The most recommended books about Northern California

Who picked these books? Meet our 22 experts.

22 authors created a book list connected to Northern California, and here are their favorite Northern California books.
Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

What type of Northern California book?


When the Stars Go Dark

By Paula McLain,

Book cover of When the Stars Go Dark

N.L. Blandford Author Of The Perilous Road To Her

From the list on thrillers you won't want to put down.

Who am I?

I devour dark, gripping, thrillers which take readers on a journey alongside the characters. People who battle their own demons on whatever road they travel. It’s with this passion that I write stories which do the same. I bring readers into the story to the point where they are cheering for both the hero and the villain. Throw in a few twists and cliffhangers and voila – readers don’t sleep, or do their chores ;) The books on this list fuel my need to be thrilled. I hope you grip the pages like I did…and forget those chores!

N.L.'s book list on thrillers you won't want to put down

Why did N.L. love this book?

An intriguing, layered, story that kept me wanting to know what happened to the missing girls.

A little slow to start, but it didn’t take me long to become gripped to the page. Paula digs deep into the social issue of missing girls and women through fiction, which intrigued me as I try to do the same with my writing. 

Compelling characters and lyrically beautiful scenes made me feel the heartbreak and frantic desire to solve the case. What I found so intriguing about this novel was all the psychological elements of the characters and how a person’s past invariably affects the present. 

Forget mowing the lawn. Turn the blades of suspense in your mind with this thriller!

By Paula McLain,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When the Stars Go Dark as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • GOOD MORNING AMERICA BUZZ PICK • “A total departure for the author of The Paris Wife, McLain’s emotionally intense and exceptionally well-written thriller entwines its fictional crime with real cases.”—People (Book of the Week)

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY MARIE CLAIRE • “The kind of heart-pounding conclusion that thriller fans crave . . . In the end, a book full of darkness lands with a message of hope.”—The New York Times Book Review

“This mystery will keep you guessing, and stay with you long after you finish. Dive in.”—Daily Skimm…

Alive in Necropolis

By Doug Dorst,

Book cover of Alive in Necropolis

Kevin Brockmeier Author Of The Ghost Variations: One Hundred Stories

From the list on ghosts.

Who am I?

I’ve written and published one hundred very short ghost stories, plus a handful of longer ones, and have spent a lifetime reading and watching and thinking about stories of ghosts and the afterlife. My expertise, such as it is, involves ghosts as beings of narrative and metaphor. I’ve encountered great numbers of them on the page and on the screen—nowhere else—but I confess that I would love someday (though don’t expect) to encounter them in the flesh. My flesh, that is to say; their fleshlessness.

Kevin's book list on ghosts

Why did Kevin love this book?

This, Dorst’s first novel, adopts the trappings of a police procedural but is at heart a character drama seasoned with elements of the supernatural. It follows the fortunes of a rookie cop in the “cemetery city” of  Colma, California, whose charges, he quickly discovers, include both the living and the dead. Recommended if you like your ghosts eerie and your human beings haunted not only by wakeful spirits but by their own personal blunders and false starts.

By Doug Dorst,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Alive in Necropolis as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A "dark and funny debut"(Seattle-Times) about a young police officer struggling to maintain a sense of reality in a town where the dead outnumber the living.

Colma, California, the "cemetery city" serving San Francisco, is the resting place of the likes of Joe DiMaggio, Wyatt Earp, and William Randolph Hearst. It is also the home of Michael Mercer, a by-the-book rookie cop struggling to settle comfortably into adult life. Instead, he becomes obsessed with the mysterious fate of his predecessor, Sergeant Wes Featherstone, who spent his last years policing the dead as well as the living. As Mercer attempts to…

The Wild Trees

By Richard Preston,

Book cover of The Wild Trees: A Story of Passion and Daring

Anthony D. Fredericks Author Of In Search of the Old Ones: An Odyssey among Ancient Trees

From the list on trees and forests.

Who am I?

