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.

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
$16.00
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.
$15.00
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
$16.00
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
$15.95
ISBN: 9780345807137
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Anchor Books - June 9th, 2015


In Ian McEwan’s latest novel, a judge known for her intelligence and sensitivity is called upon to try the urgent case of a teenager who refuses for religious reasons the medical treatment that could save his life. The Children Act is a book about choices—and the way a single decision can ricochet into the world with startling, unpredictable consequences. One of our staff’s favorite books of 2014, The Children Act also received starred reviews from Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, and Publishers Weekly, who calls McEwan “among the best of Britain’s living novelists.”

Reviewed by:
$15.00
ISBN: 9781101872871
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor Books - April 28th, 2015


For Anna Lyndsey, what begins as sensitivity to computer screens swiftly transforms into the unthinkable: a painful, burning reaction to all forms of light. Brilliantly, beautifully written, Lyndsey takes the reader on a maddening journey through her rare affliction of the skin, as she retreats to a fortress of darkness in her struggle to find a cure. Through creative tactics and unflinching resolve, she pushes forward, ever seeking the light at the end of the tunnel.
Reviewed by: Sara
$24.95
ISBN: 9780385539609
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Doubleday Books - March 3rd, 2015


This novel is one heck of a read—fast paced, fluid, impossible to put down. Set during the six riot-filled days following the Rodney King trial, Gattis lays out racial tensions, gang violence, and broken systems in the extreme by exploring the interconnected stories of people swept up in the lawlessness, vengeance and betrayal of the moment. All Involved is as smart as it is thrilling, as socially important as it is purely enjoyable.

Reviewed by: Melinda
$27.99
ISBN: 9780062378798
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ecco Press - April 7th, 2015


Rene Denfeld’s first novel is a stunning and captivating read. Set in a high security prison, our main protagonist, a death row inmate, states that prison is a place of enchantment. And he convinces us that it is: There is a mythic beauty to the prison’s stone walls, to the sounds of a hundred keys turning at once to lock the gates; there is an epic pull in the collective dreaming of men who must reach into their memories and imaginations to remember movement and love from an unconstrained time. Told mostly from the perspective of this poet turned prisoner, we are also introduced to the jail’s faithless priest and a woman, known only as “the lady” who is there to exonerate the condemned men.  When the lady discovers the truth of one prisoner’s past, we are asked to look at the potential for violence that lives in each of us, and more so, to discover the beauty and humanity that exists even in the darkest shadows. This is a beautifully written book that begs for conversation; readers will find themselves walking the line of trying to separate that which makes us flinch, with that that makes us imagine and empathetically open.

Reviewed by: S.M.C.
$14.99
ISBN: 9780062285515
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Perennial - February 24th, 2015


There is something about this British memoir that would not let me put it down—there is grit, honesty, and laugh-out-loud wit—I think it’s the wit that makes this book stay dear.  Andy Miller had always been a book lover, until life got busy and while he found himself talking about literature with the same enthusiasm, he realized that in his recent years he had actually only read one book all the way through.  And so, at the turn of his 40th birthday, he made a deal with himself that he would read 50 books, actually read them, give them time, and discussion, and thought, and when he did, Andy had an entirely new filter in which he viewed his life. This book is Andy's inspirational and very funny account of his expedition through literature: classic, cult, and everything in between. Beginning with a copy of Bulgakov’s Master and Margarita that he happens to find one day in a bookstore, he embarks on a literary odyssey. From Middlemarch to Anna Karenina to A Confederacy of Dunces, this is a heartfelt, humorous, and honest examination of what it means to be a reader, and the soul-searching that comes when we take in others narratives in order to examine our own.

Reviewed by: S.M.C.
$14.99
ISBN: 9780061446184
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Perennial - December 9th, 2014


The term psychopath instantly brings to mind thoughts of Hannibal Lector or Ted Bundy, but in reality, psychopaths live among us and look like our neighbors and CEOs. In this fascinating book, Ronson examines the world of psychopaths and those who study them. Ronson is such a charming, witty writer that what could have been a terrifying book is instead funny, engaging, impossible to put down, and filled with fodder for discussion. In fact, if you read this, you’ll be desperate to talk to about it, making it perfect for book groups. I absolutely loved this book.

Reviewed by: Flannery
$16.00
ISBN: 9781594485756
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - May 1st, 2012


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