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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

I read an advanced copy of this back in October, and I've been counting down the days to March so that I can press this into the hands of everyone I know who loves unreliable narrators, love triangles, and books about books about books. This utterly absorbing debut follows our narrator through several identity changes, romantic trysts, and missions to bring his unstable best friend, a brilliant writer, back from the brink of fame-induced emotional breakdowns. It has the feel of equal parts Great Gatsby and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - dreamy and irresistible.
Reviewed by: Andrea
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The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780670026005
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Viking Books - March 21st, 2013

I’m a bit obsessed with Cheryl Strayed. Much like Gabrielle Hamilton of Blood Bones and Butter, Strayed is an incredible writer with a strong voice that will blow you away. Wild is an account of Strayed’s 1,000-mile solo trek on the Pacific Crest Trail, undertaken at age 26 following the sudden loss of her mother. Despite the blood and bruises and the terrible things that happened to her toenails, I couldn’t help but root for her with every sentence, and dream about following in her footsteps.

Reviewed by: Kat
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Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307476074
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - March 26th, 2013

Fans of Maya Angelou will revel in her latest work Mom & Me & Mom as readers get a glimpse behind the phenomenal woman, writer and poet and into the most important years of her development: her earliest childhood experiences. Readers will be able to explore and discover Maya’s unusual and inspirational relationship with her mother, reminding us all of the incredible power of connection that is uniquely forged between mothers and daughters.
Reviewed by: Rochelle
Mom & Me & Mom Cover Image
ISBN: 9781400066117
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Random House - April 2nd, 2013

The Newlyweds tells the story of Amina, a young woman from Bangladesh who moves to America to marry a man she met online. As she settles in, Amina struggles to maintain contact with her family, and to merge the practicality of her new marriage with the romanticism she desires. This is a thoughtful, strong debut novel, perfect for fans of Ann Patchett or Alice Munro.

Reviewed by: Kat
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The Newlyweds (Vintage Contemporaries) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307388971
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage - February 12th, 2013

Nell Freudenberger is a relentlessly talented writer and The Newlyweds is a work of beauty and poetry. Centered around Amina, a recent immigrant from Bangladesh who moved to America to marry a man she met online, the narrative’s strength and complexity lie in its presentation of Amina’s past and the histories of her friends and family. Truly a work to make you think and to spur many discussions, the novel offers a nuanced look at marriage and life.
Reviewed by: Nici
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The Newlyweds Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307268846
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Knopf - May 1st, 2012

If you already know all about Kate Atkinson, feel free to skip to the next review. But if you’re like me and you’ve been meaning to read her for years but never seem to get around to it, let me tell you that you MUST read Case Histories. It is by turns hilarious and tragic, with an unexpected existential edge that has lingered ever since.
Reviewed by: Kat
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Case Histories: A Novel (Jackson Brodie #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316010702
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Back Bay Books - October 17th, 2005

This is a beautifully written debut novel set on a remote island off Western Australia in 1918. From time to time, I’d come across a sentence or paragraph that stopped me in my tracks, and I’d have to read it over several times to absorb its beauty of language. This is the perfect book group book. Moral decisions and consequences abound. It’s complicated, layered, and it stayed with me for a long time. I couldn’t help but sympathize with each of the characters.
Reviewed by: Clytia
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The Light Between Oceans: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781451681758
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner - April 2nd, 2013

Sisters Janie and Hannah confront xenophobia and culture shock when they move to the States as young girls, leading Hannah to later estrange herself from the family. When their father becomes terminally ill, Janie is charged with the task of bringing Hannah to Korea. The sisters' physical and emotional journey will teach them about the secrets that families keep from the rest of the world and from each other.

Reviewed by: Andrea
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Forgotten Country Cover Image
ISBN: 9781594486524
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Riverhead Books - March 5th, 2013

The central character of The Vanishers is a student attending a school for those with psychic gifts, until one of her professors lobs an attack at her that leaves her body devastated by illness. The world this character inhabits is formed so nonchalantly that you can’t help but turn the pages, eager to learn more about how all of this works. A smart, literary thriller with teeth, and not at all what you’re expecting.
Reviewed by: Kat
The Vanishers Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307387363
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Anchor - January 8th, 2013

High school can be awful. But it’s slightly less awful when you have a team of sarcastic ants who trash-talk your bullies and provide you with sardonic encouragement at your most difficult moments. If that sounds weird, that’s because it is—but trust me, by the end of this book you’ll be wishing for an ant entourage of your very own. Odd, but very heartfelt, and unexpectedly vivid and real.
Reviewed by: Kat
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Everybody Sees the Ants Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316129275
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - September 18th, 2012