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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.

I experienced every emotion I’ve ever experienced, plus maybe one or two new ones, while reading this book. “Dirty River” is about a queer, disabled, woman of color building community, facing her trauma, and building a better life for herself. A clever voice and an incredible life makes for a great read. - Wren

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Dirty River: A Queer Femme of Color Dreaming Her Way Home Cover Image
$18.95
ISBN: 9781551526003
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Arsenal Pulp Press - November 3rd, 2015


The stunning follow up to her 2005 memoir in verse, Jane, this book's form is what makes it so powerful. Part true crime, part memoir, The Red Parts is most interesting when the moving personal story of grief at its core becomes a cultural critique of America's obsession with violence against women. - Kristi

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The Red Parts: Autobiography of a Trial Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781555977368
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graywolf Press - April 5th, 2016


In this captivating account of one of history's most brilliant rulers, Pulitzer Prize-winning Stacy Schiff introduces us to a Cleopatra we have not met before and, in this case anyway, truth is far more interesting than fiction. I've been talking about it for years and can't see myself not bringing up this amazing woman in conversation any time soon. Can't recommend it enough! - Emma

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Cleopatra: A Life Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780316001946
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Back Bay Books - September 6th, 2011


Shapiro tells the story of her surprise ancestry test that revealed that her father is not her biological father and therefore her identity, especially being raised deeply connected to Judaism, may not be as defining as she had believed. This book moved me as it dove deep into belonging, identity, family secrets, parenting, and the ties that bind in our ever-connected world. - Casey

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Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love Cover Image
$24.95
ISBN: 9781524732714
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - January 15th, 2019


This is a gut-wrenching and heart-opening. As Glennon recovers from multiple addictions, and deals with her husband’s infidelity, she goes on a deep spiritual journey and  rediscovers herself and a new relationship with god. She is a living example of how to be a Spiritual being, mother, and feminist. Impossible to put down, my wife and I both read this book in under three days. - Jason

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Love Warrior: A Memoir Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781250075734
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Flatiron Books - September 12th, 2017


This eye-opening book explores the impact of ageism on individuals and society. It's a clarion call for action that changed many of my attitudes and assumptions about aging. Applewhite details how unchallenged ageism negatively impacts health, sex, money, the workplace, and all areas of society. Guaranteed to lead to lively discussions, this is a great book club selection. - Trey

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This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism Cover Image
$26.99
ISBN: 9781250311481
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Celadon Books - March 5th, 2019


With poetic irony, Ackerman tells the little-known true story of two zookeepers in 1930s Warsaw, Poland. Their world-view and extraordinary compassion led them to save hundreds of Jews imperiled by the Nazi invasion. This heroic narrative highlights contradictions of vulnerability and strength, good in the face of loss, and the rich compatibility of beauty and sadness. - Kären

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The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9780393333060
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - September 17th, 2008


A compelling and carefully crafted blend of memoir and investigative journalism. The author begins with a heinous murder case she stumbled upon as a law intern, and slowly reveals how she uncovered her own deeply traumatic past while researching the murder. Her deft touch with seriously sensitive material finds hope even in the darkest of stories. - Kelly

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The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781250080554
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Flatiron Books - May 8th, 2018


Refugee stories are massively important right now. This graphic memoir explores connecting the past to the present and the long, intergenerational shadow it can throw. The Buis left the fallout of the Vietnam war, but never imagined the lasting impact such trauma would have on their life in America. Drawn in an intensely personal style, I couldn’t help but be pulled into their story. - Ivy

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The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir Cover Image
By Thi Bui
$17.99
ISBN: 9781419718786
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harry N. Abrams - April 17th, 2018


These 17 stories, written by contemporary black authors, demonstrate how diverse the teenage black experience can be: a Trinidadian immigrant's guardian angels (her cousins) save her from falling for the wrong guy; a humorous Jason Reynolds story follows four Brooklyn boys walking home after a swim, fantasizing about sandwiches from their neighborhood bodega; a high schooler keeping her application to a historic black college hidden from her father. Both black and non-black readers will benefit from the insights these well-crafted stories provide. - Noreen


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