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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

Pat Tillman was a true American hero. An All Star football player, he gave up his career to join the Army, only to be killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan, a fact which the government covered up. Krakauer delves into the story, following Tillman's life as well as the actions that lead to his death, and cutting through the web of lies woven around it.

Reviewed by: Flannery
Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307386045
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Anchor - July 27th, 2010

Every year, Great White Sharks migrate to a jagged group of rocks of the coast of San Francisco called the Farallone Islands. The islands are largely inhabited by birds and seal, but a small group of intrepid people stay on the habitable island to study the sharks. This is a fascinating look into a little known local phenomenon, as well as an engrossing insight into a mysterious local creature.

Reviewed by: Flannery
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The Devil's Teeth: A True Story of Obsession and Survival Among America's Great White Sharks Cover Image
ISBN: 9780805080117
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Holt Paperbacks - May 30th, 2006

I love James Herriot. As a child, I aspired to be a country vet because of him. This collection recounts his first years as a small town vet, and is full of stories that are by turns heartwarming, sad, and comforting, and reveal the best, deepest nature of our animal friends. His love of life and all creatures is infectious, making this a sweet, funny, and uplifting book.

Reviewed by: Flannery
All Creatures Great and Small Cover Image
Email or call for price
ISBN: 9780312965785
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: St. Martin's Press - April 15th, 1998

Kevin Brockmeier’s latest novel imagines a world in which pain becomes visible as a white light, shining out of cut thumbs, sore backs and broken limbs. Brockmeier follows a series of characters as they grapple with this strange new world, in which people diagnose each other at a glance and struggle to contain their secrets. My fellow bookseller Susan and I love this book so much that we argued over who got to write the review. Read it yourself and pass it on.
Reviewed by: Kat
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The Illumination (Vintage Contemporaries) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307387776
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage - February 21st, 2012

Newspaper journalist Joshua Foer was originally given the U.S. Memory Championship as an assignment, but rather than just writing a story, Foer became a participant. Through his research for the article, Foer interviewed the likes of Ben Pridmore (the current Memory Champion winner) who could memorize the exact order of 1,528 digits in an hour, to meeting with a man who could only remember as far back as one thought. Foer found that in many ways memory can learned; it turns out there is a secret language for our brains—that our minds have a preference to remembering one way over another. Foer basically studied this “memory language” and decided to join the Memory Championship to test his skills. The results are laugh-out-loud funny, but also fascinating. This book needs to be your next read—especially for all those Bill Bryson fans out there!

Reviewed by: S.M.C.
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Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143120537
Availability: Backordered
Published: Penguin Books - February 28th, 2012

This book is an early contender for my favorite novel of 2012, and even though it’s only March, I doubt it will be strongly challenged. Debut author Liz Moore has written a piercing novel that is perfectly weighted with sadness and hope. Arthur Opp is a 500 lb former professor who hasn’t left his home in nearly 10 years, and has no plan to, until a student from long ago calls him, asking for help with her son. Magnificently heart-felt and beautifully written—don’t miss this one.

Reviewed by: Kat
Heft: A Novel Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780393081503
Availability: Out of Print
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - January 23rd, 2012

With a little help from the inimitable Shakespeare, Brown herein explores three very different sisters: Rosalind, Bianca, and Cordelia, who have nothing in common except a sense of failure. In a single shared voice that allows for a unique exploration of family life as a creature unto itself, Brown shows us how a person may at long last learn to like the people they have to love, and along the way, maybe even themselves as well.

Reviewed by: Erin
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The Weird Sisters Cover Image
ISBN: 9780425244142
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons - February 7th, 2012

This was the one of my favorite reads of last year. Quirky, magical, and wholly compelling, Holman’s novel tells the story of a young boy growing up in Depression-era rural Virginia. Raised with the rumors of his mother’s mysterious ways, Eddie Alley’s life is forever changed when a car accident leads to an impromptu visit from a city writer and photographer. Eddie’s small town life, along with his future, is suddenly thrown, but not without consequences. Holman interweaves folklore and ghost stories and spins them into this multi-generational tale that talks to loyalty, betrayal, redemption and the way that we cannot run away from who we truly are. There is a mystery and a love that run the vein of this novel that sits with me still—I loved it!

Reviewed by: S.M.C.
Witches on the Road Tonight Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802145710
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Grove Press - January 10th, 2012

I started reading this on a lunch break, and ten hours later it had become my new favorite short story collection. Fallon’s stories take place around an enormous military base in Texas named Ft. Hood, and delve intimately into the lives of the women left behind when their husbands ship off to Iraq. The book manages to be neither political nor voyeuristic, but showcases incredible storytelling and character work. I cannot recommend it enough —and the New York Times loved it too!

Reviewed by: Kat
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You Know When the Men Are Gone Cover Image
ISBN: 9780451234391
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons - January 3rd, 2012

This staff favorite, by the acclaimed author of Prague, was chosen as a Best Book of the Year by the San Francisco Chronicle, Library Journal, and many others. “The always-original Phillips has outdone himself in this clever literary romp. Successfully blending and bending genres, he positions himself as a character in a novel that skewers Shakespearean scholarship, the publishing industry, and his own life to rollicking effect.” —Booklist

The Tragedy of Arthur: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780812977929
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - February 21st, 2012