Growing up, my father and I would take two weeks every summer to camp in the High Sierra Mountains of California. In between fishing excursions and rafting trips, I would take time to hike among tall pines or resplendent forests. I was always amazed at what I would discover. In later years, I would often find myself in the company of forests on business ventures or family vacations. Now in my eighth decade, I still embrace the magnificence of tall timbers. I have lived among them, danced beneath their branches, and reposed in their shade. They are an integral part of my life; they are both inspiration and friends.

Anthony's book list on trees and forests

Why did Anthony love this book?

Fasten your seat belts, for Preston will take you on a wild and crazy journey up into the canopies of redwood trees.

You’ll join a brave and fearless troop of young explorers as they ascend ever higher into these magnificent trees to discover a world previously unseen. Strange critters, unusual plants, and an ecosystem unlike any on the forest floor come into view.

I have always believed that good nonfiction writing is also good storytelling. Preston is a master at weaving tales that capture readers’ imaginations and inform at the same time. His narrative bristles with mystery, intrigue, and rich human personalities.

After reading this tome, I journeyed to the redwood forests to discover for myself. So, will you!

By Richard Preston,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Wild Trees as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hidden in unseen valleys of dense rainforest on the coast of California are the world's tallest and largest things - trees up to forty stories tall and as old as the Parthenon: the coastal redwoods. Mysterious and unexplored, few people know how to find them, and fewer still have climbed them to study their upper reaches and discover the wonders there. "The Wild Trees" is the astonishing story of the handful of wild tree climbers and amateur naturalists who are now working in the redwood canopy, exploring this enchanted and terrifically dangerous new world. The canopy is a mysterious place…

Book cover of From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism

Joanne McNeil Author Of Lurking: How a Person Became a User

From the list on the origins of the tech industry.

Who am I?

Joanne McNeil has written about internet culture for over fifteen years. Her book considers the development of the internet from a user's perspective since the launch of the World Wide Web. Her interest in digital technology spans from the culture that enabled the founding of major companies in Silicon Valley to their reception in broader culture.

Joanne's book list on the origins of the tech industry

Why did Joanne love this book?

Beginning with Stewart Brand’s influence through his projects like The Whole Earth Catalog, the WELL, and Wired magazine, this book examines the unique culture of Silicon Valley. An essential history and one that clarifies the tech industry’s seemingly contradictory values of revolution and corporate power.

By Fred Turner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked From Counterculture to Cyberculture as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In "From Counterculture to Cyberculture", Fred Turner details the previously untold story of a highly influential group of San Francisco Bay Area entrepreneurs: Stewart Brand and the Whole Earth network. Between 1968 and 1998, via such familiar venues as the National Book Award - winning "Whole Earth Catalog", the computer-conferencing system known as WELL, and, ultimately, the launch of the wildly successful Wired magazine, Brand and his colleagues brokered a long-running collaboration between San Francisco flower power and the emerging technological hub of Silicon Valley. Thanks to their vision, counterculturalists and technologists alike joined together to reimagine computers as tools…


By Raina Telgemeier,

Book cover of Ghosts

Terri Libenson Author Of Remarkably Ruby

From the list on that deal with things outside of middle school.

Who am I?

I’ve always been drawn to comics. I started out as a humorous card writer, and later I became a syndicated cartoonist and author. I collect graphic novels of all kinds and I appreciate the unique talent that goes into the collaborative marriage of writing and art. I especially love stories told with humor, and these types of books lend themselves so well to that. And, boy, do kids appreciate it, too (guess I’m still a kid at heart). As someone who’s read many, many middle grade graphic and illustrated novelsfor blurbs, reference, as well as for pleasure—I feel like an expert by now. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I have!

Terri's book list on that deal with things outside of middle school

Why did Terri love this book?

I love how Raina reaches out of her largely autobiographical work and delves into the world of spirituality and folklore. There’s also the very realistic, dire, and looming “ghost” of the character Maya’s cystic fibrosis. In the story, Raina masterfully weaves reality and fantasy. It’s an engaging journey about overcoming fear with the help of family and friends. And, as all her books are, it’s beautifully illustrated. As someone with a pretty strong spiritual bent, this book really resonates with me.

