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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.

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!

Reviewed by: Kat
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The Illumination Cover Image
$24.95
ISBN: 9780375425318
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Pantheon - February 2011


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.

Reviewed by: S.M.C.
When God Was a Rabbit: A Novel Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781608195343
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Bloomsbury USA - May 17th, 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.

Reviewed by: Nici
The Family Fang: A Novel Cover Image
$23.99
ISBN: 9780061579035
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
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.

Reviewed by: Nici
Blueprints for Building Better Girls: Fiction Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780743276702
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Simon & Schuster - September 6th, 2011


I was almost late to work multiple times because Tina Fey is just so wet-your-pants funny. Not only is this a great book--full of pointed humor, witty observations, and less-than-helpful suggestions--but the audio version puts it all in her voice and her cadence. She's a brilliant comedian and an acute social observer—you should totally take her advice. –Nici

Reviewed by: Nici
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Bossypants Cover Image
$29.98
ISBN: 9781609419691
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Little, Brown & Company - April 5th, 2011


Before Atonement, Ian McEwan had already made a name for himself with the publication of one of his earliest novels. Child in Time actually won the Whitbread Award after its release in the late 1980’s. I’m giving you the time frame about when McEwan wrote this book because I want to emphasize that he wrote it long was before the topic of missing children had become a trend. So it is with extraordinary tenderness and insight, that Ian McEwan takes us into the dark territory of a marriage devastated by the loss of a child. What makes this book stand out is the way that time is distilled and such a hard subject is somehow approached with eloquence and intention rather than thrill and shock value. Ultimately this is a love story built on hope and truth and surrender.

Reviewed by: S.M.C.
The Child in Time Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9780385497527
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Anchor - November 2nd, 1999


Laurence Cosse, well known for her Europa hit A Novel Bookstore, has written what could be called a thriller, if you're so inclined. The protagonist, Louise, is a young French woman who is sideswiped by a car on her way home from work. Terrified, she flees, and the next morning, she and the rest of the world learn the identity of one of the crash victims: Princess Diana. Cosse's skillful narration turns what we now think of as tabloid fodder and ancient history back into the present moment—she recalls the shock and grief of many after that fateful accident, and uses it as a backdrop to Louise's mounting fear that she will be apprehended.

Reviewed by: Kat
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An Accident in August: A Novel Cover Image
By Laurence CossÉ, Alison Anderson (Translated by)
$15.00
ISBN: 9781609450496
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Europa Editions - August 30th, 2011


Man Booker Prize finalist Sebastian Barry has written a novel that lends itself to an open dialogue about memory and history. Set in County Sligo, Ireland, Barry tells the unforgettable story of Roseanne McNulty. Roseanne is nearing her 100th year and is living in a residential hospital. When one of the doctors begins to interview Rose, he finds himself immersed in the Irish conflict in its immediacy as Rose’s aging memory seems to bring the past to the present moment. The story that unfolds is mesmerizing and elegant and begs to question the vision that is it possible restore with language that which has been taken away by history? This is a wonderful read.

Reviewed by: S.M.C.
The Secret Scripture: A Novel Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780143115694
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Books - April 28th, 2009


For fans of Easter Island, this is your next read. Based on a true story, Kate Grenville tells the story of Daniel Rooke, an astronomer/navy lieutenant who is sent to the newly discovered New South Wales as part of the British colonial movement in1788. With the picturesque wilds of old Australia as its backdrop, Grenville brings to life the complications and excitement of what it must have been like to be living in unmapped territory. We watch as Rooke, always somewhat of a loner, finds himself surrounded in sudden intimacy when he is accepted and trusted by the local aborigines. In the same way he carefully notes and studies the constellations, Rooke begins to learn the culture and dialect of his new friends, taking time to record and set down his new linguistic findings. Using the original journal entries of Daniel Rooke, and the knowledge of what happens next in his life, Grenville depicts the startling decision that Rooke makes when he is asked to serve in a colonial duty that he can no longer agree with. This is one of the most beautifully written tales I have read that speaks to how language is not made up of words and letters but relationship and meaning, and it brings to light the beauty that can be shared if we hold one another as equals rather than foreigners in a great world.

The Lieutenant Cover Image
$14.95
ISBN: 9780802145031
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Grove Press - September 14th, 2010


This incredible novel is part murder mystery, part historical fiction, and part coming-of-age story. The protagonist is a young, gay exile from a fundamentalist polygamist compound, who has been living as a runaway for years. News of his father’s murder (and his mother’s arrest for said murder) brings him back to the home he thought he’d never see again in an attempt to clear her name. Twined with this contemporary narrative is a historical fictionalization of Brigham Young’s journey across America, his adoption of polygamy, and the rebellion of his young 19th wife. There’s a lot going on in this book, and Ebershoff makes it work. A seriously impressive novel.

Reviewed by: Kat
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The 19th Wife: A Novel Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780812974157
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - June 2nd, 2009


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