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Spring Reading, 2016

Some of the best books of the season, recommended by Bookshop Santa Cruz staff.

Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

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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ISBN: 9780399169496
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons - March 22nd, 2016

The Summer Before the War: A Novel by Helen Simonson

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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ISBN: 9780812993103
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Random House - March 22nd, 2016

Cities I’ve Never Lived In: Stories by Sara Majka

In this debut collection of stories, Majka shows herself to be a smart and unique new voice in American fiction. Eschewing many of the standard short-story tropes, she moves effortlessly through the life of her main character, a young woman trying to recover her equilibrium following a divorce. With subtlety and grace, Majka connects seemingly small epiphanies to create moments of profound insight and beauty.  —Rico

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ISBN: 9781555977313
Availability: Backordered
Published: Graywolf Press - February 16th, 2016

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

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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ISBN: 9780802123459
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Grove/Atlantic, Inc. - Grove/Atlantic, Inc. - - April 7th, 2015

Fellside by M.R. Carey

If you were as obsessed with M.R. Carey’s The Girl with All the Gifts as our staff was, you’ll be curious about Fellside. Don’t expect a reprise of Girl, because it’s a completely different creature, but if you can take Fellside on its own terms, you’re in for a hell of a ride. Prison life and ghosts take center stage in this creepy, thought-provoking novel that I read in three breathless sittings.  —Flannery

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ISBN: 9780316300285
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Orbit - April 5th, 2016

The Last Days of Magic by Mark Tompkins

Though a small island, world powers—real and mystical—have wanted to tame Ireland’s wild people for time immemorial. The faeries, or sidhe, protect its people, but rely on the appearance of the Morrigana, a goddess in human form, when in dire straits. Aisling, the current incarnation, is expected to save her people, but her power has been halved by tragedy and betrayal. Impeccably researched, this blend of history and magic made me long to visit Ireland’s dew soaked greens. —Ivy

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ISBN: 9780525429531
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Viking - March 1st, 2016

The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu

Ken Liu is a master—of words, of worlds, of our human condition past, present, future. This short story collection runs a gamut of speculative fiction from hard sci-fi out in the stars, to literary magical realism where folded paper expresses a mother’s love. Exploring history and looking to the far ends of the future, you will constantly discover the new while finding immediate, intimate familiarity with his characters. I can’t wait to read more. —Jocelyn

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By Ken Liu
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ISBN: 9781481442541
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Gallery / Saga Press - March 8th, 2016

Blackas by A. Igoni Barrett

A young Nigerian wakes up to discover that, with the exception of his ass, which remains black, he’s a red-headed white man. That is the sole reason I picked up this book and it did not let me down. His story is one of identity, figuring out a new self in an old world, and realizing that while the landscape may change, the players don’t always follow suit. Lagos comes alive in rich detail, a fleshed out character in its own right.  —Rachel

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ISBN: 9781555977337
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Graywolf Press - March 1st, 2016

The Railwayman’s Wife by Ashley Hay

The death of her husband sends Ani’s world tumbling and this novel is a sad, lyrical exploration of grief, adjustments, and recovery. Her attempts to make sense of the life that comes after, the poetic—almost delicate— language Hay uses to explore Ani’s philosophical journey, and the charm of the Australian coastal landscape where it all takes place make this novel an engrossing and rewarding read.  —Nici


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ISBN: 9781501112171
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Atria Books - April 5th, 2016

High Dive by Jonathan Lee

In 1984 an assassination attempt was made on the British Prime minister at the Grand Hotel in Brighton, England. In his novel, High Dive, Jonathan Lee uses this attack as a stimulating backdrop for the intertwining lives of Dan, an IRA recruit; Moose, the hotel Deputy General Manager; and Freya, Moose’s daughter. Using brief, beautiful prose and crisp wit, Lee intermingles these three lives in a series of poignant moments that ultimately culminate in a violently life-altering event.  —Sairsha

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ISBN: 9781101874592
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Knopf - March 8th, 2016


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