Bookshop Santa Cruz offers a great way for Book Groups to save 10% on the titles they read, get special invitations to Book Group mixers, and receive email recommendations on excellent Book Group titles.
Register your Book Group at our information desk and get 10% off your Book Group picks (when ordering 5 or more copies) and have us hold the titles in one place for easy pick up for all your group members! Browse our new Book Group shelves in the Fiction room for staff recommendations, local book group choices, and information on running Book Groups.
Below are some staff recommendations of great books for Book Groups.
The men who were picked to become the first U.S. astronauts were subject to a number of strict requirements, including one that might seem odd today: They had to be happily married. The Astronaut Wives Club explores the extraordinary lives of the women married to America’s heroes, women who became instant celebrities and often struggled with their new public personas. It’s a breezy, fascinating book that would be perfect for summer book club meetings.
In her best-selling graphic novel Fun Home, Alison Bechdel explored her relationship with her father; in Are You My Mother?, she turns her focus to her mother. The psychological intent of this memoir is fascinating. In trying to understand the gulf between mothers and daughters, Bechdel visits with 20th-century psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott, then with Virginia Woolf, then with her current partner, and finally, back to her mother. A wonderful, fun, and smart read.
Kristen Iversen grew up downwind from a plant that produced plutonium triggers for nuclear bombs, and her parents and neighbors were told that the land, water, and air were perfectly safe from contamination. This was not true. Decades later, Iversen twines her own intimate family history with piercing investigative journalism, and reveals a level of corruption and incompetence that is just staggering. The result is a powerful, horrifying, and very important memoir.
Anna Quindlen is a best-selling author and a Pulitzer Prize winner. She is also a mother, a wife, a daughter, a friend, and a successful woman with a lot to say about the ups and downs of getting older. Chapter by chapter, she shares her philosophies on motherhood, marriage, friendship, solitude, and faith, weaving them all together into a warm and candid memoir about the changes, the lessons, and the losses we all (women in particular) experience as time goes by.
On the heels of his award-winning It Gets Better campaign, columnist and provocateur Dan Savage weighs in on such diverse issues as health care, gun control, and marriage equality with characteristic straight talk and humor. “Savage is that rarity, a liberal—verging on radical—who defends his positions with steel-trap logic and scornful humor laced with profanity and stripped of politically correct cant.”
This is an inspiring story of a young man and his dying mother who form a book club of two that brings them closer as her life draws to an end. Schwalbe and his mom read titles ranging from classic literature to current bestsellers, poetry to mysteries, fantasy to spirituality. As Will recounts their wide-ranging, deeply personal conversations, we hear their passion for reading and their love for each other. They—and we—are reminded how books can be comforting, astonishing, and illuminating, changing the way that we connect with the world around us.
I cannot say enough about this debut novel, which takes place in Chechnya, after its decade-long war with Russia. The snowy landscape is scarred by bombs, and countless people have “disappeared” at the hands of soldiers and rebels. Inside this bleak setting are an orphaned 8-year-old girl, Havaa; Akhmed, Havaa’s neighbor, who takes her in; and Sonya, a surgeon who reluctantly takes the pair into hiding at one of the region’s last functioning hospitals. This is a beautifully told tale that shines with eloquence and maturity. For fans of The Tiger’s Wife or Birdsong.
I read this book in one sitting overnight because the thought of putting it down seemed absolutely impossible, and I couldn’t rest until I knew how it ended. Hosseini’s latest work is touching, painful, and exquisitely beautiful. It is about an Afghani family scattered across the globe, the lives they touch, and the bonds between them that last forever. Each chapter is a masterpiece in itself. Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner, writes with the certainty and delicacy of one who understands the pain every human suffers, but who still remembers that our lives are filled with beauty. I cannot recommend And the Mountains Echoed highly enough. Don’t miss our event with Hosseini on June 2nd.
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Hardcover, 5/2013
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Hardcover, 5/2013
Life After Life is an engaging puzzle that spans two world wars. With the introduction of Ursula Todd, a woman who relives her life over and over, Kate Atkinson poses endless, fascinating questions: What would the world be like if we could start over when things went terribly awry? Could our decisions, big and small, avert wars? Make us happier? Stop death in its tracks? Life After Life is rich with history and possibility, and it left my brain humming.
Jeannette Walls (The Glass Castle) certainly must have pulled from her own unconventional background to so convincingly bring the two intrepid stars of this new novel to life. It is 1970, and 12-year-old Bean and 15-year-old Liz have been left by their artistic, whimsical mother, Charlotte, in a desert town in California. They end up making their way “home” to the Virginia town they were born in but have not seen since. Their Uncle Tinsley and the small Southern town that greet them seem suspended in time, but truly everything is on the edge of social change, with the Vietnam War and racial integration barely at bay. Both Bean and Liz have to grow and shift in their loyalty to themselves and one another, and must make heart-breaking decisions to try to carve a road between their past and future.
This is my favorite book. I know that’s a big thing to say, but so far no other book has quite matched up. It’s a ghost story, but it’s also unlike any ghost story I’ve ever read—the spirits that inhabit this book are deeply entwined with the natural world, and they are responsible for shifting the weather, ripening tomatoes, and helping snakes shed their skin. Intrigued? You should be. I can’t say enough about this book, but I’ll stick to this: read it.
I’m a bit obsessed with Cheryl Strayed. Much like Gabrielle Hamilton of Blood Bones and Butter, Strayed is an incredible writer with a strong voice that will blow you away. Wild is an account of Strayed’s 1,000-mile solo trek on the Pacific Crest Trail, undertaken at age 26 following the sudden loss of her mother. Despite the blood and bruises and the terrible things that happened to her toenails, I couldn’t help but root for her with every sentence, and dream about following in her footsteps.
Mary Roach has an exceptional talent for finding the fascinating in the disgusting and the taboo. Her latest book is all about the digestive system – from the tip of the tongue to, well, you know where – and it is chock-full of her trademark wit, exhaustive research and fantastic footnotes. Gulp has it all, from a man with a perpetual hole in his stomach to the science behind why crunchy food is so irresistible.
Fans of Maya Angelou will revel in her latest work Mom & Me & Mom as readers get a glimpse behind the phenomenal woman, writer and poet and into the most important years of her development: her earliest childhood experiences. Readers will be able to explore and discover Maya’s unusual and inspirational relationship with her mother, reminding us all of the incredible power of connection that is uniquely forged between mothers and daughters.
I read an advanced copy of this back in October, and I've been counting down the days to March so that I can press this into the hands of everyone I know who loves unreliable narrators, love triangles, and books about books about books. This utterly absorbing debut follows our narrator through several identity changes, romantic trysts, and missions to bring his unstable best friend, a brilliant writer, back from the brink of fame-induced emotional breakdowns. It has the feel of equal parts Great Gatsby and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - dreamy and irresistible.