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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

This is beautiful book tells the largely unknown story of Genevieve Jones, a girl who endeavored to illustrate the birds that Audubon forgot and the family who labored to finish the work in her memory after her untimely death. The story is remarkable, marked as much by dedication and love as it is shadowed by tragedy and loss. Filled with luminous illustrations, this is an exceptional piece of art and natural history.
America's Other Audubon: (original color lithographs, archival photographs, and field notes on the nests and eggs that Audubon omitted) By Joy M. Kiser Cover Image
$45.00
ISBN: 9781616890599
Availability: This item is likely out of print! We may be able to order it from the publisher. If it's unavailable, we will refund you ASAP.
Published: Princeton Architectural Press - May 2nd, 2012


Wave watchers around the world know that no two waves are the same. Yet each and every wave that rises, peaks, and crashes onto the beach is generated by a much larger force originating thousands of miles away. Surf journalist team Evan Slater and Peter Taras capture the essence of waves and the swells that produce them in this gorgeous collection of wave photography.

Swell: A Year of Waves (Ocean Coffee Table Book, Book About Surfing) By Evan Slater Cover Image
$29.95
ISBN: 9781452105932
Availability: This item is likely out of print! We may be able to order it from the publisher. If it's unavailable, we will refund you ASAP.
Published: Chronicle Books - May 9th, 2012


Brooke Gladstone, of public radio’s outstanding On the Media, is a bit obsessed with all things media related, and her new graphic nonfiction book, The Influencing Machine, is a clear, entertaining, and sharply articulated look at the subject she loves best. Her central thesis is that we are the media, and our beliefs, choices, and prejudices are responsible for its construction. This raises an interesting question: How do we approach a media that is as messy, contradictory, and confusing as we are? Read on and find out.
The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone on the Media By Brooke Gladstone, Josh Neufeld Cover Image
$18.95
ISBN: 9780393342468
Availability: This item is likely out of print! We may be able to order it from the publisher. If it's unavailable, we will refund you ASAP.
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - May 7th, 2012


Silver Sparrow is a quiet, impactful book, an almost meld of the writings of Alice Walker and Barbara Kingsolver. Set in Atlanta in the 1980s, it tells the story of Dana, the secret preteen daughter of James, who is married and has another family across town. Dana struggles with her shame and anger when she realizes that she is an illegitimate daughter. Dana becomes obsessed with her half-sister Chaurisse, who has no idea that Dana and her mother exist. And then one day, Dana and Chaurisse’s paths cross, and the secrets begin to unravel. The result is a disquieting novel that examines the bonds and the obligations that make up a family.

Silver Sparrow By Tayari Jones Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781616201425
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Algonquin Books - May 8th, 2012


Get willingly lost in the Michigan backwoods as you join 16-year-old Margo Crane on her river odyssey. Running away from the violent death of her father at the hands of her extended family, she is forced to survive in the wild on her wits and her will. Yet enduring the harshness of the natural world is less difficult than surviving the intentions of some of the people she encounters. She’s a complex character, unashamedly sexual and yet somehow innocent, and her personal growth and self-realization make the novel a powerful piece of American literature.

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Once Upon a River: A Novel By Bonnie Jo Campbell Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9780393341775
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - June 4th, 2012


I’ll admit it: I was unfamiliar with Karen Joy Fowler before picking up this collection. But as I quickly found out, she is not a writer you need much time to warm up to. Her stories pulled me in with an immediacy and curiosity I rarely experience. Fowler sprinkles just enough details to keep the reader constantly engaged. While I was always happy where I ended up, really, I would have followed her anywhere.

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What I Didn't See and Other Stories By Karen Joy Fowler Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781931520485
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Small Beer Press - April 23rd, 2013


In One Person is a novel that makes you proud to be human. It is a book that not only accepts but also loves our differences. From the beginning of his career, Irving has always cherished our peculiarities—in a fierce, not a saccharine, way. Now he has extended his sympathies—and ours—still further into areas that even the misfits eschew. Anthropologists say that the interstitial—whatever lies between two familiar opposites—is usually declared either taboo or sacred. John Irving in this magnificent novel—his best and most passionate since The World According to Garp—has sacralized what lies between polarizing genders and orientations. And have I mentioned it is also a gripping page-turner and a beautifully constructed work of art?” —Edmund White

Arcadia, a beautiful and raw novel, is centered around a boy named Bit, nicknamed for his small size. Groff splits the book into two halves. In the first half, we watch Bit grow up in a utopian and wooded commune in the early ’70s. In the second half, Bit is an adult, a father raising his own child in New York City. I am unsure how to describe the scope of this novel—the way Groff’s language brings us into Bit’s world, the intimacy, the wonder, the confusion, the worry and the hope he holds as a child, and then the struggle, shattering grief, and quiet, determined bravery he develops

as a man.

Arcadia By Lauren Groff Cover Image
$25.99
ISBN: 9781401340872
Availability: This item is likely out of print! We may be able to order it from the publisher. If it's unavailable, we will refund you ASAP.
Published: Hachette Books - March 13th, 2012


Chris Cleave (Little Bee) is a gifted author when it comes to portraying characters and struggle. His newest title, Gold, tells the story of Zoe and Kate, Olympic-level cyclists who have been best friends and competition rivals since they met as young teenagers. As the date of the 2012 London Olympics draws near, the frailties of these two friends are exposed alongside their undeniable strengths. There is heartbreak in this story—a sick child, an aging coach, a blend of goals and dreams clashing together with hard truths and unfathomable decisions—but always there is a marked tone to Cleave’s writing: an

unspoken pull that makes this book not only a page-turner in terms of content, but a novel that makes the reader care deeply about everyone involved. What a wonderful read!


Set in the near future, in a totalitarian theocracy which has overthrown the United States government, The Handmaid's Tale explores themes of women in subjugation. The character is one of a class of individuals kept as ‘handmaids’ for reproductive purposes in an era of declining births. The images of emptiness are one of the most striking aspects of this novel-the effect is chilling.

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The Handmaid's Tale: A Novel By Margaret Atwood Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780385490818
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - March 16th, 1998


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