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S.M.C.'s Reviews

Susan McCloskey has worked at Bookshop Santa Cruz since graduating from UCSC in 2000. She is the former Event Coordinator at Bookshop and continues to consult for the store. In her other life, she is a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. She believes in story, and loves the meld of working with books, narrative, and people.

Let the Whole Thundering World Come Home by Natalie Goldberg

When Zen practitioner and author Natalie Goldberg (Writing Down the Bones) was diagnosed with a dangerous blood cancer, she was suddenly thrown into the world of hospitals, medical lingo, and life-threatening urgency. Months into her own treatment, her partner was also handed a cancer diagnosis. With her Buddhist practice and steadfast spiritual gaze, Goldberg speaks to the importance of recognizing that it is the dance between the dark and the light, the hard and the easy, that makes life full and worthy of living. - S.M.C.

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Let the Whole Thundering World Come Home: A Memoir Cover Image
ISBN: 9781611805673
Availability: Backordered
Published: Shambhala - June 5th, 2018

Altered Traits by Daniel Goleman & Richard Davidson

Goleman and Davidson have written a readable and well-researched book that draws on not just the benefits of mindfulness but the brain research on what happens within our body that makes meditation and focused awareness quiet and center us as much as it does. They argue that while the benefits of mindfulness are tenfold, it is important to also have an understanding of the whys and hows of the practice so it does not simply become a cultural phenomenon that gets diluted and loses its worth. With tips, research, and explanation, this book is a wonderful read for those who want to deepen and understand the workings behind their mindfulness practice. - S.M.C.

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Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body Cover Image
ISBN: 9780399184383
Availability: Backordered
Published: Avery - September 5th, 2017

Becoming Myself by Irvin D. Yalom

In the way that Oliver Sacks revealed the complexity and deep heart that exists in the world of neurology, Irvin Yalom has long written books that reveal the bravery and nuances that exist within our relationships with one another (Love’s Executioner, one of Yalom’s early works, remains one of the most poignant nonfiction books I have ever read). Now in his 80s, Yalom turns toward a study of self and memory as a means of discovery. In a blend of traditional memoir and funny imaginings between his older and younger self, Yalom speaks with humor and heart about his upbringing with detached parents, his own foibles at becoming a psychiatrist, and the way that aging is an opportunity for an entirely new way of knowing and understanding the world. - S.M.C.

Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich

Having binge-watched the television adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, coupled with current politics, I swore off dystopian stories for the time being just so I could catch my breath. Until, of course, I caught word that my favorite author’s new title was just that. Future Home of the Living God tells the story of one woman, Cedar, who at four months pregnant, is suddenly thrown into a fight for survival when the state of genetic evolution starts to reverse itself. Plants and animals are reproducing species that have long been extinct and there are whispers that the children being born aren’t surviving or if they are, something is very wrong with them. The government responds by gathering genetic data and institutionalizing pregnant women. As Cedar’s pregnancy progresses, we watch the journey that she must endure to protect her unborn child. While this genre is a departure for Erdrich, Future Home of the Living God explores themes familiar to her other books, examining self-identity, loyalty, and the importance of redemption within family. This is a taut and intense whirlwind of a read—whew. - S.M.C.

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Future Home of the Living God: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062694058
Availability: Hard to Find - Believed to be Out of Stock Indefinitely
Published: Harper - November 14th, 2017

The Best of Us by Joyce Maynard

Joyce Maynard (bestselling of author of At Home in the World) has written a touching and sincere book about finding strength and life in the midst of hardship. In their late 50’s, Joyce and her soon-to-be husband, Jim, met for the first time. Each had been married, had children, and also then subsequently divorced. Neither Jim nor Joyce was particularly looking for love again, but there was a deep connection between the two, that neither could ignore. Maynard writes their story of reclaiming love and romance, getting married, and then dealing with the blow of Jim’s diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. Praised by Anne Lamott for being full of “the tears and joy of life,” Maynard coveys with such clarity not just the honesty about the ugliness of illness, but also the unparalleled bond of intimacy and awareness that springs forth when life is on the line. - S.M.C.

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The Best of Us: A Memoir Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781635570342
Availability: Out of Print
Published: Bloomsbury USA - September 5th, 2017

The Push by Tommy Caldwell

This wonderful book is part memoir, part adventure and nature writing, and fully a tale of inspiration and hope. In 2015, Tommy Caldwell completed what is considered one of the hardest climbs in the world: a free climb up El Capitan’s vertical wall in Yosemite—that’s 3,000 feet of balance and strength using just his fingers and toes. The Push is an incredible account of endurance as well as a deeply engrossing memoir of a once-self-conscious boy finding the obsession and drive to overcome heartbreak and disappointment in order to achieve the seemingly impossible. - S.M.C.

The Way We Lived, 35th Anniversary Edition edited by Malcolm Margolin

One of Heyday Books’ best-selling titles, The Way We Lived has been updated and revised. Collecting stories, songs, chants, and knowledge from Native American tribes throughout California, this book shows what life looked like in California before colonization by whites and illuminates the remarkable and determined perseverance of Native cultures in modern times. - S.M.C.

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The Way We Lived: California Indian Stories, Songs and Reminiscences Cover Image
By Malcolm Margolin (Editor), Michael Connolly Miskwish (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9781597143936
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Heyday Books - June 1st, 2017

The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

This is one of the best nonfiction books I have read in a long time. Part memoir, part investigative journalism, it is a riveting book of surprising depth. As a young law student, Marzano-Lesnevich came across a murder that she couldn’t let go of, as it brought up memories of her own past. Years later, now a journalist and writer, she went back to it, and using her investigative skills and compassionate curiosity, tried to understand the humanity that can still exist within brutal acts. This is an unforgettable read on the nature of forgiveness and the complexity of “fact” in the legal system, when truth is constructed from the intricacy that drives the human heart. - S.M.C.

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The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781250080547
Availability: Out of Print
Published: Flatiron Books - May 16th, 2017

You Don't Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie

Sherman Alexie has written a memoir! My anticipation of this book is brimming to the boiling point. Alexie, known for his sharp wit and gifted storytelling, has turned his focus to the personal. After his mother died, Alexie used writing to deal with his grief, and in this collage of essays, photos, and poems, he gives a window onto his life growing up poor on an Indian reservation. With humor, anger, wit, and raw, poignant love, Alexie also writes of the life of his mother—a complex woman who helped shape the writer and man that Alexie would become. - S.M.C.

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You Don't Have to Say You Love Me: A Memoir Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316270755
Availability: Hard to Find - Believed to be Out of Stock Indefinitely
Published: Little, Brown and Company - June 13th, 2017

Mischling by Affinity Konar

Praised by Anthony Doerr (All the Light We Cannot See), this book immediately caught my eye. It is not an easy story to read, but it transcends despair with imaginative grace and voice. The book opens with 12-year-old twin sisters Stacha and Pearl as they enter Auschwitz, selected to be participants in Josef Mengele’s “Zoo.” Alternating between each sister’s point of view, Mischling is a lyrical tale of survival, loyalty, and love, where children create meaning and magic despite their surroundings; a beautiful read that had a profound impact. - S.M.C.

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Mischling Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316308090
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Lee Boudreaux / Back Bay Books - May 30th, 2017


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