By Raina Telgemeier,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ghosts as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From award-winning graphic novelist Raina Telgemeier comes a new
story about family, friendship and hope.

Catrina and her family are moving to the coast of Northern California
because her little sister, Maya, is sick. Cat isn't happy about
leaving her friends for Bahia de la Luna, but Maya has cystic
fibrosis and will benefit from the cool, salty air that blows in
from the sea. As the girls explore their new home, a neighbor lets
them in on a secret: There are ghosts in Bahia de la Luna. Maya
is determined to meet one, but Cat wants nothing to do…

Sentinel of the Seas

By Dennis M. Powers,

Book cover of Sentinel of the Seas: Life and Death at the Most Dangerous Lighthouse Ever Built

Eric Jay Dolin Author Of Brilliant Beacons: A History of the American Lighthouse

From the list on lighthouse history.

Who am I?

I grew up near the coasts of New York and Connecticut, and since an early age I was fascinated by the natural world, especially the ocean. I have held a variety of jobs, including stints as a fisheries policy analyst at the National Marine Fisheries Service, a program manager at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and an environmental consultant stateside and in London. Throughout my career, one thing remained constant: I enjoyed writing and telling stories. I am the author of 14 non-fiction books on American history, including Black Flags, Blue Waters: The Epic History of America’s Most Notorious Pirates, and Leviathan: The History of American Whaling.

Eric's book list on lighthouse history

Why did Eric love this book?

St. George Reef Lighthouse is located about six miles off Point St. George on the coast of Northern California, not far from the Oregon border. It is built atop, and partly chiseled into, a massive wave-swept rock. Finished in 1892, St. George Reef took roughly a decade to build, at a cost of $752,000, making it far and away the most expensive lighthouse ever built in the United States. The dramatic history of this iconic lighthouse—replete with engineering feats and tragic deaths—is well-told by Powers, who provides one of the best profiles of a single lighthouse ever written. 

By Dennis M. Powers,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sentinel of the Seas as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Miles off the coast of northern California lies a mariner's nightmare. Concealed by roiling sea and thick fog, the jagged edges of a submerged volcanic mountain chain await approaching vessels like predators in the mist. This is one of the most hazardous reefs off the West Coast. And for over a century, it has been home to the most remote, most expensive, and most dangerous lighthouse ever built in America.

Called "Dragon Rocks" in 1792 by British explorer George Vancouver, the area became known as St. George Reef in the hope that its namesake might slay the dragon. But the…

Virgin River

By Robyn Carr,

Book cover of Virgin River

Marie Jones Author Of Those We Trust

From the list on leave you breathless with love, danger, and suspense.

Who am I?

I love romance, a true romantic from the day I was born. I also love crime/thriller/twists and turns that keep you on the edge of your seat and wanting to turn the page. As a writer, it was the most natural choice to combine all of these to bring to you as a reader love, passion, danger, shady criminal underworld, and jaw-dropping cliffhangers mixed in with twists you never saw coming. A love story that has you hopelessly entwined with them. A beautiful backdrop of the highlands of Scotland that creates its own unique story –mystical, mighty, and carrying its own hidden dangers.

Marie's book list on leave you breathless with love, danger, and suspense

Why did Marie love this book?

Quite simply, Robyn is a masterclass at writing beautiful romances and nothing comes better than her Virgin River series. 

Her characters are full of depth and conflicts, and the setting of the stories are in beautiful landscapes I want to travel to. There are many great sub-stories to be drawn happily into and of course, who can resist a HEA?

By Robyn Carr,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Virgin River as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Netflix Original Series

Read the book that started it all!

13 Million Copies Sold

Sometimes all you need is a fresh start

When recently widowed Melinda Monroe sees an advert for a midwife in the remote town of Virgin River, she decides this is the perfect place to escape her heartache.

