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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

Starling House crosses many genres—think an odd blend of Stranger Things meeting a modern-day Wuthering Heights. When Opal’s mother dies in a car accident, Opal is left to raise her much-younger brother in their small Kentucky town and takes odd jobs doing anything she can in order to get her brother into a good school and out of the town. She is offered a job with ample pay, cleaning the “haunted house” on the edge of town—a house long rumored to be at the center of the town’s mysterious history of disappearances and misfortune—and she can’t say no.  


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Starling House: A Reese's Book Club Pick By Alix E. Harrow Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250799050
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tor Books - October 3rd, 2023

Fans of Roxane Gay, rejoice! And if you are unfamiliar with her writing, what have you been waiting for? This new collection of published pieces from the past decade ranges from meditations on racial and sexual injustice to an analysis of the Fast and the Furious franchise to why TV food competitions work. Read them in order or pick your favorites—all are worth it. Sit back and enjoy the sharp wit, nuanced intelligence, and clear opinions of Roxane Gay.  


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Opinions: A Decade of Arguments, Criticism, and Minding Other People's Business By Roxane Gay Cover Image
ISBN: 9780063341463
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper - October 10th, 2023

McWhorter’s Nine Nasty Words explores the history of renowned English swear words, providing an educational and entertaining experience. The well-written and well-researched book combines history, sociology, and pop culture to investigate the three stages of swearing throughout the development of the English language. The accounts of metaphorical word evolution in the book are particularly fascinating. A truly interesting and appropriate book for language enthusiasts.  


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Nine Nasty Words: English in the Gutter: Then, Now, and Forever By John McWhorter Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593421383
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Avery - October 10th, 2023

A Harvard professor and staff writer for the New Yorker, Jill Lepore writes powerful and important essays about every imaginable aspect of contemporary American life, covering history, law, literature—even Bratz dolls. (She’s also the author of the surprise hit The Secret History of Wonder Woman.) Her new book of essays offers a panoramic look at our country and culture, capturing the current era in all its fractious, surreal, and occasionally hopeful glory.  


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The Deadline: Essays By Jill Lepore Cover Image
ISBN: 9781631496127
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Liveright - August 29th, 2023

OMG, get this for the gamer in your life. If you know someone with a fascination for video games who also happens to love insightful literature, writing, and queer commentary, this is the book for them. The people who like video games get it, and the people who don’t, don’t; I think this collection of essays helps to close that gap as much as it helps people like me find community with people who are naturally a little more closed off.  


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Critical Hits: Writers Playing Video Games By Carmen Maria Machado (Editor), J. Robert Lennon (Editor) Cover Image
By Carmen Maria Machado (Editor), J. Robert Lennon (Editor)
ISBN: 9781644452615
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graywolf Press - November 21st, 2023

The pioneering Ms. magazine is celebrated in this new monograph, which features pivotal articles, ground-breaking covers, photographs, and fiction. Presented decade by decade, beginning in the 1970s, it is a fascinating look at feminism and the fight for equality that continues to this day. As Representative Sheila Jackson Lee says, “Who would have believed that the fiftieth anniversary of Ms. magazine would find us in a fight for our bodies, our lives, and our dignity?” Regrettably, voices and activism are needed more than ever.  


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50 Years of Ms.: The Best of the Pathfinding Magazine That Ignited a Revolution By Katherine Spillar (Editor), Eleanor Smeal (Introduction by), Gloria Steinem (Foreword by) Cover Image
By Katherine Spillar (Editor), Eleanor Smeal (Introduction by), Gloria Steinem (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9780593321560
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - September 19th, 2023

Comedian Ziwe wants to know about your Black friends. She also wants you to know exactly how messed up it is to talk about your Black friend. She spends her time in this brilliant collection of essays roasting Well Meaning White People™, celebrity culture, and flat-out racism. Come ready to laugh, learn, and poke fun at your own biases.  


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Black Friend: Essays By Ziwe Cover Image
By Ziwe
ISBN: 9781419756344
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harry N. Abrams - October 17th, 2023

Sarah Ogilvie’s book is a fascinating account of one of the world’s first crowdsourcing projects. In each chapter, Ogilvie explores a different set of the volunteers who made the Oxford English Dictionary what it is today. The Dictionary People is filled with unique words, intriguing characters, and fascinating anecdotes. If you’ve ever wondered how dictionaries are created, this is the book for you.  


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The Dictionary People: The Unsung Heroes Who Created the Oxford English Dictionary By Sarah Ogilvie Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593536407
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - October 17th, 2023

As a lifelong Patagonia fan, I was elated to get my grubby little hands on The Future of the Responsible Company. While discussing the negative impact of traditional capitalism on the planet and communities, Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia, advocates instead that businesses work to reduce harm to the planet and its people. This is a great gift for anyone from your tech friends to your climbing gym pals.  


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The Future of the Responsible Company: What We've Learned from Patagonia's First 50 Years By Yvon Chouinard (With), Vincent Stanley Cover Image
ISBN: 9781952338113
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Patagonia - September 5th, 2023

Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen has performed an acrobatic literary feat. His memoir about being a refugee in America™ is playful on the page, damning in its bite, smart, lyrical, funny, tender, and true. While ranging wide into culture and critique, it is at its heart a tribute to his Vietnamese parents and a reckoning with how we see them, with how we see. This book touches deep like a testimony—it is a marvel to read and essential to understand.  


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A Man of Two Faces: A Memoir, a History, a Memorial By Viet Thanh Nguyen Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802160508
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press - October 3rd, 2023