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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.

Friends, this is it. This is the book we’ve been waiting for. And now I can’t get it out of my head, and the pit of my stomach, and my aching heart. It is that good, that gorgeous, that brutal, surreal, tender, enlightening, bitingly funny, and unbelievably truthful. And it’s short stories, so I urge you to savor them one at a time, if you can. Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah is here, and I say not a moment too soon. - Melinda

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Friday Black Cover Image
$14.99
ISBN: 9781328911247
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mariner Books - October 23rd, 2018


The rough and tumble lives of the five Dunbar brothers include a house without a father or mother, a pet mule named Achilles, and daily tests of brute strength and will that end in bloody feet and black eyes. Still, the love between brothers is something no one can come between—until a figure from their past returns to break one brother apart from the rest. Markus Zusak, acclaimed author of The Book Thief, spins a heartbreaking tale of boys and men, mothers and fathers, pain and the space for forgiveness. Ages 14 and up. - Tera

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Bridge of Clay Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781984830159
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf Books for Young Readers - October 9th, 2018


At the age of 30, Jedidiah Jenkins decided to “happen to life” instead of letting life happen to him and embarked on an 18-month bike trip from Oregon to Patagonia. The resulting book is both a delightful adventure and a thoughtfuljourney into his own soul. Travel frees him to make unencumbered relationships with his past, his spirituality, his identity, his family, and his sense of self in ways that leave me feeling alive, inspired, and ready to pack my own bags. - Melinda

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To Shake the Sleeping Self: A Journey from Oregon to Patagonia, and a Quest for a Life with No Regret Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781524761387
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Convergent Books - October 2nd, 2018


Unlike some celebrity memoirs that focus on art and fame, actress Sally Field’s memoir is much more personal, and includes her life before she was famous. She reveals that as a child, she was sexually abused by her stepfather and talks about how that shaped her decisions regarding her partnerships, which roles she took, and even how she mothered. As an artist, she was drawn to the roles that “spoke of outrage,” but in writing her memoir, you can feel the connection that Field has found with herself. - S.M.C.

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In Pieces Cover Image
$29.00
ISBN: 9781538763025
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grand Central Publishing - September 18th, 2018


How does she do it? How does Anne Lamott capture the tension of mystery and truth in a way that makes you want to follow her anywhere and believe everything? If you opened this book to any random page you’d find something you’d feel compelled to read aloud to the stranger at the next table. Her familiar writing style spreads a blanket in the sun, lays out trinkets for you to consider, then gathers up the corners, ties it to a stick, sets it on your shoulder, and nudges you to walk on with hope. -Jenny

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Almost Everything: Notes on Hope Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780525537441
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - October 16th, 2018


For years, I was obsessed with the Nag Hammadi Library, or Gnostic Gospels, and Princeton’s professor of religion Elaine Pagels is by far the leading authority on the subject. In this memoir, Pagels retells the story of her life and examines the questions she faced her entire career, from others and herself: How can an academic believe in religion, and what place does religion have in the modern world? - Aric

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Why Religion?: A Personal Story Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9780062368539
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ecco - November 6th, 2018


Where is your hearth? What do you return to over and over, to ground yourself, to center your community? What happens when your hearth is lost or is endangered? What can we carry with us? This inspiring anthology explores these questions through pieces by Terry Tempest Williams, Pico Iyer, Luís Alberto Urrea, Chigozie Obioma, Sebastião Salgado, and more—each bringing their own truths to the table, to warm at the fire. What is created is sacred, hopeful, and communal, at a time we need it most. - Melinda

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Hearth: A Global Conversation on Identity, Community, and Place Cover Image
By Annick Smith (Editor), Susan O'Connor (Editor)
$26.00
ISBN: 9781571313799
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Milkweed Editions - September 11th, 2018


This is a memoir of a faith experience gone too far, in which a teenage girl from a small Northern California town feels drawn to the charisma and community of a Pentecostal church but eventually finds herself isolated—from other church members, from her family, her friends, her own previous joys and even sometimes from God. Gelsinger gives an affecting insight into the experience of young people in strict evangelist communities. -a.c.

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Once You Go in: A Memoir of Radical Faith Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781631524295
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: She Writes Press - October 16th, 2018


When I think of who we need to make sense of the challenges facing our democracy, the preeminent presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin is at the top of my list. Chronicling the leadership of her best-studied subjects—Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson—Goodwin masterfully details the commonalities that linked their leadership even with their widely differing upbringings and challenges. Ultimately, Goodwin showcases the moral purpose and resilience necessary to shepherd our nation forward. - Casey

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Leadership: In Turbulent Times Cover Image
$24.00
ISBN: 9781476795928
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Simon & Schuster - September 18th, 2018


Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas didn’t know he was an undocumented immigrant until he went to get his driver’s license at the age of 16. Vargas’s story is sadly not unusual, which is part of why it’s so important. His writing is emotional, powerful, and full of purpose. More memoir than political statement, Dear America is a truly eye-opening look at the realities of immigration in America. - Jade

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Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen Cover Image
$25.99
ISBN: 9780062851352
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Dey Street Books - September 18th, 2018


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