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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.

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher

A novel in the form of recommendation letters? Sounds like a literary stunt but Schumacher absolutely nails it. While maintaining the book’s formal conceit, she perfectly blends satire and genuine human emotion, offering a hilarious commentary on modern academia through one professor’s tired pen and fading sanity. I unreservedly recommend (!) this book. - Rico

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Dear Committee Members Cover Image
$14.95
ISBN: 9780345807335
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor - June 23rd, 2015

The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner

This novel is, in a word, devastating. It opens as Romy Hall is on the way to prison to serve a life sentence for murder. As much the story of Hall’s life in prison, it’s the story of her past--her childhood on the streets of San Francisco, her experiences as an exotic dancer, and the circumstances surrounding her crime. I can’t recommend this one enough. - Rico

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The Mars Room: A Novel Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781476756585
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner - May 7th, 2019

The Dreamt Land by Mark Arax

A history and assessment of California’s (misguided) water distribution system and the population growth it has engendered, The Dreamt Land reads like an expansive, expertly crafted novel. Propelled by endless curiosity and the courage to go where his story leads, Arax captures the personalities and voices of farmers, land barons, developers, laborers, environmentalists, politicians, and consumers who depend on (and fight over) access to our state’s most precious natural resource, and details the shady dealings and political nonsense that determines who gets to profit from it. What Marc Reisner’s Cadillac Desert is to the Western United States, this book is to California—an imperative and timely work that will be around for decades to come. - Rico

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The Dreamt Land: Chasing Water and Dust Across California Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9781101875209
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - May 21st, 2019

Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan

Set in an alternative 1980s London in which extremely humanlike robots are available for purchase, this is the tale of Charlie, his love interest Miranda, and his robot-slash-friend Adam. As usual, McEwan’s writing is fantastic—smart, wry, and filled with a creeping menace that keeps you turning the pages in a rush. He tells the story with so many observant and insightful details, his “alternative” world feels like real life—and might actually be real life in the not-very-distant future. The book’s blend of the fantastical, the real, and the just plain weird is perfect for hardcore sci-fi fans as well as readers of literary fiction. - Rico

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Machines Like Me: A Novel Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9780385545112
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Nan A. Talese - April 23rd, 2019

A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Smiley’s masterpiece tells the story of an Iowa farmer who tries to divide his farm between his three daughters. As you might guess, things do not go as planned. A gorgeously written, sumptuous retelling of King Lear, the book exposes the dark truths in a typical American family. A haunting, unforgettable read. - Rico

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A Thousand Acres: A Novel Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781400033836
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor - December 2nd, 2003

The Savage Detectives by Robert Bolaño

This is one of the most beautiful and strangely compelling novels I’ve ever read. Centered around a small group of mostly failed poets in Mexico City in the 1970s, it veers to Spain, Africa, and back to Mexico in surprising and wonderful ways. Part crime story, part hero’s journey, the book is funny, poignant and one hundred percent unique. - Rico

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The Savage Detectives: A Novel Cover Image
By Roberto Bolaño, Natasha Wimmer (Translated by)
$21.00
ISBN: 9780312427481
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Picador - March 4th, 2008

Any Human Heart by William Boyd

William Boyd should be as well known as Steinbeck or Dickens. Like them, he does it all: amazing plots, wonderful descriptions and—especially—great characters. Written in the form of journal entries, this book tells the story of an art dealer and sometime-spy whose life is a kind of history of the 20th century. Both intimate and sweeping, this is simply a great old-fashioned read. - Rico

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Any Human Heart (Vintage International) Cover Image
$17.95
ISBN: 9781400031009
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage - January 6th, 2004

French Exit by Patrick deWitt

Imbued with Dewitt’s oddball sensibility, this strange little book tells the story of an extremely wealthy (but growing poorer by the day) widow and her adult son who both absolutely positively refuse to worry about their increasingly precarious finances. Weird in the extreme, they’re sarcastic, rude, dismissive—and still strangely entertaining. An enjoyable romp. - Rico

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French Exit: A Novel Cover Image
$25.99
ISBN: 9780062846921
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ecco - August 28th, 2018

Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi by Geoff Dyer

The first half of this brilliant and intriguing novel takes place at the Biennale in Venice, where a world-weary freelance writer might be falling in love. The second part is set in Varanasi, India, where a world-weary Brit is going mad or finding nirvana, or both. Are the two characters the same guy? Are the stories connected? Dyer lets you come to your own conclusions. - Rico

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Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9780307390301
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - April 6th, 2010

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Though the movie was universally panned, the book remains one of the best-written, most intriguing works of fiction of the past twenty years. Composed of six connected novellas that take place over vastly different eras, both past and future, each written in a different style, the book is a essentially a brilliant survey of humankind. One of my all-time favorites. - Rico

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Cloud Atlas: A Novel Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780375507250
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - August 17th, 2004

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