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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

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
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
ISBN: 9781982147112
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner - October 5th, 2021

Can you judge a book on the way it makes you feel? If so, Anthony Doerr, author of the beloved All the Light We Cannot See, delivers one of the most potent novels I’ve read in many years, about the power of storytelling and our personal legacies. Epic in scope, the book follows characters during the siege of Constantinople, in present-day Idaho, and into the future in space. Ultimately, their stories connect through one ancient Greek manuscript, in what can only be described as a transformative reading experience, one filled with adventure, history, and a multilayered examination of our shared humanity. —Casey

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Cloud Cuckoo Land: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982168438
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner - September 28th, 2021

As with each book, Richard Powers centers a subject of curiosity and explores it deep and wide, adding layers of resonance: here it is outer space and inner. Bewilderment is stunning in its simplicity, heart, and genius. It is the story of a grieving father and his unique, troubled son Robin, and the experimental treatment to improve Robby’s behavior by tapping into the emotions of his dead mother. It is a book about our current world in crises and how to endure, about the universe and its infinite possibilities, going beyond humanity, and in so doing, offering astonishing hope. Bewilderment asks for your whole heart, your intellect, and your imagination, and the only answer is yes—truly the most moving book I’ve read this year. —Melinda

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Bewilderment: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393881141
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - September 21st, 2021

Franzen’s new novel opens on a precarious moment in the life of the Hildebrandt family. Two days before Christmas in 1971, the parents, Russ and Marion, have grown widely apart and are exploring other options. Meanwhile, their three older children are navigating personal and spiritual difficulties that may help define them as people and possibly ruin their lives. The novel represents a turn for Franzen, away from the eviscerating social critique of The Corrections and Freedom and toward a deeply compassionate realism. The novel’s depth of character, powerful exploration of morality, and astounding scope suggest it’s time to stop comparing him to his contemporaries and start comparing him to Proust and Tolstoy.—Rico

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Crossroads: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374181178
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - October 5th, 2021

Anna is a mixed-race, middle-aged British woman who unexpectedly learns that her absent father is the leader of an African country and whose political record shines a light on both the best and worst of his radical approach. We follow her journey of self-discovery as she meets her father to understand her place with him, her family, and her racial identity. Deep in discussions of belonging, identity, and forgiveness, Sankofa is a captivating and intriguing story, filled with complexity in both the personal and political realms. —Casey

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Sankofa: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781646220830
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Catapult - October 5th, 2021

Three stories are woven together in this masterful, wise, and empathetic novel. Mina, an Arab American trans woman doing medical work with refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos. A Syrian migrant family led by their dying matriarch Sumaiya. And the writer of the story, struggling to convey the depth of so many unanswerable questions. Alameddine writes with care and precision about existence in the midst of impossibility. This is a special, moving book. Don’t miss our event with Rabih Alameddine on December 1st. —Trey

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The Wrong End of the Telescope Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802157805
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press - September 21st, 2021

If you read The Book of Form and Emptiness, the exquisite new novel by the author of A Tale for the Time Being, you won’t soon forget 13-year-old Benny or his loveable but deeply disturbed mother, Annabelle. After his father’s untimely death, Benny starts hearing voices in inanimate objects and seeks refuge in the local library, where other patrons and the books themselves transform his life. An inventive, immersive, deeply moving story about life outside the bounds of being “normal” and the ways humanity exists in each of us, no matter the form. —Casey

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The Book of Form and Emptiness: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780399563645
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Viking - September 21st, 2021

Everything you would expect from the amazing Amor Towles. Lincoln Highway is immersive, captivating, and rich with descriptions of an era gone by. Young Emmet Watson and his plans to travel West on the Lincoln Highway with his 8-year-old brother are laid out on page 1, but very quickly, new characters are introduced and well-laid plans are diverted East. With the best and worst of humanity on display, Towles helps us look with empathy as young people care for even younger people navigating deception, misunderstandings, innocence, and denial on their way to very different destinations. This is the novel you’ve been waiting for; the characters that will stay with you long after the journey ends. —Jenny

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The Lincoln Highway: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780735222359
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Viking - October 5th, 2021

Pulitzer Prize winner Louise Erdrich’s new novel is narrated by Tookie, an Ojibwe bookseller with a harried past. Tookie’s determination to live a peaceful life following her complicated youth is upended when a past customer returns to the bookstore as a ghost with a particular quest for Tookie. The novel deepens as our own lived current events merge into Erdrich’s fictional world. With the start of the pandemic, and then George Floyd’s murder, we watch Tookie navigate not just the ghost, but also the haunting of racism so deeply rooted in America’s history. With Erdrich’s uncanny ability to include humor with depth, Tookie’s story unfolds in a way that is both desperate and uplifting. —S.M.C.

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The Sentence Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062671127
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper - November 9th, 2021