However, her hopes are dashed within an hour of arriving: the cabin is uninhabitable, the roads are treacherous and the local doctor wants nothing to do with her. But when a tiny baby is abandoned on a front porch, Mel must decide whether to stay and help or…

Book cover of The Dogs of Winter

Mark Chisnell Author Of Powder Burn

From the list on the thrills and dangers of extreme sports.

Who am I?

I started climbing and running around the hills in my teens, got into boats, became a professional sailor for twenty years, then took up surfing at thirty and snowboarding at forty. There’s something special about playing with gravity, whether it’s sliding down hills or waves, or defying it on a mountain face. All these books capture the thrill and the dangers.

Mark's book list on the thrills and dangers of extreme sports

Why did Mark love this book?

I discovered this book when I had just started surfing, and it blew me away – so there could be great fiction about extreme sports! I loved the grittiness, the foreboding noir feel, and the unusual setting. It was part of the inspiration for Powder Burn, although they are very different books.

By Kem Nunn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Dogs of Winter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Heart Attacks is California's last secret spot - the premier mysto surf haunt, the stuff of rumour and legend. The rumours say you must cross Indian land to get there. They tell of hostile locals and shark-infested waters where waves in excess of thirty feet break a mile from shore. For down-and-out photographer Jack Fletcher, the chance to shoot these waves in the company of surfing legend Drew Harmon offers the promise of new beginnings. But Drew is not alone in the northern reaches of the state. His young wife, Kendra, lives there with him. Obsessed with the unsolved murder…

A Fire Story

By Brian Fies,

Book cover of A Fire Story

Jess Barber Author Of Reckoning 2

From the list on climate disaster.

Who am I?

I'm a speculative fiction writer who often works within the genre of "climate fiction." I grew up in southern Appalachia; my hometown is a lovely place, surrounded by the beauty and wildness of the Smoky Mountains. It also happens to be centered around a chemical company where a large portion of the town works, including my father and, for a brief time, myself. I've been fascinated with the dichotomy of nature and industry for a long time, and have spent years exploring these themes in my own work.

Jess' book list on climate disaster

Why did Jess love this book?

Another fire, another story, this one a graphic memoir about the 2017 wildfires that ravaged Northern California, claiming dozens of lives and destroying the author's home. It's a beautiful book, illustrated with a simplicity and starkness that pulls you inexorably forward. The night of the fire itself is present in the narrative, but the majority of the book is occupied with what comes after: the unexpected kindness of friends and strangers, the nonlinear progression of grief, the bureaucracy and absurdism of tragedy, and all the questions of how you begin to rebuild.

By Brian Fies,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Fire Story as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Early morning on Monday, October 9, 2017, wildfires burned through Northern California, resulting in 44 fatalities. In addition, 6,200 homes and 8,900 structures and were destroyed. Author Brian Fies's firsthand account of this tragic event is an honest, unflinching depiction of his personal experiences, including losing his house and every possession he and his wife had that didn't fit into the back of their car. In the days that followed, as the fires continued to burn through the area, Brian hastily pulled together A Fire Story and posted it online-it immediately went viral. He is now expanding his original webcomic…

Drop City

By T.C. Boyle,

Book cover of Drop City

Buffy Cram Author Of Once Upon an Effing Time

From the list on living that 60s cult/commune life.

Who am I?

I grew up living in a housing co-op on Vancouver Island, BC. While not technically a commune, it did have some of the hallmarks. There were gangs of partially clothed kids roaming wild. There were a bunch of idealistic adults who had dreams of shared land stewardship and, well, shared everything. The housing project succeeded in many ways (it still exists today) and, it failed in other ways (over the years there were many fractures in the community). I’ve always been fascinated by attempts at communal living. I suppose my obsession with cult life is just an extension of this. It is my life imagined one step further.

Buffy's book list on living that 60s cult/commune life

Why did Buffy love this book?

T.C. Boyle is the master of writing novels in which two seemingly disparate storylines are headed for a collision course.

