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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.

 

 

 

 

 

The Vulnerables by Sigrid Nunez

Years ago, after reading Sigrid Nunez’s novel The Last of Her Kind, I wondered why she wasn’t a household name. Now, after The Friend and a well-deserved National Book Award, she’s widely (and rightfully) considered one of our finest writers. Her new novel, set primarily during the pandemic, explores the precariousness of life and our need for meaningful connection. Written in her clean and economical prose, the book is filled with perfectly drawn characters and spot-on observations.  

—Rico

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The Vulnerables: A Novel By Sigrid Nunez Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780593715512
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - November 7th, 2023

Pedro Páramo by Juan Rulfo, translated by Douglas J. Weatherford

One of the great novels of Latin American literature and a touchstone for surrealist writers the world over, Pedro Páramo is a haunting journey through memory, loss, and grief. Its critique of authoritarianism remains as pertinent today as the day it was published. Gorgeously translated by the renowned Rulfo scholar Douglas J. Weatherford, this new Grove Press edition includes an introduction by Gabriel García Marquez that should be all the convincing you need to put this novel at the top of your reading list.  

—Rico

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Pedro Páramo By Juan Rulfo, Douglas J. Weatherford (Translator), Gabriel García Márquez (Introduction by) Cover Image
By Juan Rulfo, Douglas J. Weatherford (Translator), Gabriel García Márquez (Introduction by)
$17.00
ISBN: 9780802160935
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press - November 14th, 2023

The Deadline: Essays by Jill Lepore

A Harvard professor and staff writer for the New Yorker, Jill Lepore writes powerful and important essays about every imaginable aspect of contemporary American life, covering history, law, literature—even Bratz dolls. (She’s also the author of the surprise hit The Secret History of Wonder Woman.) Her new book of essays offers a panoramic look at our country and culture, capturing the current era in all its fractious, surreal, and occasionally hopeful glory.  

—Rico

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The Deadline: Essays By Jill Lepore Cover Image
$45.00
ISBN: 9781631496127
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Liveright - August 29th, 2023

The World According to Joan Didion by Evelyn McDonnell

Journalist, essayist, and novelist Joan Didion, who passed away in 2021, remains one of my favorite writers of all time. Evelyn McDonnell, herself a literary jack-of-many-trades, offers a literary biography that seeks to go beyond the where and when of Didion’s life and get at the heart of her process as a researcher and writer, and to explore the various ways she saw the world and transmuted what she saw into powerful, revelatory prose. 

—Rico

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The World According to Joan Didion By Evelyn McDonnell Cover Image
$26.99
ISBN: 9780063289079
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: HarperOne - September 26th, 2023

The Big Time by Michael MacCambridge

Though it's hard to imagine now, there was a time when the NBA was a backwater league with few fans, when the average professional football or hockey player needed a side job in the off-season to make ends meet. Michael MacCambridge’s thoroughly researched and well-written book takes us back to the 1970s and shows how big-money television deals, better individual contracts, increased acceptance of integration, and the emergence of female athletes combined to bring sports from the margins to the mainstream and indelibly change the country. 

—Rico

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The Big Time: How the 1970s Transformed Sports in America By Michael MacCambridge Cover Image
$32.50
ISBN: 9781538706695
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grand Central Publishing - October 10th, 2023

Scattershot: Life, Music, Elton and Me by Bernie Taupin

Just as Elton John is a musical genius, Bernie Taupin is a lyrical one, and their partnership created some of the best (and bestselling) music of the 20th century. Now the spotlight-averse—some say reclusive—Taupin shares his take on that partnership and his life in music. Instead of a straight-ahead chronology, the book moves in and out of moments and scenes, underscoring the surreal and dreamlike life of a kid from rural England who hit the rock ’n’ roll big-time. 

—Rico

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Scattershot: Life, Music, Elton, and Me By Bernie Taupin Cover Image
$32.50
ISBN: 9780306828676
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Hachette Books - September 12th, 2023

Golden Gate Gardening (30th Anniversary Edition) by Pam Peirce

Twenty years ago, when I bought my home, I grabbed Pam Peirce’s original Golden Gate Gardening and started reading up on the plants I wanted to grow. Since then, thanks to her easy-to-follow advice, my little—not diligently cared for and not particularly sunny—garden has produced hundreds of pounds of food. The new 30th anniversary edition is stuffed with even more hard-won information, all filtered through 30 more years of Bay Area gardening experience. It might be the only gardening book you’ll ever need. 

—Rico

The English Experience by Julie Schumacher

Schumacher first landed on my radar with Dear Committee Members, a novel in letters of recommendation written by a slightly insane and hilariously cynical professor. She followed that up with The Shakespeare Requirement and now completes the trilogy with The English Experience, in which poor Professor Fitger is back, this time called upon to lead a group of misfit students on a trip to England. Schumacher is one of the smartest writers working today—and possibly the funniest. I can't wait to dive into this one!

—Rico

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The English Experience: A Novel (The Dear Committee Trilogy #3) By Julie Schumacher Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780385550123
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Doubleday - August 15th, 2023

The Fraud by Zadie Smith

If I ever wrote a list of things I love in novels, it would include: a big sprawling plot, some "non-fiction" elements that allow me to think I'm learning something about the "real" world, a character who may or may not be who they say they are, a great setting expertly evoked, and excellent sentence-by-sentence writing. Smith's new novel, set in the late 1800s and smartly focused on questions of "truth" and "authenticity," checks all those boxes and more.

—Rico

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The Fraud: A Novel By Zadie Smith Cover Image
$29.00
ISBN: 9780525558965
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Press - September 5th, 2023

A Line in the Sand by Kevin Powers

An Iraqi who worked as an interpreter for the US during the Iraq War and lost his family in an assassination attempt is now in America working maintenance at a beach motel. One morning, he finds a body on the beach and realizes the people who wanted him dead are trying to finish the job. Kevin Powers first appeared on my radar with the impressionistic The Yellow Birds, one of my favorite novels of the past decade. Here his prose is more structured but the book still reads like something written by a man possessed.  —RICO

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A Line in the Sand: A Novel By Kevin Powers Cover Image
$29.00
ISBN: 9780316507127
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Little, Brown and Company - May 16th, 2023

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