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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.

Theoharis established herself as the writer of the long civil rights era (extending our views of the historical forces and outcomes of the civil rights movement beyond the small window of the 1960s). In this book she explores how the legacy of civil rights has been reshaped, used, and invoked to paint a fuller picture of national identity and where the struggle for equality is headed. - Clara

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A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History Cover Image
ISBN: 9780807063484
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Beacon Press - February 12th, 2019

Chast paints a portrait of her aging parents' final days through four-color cartoons, short narratives, family photos, and original documents like her mother's handwritten poetry. Chast's colorful, often hilarious drawings are the perfect contrast to the darkness of oncoming loss and looming grief. This book will make you laugh and cry—sometimes simultaneously. - Kristi

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Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant?: A Memoir Cover Image
ISBN: 9781632861016
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Bloomsbury USA - September 13th, 2016

In 1857, a child was convicted of murdering his mother after her body was found decomposing in their home. This lurid point of entry belies a fascinating and surprisingly compassionate examination of a crime that gripped Victorian London. Like the best crime narratives, its focus is not on the crime itself, but on the extraordinary ways it shaped the lives left in its wake. - Katherine

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The Wicked Boy: An Infamous Murder in Victorian London Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143110460
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - July 4th, 2017

A delightful sci-fi adventure,The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is the first in the Wayfarers series by Becky Chambers. This is a great “gateway” book for those looking to either fall in love with the genre or re-discover it. The author has a real talent for world building that doesn’t feel overwhelming while still being rather wide in scope. It explores a multitude of themes: gender fluidity, unconventional relationships and sentient artificial intelligence to name a few.  It’s funny, heart-wrenching and charming all at once. If you want something fun that also makes you think – this is perfect.

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The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062444134
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Voyager - July 5th, 2016

After the four Skinner siblings’ father suddenly dies, their mother retreats to her own world during a 2-year span that they call The Pause. The children run wild and in the process forge unusually close bonds. The book starts when the youngest Skinner Fiona is a 102-year-old famous poet in the year 2079 and in it she tells the story of the Skinner family. This novel is a rich family epic full of love and heart, grief and challenge, and ultimately redemption.

The Last Romantics: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062358202
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: William Morrow - February 5th, 2019

Ghost Wall is indeed a haunting book. Silvie “vacations” with her family to a primitive skills reenactment anthropology class. Silvie’s father’s passion is primitive life and she has been raised to fend for herself in the wild. She and her fellow students forage food and hunt rabbits, and Silvie is exposed through their friendship to the modern world, while the students have a close view of--and the opportunity to intervene in--Silvie’s family life.

Ghost Wall: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374161927
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - January 8th, 2019

You will find compelling fiction in this excellent twenty story collection.   The introductions from the series editor, Heidi Pitlor and this year’s editor, Roxane Gay are valuable.  The authors’ contributions explaining the thinking behind each story are useful if read after each story.  Roxane Gay has selected stories from diverse authors, varying locations, and themes. You will be in an immigration detention center looking for your son or a man with Alzheimer’s left alone with his grandson or an Iranian immigrant who struggles to connect with his daughter and more.

The Best American Short Stories 2018 (The Best American Series ®) Cover Image
By Roxane Gay (Editor), Heidi Pitlor (Editor)
ISBN: 9780544582941
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mariner Books - October 2nd, 2018

Have you ever felt like the world just didn’t make sense? That the world was confusing? So did Eleanor Oliphant in Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. What makes this book a choice for any book group is its relatability. At some point we have all felt the pain of being socially awkward. This fast paced novel unfolds in a realistic style adding to it’s quirky nature. As Eleanor shares her soul it is seemingly obvious she needs help.  Enter Raymond. Eleanor is skeptical of him as a human being. Yet what Raymond has to offer is just what Eleanor may need to open her heart.

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Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780735220690
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - June 5th, 2018

Seedfolks is one of those books that leaves you wishing you could be part of the community garden around which it revolves. Told through the eyes of multiple characters, this slim novel tackles issues of belonging, judgement, and acceptance. How does a community form? What and who sustains it? I found it hard to not love each character equally, but Curtis became my favorite.  Knowing little about gardening, he knows his estranged girlfriend loves tomatoes. A choice for young adults and grown-ups this book may make you want to reconnect with the earth, or a neighbor down the road. Community grows where it is planted.

Seedfolks Cover Image
By Paul Fleischman, Judy Pedersen (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780064472074
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: HarperTeen - December 14th, 2004

An ocean filled story set on the west coast of Ireland and narrated by a voice that sounds like Maureen O'Hara, this audiobook is the perfect spoil for rainy day weather.  A week in Winter fulfills all the wants of an audiobook--beautiful narration, captivating plot and characters with stories you want to hear. The listener will be all in to see how it ends, as is Maeve Binchy's craft.

A Week in Winter Cover Image
ISBN: 9781594136658
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Large Print Press - November 14th, 2013