In this novel, he writes about the inhabitants of Drop City, a drugged-out hippy commune in California. And, in alternating chapters, he writes about the inhabitants of a remote village in Alaska, who are struggling to prepare for winter. These two storylines may seem to have nothing to do with one another until you realize both worlds are at a breaking point.

Finding out how these two casts of characters would eventually collide kept me up way past my bedtime a few nights in a row and I’m not mad about it!

By T.C. Boyle,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Drop City as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It is 1970, and a down-at-the-heels California commune devoted to peace, free love, and the simple life has decided to relocate to the last frontier-the unforgiving landscape of interior Alaska-in the ultimate expression of going back to the land. Armed with the spirit of adventure and naive optimism, the inhabitants of "Drop City" arrive in the wilderness of Alaska only to find their utopia already populated by other young homesteaders. When the two communities collide, unexpected friendships and dangerous enmities are born as everyone struggles with the bare essentials of life: love, nourishment, and a roof over one's head. Rich,…

Watch Over Me

By Nina Lacour,

Book cover of Watch Over Me

Ashley Wilda Author Of The Night Fox

From the list on magical realism about mental health.

Who am I?

As a kid, I devoured books with any magical element, especially those somehow linked to nature. As I grew older and discovered that my emotional struggles were a signal of mental health issues, I turned to books again to make sense of my shattered world. I've found that magical realism is an incredible vehicle to explore the deep truths and questions behind mental health, healing, and grief, providing a way to make sense of the unexplainable. I slowly found my way to my own healing and wrote the book I needed as a young adult. I'm forever grateful to the authors of these books for providing a haven for souls like mine.

Ashley's book list on magical realism about mental health

Why did Ashley love this book?

This is my favorite book in the entire world (at least for the time being)!

The voice and writing are deliciously lyrical, while also offering a raw, authentic look at mental health and the deep human longing to belong. I recommend this book to just about everyone I meet, whether they struggle with mental health or not, because the descriptions of nature, the believable magical elements, and the portrayal of friendship always take my breath away.

I truly struggle for words to explain what this book means to me… so you’ll just have to read it!

By Nina Lacour,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Watch Over Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A modern ghost story about trauma and survival, Watch Over Me is the much-anticipated new novel from the Printz Award-winning author of We Are Okay

"Gripping; an emotion-packed must-read." -Kirkus, starred review
"A painfully compelling gem from a masterful creator." -Booklist, starred review
"Moving, unsettling, and full of atmospheric beauty." -SLJ, starred review

Mila is used to being alone.

Maybe that's why she said yes. Yes to a second chance in this remote place, among the flowers and the fog and the crash of waves far below.

But she hadn't known about the ghosts.

Newly graduated from high school, Mila…

The War of the Flowers

By Tad Williams,

Book cover of The War of the Flowers

Steven J. Morris Author Of The Guardian of the Palace

From the list on transport select people from Earth to other realms.

Who am I?

Fantasy takes me to a place where I can get out of my own skin, explore new worlds, and live adventures. The stories that pulled folks from our world (for those of you as loosely tethered as I am, I refer to Earth) provided more connection to the idea that I could be in those fantasy worlds and involved in those stories. That’s the bonus level of escapism! I didn’t realize just how many of my favorite stories fell into that category until I wrote this. Those books were definitely instrumental in my writing, though I didn’t follow any of those specific formulas. I’ll have to write another grouping for the other major category of books that influenced my writing.

Steven's book list on transport select people from Earth to other realms

Why did Steven love this book?

Tad Williams has many acclaimed series, but this stand-alone novel is my favorite. The protagonist is pulled into another realm where magic reigns supreme. The protagonist must uncover his past while learning about his place in the magical realm before both worlds are destroyed. The way Williams has connected up the two worlds is unique, and the world-building alone gets this story on my must-read list.

By Tad Williams,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The War of the Flowers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Theo Vilmos' life is about to take a real turn for the worse.


