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Best Books About California

Recommendations from 11 articles, Anthony Bourdain, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kara Swisher and 10 others.
24 books on the list
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East of Eden book cover
East of Eden
(Penguin Orange Collection)
John Steinbeck - 2016-10-18 (first published in 1952)
Goodreads Rating
Part of the Penguin Orange Collection, a limited-run series of twelve influential and beloved American classics in a bold series design offering a modern take on the iconic Penguin paperbackThe story is primarily set in the Salinas Valley, California, between the beginning of the twentieth century and the end of World War I, though some chapters ar...
Recommended by
Jenn Im
Slouching Towards Bethlehem book cover
Slouching Towards Bethlehem
Essays (FSG Classics)
Joan Didion - 2008-10-28 (first published in 1968)
Goodreads Rating
The first nonfiction work by one of the most distinctive prose stylists of our era, Slouching Towards Bethlehem remains, forty years after its first publication, the essential portrait of America— particularly California—in the sixties. It focuses on such subjects as John Wayne and Howard Hughes, growing up a girl in California, ruminating on the n...
City of Quartz book cover
City of Quartz
Excavating the Future in Los Angeles
Mike Davis - 2018-07-17 (first published in 1990)
Goodreads Rating
The hidden story of L.A. Mike Davis shows us where the city's money comes from and who controls it while also exposing the brutal ongoing struggle between L.A.'s haves and have-nots....
Recommended by
Mark Harris
By the Great Horn Spoon! book cover
By the Great Horn Spoon!
Sid Fleischman - 1988-04-30 (first published in 1963)
Goodreads Rating
For fans of the I Survived series, this classic rollicking adventure about the California Gold Rush and one determined twelve-year-old has sold nearly a million copies!When Jack's aunt is forced to sell her beloved mansion but is still unable to raise enough money to pay her debts, the twelve-year-old goes to California in search of gold to help he...
The Big Sleep book cover
The Big Sleep
Raymond Chandler - 1988-07-12 (first published in 1939)
Goodreads Rating
"Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid....He is the hero; he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. This is the Code of the Private Eye as defined by Raymond Chandler in his 1944 essay 'The Simple Act of Murder.' Such a man was Philip Marlowe, pr...
Recommended by
Adam Sessler
Farewell to Manzanar book cover
Farewell to Manzanar
Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston - 2017-07-11 (first published in 1972)
Goodreads Rating
During World War II a community called Manzanar was created in the high mountain desert country of California. Its purpose was to house thousands of Japanese Americans. Among them was the Wakatsuki family, who were ordered to leave their fishing business in Long Beach and take with them only the belongings they could carry. Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston...
The White Album book cover
The White Album
Essays (FSG Classics)
Joan Didion - 2009-11-10 (first published in 1979)
Goodreads Rating
First published in 1979, The White Album records indelibly the upheavals and aftermaths of the 1960s. Examining key events, figures, and trends of the era—including Charles Manson, the Black Panthers, and the shopping mall—through the lens of her own spiritual confusion, Joan Didion helped to define mass culture as we now understand it. Written wit...
Angle of Repose book cover
Angle of Repose
Wallace Stegner - 2014-11-04 (first published in 1971)
Goodreads Rating
An iconic novel of the West and an American masterpiece—a deeply moving narrative of one family and the traditions of our national past. Lyman Ward is a retired professor of history, recently confined to a wheelchair by a crippling bone disease and dependent on others for his every need. Amid the chaos of 1970s counterculture he retreats to his anc...
Recommended by
Joanne Freeman
Separate Is Never Equal book cover
Separate Is Never Equal
Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation (Jane Addams Award Book (Awards))
Duncan Tonatiuh - 2014-05-06
Goodreads Rating
Almost 10 years before Brown vs. Board of Education, Sylvia Méndez and her parents helped end school segregation in California. An American citizen of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage who spoke and wrote perfect English, Méndez was denied enrollment to a “Whites only” school. Her parents took action by organizing the Hispanic community and filing ...
Parable of the Sower book cover
Parable of the Sower
A Novel
Octavia E. Butler - 2017-02-28 (first published in 1993)
Goodreads Rating
In 2025, with the world descending into madness and anarchy, one woman begins a fateful journey toward a better future.Lauren Olamina and her family live in one of the only safe neighborhoods remaining on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Behind the walls of their defended enclave, Lauren’s father, a preacher, and a handful of other citizens try to sal...
Farewell, My Lovely book cover
Farewell, My Lovely
Raymond Chandler - 1992-08-01
Redwoods by Jason Chin
Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin
A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick
Pop's Bridge by Eve Bunting
Our California by Pam Muñoz Ryan
Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
Ecology of Fear by Mike Davis
California by Kevin Starr
Where I Was From by Joan Didion
Blue Willow by Doris Gates
Patty Reed's Doll by Ms. Rachel K. Laurgaard
Song of the Swallows by Leo Politi