Notes of an Undocumented Citizen
“Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas didn’t know he was an undocumented immigrant until he went to get his driver’s license at the age of 16. Vargas’s story is sadly not unusual, which is part of why it’s so important. His writing is emotional, powerful, and full of purpose. More memoir than political statement, Dear America is a truly eye-opening look at the realities of immigration in America.”Jade, Bookshop Santa Cruz
A Personal Story
“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, Bookshop Santa Cruz
“I adore our former president and I miss him. Yet I cannot help but be ecstatic that Michelle is coming out with a book about her own life so that I can learn more about this powerful, intelligent, and singularly awesome woman. Barack would be the first to say that his wife is a superstar, and I can’t wait to get my hands on Becoming to read about her in her own words.”Jax, Bookshop Santa Cruz
There Will Be No Miracles Here
“Gerald's THERE WILL BE NO MIRACLES HERE might very well--and rightfully so--come to be considered one of the great memoirs of an African-American experience in America. In this memoir, Gerald recounts his childhood and life, beginning with early years in Dallas, rife with family drama, religious questioning, grappling with sexuality--to a football career at Yale. In his meditative, lyrical, and ruminative tone Gerald questions American identity, myth, and success. His conversational and conspiratorial style is undergirded by a quite proficient, experimental, and stylish set of literary techniques.”Margaret Grace Myers, Books Are Magic
What If This Were Enough?
“I loved this collection of essays. Sharp, political, intelligent, and witty, Havrilesky’s voice reminded me of a merge between Cheryl Strayed’s Dear Sugar and Rebecca Solnit. Havrilesky points out how our culture’s emphasis is tuned to a constant tirade of consuming and reaching—we are to seek out more technology, buy newer apps, climb the ladder, improve our minds, finesse our rooms, spruce ours cars, balance our diets, deepen our relationships…and the list just keeps going. Enough! With heart, humor and insight, Havrilesky helps show that if we stop seeking happily ever after, we might be surprised by just how connected and content we can actually feel.”S.M.C., Bookshop Santa Cruz
The Poison Squad
One Chemist's Single-Minded Crusade for Food Safety at the Turn of the Twentieth Century
“Let us harken back to the turn of the twentieth century, when coffee was a mix of scorched sawdust and peas, meat was preserved by formaldahyde-fueled additives, and “brown sugar” consisted of ground-up bugs. Let us then meet Dr. Harvey Wiley, who faced a nation that believed people should eat what they want and took the renegade position of “Hey, maybe poisoning ourselves is a bad thing?” While there are shiver-inducing descriptions of the food people were consuming, the more terrifying fact exposed here is that businesses were willing to bribe, lie, and threaten the government in order to save costs and continue manufacturing poisoned food. (Terrifying but not surprising, and an activity that continues to lurk in our politics.) The writing is deft, and I highly recommend this book.”Rachel, Bookshop Santa Cruz
Notes on Hope
“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, Bookshop Santa Cruz
Can We All Be Feminists?
New Writing from Brit Bennett, Nicole Dennis-Benn, and 15 Others on Intersectionality, Identity, and the Way Forward for Feminism
“Intersectional feminism. If this is a term you are unfamiliar with, or even if you think you know everything about it, pick up this book. What I loved about Can We All Be Feminists? is that it met me where I am on my journey and it actively engages with those who want to learn more about current feminist thought. I have a lot of work to do, but thankfully there are essays by such intelligent and thoughtful minds that can help me expand my view.”Jax, Bookshop Santa Cruz
On Stories and Storytelling
“A compendium of the author’s essays and talks spanning decades, this volume feels nearly as rich and valuable to me as the folk and fairytales that Pullman advocates for in many of the pieces. Pullman includes delightful insights into his own creative process; these have had more of an impact on my own writing than any how-to guide I’ve read. A real treasure for anyone who enjoys meditating on the power of storytelling.”Ilana, Bookshop Santa Cruz
Everything's Trash, But It's Okay
If you enjoyed We're Going to Need More Wine, then you’ll love Everything's Trash, But It's Okay.
“Phoebe Robinson narrates her collection of essays and she is so much fun. Her laugh makes you want to laugh with her and her personality just sparkles through. This essay isn't all fun and games as she in honest about personal matters such as debt, dating and struggle as well as feminism (and it's lack of intersectionality), beauty standards and other toxic issues. I especially enjoyed how she owns her faults and her successes and you will be either cringing or cheering as you delve into these essays.”Audrey , Belmont Books
“Tanya Tagaq is a musical artist in more ways than one. As a world-renowned Inuit throat singer, she has already stunned the world with her powerful songs and lyrics, but now in her first memoir, an explosive combination of narrative, poetry, myth, truth, and ferocity, she weaves the story of a young girl who comes of age in a small Arctic town, bound by boredom and violence, natural wonder and the spirit world. Life is a beautiful and terrifying thing, and Split Tooth contains all of it.”Melinda, Bookshop Santa Cruz
Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know
The Fathers of Wilde, Yeats, and Joyce
Award-winning author Colm Tóibín turns his incisive gaze to three of the world's greatest writers, Oscar Wilde, W.B. Yeats, and James Joyce, and their earliest influences: their fathers.
