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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.

Focusing on a 15 year old runaway, Kafka, and the old man Nakata, whose childhood trauma deprived him of his memory, Murakami weaves these characters towards each other in a magical world where cats talk and fish fall from the sky. None of the characters in Kafka on the Shore is as powerful as the forces of fate that drive them, and none even try to resist.

Reviewed by: Tracy
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Kafka on the Shore (Vintage International) Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781400079278
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - January 3rd, 2006


This is The Great Gatsby for the disillusioned, overworked, economically desperate late-20s readership. Idealistic reporter Gavin loses his job when he includes false quotes to embellish a series of newspaper articles. He reluctantly returns to Florida, where he finds that his friends and girlfriend are involved in a scheme too crazy to be believed, one that cannot possibly end well.

Reviewed by: Andrea
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The Lola Quartet Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781609530792
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Unbridled Books - May 2012


The Russian snow maiden fairy tale was never one of my favorites as a kid, but Ivey makes it lush and irresistible. Set against the harrowing backdrop of the Alaskan wilderness, the story unfolds with a touch of magical realism. There's an emphasis on the real, meaning that the characters behave as believably as one would expect when a girl made of snow comes to life in their backyard.

Reviewed by: Andrea
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The Snow Child: A Novel Cover Image
$31.00
ISBN: 9780316175678
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Reagan Arthur Books - February 2012


This is a beautifully written novel about death, culture shock, and enduring xenophobia. It's about sisterhood, favoritism, and duty. It's about resenting your culture and being unable to escape it. It's about the secrets that families keep from the world and from each other. The story is honest and difficult and emotional, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Reviewed by: Andrea
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Forgotten Country Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781594488085
Availability: Out of Print
Published: Riverhead Books - March 2012


Reminiscent of Huckleberry Finn, Lansdale's character Sue Ellen leads a diverse crew on an exhilarating adventure down river trying to stay one step ahead of pursuit. Her narrative voice is authentic, precocious and honest. Lansdale sets a tone that is beautiful and suspenseful, building up his story and fleshing out his characters into a profound masterpiece.

Reviewed by: Nici
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Edge of Dark Water Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780316188432
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Mulholland Books - March 27th, 2012


Let me admit that this was my first Philippa Gregory read. I was very impressed by her writing style, by the level of detail she provided, and by her ability to create suspense despite the general outcome being a forgone conclusion. I love the women she writes--they are complex characters, neither good nor altogether bad, who arouse your sympathies while making choices you disagree with.

Reviewed by: Nici
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The Lady of the Rivers: A Novel (The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels) Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781416563716
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Washington Square Press - April 3rd, 2012


Say Her Name is an autobiographical novel about the loss of Francisco Goldman's wife, Aura. I don't think anyone has ever loved anyone as much as Goldman loves his late wife - his devotion radiates from every sentence. I felt haunted by this book for weeks, and found myself thinking about Aura as if I had met her. It's a sad book, but trust me, it is well worth any tears.

Reviewed by: Kat
Say Her Name Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9780802145802
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Grove Press - April 10th, 2012


As someone who shares the same love, I fell easily into this all too common tale of the high-functioning alcoholic. The honesty with which Knapp writes is refreshingly undramatic. There are a lot of gritty rock-bottom memoirs out there, but Drinking manages to have the soul baring quality of a best friend’s confidence without the gut wrenching cringe factor.

Reviewed by: Kimberly
Drinking: A Love Story Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780385315548
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Dial Press Trade Paperback - May 12th, 1997


Susie Bright has the kind of life that memoirs were invented for—and finally she has written one! Chock full of “did-that-really-happen” moments and the fiercely intelligent and empathetic insight that she is known for, Big Sex Little Death is not to be skipped. Perfect for book group or class discussions

Reviewed by: Kat
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Big Sex Little Death: A Memoir Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781580053938
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Seal Press - April 24th, 2012


Pat Tillman was a true American hero. An All Star football player, he gave up his career to join the Army, only to be killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan, a fact which the government covered up. Krakauer delves into the story, following Tillman's life as well as the actions that lead to his death, and cutting through the web of lies woven around it.

Reviewed by: Flannery
Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780307386045
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Anchor - July 27th, 2010


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