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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.






Inter State: Essays from California by José Vadi

Other people have chronicled the good and the bad of the Golden State but few have done it with as much verve, off-beat humor, and thought-provoking analysis as José Vadi. In seven lively and lyrical essays, he views the place through the lives of people who, for one reason or another, missed out on the California Dream but are nonetheless uniquely Californian, including a laid-off tech worker, the grandson of migrant workers, and an obsessive skateboarder. Excavating often-ignored personal and community histories, the pieces deepen our understanding of the place we call home.—Rico

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Inter State: Essays from California By José Vadi Cover Image
ISBN: 9781593766955
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Soft Skull - September 14th, 2021

Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen

Franzen’s new novel opens on a precarious moment in the life of the Hildebrandt family. Two days before Christmas in 1971, the parents, Russ and Marion, have grown widely apart and are exploring other options. Meanwhile, their three older children are navigating personal and spiritual difficulties that may help define them as people and possibly ruin their lives. The novel represents a turn for Franzen, away from the eviscerating social critique of The Corrections and Freedom and toward a deeply compassionate realism. The novel’s depth of character, powerful exploration of morality, and astounding scope suggest it’s time to stop comparing him to his contemporaries and start comparing him to Proust and Tolstoy.—Rico

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Crossroads: A Novel By Jonathan Franzen Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374181178
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - October 5th, 2021

Friend of My Youth by Alice Munro

Munro is my favorite short-story writer of all time and this is probably my favorite of her collections. As with all of her collections, her writing is somehow both casual in feel but devastatingly precise, and her emotional register never fails. Three or four of the stories here are among the best written by anybody anywhere. - Rico

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Friend of My Youth: Stories (Vintage International) By Alice Munro Cover Image
ISBN: 9780679729570
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: Vintage - May 7th, 1991

Luster by Raven Leilani

This debut novel got a lot of hype and I’m glad to say it deserved every bit of it. The narrator is a young Black woman who, among other bad decisions, takes up with a married man. That he’s wealthy, White and much older only adds to the trouble. Just when you think you know where the story is going, it goes somewhere very different—and much more interesting. Loved it! - Rico

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Luster: A Novel By Raven Leilani Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250798671
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Picador - June 8th, 2021

Sea Wife by Amity Gaige

This is one of my favorite books of 2020. A husband and wife decide to step out of the rat race and take their two small children on a long sailing voyage off the coast of Central America. Needless to say, things don’t go as planned. The writing is fantastic, the characters are all too human (read: flawed but sympathetic) and the story reads like the best kind of thriller. - Rico

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Sea Wife: A novel By Amity Gaige Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525566922
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - March 2nd, 2021

That Old Country Music by Kevin Barry

On the recommendation of a friend, I read Barry’s novel Night Boat to Tangier and absolutely loved it. So when I saw he had a new collection of short stories, I grabbed it immediately and tore through it in three sittings. Barry is in full command of the story form and his language is simply incredible—rhythmic, musical and heartbreaking. - RIco

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That Old Country Music: Stories By Kevin Barry Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385540339
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: Doubleday - January 12th, 2021

Hollywood Eden: Electric Guitars, Fast Cars, and the Myth of the California Paradise by Joel Selvin

The long-time pop music critic for the San Francisco Chronicle and author of many rock band bios takes us back to 1950s Southern California to tell the stories of the songwriters and musicians who would go on to create a particular brand of rock music and help define the very idea of modern California. As he recounts the origin stories of Jan and Dean, the Beach Boys, the Byrds, the Mamas and the Papas, and others, he describes a place today’s Californians will hardly recognize—inexpensive houses, empty beaches, open roads, and few people. (To wit, Jan and Dean, Nancy Sinatra, and some of the Beach Boys all attended the same high school—at the same time.) But of course the tricky thing about paradise is that it usually has a few seamy aspects. Fortunately for us, Selvin delves into those parts the most. The book is crisply written, loaded with great anecdotes, and offers a wonderful ride back in time. — Rico

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Hollywood Eden: Electric Guitars, Fast Cars, and the Myth of the California Paradise By Joel Selvin Cover Image
ISBN: 9781487007218
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: House of Anansi Press - April 6th, 2021

The Bookseller of Florence by Ross King

Bestselling author King returns with the story of Vespasiano da Bisticci (b. 1422), Europe’s premier bookmaker and bookseller, whose client list included kings, popes, and wealthy aristocrats. In addition to helping disseminate the works of Plato, Aristotle, and other Ancient Greek writers and philosophers, he wrote books that were illustrated by some of the finest miniaturists of the day. Though Vespasiano thrived during an era of political turmoil and fervent intellectual debate, he was eventually felled by a brilliant new invention: the printing press. The Bookseller of Florence is both a page- turning look at one of the most inspiring eras of the Italian Renaissance and a fascinating and informative history of bookmaking. — Rico

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The Bookseller of Florence: The Story of the Manuscripts That Illuminated the Renaissance By Ross King Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802158529
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Atlantic Monthly Press - April 13th, 2021

First Person Singular: Stories by Haruki Murakami

Over the past several decades, Murakami has made an indelible mark on world literature by seamlessly blending the mundane with the surreal. Here, in a new collection of stories, Murakami broadens his already expansive territory as he follows characters who find themselves compelled by forces they don’t understand. A man in a sauna at a remote hotel is asked by a monkey if he’d like his back scrubbed. A music fan has a dream in which Charlie Parker offers his thoughts on the meaningless- ness of death. This collection is a mind-bending pleasure. — Rico

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First Person Singular: Stories By Haruki Murakami, Philip Gabriel (Translated by) Cover Image
By Haruki Murakami, Philip Gabriel (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780593318072
Availability: Backordered
Published: Knopf - April 6th, 2021

Red Island House by Andrea Lee

I first stumbled upon Andrea Lee in 2019 when I read her incredibly haunting short story “The Children” in the New Yorker. When I saw that she had a novel coming out, I scooped it up immediately and was pleased to see that “The Children” was actually the second chapter. The novel tells the story of Shay, a Black woman from the US, who marries an older wealthy man from Italy. When her husband decides to build them a dream house on an idyllic beach on an island near Madagascar, Shay is determined to remain a “tourist” in her new home. But soon she's drawn into the affairs and intrigues of the surrounding community and is forced to confront, in very real ways, issues of heritage and identity, and the colonial legacy of a nearly forgotten corner of the world. — Rico

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Red Island House: A Novel By Andrea Lee Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982137809
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Scribner - March 23rd, 2021


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