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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

A beautifully written story told from the point of view of three WWII military wives. Sexism, racism, anti-Semitism and consumerism all play a big part in the lives of these women. During a time when you were taught to keep private pain private, all three find themselves coping with the damage done by war and history.
Reviewed by: Clytia
Next to Love: A Novel Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9780812982411
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Spiegel & Grau - May 15th, 2012


I once came across a review that pegged The Leftovers as an agnostic take on the rapture, and I haven’t been able to get that out of my head. When thousands of people worldwide disappear in a single moment, there is no religious explanation, only confusion and grief. Perrotta’s characters struggle to move on in this strange new world, craving answers and meaning in the face of loss. A powerful and authentic meditation on the myriad ways we respond to tragedy.
Reviewed by: Kat
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The Leftovers: A Novel Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9780312363550
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: St. Martin's Griffin - May 22nd, 2012


Alice Hoffman is known for her lyrical style and novels that are dosed with magic and surrealism. But in The Dovekeepers, she breaks away from the world of fantasy and retells the story of the Romans’ siege of Masada in 70 CE, during which all but a handful of the 900 Jewish defenders were slaughtered. Using the voices of four separate women, who intersect in surprising ways, the story unfolds into one of determined strength, unity, and faith. With an almost biblical feel, Hoffman’s novel has a cadence and depth that makes it feel timeless—she has truly brought history to life—so perhaps there is a bit of magic in her telling after all.
Reviewed by: S.M.C.
The Dovekeepers: A Novel Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9781451617481
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Scribner - April 3rd, 2012


Ann Patchett is one of those authors you want to read for the first time again and again; you can’t help but be swept up with that wonderful feeling of seeing life from a new perspective. State of Wonder is an adventure story whose beauty lies in the description and, well, oddity of its setting, with deadly snakes, harrowing river rides, and malaria-induced nightmares, where breathtaking beauty stands side by side with wrenching loss. Dr. Marina Singh, a research scientist at a pharmaceutical company, is sent to Brazil to track down another elusive doctor who is working with a tribe in the Amazon to create a valuable new drug. There are images in this book that you will never be able to forget; there is a moral tug-of-war that will make your heart pound, and there is that incredible beauty that Patchett embeds in her writing.
Reviewed by: S.M.C.
State of Wonder: A Novel Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780062049810
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Perennial - May 8th, 2012


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.

Reviewed by: Tracy
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The Handmaid's Tale: A Novel Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9780385490818
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor - March 16th, 1998


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 1st, 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 1st, 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 1st, 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


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