Look at Me (Paperback)

$15.95
ISBN-13: 9780385721356
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor, 10/2002

The Circle by Dave Eggers

I couldn't shut up about this book for weeks after I read it: I was like one of those people who bring up their new significant other every two seconds. Dave Eggers places his novel in a near/parallel future in some ways more horrifying than that of 1984, and one for which we may have already passed the event horizon. It is a captivating, deceptively light, and deeply important novel.

Reviewed by: 
Emily

The Circle (Paperback)

$15.95
ISBN-13: 9780345807298
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage, 4/2014

How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid

I read this book in a single weekend, on a mini-vacation, and it was just perfect. Hamid writes absorbing, intelligent page-turners, and How to Get Filthy Rich is now my favorite of his novels. The story centers around a nameless man’s life, from his childhood in a slum to his wealthy adulthood. But no matter where he winds up in the world, his heart constantly tracks the beautiful girl he fell in love with as a young man.
Reviewed by: 
Kat
$16.00
ISBN-13: 9781594632334
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Trade, 3/2014

The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer

Greer captures an inherent melancholy that slips his characters forever into my heart. Greta Wells is no exception; after the devastating loss of her twin brother in 1985 she undergoes a medical treatment that inadvertently sends her back in time. She experiences two different, potential versions of herself (1918 & 1945) providing an interesting look at what it means to be happy and drawing a striking parallel between the Lost Generation and the U.S. AIDS epidemic.
Reviewed by: 
Kimberly
$14.99
ISBN-13: 9780062213792
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ecco Press, 4/2014

A Few Seconds of Radiant Filmstrip by Kevin Brockmeier

Kevin Brockmeier first caught my attention with Illumination, his beautiful novel that uses a dash of magical realism to trace the seam of empathy and visibility in a world where we so often fail to see one another. Illumination stands out in the way that it is expansive and far reaching. So, I was curious to see what Brockmeier would do with a memoir that is so focused and concise—a memoir whose entire focus is on one year: Brockmeier’s experience of seventh grade. Brockmeier tells the story of his twelve-year old self in third person, he is Kevin, a kid “who cries too easily and laughs too easily” but “he is trying hard not to be him anymore, that kid.” What comes next is a chronicle of awareness, of awkward first kisses, and friends that turn enemies, and creativity squashed and encouraged and squashed again. Kevin is the kind of kid that knows awkwardness and loneliness and small victories while they are happening. His 12-year-old self is astute and awake enough to grasp exactly how harrowing growing up can be. So in the end, Brockmeier offers us in non-fiction what he does in fiction: universality. We share the feeling of frailty and of hope—of a life experienced in all its brave triumphs of faltering, humor, falling, landing, and holding on.
Reviewed by: 
S.M.C.
$24.00
ISBN-13: 9780307908988
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Pantheon, 4/2014

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

Ozeki’s mesmerizing novel centers around a random connection between a 16-year-old girl (Nao) in Japan and a writer (Ruth) living on the coast of the Pacific Northwest. Ruth discovers a battered Hello Kitty lunchbox washed up on a beach that contains Nao’s journal, and she is immediately absorbed by the girl’s life and writing. A Tale for the Time Being is a wonderful meditation on time and writing.
Reviewed by: 
Kat
$16.00
ISBN-13: 9780143124870
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books, 12/2013

The All of It by Jeannette Haien

Ann Patchett found an old musty copy of this out-of-print novel in a used bookstore and after reading it, worked her prowess to bring it back to print. Oh, what a gift she has given us. Jeannette Haien wrote this Irish novel in the 1980s as her debut. The story seems deceptively simple, but has a lasting power and resonance of myth. Opening with a scene of a Catholic Priest fishing in horrible weather conditions, we learn quickly that Father Declan’s sporty endeavor was spurred by a confession by one of his parishioners the day before. After the death of her husband, Edna confesses to Father Declan the “all of it” and reveals a secret that goes back 50 years. Edna’s story puts Father Declan in a crisis of empathy versus absolution, and the resolution of his conflict is what gives this book it’s lasting power.
Reviewed by: 
S.M.C.

The All of It (Paperback)

$12.99
ISBN-13: 9780062090096
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Perennial, 6/2011

The Secret of Raven Point by Jennifer Vanderbes

I have been in awe of Jennifer Vanderbes since the publication years ago of one of my favorite novels ever: Easter Island. So when I saw that she had another novel coming out, I greeted it with bated breath and The Secret of Raven Point did not disappoint. Telling the story of Juliet, a young woman growing up during World War II, Vanderbes hands us a novel that is part coming-of-age tale, part mystery, and part wartime narrative. When Juliet’s older brother goes missing in action as an American soldier battling the German army overseas, Juliet lies about her age, then trains and enlists as a nurse to get as close as she can to the point her brother was last seen. Stationed in a field hospital in Italy, Juliet is thrown into the chaos of wartime life. She quickly finds herself surrounded by a makeshift family of fellow nurses, patients, soldiers, and doctors whose lives and small actions create intimacy and meaning under such perilous conditions. Juliet is caught between allowing her new life to shape and form her, and her own loyalty toward that of her missing brother, whose whereabouts remain veiled. This is a novel about holding faith beyond reason, about transgression and transformation, and about how when seeking truth about another, it is impossible to not also find truth about yourself. A poignant, lasting story, for anyone who is a fan of Call the Midwife; Vanderbes’ new novel shows off her skills in their highest form.
Reviewed by: 
S.M.C.
$26.00
ISBN-13: 9781439167007
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner, 2/2014

Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

The power and charm of this debut novel is hard to describe. The compact length makes it possible to devour it in one sitting. Oddly, the heroine of the novel is never named, and we know her simply as “the wife.” A new mother, a colicky baby, faltering feelings toward her husband that she knows is a good man, a case of New York bedbugs—what could be innocuous calamities turn true and deep in the honest consuming musing of this young mother. In a language that simmers with longing and wit, this is a love story at full speed—with bracing emotional insights and piercing meditations about despair, love, and the capacious experience of motherhood. Truly, the power of Dept. of Speculation is stunning, it’s the kind of book you pass along the second you finish it, just so you have someone to talk about it with.
Reviewed by: 
S.M.C.
$22.95
ISBN-13: 9780385350815
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf, 1/2014

The Scar Boys by Len Vlahos

A wonderful debut novel full of wit, engrossing characters, and emotional truth. Following our protagonist Harry from a childhood defined by being struck by lightning while being bullied, through the rise of his emerging punk band, this is the story about the ebbs and flows of friendship, finding our true passion, and winding our way through the physical and emotional scars that try to hold us back. This is a must read and simply a great book.
Reviewed by: 
Casey

The Scar Boys (Hardcover)

$17.99
ISBN-13: 9781606844397
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: EgmontUSA, 2/2014

A Day at the Beach by Geoffrey Wolff

The Bronte sisters may have found their literary sibling match in the writing of the Wolff brothers. I have long been a fan of Tobias Wolff (This Boys Life), but knew little about his older brother Geoffrey, but after reading this autobiographical essay collection, I am stunned by command that both these brothers have over language and story. In A Day at the Beach, Wolff shares lessons from a life observed. Whether he is detailing a disastrous story from a boyhood Christmas or his struggle as an adult to teach literature as a visiting teacher in Istanbul, Wolff shares the wisdom that comes through hardship and hazard. The brilliance of Geoffrey Wolf’s writing goes without saying, but there is something else there—an implicit holding of frailty and wonder to have lived a full life and come out on the other side.
Reviewed by: 
S.M.C.

A Day at the Beach (Paperback)

$15.95
ISBN-13: 9780804170093
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage, 11/2013

The Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala

This is not an easy read in terms of subject matter, but readers who appreciated Joan Didion’s Year of Magical Thinking will instantly recognize the strength and determination of Sonali Deraniyagala’s memoir. On the morning of December 26, 2004, on the southern coast of Sri Lanka, Deraniyagala lost her parents, her husband, and her two young sons in the tsunami she miraculously survived. The opening chapters of this book are searing in their descriptive power, and there is little distance between the reader and the tsunami’s swallowing force. As Deraniyagala shifts from the horrifying chaos of the tsunami to her own clenched admittance that she has survived a tragedy she wishes she hadn’t, there is a frank and ferocious edge to her voice. The reader is never unaware of the teetering edge of Deraniyagala’s narrative: that tentative balance she holds in remembering her family, and the almost unbearable loss that such remembering puts her in. This is a book that speaks to the genre of memoir—the paradox of keeping stories and people alive within us, and the depth and tugging force that such a telling can create.
Reviewed by: 
S.M.C.

Wave (Paperback)

$15.00
ISBN-13: 9780345804310
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage, 12/2013

My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor

My Beloved World begins with a bang—not a figurative, smoldering metaphor, but a tense fight from which the reader and young Sonia are not sheltered. Unlike the writing of most lawyers, who err on the side of dry with a chance of humdrum, Sotomayor’s biography is expertly crafted. She tells of a life in the public houses, of a bright Nuyorican woman with ambition and talent to match. This is a truly exceptional piece of work, a narrative not to be missed.
Reviewed by: 
Louise

My Beloved World (Paperback)

$15.95
ISBN-13: 9780345804839
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage, 9/2013

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

This coming-of-age novel follows Francie, a poor teenager growing up in the periphery of New York's slums, as she discovers what life has to offer—the small achievements amidst endless suffering. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn shows the world through a purer lens, and shows what it means to be connected to one another—as children, as women, and as human beings.
Reviewed by: 
Mikaela
$15.99
ISBN-13: 9780060736262
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2/2005

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgokov

What happens when the Devil and Jesus Christ visit the Soviet Union? Everything gets a little weird. This satirical novel frolics along on the feet of Mikhail Bulgokov’s jovial prose. You will be laughing at the characters, not with them, and the fact that the novel was banned in the USSR during the time of its setting makes it that much more bitterly and satisfyingly funny
Reviewed by: 
Emily
$11.95
ISBN-13: 9780802130112
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press, 1/1994

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