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.

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
$20.00
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: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order 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: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
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


Nicole Chung’s clear and introspective memoir brings new light to the search for identity and navigating both the past and the future when surrounded by the complexity of those who love you. As a transracial adoptee, the incongruity of growing up happy yet uncomfortably different leads her to search out the truth about her birth parents when she is on the brink of becoming a parent herself. This unique, difficult, and often surprising journey considers what one needs most in the world to belong. - Melinda

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All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781936787975
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Catapult - October 2nd, 2018


A retablo is a devotional painting, often laid on tin and depicting, as Solis describes in his introduction, “some terrible rift in a person’s life that they survive thanks to the intercession of the Divine.” This memoir-in-vignettes from the celebrated playwright and poet Solis is a series of treasures: absorbing, vivid, sensitive, and sorrowful. Solis, who grew up in El Paso, deftly and humbly depicts individual formative moments (an encounter with a young border-crosser in a field near his home, excruciating first loves, a venture south of the border). The divine in these retablos is not always visible, but the retablos themselves are full of grace. - Chorel

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Retablos: Stories from a Life Lived Along the Border Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9780872867864
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: City Lights Books - October 15th, 2018


One part coming-of-age parable, one part psychological horror, this book combines dark fantasy with contemporary magical realism. Beautifully translated from its original Russian, Vita Nostra brilliantly explores the period in early adulthood in which we consider the price we’re willing to pay to discover our full potential and learn how we make ourselves vulnerable when we strive for outside approval. - Ilana

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Vita Nostra: A Novel Cover Image
$26.99
ISBN: 9780062694591
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Harper Voyager - November 13th, 2018


Phoebe Siegler, a Manhattan woman who finds herself shattered and floundering after the results of the presidential election, jumps to volunteer to find her close friend’s runaway daughter. Following leads to the California desert, Phoebe meets an obscure private detective known for his ability to find and aid runaways and strays. In search of the missing girl, the two set out on a journey that feels chimerical and twisted. The pair must rely on the desert’s fringe inhabitants, and the story starts to hint of violence and turmoil. This novel/mystery/love story is both an enigmatic tale of being lost and found and a frame for the subtext of a divided America, one where truth, power, and the haves and the have-nots are in need of deep scrutiny. - S.M.C.

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The Feral Detective: A Novel Cover Image
$26.99
ISBN: 9780062859068
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Ecco - November 6th, 2018


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