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Bookshop Santa Cruz staff recommendation:

The following books are recommended by our staff as great choices for book groups. Sign up for our Book Ends email newsletter to receive more great book group recommendations.

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


Robert Macfarlane writes with such agility and scope that when exploring the natural world that lies beneath us, he also plumbs the depths of our cultures, mythologies, and histories—not as an exercise in what has been, but in where we are now, and what can still be done. Tracking across time and the planet, each page is a revelation, a way to think more deeply and place ourselves more fully in the world, making Underland both pleasurable reading and important work. - Melinda

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Underland: A Deep Time Journey Cover Image
$27.95
ISBN: 9780393242140
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - June 4th, 2019


Moraga is one of the most powerful voices of Xicana feminism. In this biography of her mother Elvira, she grapples with the struggles and erasure of women (especially of indigenous women) in the Mexican diaspora. Elvira is the strong, difficult backbone in Moraga’s life journey from the mixed-race Los Angeles household of her childhood to the hard-won “queer familia” of her present. A beautiful reclamation of language, memory, and culture. - Clara

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Native Country of the Heart: A Memoir Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780374219666
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - April 2nd, 2019


The world is not black and white, so why do we approach gender as a binary? In Me, Myself, They, Joshua Ferguson breaks down on historical, scientific, and societal bases why a two-gender outlook ignores reality. The world is filled with so many colors and the idea that we all fit into one of two boxes is preposterous. This unflinchingly honest memoir made me rethink everything I know about gender and I can’t wait to give it to everyone I know. - Ivy

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Me, Myself, They: Life Beyond the Binary Cover Image
$18.95
ISBN: 9781487004774
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: House of Anansi Press - May 7th, 2019


While working in a large hospital in Philadelphia, Dr. Virji realized that due to the number of his patients he was assigned, he was practicing “turnstyle” medicine. Upon hearing of a shortage of doctors in rural communities, he and his family moved to a town of 1400 people in Minnesota, where he opened a clinic. After a few years, he was finally practicing personable medicine in a community that seemed warm and welcoming. Then the 2016 elections hit. Virji, a devout Muslim, woke to find a swastika on his sidewalk. The atmosphere in the town seemed to shift overnight and things got dangerous and intense. At the verge of leaving entirely, a town meeting was called and Virji found himself in the burdened position of having to educate and explain his religion to a less-than-open crowd. Love Thy Neighbor offers a view of the bravery that is required and the shifts that can take place when compassion and faith are used to combat fear. - S.M.C.

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Love Thy Neighbor: A Muslim Doctor's Struggle for Home in Rural America Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780525577201
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Convergent Books - June 11th, 2019


When Harper Lee learned of the vigilante murder of Reverend Willie Maxwell, the many deaths that preceded his, and the lawyer who both defended him and his assailant, she knew she’d found the story she wanted to write, a true crime narrative with an underlying complexity of race, place, and politics. Almost 50 years later, Casey Cep has realized the same in her first book, a remarkable work of nonfiction that distills extensive research into a broad, insightful exploration of not only the reverend and his lawyer but of Harper Lee, her drive, her demons, and the book she never finished. - Melinda

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Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee Cover Image
$21.56
ISBN: 9781101947869
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - May 7th, 2019


When Michele Filgate, the editor of What My Mother and I Don’t Talk About, wrote an essay about her stepfather’s abuse, she revealed the fracture that the abuse caused between her mother and her. The essay went viral and Filgate realized that there was much to be learned about what happens in the intimate bond between mother and child when things go unsaid. Filgate gathered 15 writers to explore the topic. Some of the essays are hilarious; others heartbreaking; but there is such strength and resilience in this collection. I kept recalling Leonard Cohen’s line, “There is a crack in everything/That’s how the light gets in.” - S.M.C.

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What My Mother and I Don't Talk About: Fifteen Writers Break the Silence Cover Image
By Michele Filgate (Editor)
$26.00
ISBN: 9781982107345
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Simon & Schuster - April 30th, 2019


Autumn Light is not so much a long-time expatriate reflecting on his chosen home, as a rumination on life. Iyer tells a story not finished but set: the joys of spouse and children poignantly framed against memories of the dead, and the ache of loving those leaving us. Japan’s relationship with aging and death—as well as love, marriage, and parenthood—is different from what we see in the West, but Iyer writes an affecting picture of the universalities of being an aging human. -Jocelyn

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Autumn Light: Season of Fire and Farewells Cover Image
$25.95
ISBN: 9780451493934
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - April 16th, 2019


This is the kind of science fiction that invites you to flex your imagination and think in creative swoops you weren’t yet capable of. Chiang isn’t tied down by genre. These stories swing from a Scheherazade-style storytelling to Asimov-esque self-reflective automata to Silicon Valley relationship turmoil. I don’t know if Chiang has answers about free will or the order of the universe, but these stories—no matter how wild or mundane—bring us closer to understanding our own existence. - Clara

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Exhalation: Stories Cover Image
$20.76
ISBN: 9781101947883
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - May 7th, 2019


In celebration of its paperback release, I have started and restarted this review many times, as it seems nearly impossible to convey the brilliance and impact of this novel. I can tell you it is my favorite novel in years; I have recommended it to so many, only to have them pass it on. There are throat-caught sentences and marvel when those of us that have read it try to talk about it. The book alternates between two storylines, one following Yale, a young gay man in Chicago in the 1980s at the height of the AIDS crisis; the other following Fiona, 30 years later, a mother in a desperate search to find her missing adult daughter. The intersection of these two stories is nothing short of brilliant. Love, redemption, and life at its fullest are bound in these pages. Read this book. —S.M.C.

 

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The Great Believers: A Novel Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780735223530
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - June 4th, 2019


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