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Melinda's Reviews

Melinda Powers is the head book buyer at Bookshop Santa Cruz and is therefore responsible for choosing which of the 300,000 titles published each year will make their way to our shelves (not including the children’s section). Formerly at Capitola Book Café, she can’t seem to quit this wonderful community of readers, booksellers, and books. She is okay with this addiction.

You Belong: A Call for Connection by Sebene Selassie

On the front cover of her life-affirming book, Sebene Selassie self-identifies as Nerdy Black Immigrant Tomboy Buddhist Weirdo and I am all for it. You Belong is the perfect self-help companion in this year of disruption, tumult, tragedy, and disconnection; Selassie does not shy away from the current moment, but meets us in it and provides us with tools. Whether you are just beginning or need a refresher course, Selassie’s thoughtful, joyful, multi-disciplinary work will help you reconnect, and her own personal stories will be a welcomed friend along the way. —Melinda

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You Belong: A Call for Connection Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9780062940650
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: HarperOne - August 25th, 2020

A Mind Spread Out on the Ground by Alicia Elliot

Haudenosaunee writer Alicia Elliott, her family, and her people have experienced depression—what in Mohawk could be described as “a mind spread out on the ground.” In this incisive collection of autobiographical essays, she picks up and names these pieces, historical and current, of harm still being done to Indigenous North Americans. Here, these realities and their effects are explored through the intersections of poverty, politics, racism, and abuse, making for a book that is complex, clear-eyed, and in its truth-telling, full of life, light, and humanity. —Melinda

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A Mind Spread Out on the Ground Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781612198668
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Melville House - August 4th, 2020

Having and Being Had by Eula Biss

I do not pretend to speak from much experience, but Having and Being Had is the most interesting, most resonant writing about capitalism I’ve ever read. Eula Biss’s personal examination begins after buying her first home, follows the peculiarity and discomfort she finds living within the confines of class, property, and ownership, and expands in fascinating ways from there. Each refreshingly bite-sized essay is equal parts intelligence and personality, like the best late-night conversation with your smartest friend—utterly, brilliantly delightful. —Melinda

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Having and Being Had Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780525537458
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - September 1st, 2020

Scenic Science of the National Parks An Explorer’s Guide to Wildlife, Geology, and Botany by Emily Hoff & Maygen Keller

With this charming book in hand, you will never experience the National Parks the same way again, even if you don’t leave your house. Hoff and Keller approach the 60 national parks they selected for their guidebook in such a delightful, inquisitive, and responsible way that one can’t help but be fascinated and appreciative all at once. There is so much off-beat information packed into this fully illustrated book that a person can explore the parks to their utter content. There are also passport stamps to be collected for each park, so let the adventuring begin!

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Scenic Science of the National Parks: An Explorer's Guide to Wildlife, Geology, and Botany Cover Image
$24.99
ISBN: 9781984856302
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ten Speed Press - March 31st, 2020

On Lighthouses by Jazmina Barrera

Both in life and in literature, lighthouses have always functioned as so much more than bringers of light. In this lovely little tome, translated from the Spanish by Christina MacSweeney, Barrera illuminates different lighthouses around the world, her experiences with them, and explores the ways we engage with these bastions at the edge of the darkness. Part travelogue and microhistory, memoir and literary criticism, this is creative nonfiction at its best, at once intimate and all-encompassing.

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On Lighthouses Cover Image
$19.95
ISBN: 9781949641011
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Two Lines Press - May 12th, 2020

Salmon: A Fish, the Earth, and the History of Their Common Fate by Mark Kurlansky

Kurlansky has long been praised for his all-encompassing microhistories of singular items with bestselling books like Salt and Cod but he has outdone himself here with this gorgeous, full-color, heavily-photographed gift book, Salmon: A Fish, the Earth, and the History of Their Common Fate from Patagonia. As always, his writing is thoughtful, personable, and knowledgeable. Kurlansky explores the history of this remarkable fish and our relationship with it across centuries and around the world, as well as the environmental issues that challenge it, presenting an engaging must-read that inextricably ties the survival of salmon to that of our planet. An astonishing call-to-arms.

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Salmon: A Fish, the Earth, and the History of Their Common Fate Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9781938340864
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Patagonia - March 3rd, 2020

The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio

I cannot recommend The Undocumented Americans highly enough—it is beautifully written, scathing in its critique of our country’s culpability, and real, real, real. Cornejo Villavicencio listens carefully and compassionately to the stories of people so often unheard and captures the complexity of their lives in raw, poignant pieces, giving a fullness to the undocumented Latinx experience beyond the narrow tropes meant to contain it. Interspersed throughout is her own story as an undocumented child immigrant from Ecuador and how she is continually coming to understand its impact on her life. Her voice is powerful—its service as a vessel for the many who are silenced is tenfold. This book is eye-opening, life-affirming, and change-making, if you listen.

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The Undocumented Americans Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780399592683
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: One World - March 24th, 2020

The Dragons, the Giant, the Women by Wayétu Moore

It is evident that Moore is a storyteller at heart. Her memoir weaves together her family’s flight during the First Liberian Civil War, her childhood immigrant experience in America, and the escape narrative that bridges the two. Beginning with her fifth birthday in Monrovia, continuing through her coming of age in Texas and her return to Liberia as an adult, Moore has written a story and a history that needs to be told. More importantly, it is one that needs to be felt, and Moore’s intimate, lyrical, and harrowing account is heart grabbing from the first page and lodges bone deep to the very end.

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The Dragons, the Giant, the Women: A Memoir Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781644450314
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graywolf Press - June 2nd, 2020

Reproduction by Ian Williams

Winner of the 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize in Canada, Reproduction is a playful novel that begins with the meeting of two very different strangers in a hospital room occupied by their mothers, and weaves through three decades of the family and relationships that follow such an unexpected and unbidden encounter. Williams writes with a poet’s ear and an inventive spark, exploring love, class, race, and the multicultural community in Toronto where this artful story unfolds in ways both light and deeply felt.

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Reproduction Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9781609455750
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Europa Editions - April 21st, 2020

A Burning by Megha Majumdar

Megha Majumdar has written an astounding debut novel, and my favorite book of the year thus far. Following a terrorist attack in modern-day India, A Burning explores three very different lives. It lays bare the consequences and complexities of class, gender, politics, religion, and race—the social constructs that both empower and imprison the book’s richly drawn characters. It is propulsive, it is important, it is beautifully rendered. A Burning is exactly the book it needs to be, even as it lifts you, even as it breaks your heart. I am filled to the brim with all of it.

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A Burning: A novel Cover Image
$25.95
ISBN: 9780525658696
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - June 2nd, 2020

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