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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

“What was more apparent to me was that the world I wanted didn’t exist yet.” So begins the career of Billie Jean King, one where her vision ultimately remade our approach to women’s and LGBTQ+ rights, both in sports and in life. Tracing her remarkable journey, King writes with the courage of her convictions, with fierce competitiveness, and with her indomitable spirit laid bare on the page. All In explores the extraordinary life of a true hero.—Casey

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All In: An Autobiography Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9781101947333
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - August 17th, 2021


Allison Hawthorne Deming has written a lovely ode to the makers, beginning with those most felt in her own life, her family’s lineage of haute couture women dressmakers and the Canadian weir fishermen of Grand Manan Island, home to her childhood summers. From here, she weaves across the world and time, seeking the intimate and the remarkable, infusing essay with poetry, detail, and an environmental awareness that understands the importance of craft, the purposeful act of making in a world of constant breaking.—Melinda

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A Woven World: On Fashion, Fishermen, and the Sardine Dress Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781640094826
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Counterpoint - August 24th, 2021


I could not put down this engaging memoir by Emmy, Grammy, and Tony award winner Billy Porter, the star of Pose and Kinky Boots. Humorous, heartbreaking, sassy, and inspiring, Unprotected takes readers from Porter’s childhood in Pittsburgh (where his vocal talent and gayness were evident by age 5) to New York City, where he pursues his dream of being a performer. Porter leaps from past to present and from personal to political while calling out homophobia and racism in the industry, the church, and beyond. Incredibly gifted and hard working, he will have you cheering for him as he fights to live life as his authentic self.—S.B.

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Unprotected: A Memoir Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9781419746192
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Abrams Press - October 19th, 2021


From impoverished sharecropper to global music ambassador, B.B. King’s story is nothing short of legendary. But this is also a story of the Black experience in America, of the Great Migration, and of Jim Crow. It is the story of a man reaching out to his people in the language of their own music. And it is also a story about commodification and cultural appropriation. Telling this story is quite an undertaking, and de Vise accomplishes it with a wit and charm to parallel King’s own.—Travis

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King of the Blues: The Rise and Reign of B.B. King Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9780802158055
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press - October 5th, 2021


As a person who doesn’t read a lot of nonfiction—or science books for that matter—I just want to say that I loved The Awakened Brain! In part nearly a mystery novel, and in other ways a memoir with a healthy dose of bite-sized, digestible science, it makes you feel like you’re standing next to Miller as she explains the union between spirituality and science in front of her peers; and as she joins psychiatric ward patients in prayer.—Morgan

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The Awakened Brain: The New Science of Spirituality and Our Quest for an Inspired Life Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9781984855626
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House - August 17th, 2021


Intimate, uplifting conversations with a beloved icon. Local writer Doug Abrams (cowriter of The Book of Joy with the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu) has written yet another book with a living legend. In The Book of Hope, he spends time with naturalist and wise elder Jane Goodall. Together they ask: What is hope? How can we find it in these dark days? I cannot think of a better book to lift all of our spirits right now.—Jason

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The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times (Global Icons Series) Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9781250784094
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Celadon Books - October 19th, 2021


Reading poet laureate Joy Harjo’s memoir is like soaking in peaceful, healing waters. We're introduced to the Poet Girl and stanza by stanza, chapter by chapter, we come to know her as the Poet Warrior. Through the telling of her own historical trauma, Harjo gently, with great understanding and wisdom, helps us to see how we can sit with and talk to the broken parts of our own story and retell it to ourselves as an act of grieving, healing, and maybe even strength. I will give this book to my sisters and my friends knowing that what is experienced in reading this book is more than I could ever say myself, and everything I want them to know.—Jenny

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Poet Warrior: A Memoir Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9780393248524
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - September 7th, 2021


Dear Memory is the artful memoir from accomplished poet Victoria Chang. With literary references and lyrical precision, she explores her family’s history by using documents from their pasts, marriage licenses, old photos, to create evocative collages with what they reveal. These are interspersed among imagined letters to those she wishes for answers, each asking questions but also telling more of the story. Here we come to know a family separated by countries, time, generations, and loss, and the poet-guide who spins their memories.—Melinda

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Dear Memory: Letters on Writing, Silence, and Grief Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9781571313928
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Milkweed Editions - October 12th, 2021


Somehow, Copenhaver has dissected the intricate and passionately dark minds of teenage girls in a manner unlike anything I’ve seen before. With a rotating perspective, this murder mystery reads like diary entries, each page unfiltered and unique. The friendship between Judy and Philippa blurs the lines between platonic love, infatuation, and blind obsession. It hooked me from the start and kept me anxiously waiting for the moment I could sit down and continue reading. —Nikole

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The Savage Kind: A Mystery Cover Image
$25.95
ISBN: 9781643138091
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Pegasus Crime - October 5th, 2021


There are often early moments of approaching self-realization for a queer person, like becoming deeply attached to a queer-coded character without yet understanding why. In her memoir, Crewes explores these discoveries with candor through her inviting pencil illustrations. The Times I Knew I Was Gay is a beautiful story where coming out is neither the beginning nor the end but simply part of life’s journey. For those who love Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, Kabul Nagata’s My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness, or Tillie Walden’s Spinning. —Molly S.

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The Times I Knew I Was Gay Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781982147112
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner - October 5th, 2021


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