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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

Yes of course this book is funny, but it's also bursting with tales of a whole generation of comics and artists, not to mention Peg's own charming, raucous, and occasionally ridiculous history.

Reviewed by: Erin
Nerd Do Well: A Small Boy's Journey to Becoming a Big Kid Cover Image
ISBN: 9781592407194
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Avery - June 5th, 2012

I picked up this book and was immediately swept up in its story. In the small town of Fox Hollow (in the Smokey Mountains) a child wakes from a nightmare in confusion, gravely hurt, and suddenly mute. Her family must struggle to figure out if what the child manages to tell about what happened that night is truth, or a hallucination brought on by the child’s fear and injury. Doubt, miracles, loss and survival, hurt and forgiveness collide in this wonderful novel. Not wanting to give too much away, this is a story that warms—where the characters are lovable and we find ourselves rooting for this small town community, holding heart and hope—and ultimately the power of healing found in hard to reach places.
Reviewed by: S.M.C.
The Healer of Fox Hollow Cover Image
ISBN: 9781936467358
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Vantage Point - July 1st, 2012

This is one of those reads that I picked up and instantly became wrapped up in, the whole time one small part of my brain being so excited that I had at last found that long sought perfect summer read. Mostly told through the point of view of high-spirited and fiercely determined 11-year-old Swan, one cannot help but fall in love with this vibrant young girl. As Swan's Arkansas family is exposed to their core after an unforeseen tragedy, Swan seems the only one who refuses to give up faith or spirit. It may sound cliche, but this really is that book that makes you laugh, hold your breath, and tear up. For fans of Fannie Flagg, this is that it summer read.
Reviewed by: S.M.C.
The Homecoming of Samuel Lake: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385344098
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - July 10th, 2012

A child lost at sea, a shipwreck, a siege, a remote island, and a hard-earned chance for survival—all of these things are the premise for the beginning of Michael Parker’s new novel, The Watery Part of The World. Taking a true fact from history about a young woman lost at sea in 1813 off the North Carolina coast, Parkers weaves a tale that is lyrical and haunting. Spanning 150 years with two interwoven stories, this novel speaks to love and sacrifice--Parker has beautifully written a literary adventure story about the power of endurance and the bonds that form in make-shift places. A perfect read for fans of Toni Morrison or Ian McEwan.
Reviewed by: S.M.C.
The Watery Part of the World Cover Image
ISBN: 9781616201432
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Algonquin Books - June 5th, 2012

When I finished this book, I turned it over and read it all over again. Seriously. Every chapter of this early 20th century period piece left me with a hauntingly beautiful image of life at the turn of the century. From the perspective of a lonely laborer named Robert Grainier looking back at the events of his life, there is a feeling of wonder and discovery in the realization of the American frontier. Really, though, I loved this book.
Reviewed by: Tracy
Train Dreams: A Novella Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250007650
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Picador - May 22nd, 2012

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.
Reviewed by: Nici
Blueprints for Building Better Girls: Fiction Cover Image
ISBN: 9780743276719
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Simon & Schuster - July 10th, 2012

Three young lovers are lost in a wood. They were never in love with each other-in fact have never met. But heartache, and strange coincidence, has drawn them together, to face a most unusual and terrifying night, born of a Queen’s own desperation and loss. Inspired by--but not following--A Midsummer Night’s Dream, this contemporary faerie tale pits the most modern of troubles against the oldest: love, loss, and terrors made real in the night.
Reviewed by: Jocelyn
The Great Night: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250007384
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Picador - May 8th, 2012

Family drama with a rock-and-roll twist, Stone Arabia is the might-have- and should-have-beens for a pair of middle-aged siblings. Denise weathers her unexciting life, taking care of everyone, including the brother she can’t help but help. Nik’s poured all of his dreams and frustrations into the rock star he never was, chronicling his parallel, truer life in writing, absolving himself from responsibility for his honest one. A sad and true story; real, but cool.
Reviewed by: Jocelyn
Stone Arabia: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781451617979
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Scribner - July 10th, 2012

A boy, age 11, no longer completely a child, not ready to be a man. Leaving an irrevocable past, not yet arrived at where his future will begin. A ship, neither on land nor in the sea, between countries and borders, racing over an invisible, ever-changing landscape beneath an endless sky. This is where adventures grow, for the most insignifant; where the moments that will define who you are, are found.

Reviewed by: Jocelyn
The Cat's Table (Vintage International) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307744418
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage - June 12th, 2012

This is one of the spookiest books I’ve ever read, and there is nary a vampire or zombie to be found in its pages. The villain is perfectly human, a monster of an average man compelled by fits of jealousy and revenge. The heroine is Luce, a reclusive young woman living in an old lodge in the mountains, who has taken in the children of her murdered sister. An incredible, addictive blend of southern crime fiction and nature writing. My pick for paperback of the summer.
Reviewed by: Kat
Staff Pick Badge
Nightwoods: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780812978803
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - June 12th, 2012