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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 Harper Lee learned of the vigilante murder of Reverend Willie Maxwell, the many deaths that preceded his, and the lawyer who both defended him and his assailant, she knew she’d found the story she wanted to write, a true crime narrative with an underlying complexity of race, place, and politics. Almost 50 years later, Casey Cep has realized the same in her first book, a remarkable work of nonfiction that distills extensive research into a broad, insightful exploration of not only the reverend and his lawyer but of Harper Lee, her drive, her demons, and the book she never finished. - Melinda

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Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9781101947869
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - May 7th, 2019


When Michele Filgate, the editor of What My Mother and I Don’t Talk About, wrote an essay about her stepfather’s abuse, she revealed the fracture that the abuse caused between her mother and her. The essay went viral and Filgate realized that there was much to be learned about what happens in the intimate bond between mother and child when things go unsaid. Filgate gathered 15 writers to explore the topic. Some of the essays are hilarious; others heartbreaking; but there is such strength and resilience in this collection. I kept recalling Leonard Cohen’s line, “There is a crack in everything/That’s how the light gets in.” - S.M.C.

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What My Mother and I Don't Talk About: Fifteen Writers Break the Silence Cover Image
By Michele Filgate (Editor)
$26.00
ISBN: 9781982107345
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Simon & Schuster - April 30th, 2019


Autumn Light is not so much a long-time expatriate reflecting on his chosen home, as a rumination on life. Iyer tells a story not finished but set: the joys of spouse and children poignantly framed against memories of the dead, and the ache of loving those leaving us. Japan’s relationship with aging and death—as well as love, marriage, and parenthood—is different from what we see in the West, but Iyer writes an affecting picture of the universalities of being an aging human. -Jocelyn

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Autumn Light: Season of Fire and Farewells Cover Image
$25.95
ISBN: 9780451493934
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - April 16th, 2019


This is the kind of science fiction that invites you to flex your imagination and think in creative swoops you weren’t yet capable of. Chiang isn’t tied down by genre. These stories swing from a Scheherazade-style storytelling to Asimov-esque self-reflective automata to Silicon Valley relationship turmoil. I don’t know if Chiang has answers about free will or the order of the universe, but these stories—no matter how wild or mundane—bring us closer to understanding our own existence. - Clara

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Exhalation: Stories Cover Image
$25.95
ISBN: 9781101947883
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - May 7th, 2019


In celebration of its paperback release, I have started and restarted this review many times, as it seems nearly impossible to convey the brilliance and impact of this novel. I can tell you it is my favorite novel in years; I have recommended it to so many, only to have them pass it on. There are throat-caught sentences and marvel when those of us that have read it try to talk about it. The book alternates between two storylines, one following Yale, a young gay man in Chicago in the 1980s at the height of the AIDS crisis; the other following Fiona, 30 years later, a mother in a desperate search to find her missing adult daughter. The intersection of these two stories is nothing short of brilliant. Love, redemption, and life at its fullest are bound in these pages. Read this book. —S.M.C.

 

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The Great Believers: A Novel Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780735223530
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - June 4th, 2019


Historic injustices are often treated as lacking any contemporary impact, but this book disabuses anyone suffering under that delusion. In modern-day Silicon Valley, the internment of their Japanese-American ancestors affects protagonist CJ Katsumaya and her family, though they (believably) don’t see eye to eye about it. This historical interconnectedness coupled with CJ’s evolution from an apathetic antihero (wave goodbye to the “model minority” myth) into a woke person of action, makes this book a compelling and thought-provoking read. - Stephanie

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This Time Will Be Different Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062473448
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: HarperTeen - June 4th, 2019


In the nine expansive, searching stories of A Lucky Man—a finalist for the National Book Award—fathers and sons attempt to salvage relationships with friends and family members and confront mistakes made in the past. “With equal parts precision and poetry, these nine audacious stories step into the minefields awaiting boys of color as they approach manhood in Brooklyn and the Bronx—testing the limits of relationships, social norms, and their own definitions of masculinity.”

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A Lucky Man: Stories Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781555978433
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graywolf Press - June 4th, 2019


Julia Phillips is an author to watch. She beautifully transports us to a region of the world, the Kamchatka Peninsula in Northern Russia, that I had never heard of and now can’t stop thinking about. The stories of the women there—their family dynamics, their hopes and fears, the economic and cultural divide of various communities—are not only about this place but ultimately about the universal struggle women have in determining how to live with the expectations placed on them as women. A remarkable debut. - Casey

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Disappearing Earth: A novel Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9780525520412
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - May 14th, 2019


I will read anything and everything that Jaswal (Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows) writes. This fantastically written book about three sisters on a journey arranged by their recently deceased mother charmed me. Within a story of sisterhood and family, Jaswal explores an immigrant experience as well as the complexities women go through in different ways. Sisterhood isn’t always about getting along and having everything in common, and Jaswal dives into that in this novel. I will be thinking about the Shergill sisters for a while, finding new things to love about them. - Karena 

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The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters: A Novel Cover Image
$26.99
ISBN: 9780062645142
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: William Morrow - April 30th, 2019


Ocean Vuong’s gorgeous debut expands our notion of the Great American Novel, speaking to our shared experience through exquisite lyricism, unforgettable story, and the voice of the narrator Little Dog, who attempts to write the letter of their life to his mother, even as she is unable to read it. In telling their story, a bigger picture is revealed, one of war, survival, identity, sexuality, and addiction, all through the eyes of raw, bursting youth. The result is fierce, loving, and resplendent. - Melinda

Don’t miss our event with Ocean Vuong on June 17th.

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On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous: A Novel Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780525562023
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Press - June 4th, 2019


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