He is drawn from his home in Northern California into the parallel world of Faerie, for, unknown to him, he is a pivotal figure in a war between certain of Faerie's powerful lords and the rest of the strange creatures who live in this exotic realm.


How to Breathe Underwater

By Julie Orringer,

Book cover of How to Breathe Underwater

Lesley Pratt Bannatyne Author Of Unaccustomed to Grace

From the list on short story collections by women.

Who am I?

Whenever I take on a new short story project, I read other writers to admire them, study them, and be inspired by them; it’s like talking with old friends. These five books took me through the heart and soul of what it is to be or to have a mother, to be or to have children, to love or to lose love, to maintain the rituals and magic of family or let them go. Although I believe men can write female characters and women can write males, I really appreciate the fine-tuned ear for the nuances of motherhood, womanhood, and relationships I find in collections written by women about women.

Lesley's book list on short story collections by women

Why did Lesley love this book?

In my very favorite story in this book full of favorites, “Pilgrims,” young children cope with adult reality in a Lord of the Flies-like atmosphere where a tragic accident is offset by the innocent gift of a lost tooth, a talisman meant to create magic in a world that can seem devoid of it. How to Breathe forefronts girls and teens struggling with guilt, peer pressure, identity, envy, sickness, death. Sounds grim, but the writing, the world Orringer creates, is as beautiful and moving as it is dark. Her characters are the kind you can live inside, remember being, feel for. I think about them a lot, still, and I read the book more than a decade ago.

By Julie Orringer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Breathe Underwater as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New York Times notable book and winner of The Northern California Book Award for Best Short Fiction, these nine brave, wise, and spellbinding stories make up this debut. In "When She is Old and I Am Famous" a young woman confronts the inscrutable power of her cousin's beauty. In "Note to Sixth-Grade Self" a band of popular girls exert their social power over an awkward outcast. In "Isabel Fish" fourteen-year-old Maddy learns to scuba dive in order to mend her family after a terrible accident. Alive with the victories, humiliations, and tragedies of youth, How to Breathe Underwaterilluminates this…

Swift As A Shadow

By ML Hamilton,

Book cover of Swift As A Shadow

L. Dean Boswell Author Of T.A.G. …We’re it!

From the list on science fiction and fantasy with a hint of mystery.

Who am I?

I'm a writer with a passion for telling a story. My passions for characters in a novel are anything that circumvents my ADD, and holds my attention. I don’t consider myself to be a very complex person, however, since my retirement from retail management I now not only have more time to enjoy the works of other authors, but pursue my own works as well. As an author of a sci/fi-fantasy, I’ve discovered that I not only enjoy works in my own genre, but favor those that have an air of mystery about them as well. I've thoroughly enjoyed the Avery Nolan Adventure series, Game of Thrones, and the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.

L.'s book list on science fiction and fantasy with a hint of mystery

Why did L. love this book?

The Avery Nolan Adventures series was recommended to me by my cousin, who said that she really enjoyed reading them. I believe this author to be extremely talented. I found her stories to be adventurous, mind-provoking fantasies, very much to my liking. Her characters are well defined, her stories well developed, and I find them totally relatable to my kind of genre. Hamilton’s stories reminded me of a cross between Game of Thrones and an old Irish or Scottish fairy tale set in Northern California's modern-day Lake Tahoe area. They are filled not only with adventure, but intrigue, laughter, romance, and heart-filled compassion. I loved the series and am truly looking forward to finding out if she plans to continue Avery Nolan’s adventures. Hamilton has also written a series of mysteries that are worth taking a look at.  

By ML Hamilton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Swift As A Shadow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Avery Nolan has a secret. A secret she guards fiercely.

But everyone has secrets. Her mother who draws pictures of nightmarish creatures. Her grandmother with her padlocked shed. Her student with the pale eyes and brooding father.

Leaving Sacramento after her divorce, Avery retreats to Tahoe with her golden retriever, Basil, looking for change, but as her grandmother always told her, “Be careful what you wish for.” After Basil discovers a hidden clearing with three standing stones, everything that Avery thinks she knows is suddenly upended.

