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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

Here’s the book to get someone who you know likes to cook (whether or not you know much else about them!). It’s a fantastic collection of recipes—submitted by home cooks—that have proven to be winning dishes. Accomplished food writers and editors Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs had a mission: to discover and celebrate the best home cooks in the country. Each week for fifty-two weeks, they ran recipe contests on their website,, and the 140 winning recipes make up this book. From Lemony Cream Cheese Pancakes with Blueberries to BLT Panzanella, Secret Ingredient Beef Stew to Rum Apple Cake, it would be an absolute challenge to look through this collection and NOT find something you’d want to cook!

The Food52 Cookbook: 140 Winning Recipes from Exceptional Home Cooks By Amanda Hesser, Merrill Stubbs Cover Image
This item may be available from the publisher! Give us a call or send us an email to find out.
ISBN: 9780061887208
Published: William Morrow Cookbooks - October 25th, 2011

You might think that even “home cooking” recipes by the world’s greatest chef, Ferran Adriá, would be out of the league of most nonprofessional cooks, but this collection, inspired by the dishes eaten every day by the staff at Adriá’s legendary restaurant, El Bulli, is actually quite practical.

The Family Meal: Home cooking with Ferran Adrià By El Bulli, Cillero & deMotta (Translated by) Cover Image
By El Bulli, Cillero & deMotta (Translated by)
This item may be available from the publisher! Give us a call or send us an email to find out.
ISBN: 9780714862538
Published: Phaidon Press - October 3rd, 2011

If it’s possible to have a crush on a bakery, then considering me smitten with San Francisco’s Miette. Sweet treats never looked more adorable or irresistible. —S.B.

Get it for your favorite gardener, dreamer, or supporter of farmer’s markets

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Tender: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch [A Cookbook] By Nigel Slater Cover Image
ISBN: 9781607740377
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ten Speed Press - April 26th, 2011

From the blogger of 101 Cookbooks, this is THE book of the year for vegetarians and anyone interested in a healthier way of living (without any preaching!)

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Super Natural Every Day: Well-Loved Recipes from My Natural Foods Kitchen [A Cookbook] By Heidi Swanson Cover Image
This item may be available from the publisher! Give us a call or send us an email to find out.
ISBN: 9781580082778
Published: Ten Speed Press - April 5th, 2011

Eugenides’ long-awaited third novel is a grand slam. It studies a love triangle between three recent college graduates, and the way they stretch into the world as they begin to truly grow up. If you’ve ever studied literature in an academic setting, you simply must read this book. It will have you in stitches. A moving and thoughtful treatise about how we learn to live and love

Like the elaborate pastries created by Felice’s mother, this novel will melt in your mouth. It’s not fluff – a run-away teenager, a marriage on the rocks, a hidden secret – but it’s rich and sensual and delicious. Perhaps more troubling than a sugared item should be, but certainly as amazing.

Birds of Paradise: A Novel By Diana Abu-Jaber Cover Image
Email or call for price
ISBN: 9780393064612
Availability: Out of Print
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - September 6th, 2011

Joe’s life is not the greatest: he and his mom face foreclosure after his dad’s death in Iraq. And his health…Home alone, an accident leads Joe into literal mortal peril–and a land where the battle of Light vs. Dark is reaching its climax. Has Joe really been transported to a magic kingdom, or are these the hallucinations of a frightened boy, dying alone? Read on.

Whether new to superhero comics or a true believer, Batwoman is unlike any you’ve seen before. ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ booted Kate from the army, but her combat training fuels a crusade against the Religion of Crime, who prey on the innocent of Gotham. Following a dark trajectory of enemies and hard truths about her past, Elegy is a book you don’t want to miss.

The future is a disaster; it’s no wonder everyone spends all their time in Oasis, the greatest online game ever. But there’s a secret inside: an “Easter Egg” left by its creator. Whoever finds the Egg wins not only a fortune, but control of Oasis–the only world that matters anymore. Will Wade Watts, teenaged orphan, find the Egg? For any geek, nerd, or underdog!

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Ready Player One By Ernest Cline Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307887436
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Ballantine Books - August 16th, 2011