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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.

This lovely and lyrical novel circles around a village tavern along the Thames after the mysterious happenings of a stormy night. An ensemble of unique characters reckon with the impossible, the power of storytelling, and the complexities of family in this warm feel-good tale. Brilliant use of folklore. - Clara

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Once Upon a River: A Novel Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780743298070
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Atria/Emily Bestler Books - December 4th, 2018


Set at a summer sleep-away camp, this debut novel explores the complexities of female friendship over time from adolescence through early adulthood. Perennials offers readers a unique look at the bliss and beauty of girlhood, as well as the grief of growing up and remembering when and where you lost your innocence. - Kristi

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Perennials: A Novel Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780399589331
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - June 12th, 2018


The way this country reviles people in need of government assistance has always appalled me. As a child of parents who have, at one time or another been those people, Maid resonated. Land thoughtfully recounts her experiences being a working mom with no support and abusive partners, proving yet again how this country is built on the backs of the invisible and ignored. - Karena

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Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780316505116
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Hachette Books - January 22nd, 2019


Countering the assumption of the Middle Ages as stagnant and prejudiced, Menocal explores the diverse, flourishing world of Muslim Spain. I was fascinated by the cultural exchange between Muslims, Christians, and Jews that nourished such unique art, poetry, philosophy, and architecture. Beautiful history writing with a hopeful message. - Clara

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The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews, and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780316168717
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Back Bay Books - April 2nd, 2003


Friends, this is it. This is the book we’ve been waiting for. And now I can’t get it out of my head, and the pit of my stomach, and my aching heart. It is that good, that gorgeous, that brutal, surreal, tender, enlightening, bitingly funny, and unbelievably truthful. And it’s short stories, so I urge you to savor them one at a time, if you can. Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah is here, and I say not a moment too soon. - Melinda

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Friday Black Cover Image
$14.99
ISBN: 9781328911247
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mariner Books - October 23rd, 2018


The rough and tumble lives of the five Dunbar brothers include a house without a father or mother, a pet mule named Achilles, and daily tests of brute strength and will that end in bloody feet and black eyes. Still, the love between brothers is something no one can come between—until a figure from their past returns to break one brother apart from the rest. Markus Zusak, acclaimed author of The Book Thief, spins a heartbreaking tale of boys and men, mothers and fathers, pain and the space for forgiveness. Ages 14 and up. - Tera

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Bridge of Clay Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781984830159
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf Books for Young Readers - October 9th, 2018


At the age of 30, Jedidiah Jenkins decided to “happen to life” instead of letting life happen to him and embarked on an 18-month bike trip from Oregon to Patagonia. The resulting book is both a delightful adventure and a thoughtfuljourney into his own soul. Travel frees him to make unencumbered relationships with his past, his spirituality, his identity, his family, and his sense of self in ways that leave me feeling alive, inspired, and ready to pack my own bags. - Melinda

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To Shake the Sleeping Self: A Journey from Oregon to Patagonia, and a Quest for a Life with No Regret Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781524761387
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Convergent Books - October 2nd, 2018


Unlike some celebrity memoirs that focus on art and fame, actress Sally Field’s memoir is much more personal, and includes her life before she was famous. She reveals that as a child, she was sexually abused by her stepfather and talks about how that shaped her decisions regarding her partnerships, which roles she took, and even how she mothered. As an artist, she was drawn to the roles that “spoke of outrage,” but in writing her memoir, you can feel the connection that Field has found with herself. - S.M.C.

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In Pieces Cover Image
$29.00
ISBN: 9781538763025
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Grand Central Publishing - September 18th, 2018


How does she do it? How does Anne Lamott capture the tension of mystery and truth in a way that makes you want to follow her anywhere and believe everything? If you opened this book to any random page you’d find something you’d feel compelled to read aloud to the stranger at the next table. Her familiar writing style spreads a blanket in the sun, lays out trinkets for you to consider, then gathers up the corners, ties it to a stick, sets it on your shoulder, and nudges you to walk on with hope. -Jenny

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Almost Everything: Notes on Hope Cover Image
$20.00
ISBN: 9780525537441
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - October 16th, 2018


For years, I was obsessed with the Nag Hammadi Library, or Gnostic Gospels, and Princeton’s professor of religion Elaine Pagels is by far the leading authority on the subject. In this memoir, Pagels retells the story of her life and examines the questions she faced her entire career, from others and herself: How can an academic believe in religion, and what place does religion have in the modern world? - Aric

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Why Religion?: A Personal Story Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9780062368539
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ecco - November 6th, 2018


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