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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.

B.A. Shapiro’s novels (The Art Forger, The Muralist) make me fall in love with art. In her writing the canvas is only one side of a multilayered story about art, artists, and the events that make history. In The Collector’s Apprentice, her characters are chameleons, shedding identities as they revolve around the magnetic works of post-Impressionist mavericks like Matisse and Picasso. Death, scandal, romance, and mystery drive the twists and turns of this thrilling novel that I absolutely could not put down. - Clara                                                       

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The Collector’s Apprentice: A Novel Cover Image
$27.95
ISBN: 9781616203580
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Algonquin Books - October 16th, 2018


The first diamond I ever found in Bookshop’s markdown bins. Short stories that stutter your heart and build crystalline, perfect images in your mind, which will stay with you for years. Multicultural, complex, with narratives from highly differing perspectives… perfect for Jhumpa Lahiri readers. - a.c.

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For the Relief of Unbearable Urges: Stories (Vintage International) Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9780375704437
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage - March 21st, 2000


Black comedy, short stories about the secret underbelly of red hot rage behind even the most polite veneer of “demure” femininity. It made me laugh out loud, and you should read it with red wine. An antidote for Trumpism, with some Southern Belle twists. - a.c.

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American Housewife Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9781101970997
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor - October 18th, 2016


I think this is the most important book to be published in the entire time that I worked as a bookseller. Bryan Stevenson’s work in the criminal justice system made me see the abuses of our prison system so much more clearly, as a part of a dehumanizing whole… and yet his voice in sharing these topics was calm, clear, crystalline and reassuring as well as emotionally affecting. If you’re going to read about the U.S. prison system, this is the book with which to start. - a.c.

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Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780812984965
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Spiegel & Grau - August 18th, 2015


"These books, I include for the reader who has been stuck for awhile, because we have all had those days. These are the books that have burst me out of a reading funk, because they let me just get caught up in a story without effort or hesitation....Did You Ever Have a Family? explores loss, difficulty, and the challenge of rebuilding a life after loss and mistake. A fire devastates the main character’s family home, and she has nothing-- this is the initiating point of the story. Even in light of the subject matter, I read it start to finish. Each character was so real that I felt I was living in their bodies, and I read through the darkest moments for the one, perfect promise offered by good contemporary literature: a reason to believe the worth of an individual human life, even after the darkest moments. If your reading funk is related to how you feel in general, read this. The book will understand any darkness in a reader, and help you believe in turning the next page anyway." - a.c.

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Did You Ever Have a Family Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781476798189
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Gallery/Scout Press - May 17th, 2016


Kim’s emotional debut explores one Korean family’s struggle to survive the civil war and its enduring aftermath. At the novel’s heart is Haemi Lee, a spirited teenager who flees to a refugee camp with her widowed mother and sick brother, and must make difficult choices in the face of unabashed youth. Although satisfyingly steeped in young loves and family loyalties, it is ultimately a tale of identity, how one country and its people endeavor to find their place in a world ripped apart by years of war and occupation. This is a story both well-loved and refreshingly new. - Melinda

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If You Leave Me: A Novel Cover Image
$26.99
ISBN: 9780062645173
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: William Morrow - August 7th, 2018


This isn't an easy or quick read. It takes stiffening your spine and grinding your teeth. Not because the writing is bad, quite the opposite; Dalcher is a fantastic writer. The premise of the story centers on limiting the speech of women in a very real way by electrocuting them through a bracelet every time they go over their 100-word daily quota. Given today’s political climate, it was a scary and very unsettling read. I highly recommend it (with a very stiff drink). - Karena

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Vox Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780440000785
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Berkley - August 21st, 2018


The feelings evoked by the life story of Kya, the Marsh Girl, lingered with me long after I finished reading this beautifully crafted novel. Abandoned first by her mother, and then by the rest of her family, by age ten Kya was living on her own in the marsh of coastal North Carolina. This is a coming of age story, a romance, a murder mystery, and a remarkable love story about the living breathing marsh itself. - Trey

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Where the Crawdads Sing Cover Image
$20.80
ISBN: 9780735219090
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons - August 14th, 2018


We’re all familiar with Amelia Earhart, but what about Ruth Elder, who was chided by Eleanor Roosevelt for wanting to fly across the Atlantic? There are mothers and divorcees in this book, from all walks of life, brought together in the desire to push boundaries, fly planes, and to not take no as an answer. The only reason I’m not completely fed up with the trend of describing women as “girls” in book titles, is that so many badass women are being introduced to the public eye and having their successes recognized. Shelve this one right alongside Code Girls and Radium Girls and bathe in the illumination these women have brought to the world. - Rachel

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Fly Girls: How Five Daring Women Defied All Odds and Made Aviation History Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9781328876645
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt - August 7th, 2018


When Kim Brooks was arrested for leaving her child locked in her ventilated car for only 5 minutes, her life changed forever as did her experience with parenting. Small Animals is her emotionally honest, often funny, well-researched, thoughtful response, a deep dive into the complexity of parenting today, when anxiety runs high and there is an underlying competition, often without context, control, or empathy. How is fear guiding us and to what extent is it harmful? I devoured this book, feeling both unnerved and grateful. - Melinda

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Small Animals: Parenthood in the Age of Fear Cover Image
$26.99
ISBN: 9781250089557
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Flatiron Books - August 21st, 2018


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