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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

Something bad happened to Cat, and she hasn’t talked to anyone since. But now the boy she called best friend has been left for dead, the apparent victim of a hate crime, and Cat is the only one seeking justice in her tiny Southern town. But her years apart mean more is going on than Cat imagined: this crime is more than hatred. An enthralling mystery.

Shine By Lauren Myracle Cover Image
$18.95
This item may be available from the publisher! Give us a call or send us an email to find out.
ISBN: 9780810984172
Published: Amulet Books - May 1st, 2011


Scarlet was an ordinary 20-something. Maybe a little directionless–but in love, happy. Then a corrupt police officer ended her world – and no one cared. In a world where “Occupy” is now more than a verb, this book is eerily and violently prescient of the idea that things are not okay – and it’s up to you to do something about it. Beautiful, violent, powerful.


When it comes to beautiful prose, this book has a spot at the top of my 2011 list. Van Booy’s sentences are so exquisite and perfectly weighted that you could spend an hour reading a single page. But you won’t, because the story and the characters insist that you continue. It takes place in Athens and circles around a peculiar love triangle between three lost souls. Just stunning.

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Everything Beautiful Began After: A Novel By Simon Van Booy Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9780061661488
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Harper Perennial - July 5th, 2011


This novel has been much-buzzed all year. It won the Orange prize and was a finalist for the 2011 National Book Award. Here at Bookshop, we like to think we called it. This book enthralled us so much when it was excerpted in the 2010 Best American Nonrequired Reading that we practically begged for a copy, and when we got one we were not disappointed.

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The Tiger's Wife: A Novel By Téa Obreht  Cover Image
$17.00
This item may be available from the publisher! Give us a call or send us an email to find out.
ISBN: 9780385343848
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - November 1st, 2011


Brockmeier’s novel links together a number of characters with a single dazzling premise: one morning, the world wakes up and discovers that pain has become visible. Headaches glow white, cuts shimmer, back pain flares and ebbs. Our pain can no longer be kept secret, and the effects of this phenomenon are startling and far-reaching. You must read this!


This is a unique and wonderful coming of age story. How do I describe the characters of this book? We watch two siblings recreate magic with a Rabbit they name God, we watch a best friend promise to witness unspeakable acts, and we watch the world stretch and break as war and terror become common day. This is a beautiful, magical story, well worth the read.


Magary's novel is quirky, hilarious (in that gallows humor way), and thoroughly entertaining as he explores the implications of this possible scientific "advancement." Much like The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, The Postmortal uses a not-so-distant dystopic future to make very strong points about life today. I loved it, and it's still haunting me.

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The Postmortal: A Novel By Drew Magary Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780143119821
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Penguin Books - August 30th, 2011


This is an excellent read for anyone who grew up in an artistic setting, has spent time around quirky people, or has experienced bizarre family drama. Wilson's novel is arressivly hilarious, often leaving you no choice but to read passages out loud to anyone nearby but it also deals with very serious family issues in a nuanced and deft manner.

The Family Fang: A Novel By Kevin Wilson Cover Image
$23.99
This item may be available from the publisher! Give us a call or send us an email to find out.
ISBN: 9780061579035
Published: Ecco - August 9th, 2011


This interlocking collection of short stories swept me up and firmly invaded my heart. Each story features women attempting to deal with serious experiences, and sheds light on the inner struggles that we don't always share and sometimes won't even admit to. There's humor here, lurking in the shadows of their hearts. Schappell moves you through their lives with ease, beauty and honesty.


This is a crazy-fun fast-paced thriller with just a touch of the digital world that Stephenson is so well known for. Some of the story takes place inside a video game world, and some of the spy toys are beyond what you might find elsewhere (but I bet they really exist). It's addictive and exciting, the writing is beautiful, and the payoff is excellent.


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