What’s better than a good book? A good book written by your neighbor (or former neighbor). Brew up a batch of your favorite cup of tea or coffee and get ready to meet your next read, because we’re talking about locally written books in Sacramento.
- “Europe Central” by William T. Vollmann | Release date: 2005 | An ambitious historical epic set in the 20th century that seeks to explore the morality behind the decisions people make during wartime. It famously took home the National Book Award for fiction in 2005 alongside Joan Didion’s “The Year of Magical Thinking” for nonfiction, turning Sacramento into the literary center of the US for a night.
- “Damage” by John Lescroart | Release date: 2012 | Nefarious Bay Area power couple uses their power to undermine the justice brought to their son convicted of murder, leading“Europe Central” to a series of suspected acts of revenge. Head detective Abe Glitsky is on the case in this standalone thriller written by the Davis-based author.
- “Play It as It Lays” by Joan Didion | Release date: 1970 | Hollywood, blackmail, mental breakdowns: Didion paints a bleak but beguiling world through sharp, visual prose in this novel following a 31-year-old struggling actor named Maria Wyeth.
📖 For the family
- “1,001 Things to Do in Sacramento with Kids (& the Young at Heart)” by Sabrina Nishijima | Release date: 2018 | The founder of East Village Bookshop penned this guide to adventuring around the City of Trees, with events like a swan tour, a laser maze, and not-to-be-missed neighborhood concerts.
- “Logan’s Greenhouse” by JaNay Brown-Wood | Release date: 2022 | Learn the basics of gardening and healthy eating in this picture book that follows its main character as he searches for missing carrots before his pet play date.
- “Big Bear Was Not the Same” by Joanna Rowland | Release date: 2021 | This picture book for kids 4-7 years old narrates the story of a bear who survived a forest fire. You’ll explore feelings of fear, anxiety, anger, and how we can have empathy and compassion for ourselves when we’re experiencing those emotions.
📖 Learn something new
- “Cornel West Reader” by Cornel West | Release date: 2000 | Explore the work of the Sacramento-raised thinker who Harvard hails as the “absolutely essential philosopher of the modern American Experience.”
- “Sacramento Renaissance: Art, Music, and Activism in California’s Capital City” by William Burg | Release date: 2013 | One of Sac’s resident historians unpacks the rapid change brought on by postwar redevelopment, a period which forced many communities — like those in the once thriving West End district — to forge new cultural centers and artistic identities.
- “Why the New Deal Matters” by Eric Rauchway | Release date: 2022 | The distinguished professor of history at UC Davis elucidates how President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1930s progressive effort still informs — in both good and bad terms — our government’s thinking on crises.
📖 Part of a series
- “Lena and the Burning of Greenwood” by Nikki Shannon Smith | Release date: 2022 | This young adult chapter book tells the story of the 1920s Tulsa Race Massacre from the eyes of a young Black girl. It’s part of the larger “Girls Survive” series that explores significant moments in history from a first-person perspective.
- “Sandstorm” by James Rollins | Release date: 2011 | This is the first book in the New York Times bestselling “Sigma Force” thriller series that recalls the adventures of Indiana Jones with ancient technologies clashing against the modern world. The author used to be a veterinarian in El Dorado Hills, but retired due to the series’ success.
- “When Lightning Strikes” by Brenda Novak | Release date: 2012 | Escapism doesn’t always need to be somewhere out of the ordinary — this ongoing romance series is set in a small city modeled after the “gold country” towns near Sacramento.
📖 Personal stories
- “Because our Fathers Lied” by Craig McNamara| Release date: 2022 | The sustainable agriculture leader from Winters discusses his life + relationship with his father Robert, the US Secretary of Defense who was instrumental in the Vietnam War.
- “Swimming in the American: A Memoir and Selected Writings” by Hiroshi Kashiwagi | Release date: 2005 | The Sacramento-born poet, playwright, and actor looks back on his life in a series of vignettes. Learn about his 1920s childhood in Loomis, his time in a Japanese internment camp in Tule Lake during World War II, and his years in LA’s theater scene in the early 1950s.
- “Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez” by Richard Rodriguez | Release date: 1983 | Richard, the son of a Mexican immigrant family, knew only 50 words of English when he first arrived in Sacramento; He details his experience as a minority in American education in this popular memoir.