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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.

Looking for more book group recommendations? Find curated book lists for the following categories:

Surviving 2020: Books That Will Make You Believe in Humanity
Strong Women Through the Ages
Book Group Sleepers: Great Books Your Group May Have Missed

Enchanting and tender, this slim novel manages to hide a deeply political cautionary tale in a hopeful, reflective fable that never feels too heavy-handed or moralizing. Reading this book was like wrapping myself in a warm blanket; I was absolutely entranced by it until the very last page. - Ksenia

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The Emissary Cover Image
By Yoko Tawada, Margaret Mitsutani (Translated by)
$14.95
ISBN: 9780811227629
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Directions - April 24th, 2018


It's hard to talk about this book without drawing comparisons to Daniel Wallace's Big Fish, and that's a great thing! The story travels back and forth through time in telling the multigenerational story of a family and their land in Alabama. This history is being passed from one generation to the next in this hodgepodge storytelling that captivates as much as it obfuscates. - Clara

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Treeborne: A Novel Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781250169105
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Picador - May 7th, 2019


Friday Black is the best book of short stories I've read this year. At times I felt like I was reading horror, while other times I was laughing out loud. Adjei-Brenyah's stories are crazy, radical and not recommended for the faint of heart. It's a book that will stick with me for years to come. - Ashley

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


When two young sisters disappear, the entire Kamchatka Peninsula goes on high alert. But as the months drag on and no leads materialize, hope wears thin. Told from the perspective of a variety of characters, this is a story about family, identity, grief, and the ways those themes connect us. Phillips’ debut is a stunning portrait of an isolated, rarely discussed corner of the world. - Jade

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Disappearing Earth: A novel Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9780525520412
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Knopf - May 14th, 2019


A remarkably touching magical-realist young-adult novel about a boy and a girl (who are, refreshingly, not a couple but best friends!) that explores social issues such as race, sexuality, and class with humor, heart, a touch of magic, and a sprinkle of apocalypse. - Ksenia

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The Boy and Girl Who Broke the World Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9781481481762
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Simon Pulse - July 9th, 2019


When the narrator’s friend, another writer, dies suddenly, she inherits his Great Dane. Among many problems, she lives in a tiny New York apartment—that doesn’t allow pets. What follows is a brilliant and moving meditation on friendship, love (both Platonic and romantic), art and grief. I found this a profound and beautiful reading experience. - Rico

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The Friend: A Novel Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780735219458
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - February 5th, 2019


In the Dream House is an incredible follow-up to the glorious Her Body and Other Parties. Carmen Maria Machado has written an honest and harrowing memoir about her psychologically abusive relationship. Machado contrasts her memories with true examples of oppression in queer history and with narrative tropes. A beautiful exploration of the reality of abuse in queer relationships and a necessary account that subverts any idea of what a memoir can be. - Natalie O.

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In the Dream House: A Memoir Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781644450031
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graywolf Press - November 5th, 2019


Everything Here Is Beautiful: A Novel Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780735221970
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - January 15th, 2019

If you’ve ever loved anyone who struggles with mental heatlh issues, this book is that story. It captures with such raw and imperfect understanding both sides of being the one with the beautiful and complicated mind as well as the one who loves and cares for them...and sometimes at them. One whole unamed character in this book is the mental health system and it’s shortfalls. This story is about two sisters and their bond to love one another. The question that lurked in the background was, what about those who have no one?  I highly recommend this book for its insight and compassion. —Jenny



Ta-Nehisi Coates has already established himself as an important cultural voice on race relations. Now with his first novel, he adds to the conversation in ways best left to provocative fiction, exploring the cascading damage done when enslaved families are sold away from each other. Hiram Walker is an orphan of this crime and this is his remarkable story of deciding to leave his situation and become involved as a singular conductor in a slightly mystical, still historical Underground Railroad. The result is a captivating, resonating read. - Melinda

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The Water Dancer: A Novel Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780399590597
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: One World - September 24th, 2019


Jacqueline Woodson is a national treasure. Her books make an impact, not only through her characters but because the act of reading her work is transformative. Her latest adult novel, Red at the Bone, is no exception. Woodson charts the history of one Brooklyn family as they grapple with an unplanned teen pregnancy and the decisions made that impact generations to come. Their family story—how much they are there for each other and for themselves—is a universal story about how we give and receive love. It is beautiful and honest, heartbreaking and poetic, and one of my favorite books of the year. - Casey

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Red at the Bone: A Novel Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780525535270
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - September 17th, 2019


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