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 incredible story that begins in 1937 of a dreamer, a school teacher–turned-swim-coach in Maui and his team of impoverished “ditch kids,” the children of Japanese-American sugar plantation workers who trained in irrigation ditches and dared to dream of Olympic gold, despite the obstacles of war and discrimination. Thoroughly researched and fully fleshed out, The Three-Year Swim Club brings these swimmers to life in a most inspired way, elucidating a fascinating time in U.S. history and the human will to become its heroes.  —Melinda

ISBN: 9781455523443
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Grand Central Publishing - October 27th, 2015

Getting girls and women more involved in the sciences is a familiar discussion, and this book helps expose the behaviors that are creating that dearth of involvement. As a combination of memoir and research, I definitely found my own experiences reflected in what’s shared within. This is a book that will prompt discussions—and that’s exactly what needs to happen.  --Rachel

ISBN: 9780807046579
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Beacon Press - September 15th, 2015

Do you love history, the Civil War, or just stories about kickass ladies? This book has all that and more! Well-researched and full of detailed stories, Karen Abbot focuses on four women and their experiences and contributions during this chaotic time, such as Emma Emonds’ undercover life as a man in the Union army.  --Rachel

ISBN: 9780062092908
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Perennial - September 8th, 2015

While Murakami’s new novel reads like a dream or a whispered ghost story, it is also one of the most real-to-life coming-of-age stories I’ve ever read. Thirty-something Tsukuru Tazaki has a pilgrimage to make—both real and into his past—and for all the familiarity of his youth, it becomes a land more foreign than he could ever imagine. Carefully placed, fueled by thoughtfulness and simplicity, this is a beautiful meditation—at once mysterious, devastating and incredibly moving.  —Melinda

By Haruki Murakami, Philip Gabriel (Translator)
ISBN: 9780804170123
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - May 5th, 2015

While ultimately about the timeless battle between two otherworldly forces, The Bone Clocks roots itself deeply in the fullness of its characters and each moment’s here and now.  Spanning centuries, the story expertly weaves together a tapestry that is both an epic adventure and a critique on our all-too-real moment in time. This is classic Mitchell: Unfettered intelligence, a broadness of curiosity, and writing so clean the sentences glide forward and then stand still, demanding to be admired.  —Melinda


ISBN: 9780812976823
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House Trade - June 16th, 2015

Lovely queer Victorian heroines and a series of misunderstandings convoluted enough to rival Shakespeare--Fingersmith has it all! Susan agrees to pose as Maud's maid to steal her substantial inheritance, but develops affection, and then something deeper, for her target. Everything seems to be going according to plan, when sudden disaster strikes and one girl is held captive while the other is dumped into a madhouse. You will read the last hundred pages with bated breath.

Reviewed by: Andrea
ISBN: 9781573229722
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - October 2002

I work in Bookshop’s Receiving Department, and whenever a copy of this book arrives I take a few moments to mull it over before tucking it away to be shelved. Euphoria is simply an excellent novel filled with emotions both raw and refined. I keep getting swept back to that small island where our three anthropologists meet, where the Tam society that renowned Nell Stone studies awakens in her all the desires that women were/are denied. If you’re looking for an intelligent summer fling, pick this up.

Reviewed by: Louise
ISBN: 9780802123701
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press - April 14th, 2015

We Are Called to Rise says so much about the good in humanity; it is a story of redemption and unexpected love. Set in Las Vegas, we are given an intimate view of those living in the city instead of the traditional story of the light and show. We are introduced to an immigrant boy whose family is struggling to assimilate. A middle-aged housewife coping with an imploding marriage and a troubled son. A social worker who struggles with the darker shadows of the city, and a wounded soldier recovering from an injury he can’t remember getting. These characters seem separate and disparate from one another, but McBride interlaces their stories and by the time their stories connect to reveal a whole, acts of tragedy and deep bravery are already unfolding. This is one of those novels that seems a quick read, where the story catapults you forward, but by the end, the spectrum of the range of what we are capable of, in every sense of that word, is what actually remains.

Reviewed by: S.M.C.
ISBN: 9781476738970
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Simon & Schuster - April 28th, 2015

Drenched in literature, rich with contemplation, Tseng’s first novel is wryly observant, compulsively readable and dangerously passionate. Mayumi is a 41-year old small town librarian, married, a mother, and stuck in the mundane, when she falls inexplicably in love with a young man. What follows is a beautifully written meditative romp through the seasons of lust, obsession and love. As real as it is metaphorical, Tseng writes on many levels, making for a most complex and satisfying read.

Reviewed by: Melinda
ISBN: 9781609452698
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Europa Editions - May 26th, 2015

Waitressing at a fancy restaurant where patrons are both noxious and moneyed, 20-something Marie lives out the complexities of modern womanhood. She spends her shifts planning her nights—mostly spent with an uncaring lover or mournfully fussing over her baby girl. Yet there is a self-awareness in her voice that begs you to consider life’s small complexities. This is a hurricane between two covers, but you’ll not regret being whirled away.

Reviewed by: Louise
ISBN: 9780345807137
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor Books - June 9th, 2015



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