"A father...is a necessary evil." Stephen Dedalus in Ulysses
In Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know, Colm Tóibín illuminates not only the complex relationships between... Read more »
My Life with the Ravens at the Tower of London
“Yeoman warder Christopher Skaife describes himself as being ornithivorous in relation to his job, inhaling all that there is about ravens, no matter the area of study (science, mythology, art, etc.). And while he covers some of those topics in this book, it’s his personal stories that kept me reading late into the night. Skaife’s voice will rumble in your head and you’ll feel like you’re just swapping stories over a pint with a friend.”Rachel, Bookshop Santa Cruz
The End of the End of the Earth
““How do we find meaning in our actions when the world seems to be coming to an end?” asks Jonathan Franzen in the opening essay of his new collection. It’s no secret that Franzen is a bird lover, and The End is largely concerned with the plight of birds. But even as he convincingly details birds’ worth and wonder, he also writes of the deeply confounding tension between climate change’s looming results and the maddening lack of preservation of specific systems right now. Luckily, the pleasures of reading Franzen’s essays make dipping into this fraught subject feel like a rich necessity, with intelligence, humility, and even optimism winning out.”Chorel, Bookshop Santa Cruz
A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth
“A classic is born! Sarah Smarsh takes us on a five-generation trek through the hardscrabble life of her Kansas childhood in the ’80s and ’90s. Just as J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy and Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed addressed the uncomfortable topic of poverty in this country, Heartland successfully gives the reader an in-depth look at impoverishment in the bread basket of America. She writes with a crystal-clear and objective voice, never giving in to self-pity or malevolence. Indeed, tongue-in-cheek humor and tenderness often shine through. This book is a must-read, a milestone in the life of our country.”Nancy Simpson-Brice, Book Vault
Prophet of Freedom
**Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in History**
“Extraordinary…a great American biography” (The New Yorker) of the most important African-American of the nineteenth century: Frederick Douglass, the escaped slave who became the greatest orator of his day and one of the leading abolitionists and writers of the era.
As a young man Frederick Douglass... Read more »
The Library Book
“There is no one better at investigating the fascinating stories hiding in plain sight than Susan Orlean. The vivid descriptions of the fire that engulfed the Los Angeles Central Library in 1986 are burnished by the meticulous research she did on the history of libraries and on the shocking event that resulted in the destruction and damage of over one million books. The mystery of who would start such a fire is woven between stories of eccentric librarians and the transformation of Los Angeles in the 20th century. From memories of the blissful hours spent in the library of her youth to the historical significance of these repositories of our past, Orlean has crafted a love letter to the importance of the written word and those who devote their lives to its preservation.”Luisa Smith, Book Passage
I Might Regret This
Essays, Drawings, Vulnerabilities, and Other Stuff
“Abbi Jacobson (of Broad City fame) set off on a solo road trip from New York City to Los Angeles in an impulsive attempt to shake off heartache from a breakup. This quietly introspective and sweetly self-deprecating essay collection brings readers along on Jacobson’s cross-country trek and shows us that we’re never too old to figure out who we are. The raw honesty and startling vulnerability of this book took me by surprise, inspiring me to take stock of my own path.”Kelly, Bookshop Santa Cruz
How Food Companies Skew the Science of What We Eat
A James Beard Award-winner and the author of What to Eat and Soda Politics, leading nutritionist Marion Nestle exposes how the food industry corrupts scientific research for profit.
Is chocolate heart-healthy? Does yogurt prevent type 2 diabetes? Do pomegranates help cheat death? News accounts bombard us with such amazing claims, report them as... Read more »
All You Can Ever Know
“Nicole Chung’s memoir is a moving account of a young woman’s gradually evolving understanding of family and of herself as she uncovers the truth about the circumstances behind her adoption. Refusing the false dichotomy of adoption as inherently positive or negative, she reminds us that adoption is a fact and that it’s always complicated. This is an extraordinary account, told with candor and empathy. Though the transracial adoption of Asian Americans into white families and communities is common, few books have been written from the perspective of the adoptee. Chung has much to teach us, and readers approaching this book with a heart as open as hers will find much to nourish them here.”Karen Maeda Allman , The Elliott Bay Book Company