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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.






A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

I ran a book discussion group for fifteen years. When the members voted for their favorite book over that stretch, this was the winner. Set in India, it’s one of those amazing novels that is both about specific, deeply rendered human beings, and about an entire nation and culture. Think Dickens, think Tolstoy. It’s that good. I don’t cry at the end of books; I did at the end of this one.

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A Fine Balance (Vintage International) By Rohinton Mistry Cover Image
ISBN: 9781400030651
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - November 30th, 2001

Independent People by Halldor Laxness

Written by Iceland’s only winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, this strange and beautiful novel is set on a haunted sheep farm where a prideful man battles brutal winters, pestilence and his own inner demons to survive in a changing world. The book has a subtle magic that builds, page by page, like a terrific dream from which you never want to wake.
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Independent People (Vintage International) By Halldor Laxness Cover Image
ISBN: 9780679767923
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - January 14th, 1997

The Miracle Girl by Andrew Roe

When a car accident leaves 7-year-old Anabelle Vincent in a coma-like state called “akinetic mutism,” strange and miraculous things begin to happen—or so the people around her believe. In this heartfelt meditation on faith, Roe writes intelligently and compassionately about our shared need to make sense of loss. With deep empathy for a panoply of struggling, working-class characters, he evokes life in Southern California’s semi-desert “wasteland” suburbs with honesty, humor, and, most of all, sympathy. Uplifting but not maudlin, skeptical but not cynical, this is a terrific debut.

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The Miracle Girl By Andrew Roe Cover Image
ISBN: 9781616203603
Availability: This item is likely out of print! We may be able to order it from the publisher. If it's unavailable, we will refund you ASAP.
Published: Algonquin Books - April 21st, 2015

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

Kate Atkinson describes A God in Ruins as a “companion piece” to Life After Life, but I like to think of it as the quieter younger brother. The book is about Teddy, a quiet soul who becomes a RAF bomber, and his long life after World War II. While his sister Ursula had hundreds of chances at reliving her life, Teddy remains fixed, and must reckon with a future he never thought he’d live to see.

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A God in Ruins: A Novel By Kate Atkinson Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316176538
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Little, Brown and Company - May 5th, 2015

The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma

Set in Nigeria in the mid-1990s, this terrific debut tells the story of four brothers whose fortunes change for the worse when their father takes a job in a faraway city. The plot feels as solid and classic as something out of the Old Testament—an African version of Cain and Abel—and the writing is unique, creating tension in oblique and unexpected ways. I found this a profound and moving reading experience.

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The Fishermen: A Novel By Chigozie Obioma Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316338370
Availability: This item is likely out of print! We may be able to order it from the publisher. If it's unavailable, we will refund you ASAP.
Published: Little, Brown and Company - April 14th, 2015

Lost for Words and The Complete Patrick Melrose Novels by Edward St. Aubyn

Collecting the five novels featuring St. Aubyn’s autobiographical protagonist into a single volume, The Complete Patrick Melrose Novels is one of the most anticipated books of 2015. Savagely exposing the insular world of British wealth and class in which St. Aubyn was raised, the writing is smart, insightful and gorgeous. In Lost for Words, St. Aubyn unleashes his acid wit on a motley group of “celebrities” chosen to judge a major literary prize (read The Booker Prize), exploring the personal motivations—ranging from the selfish to the misguided to the outright delusional—that determine the “best” novel of the year.                                

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The Complete Patrick Melrose Novels: Never Mind, Bad News, Some Hope, Mother's Milk, and At Last (The Patrick Melrose Novels) By Edward St. Aubyn Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250069603
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Picador - May 5th, 2015

Can’t and Won’t: Stories by Lydia Davis

Davis has long been a unique voice in American letters and is finally receiving the wider acclaim and readership she deserves. Her latest collection features the kind of off-beat and thought-provoking work she’s known for—micro-stories, prose poems, dreams, language experiments and even a few good old fashioned short stories. All of it is crisp, intelligent, and imbued with her sly humor and wonderfully particular sensibility.

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Can't and Won't: Stories By Lydia Davis Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250062437
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Picador - March 31st, 2015

The Lost City of Z by David Grann

Somewhere deep in the Amazon jungle, the story went, there was a city made of gold. The only problem was that no one knew where it was, and the surrounding region was filled with fierce tribes that killed outsiders on sight. This is the story of the people, some lucky, some tragically not so, who tried to find it.  

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The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon (Vintage Departures) By David Grann Cover Image
ISBN: 9781400078455
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - January 26th, 2010

Joseph Anton by Salman Rushdie

As most of us remember, Salman Rushdie was sentenced to death by the Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989 for writing The Satanic Verses, and was forced to live underground for nearly two decades. Here, at last, is his story of trying to live a “normal” life while in hiding. Brilliant writing, and one hell of a story.  

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Joseph Anton: A Memoir By Salman Rushdie Cover Image
ISBN: 9780812982602
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - September 10th, 2013

Cadillac Desert by Marc Reisner

More pertinent now than ever, this modern classic is the history of water in the west. Reisner tells the story of the most necessary component of the West’s amazing growth and development—dams. The tale is filled with heroes, villans and a few prescient souls who saw the future but weren’t powerful enough to stop it. Everyone living west of the Mississippi should read this book!

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Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water, Revised Edition By Marc Reisner Cover Image
ISBN: 9780140178241
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - June 1st, 1993


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