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Rico's Reviews

Rico has had a lot of different jobs over the years--carpenter, office manager, teacher, marketing copywriter--but he's spent most of his adult life selling books, first at Capitola Book Cafe and now at Bookshop Santa Cruz, where he manages the Fiction section. In his spare time he does a lot of birdwatching, backpacking, and woodworking. His short stories have appeared in dozens of magazines around the country--one was a Notable Story of the Year in the 2009 Best of the West anthology and two were nominated for the 2014 Pushcart Prize. His essay, "Of Human Carnage," was selected for Best American Essays 2016. Though he mostly reads literary fiction, he also loves outdoor adventure, history and anything about Africa. Aside from being around books all day, his favorite part of the job is making recommendations and turning people on to authors they haven't discovered yet.

 

 

 

 

 

Surrender: The Call of the American West by Joanna Pocock

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Surrender: The Call of the American West Cover Image
$17.95
ISBN: 9781487007249
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: House of Anansi Press - April 7th, 2020

Growing restless in middle age, Pocock, a Canadian writer and journalist, packs up her husband and daughter, and heads to Montana, looking for…she’s not sure. Trying to find meaning in an increasingly complicated world, she sets out to investigate the modern West, and ends up spending time with people across the spectrum: ranchers, militia members, anti-government wolf trappers, Native-American “rewilders,” spiritual leaders, red-state liberals, sexologists, and even other moms just trying to raise their kids the best they know how. As a sort-of foreigner (I mean, how foreign is Canada, really?), she’s able to both understand the West and offer fresh insight on the country and region we call home. —Rico


The Man in the Red Coat by Julian Barnes

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The Man in the Red Coat Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9780525658771
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - February 18th, 2020

At its heart, this is the story of Dr. Samuel Pozzi, a late-Nineteenth-Century French surgeon, philosopher and societal figure, and subject of one of John Singer Sargent’s most famous portraits. But it’s really an intelligent, witty re-examination of the Belle Epoque. In addition to the era's glamour and artistic achievements (think Henry James, Sarah Bernhardt, Oscar Wilde, Proust, etc.), Barnes shows us its darker side—the prejudice and backward thinking—and the ways it parallels our current era (think Brexit, the broader global swing toward nationalism, and America’s own political situation). A great read for fans of art, literature, history and excellent writing. —Rico


The Friend by Sigrid Nunez

When the narrator’s friend, another writer, dies suddenly, she inherits his Great Dane. Among many problems, she lives in a tiny New York apartment—that doesn’t allow pets. What follows is a brilliant and moving meditation on friendship, love (both Platonic and romantic), art and grief. I found this a profound and beautiful reading experience. - Rico

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The Friend: A Novel Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780735219458
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - February 5th, 2019

The Topeka School by Ben Lerner

In his newest novel, the author of two of my favorite books of the past decade (Leaving the Atocha Station and 10:04) tells the story of a “lefty household” in Topeka, Kansas, in the 1990s. The parents are psychologists transplanted from the big city, their son a gifted high school debater. It is about the end of the 20th century and the breakdown of our political discourse, but it’s also about language. Lerner is a poet—literally; he’s published three books of poetry—and every page here brims with fresh turns of phrase, startling images, and precisely rendered emotional moments. - Rico

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The Topeka School: A Novel Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780374277789
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - October 1st, 2019

Gun Island by Amitav Ghosh

Ghosh is old-school, a throwback to the 19th century, when novelists wrote sweeping sagas that captured the essence of entire nations and cultures. Here he tells the story Deen Datta, a rare-book dealer who, after hearing a tale of a lost shrine that pays homage to both a Hindi snake goddess named Manasa Devi and a Muslim saint named Ilyas, sets out on a journey that will change his life. The book is about a world on the brink, about loss and displacement, and also about hope. It’s a deeply satisfying read. -  Rico

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Gun Island: A Novel Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780374167394
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - September 10th, 2019

Freeman's: California edited by John Freeman

The most recent anthology of cutting-edge literature from long-time Granta editor John Freeman is all about the glorious (and troubled) place we call home. Matching the Golden State’s diversity of landscape and demographics, the collection offers new work from 30 authors, including William Vollmann (covering the Carr Fire), Rabih Alameddine (remembering San Francisco during the AIDS crisis), Tommy Orange (conjuring a potentially suicidal would-be bank robber), and Santa Cruz’s own Karen Tei Yamashita (sharing the correspondence of a Japanese American man visiting Hiroshima shortly after the bombing). In piece after piece, the writing is poignant, compelling, and thought provoking. - Rico

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Freeman's: California Cover Image
By John Freeman (Editor)
$16.00
ISBN: 9780802147875
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Grove Press - October 8th, 2019

Close to Birds by Roine Magnusson

Though less known in the United States, Magnusson has contributed to National Geographic and is an award-winning photographer in Sweden. In his latest book, he uses his prodigious skills (and a huge amount of patience) to capture absolutely stunning images of birds both rare and common. The photos are so perfectly crisp, so intimate, that you get a sense of each bird’s personality and mood. With over 200 terrific images and thoughtful commentary from naturalists Mats and Asa Ottosson, this is the perfect gift for the bird lover in your life. - RIco

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Close to Birds: An Intimate Look at Our Feathered Friends Cover Image
$39.95
ISBN: 9781611807103
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Roost Books - October 22nd, 2019

The Beautiful Ones by Prince

Though Prince has shed his mortal coil, I am utterly convinced he will never die. I’ve been a huge fan since the ’80s, when his unique voice, ridiculously witty lyrics, and irresistible dance grooves started taking over the airwaves. In addition to being a great songwriter, producer, singer, performer, dancer…the list goes on…he was also one of the best rock guitarists of all time. If you’re in doubt about this, listen again to “Let’s Go Crazy.” In any case, here, astonishingly, is the scrapbook/lyric sheet/photo collage/memoir-ish book he was working on when he transitioned to his next level of artistic brilliance. Like everything he ever created, it is utterly amazing. - Rico

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The Beautiful Ones Cover Image
By Prince
$30.00
ISBN: 9780399589652
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: One World - October 29th, 2019

Alta California by Nick Neely

In 1769, Gaspar de Portolá led a band of 64 Spanish explorers overland from San Diego north to what we now call the San Francisco Bay. Two hundred and fifty years later, Neely—who grew up in Portola (without the accent) Valley—set out to retrace the route, also on foot, in search of a deeper understanding of the Golden State’s history. Using passages from diaries kept during the original journey for comparison and contrast, he explores the biggest issues facing California today—water, agriculture, oil, gas, immigration, and development—while walking through a panorama that’s both beautiful and conflicted. - Rico

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Alta California: From San Diego to San Francisco, a Journey on Foot to Rediscover the Golden State Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781640091658
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Counterpoint LLC - November 5th, 2019

The Friend by Sigrid Nunez

When the narrator’s friend, another writer, dies suddenly, she inherits his Great Dane. Among many problems, she lives in a tiny New York apartment—that doesn’t allow pets. What follows is a brilliant and moving meditation on friendship, love (both Platonic and romantic), art and grief. I found this a profound and beautiful reading experience. - Rico

Staff Pick Badge
The Friend: A Novel Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780735219458
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - February 5th, 2019

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