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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

What if the Queen of England became a reader? Not just a reader, but a reader – quizzing commoners on their reading habits and hiding books beneath the cushions of her carriage. Turns out, a lot. Because even when we say we’re reading just for pleasure, we’re absorbing an awful lot – empathy, curiosity, and the never-ending desire for the next good read. I just love this book.
Reviewed by: Kat
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The Uncommon Reader: A Novella Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9780312427641
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Picador - September 30th, 2008


Ohmygoshilovethisbooksomuch. That being said, Confessions of Max Tivoli is one of the most underrated fiction books of all time. In homage to Fitzgerald's (now) famous short story 'Benjamin Button,' Max Tivoli is aging backwards. His tale is full of dark self-loathing set against the glimmering gas-lit San Francisco of the early 1900s. A haunting read from a masterful storyteller.
Reviewed by: Kimberly
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The Confessions of Max Tivoli: A Novel Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780312423810
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Picador - February 1st, 2005


I feel reborn, cleansed, and forgiven; I feel like I’ve been given a precious gift. There’s a melancholy to all of the characters, trapped as they are by shared tragedy, and their methods of dealing with the past intertwines with each others–forming an amazing picture of reactions and dependencies.
Reviewed by: Nici
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Carry the One: A Novel Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9781451656930
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster - October 23rd, 2012


If you enjoyed If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This by Robin Black (a major Bookshop favorite), then Natalie Serber's debut collection of short stories is right up your ally. The theme here is mothers and daughters--how their bonds are formed, then broken, then clumsily mended again. These stories are nuanced, riveting, and ripe for discussion. I can't imagine a better literary poolside read!
Reviewed by: Kat
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Shout Her Lovely Name Cover Image
$13.99
ISBN: 9780544002210
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Mariner Books - June 11th, 2013


Each of these seven stories is, in a way, a love story, but one is hardly recognizable from the other. The News From Spain examines love from surprising angles, from the precarious relationship between a choreographer and a ballerina stricken with polio, a woman and her ailing mother, and a single female student at an all boys school. The patterns that emerge are strange and lovely; this is a book that will linger with you for a very long time.
Reviewed by: Kat
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The News from Spain (Vintage Contemporaries) Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780307949295
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage - July 2nd, 2013


If rumors are to be believed, this is Alice Munro's last book. She claims she is retiring from writing (though she said the same thing several years ago), and while the thought is devastating, it gives new meaning to this collection. Munro writes about her own childhood here, in four stories that she says are "the closest things I have to say about my own life." Dear Life is beautifully illuminating. To call these novels compressed into stories does not do them justice--they are stories, brilliantly executed and in a class of their own. I didn't want any of them to end, but when they did, it was perfect.
Reviewed by: Kat
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Dear Life: Stories (Vintage International) Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780307743725
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage - July 30th, 2013


Curtis Sittenfeld (American Wife & Prep) continues to write novels that range widely in scope and tone. In Sisterland, identical twin sisters Kate and Violet were born with “senses” that foretell specific events and/or intimate details about their loved ones. When a premonition about a devastating earthquake comes to both of them, each one must make a choice about loyalty and accountability, and understand the delicate balance between believing and surrendering, especially when it comes to family bonds.
Reviewed by: S.M.C.
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Sisterland Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9781400068319
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Random House - June 25th, 2013


Bobcat and Other Stories is nothing short of brilliant. Lee writes with the unflinching, cumulatively devastating precision of Chekhov and Munro, peeling back layer after layer of illusion until we’re left with the truth ourselves…This extraordinary story collection is sure to confirm its author as one of the best writers of her generation.” —Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
Bobcat and Other Stories Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781616201739
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Algonquin Books - June 11th, 2013


Winner of the PEN/Bellwether Prize!

“The characters in Good Kings Bad Kings made me laugh over and over again, and cry, and cheer. This is fiction at its best. The story’s sharp eye allows no one to take shelter, and it doesn’t flinch; it is simply and breathtakingly honest. A stunning accomplishment.” —Barbara Kingsolver

Good Kings Bad Kings: A Novel Cover Image
Email or call for price
ISBN: 9781616202637
Availability: Out of Print
Published: Algonquin Books - May 28th, 2013


On the heels of his award-winning It Gets Better campaign, columnist and provocateur Dan Savage weighs in on such diverse issues as health care, gun control, and marriage equality with characteristic straight talk and humor. “Savage is that rarity, a liberal—verging on radical—who defends his positions with steel-trap logic and scornful humor laced with profanity and stripped of politically correct cant.”
—Publishers Weekly

American Savage: Insights, Slights, and Fights on Faith, Sex, Love, and Politics Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780525954101
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Dutton Books - May 28th, 2013


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