California… in books

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As part of Read Yourself Happy’s America…In Books feature, here are some of the best books set in California.


East of Eden by John Steinbeck

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Let’s start off with a classic. This novel takes place on a farm in California’s Salinas Valley and follows two rival families.


Where I Was From by Joan Didion

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Writer Joan Didion grew up in California and this non-fiction memoir is all about the state and her life.


Big Sur by Jack Kerouac

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I couldn’t make a list about books set in California without including Kerouac’s Big Sur (although I do have some bias as he’s one of my favorite authors). As you can probably guess, this book takes place in Big Sur, California.


On the Edge by Edward St. Aubyn

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Aubyn’s On the Edge is a satirical look at California’s New Age community after a banker leaves his life behind and follows his nomadic lover to the state.


The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

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This famous crime story is set in San Francisco, California, and is a perfect example of the noir genre.


California: A History by Kevin Starr

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If what you want is a nonfiction history of California, Kevin Starr’s book will be right up your alley.


Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

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Robin Sloan’s Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore takes place in San Francisco, California and follows web designer Clay Jannon as he starts a new job at a local bookstore.


Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins

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I’m loving the yellow aesthetic of these last few books. Gold Fame Citrus takes place in the near future when California is running out of water.


Trouble No Man by Brian Hart

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I read and reviewed this book all the way back in January and gave it a very solid five stars. Similar to Gold Fame Citrus, this story also takes place in a parched California.


Ana of California by Andi Teran

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This young adult retelling of the classic Anne of Green Gables is set in contemporary California. Also, can we all just take a moment to appreciate how gorgeous this cover is?!


The Mountains of California by John Muir

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Naturalist and conservationist John Muir wrote this nonfiction book about California’s Sierra Nevada.


What are your favorite books set in California? Let me know in the comments!




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Absolutely bookish.

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