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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.

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: On Our Shelves 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: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ecco - November 6th, 2018


Fans of The Essex Serpent will savor Perry’s deft and effortless character development. Melmoth, a modern-day gothic horror, opens when a haunted translator from Prague learns her friend’s secret, then disappears. The novel grapples with a beast: Melmoth, macabre, who stalks the guilty, compelling them to wander in shame or choose life. Is Melmoth real or abstract? A horror, a haunting metaphor, or both? - a.c.

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Melmoth: A Novel Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9780062856395
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Custom House - October 16th, 2018


Krug’s graphic memoir packs a powerful historical punch. As a German born two generations after the Holocaust, she struggles with her country’s atrocious past and the ambiguity of her family’s own involvement. Through vivid text and graphics, historical photos and documents, layering memory and story with poignancy, she seeks the truth and delves deep into her family’s history. Krug does the hard work to bring the personal past back to life and ask how one shapes one’s identity and finds one’s sense of home in its midst. Beautifully done in every way. - Melinda

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Belonging: A German Reckons with History and Home Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9781476796628
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner - October 2nd, 2018


A new Barbara Kingsolver novel is always a gift but this time her fictional journey feels even more powerful as she asks, “Can history help us navigate an impossible-looking future?” Unsheltered tells the stories of two families from different centuries living under the same roof, reeling from turbulence on both a national and a familial scale. Shelter is a basic survival need, but Kingsolver, being the literary artist she is, uses her characters to consider how we use physical, intellectual, and emotional shelters to navigate such troubles. The storms of life will surely rage but shelters can save our lives. - Casey & Jenny

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Unsheltered: A Novel Cover Image
$23.99
ISBN: 9780062684561
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper - October 16th, 2018


The beauty, pain, and personality of Wayétu Moore’s epic trans-Atlantic story could only be expressed with magic. Moore follows her protagonists from before their births through their lives in the early days of Liberia. Combining folklore, African religions, history, and family narratives, Moore’s beautiful writing brings to life the struggles of justice, slavery, and belonging in this complex, nigh-on-miraculous novel. - Clara

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She Would Be King: A Novel Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781555978174
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graywolf Press - September 11th, 2018


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