Each move she makes brings her closer to a world imagined only in fairytales…

Everything is Flammable

By Gabrielle Bell,

Book cover of Everything is Flammable

Laura Catherine Brown Author Of Made by Mary

From the list on smart, sarcastic, funny-sad-angry women.

Who am I?

My favorite books are funny/sad. In my own writing, I aspire for balance between satire and sympathy, going to dark places and shining a light of hilarity on them. I’m compelled by the psychological complexities of desire, particularly in female characters—flawed, average women, struggling for empowerment. For me, desire is inextricably bound with loss. I’m inspired by loss both superficial and profound, from misplaced keys to dying fathers. Many voices clamor in my head, vying for my attention. I’m interested in ambitious misfits, enraged neurotics, pagans, shamans, healers, dealers, grifters, and spiritual seekers who are forced to adapt, construct, reinvent and contort themselves as reality shifts around them.

Laura's book list on smart, sarcastic, funny-sad-angry women

Why did Laura love this book?

This book is brilliant and heartbreaking. I’ve read everything by Gabrielle Bell. I marvel at her artistry, her linework, her drawing and composition and incisive visual storytelling. If I sound like a fangirl it’s because I am. Everything is Flammable is a dark, funny, brutal, honest story, full of heart and originality. When Gabrielle’s mother loses everything in a fire, Gabrielle uproots her east coast life and heads west to rural California to help. But she has her own issues, and the trip pulls her back to her semi-feral childhood as she and her mother try to build a new home on top of the ashes. It’s a searing examination of a mother-daughter love, with illuminating artwork, immediate and poignant visuals, and mordant observations.  

By Gabrielle Bell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Everything is Flammable as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Bell's pen becomes a kind of laser, first illuminating the surface distractions of the world, then scorching them away to reveal a deeper reality that is almost too painful and too beautiful to bear."-- Alison Bechdel, Fun Home, Are You My Mother In Gabrielle Bell's much anticipated graphic memoir, she returns from New York to her childhood town in rural Northern California after her mother's home is destroyed by a fire. Acknowledging her issues with anxiety, financial hardships, memories of a semi-feral childhood, and a tenuous relationship with her mother, Bell helps her mother put together a new home on…


By Nevada Barr,

Book cover of Firestorm

Alice Henderson Author Of A Solitude of Wolverines

From the list on gripping books set in the wild.

Who am I?

In addition to being a writer, I’m also a wildlife researcher and therefore spend a lot of time in wild, remote areas. Using a variety of methods including bioacoustic studies, I undertake wildlife surveys to determine what species are present on lands that have been set aside for conservation. I ensure there are no signs of poaching and devise of ways to improve habitat. I have surveyed for the presence of grizzlies, wolves, spotted owls, wolverines, jaguars, endangered bats, and more. These remote settings inspired me to write my current thriller series about a wildlife biologist who encounters dangerous situations while working to protect endangered species.

Alice's book list on gripping books set in the wild

Why did Alice love this book?

I tore through this gripping mystery, set in the world of wildlands firefighting, in one sitting. I felt like I was on the fire line with the characters, could feel the heat of the blaze. With the terrible fires that have been raging lately in the west, if readers want to get a feel for the obstacles, sheer bravery, and fear firefighters face battling a wildlands blaze, this book is a must-read. The mystery plot, clever and twisting, kept me guessing, while the main character, national park ranger Anna Pigeon, is a stalwart, strong character I could truly get behind.

By Nevada Barr,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Firestorm as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the author of TRACK OF THE CAT, A SUPERIOR DEATH and MOUNTAIN OF BONES, a fourth environmental thriller featuring the sleuthing park ranger Anna Pigeon who investigates the murder of a firefighter during a firestorm.

Operation Redwood

By S. Terrell French,

Book cover of Operation Redwood

Andrea Stryer Author Of Reef Raiders: An Environmental Mystery

From the list on inspiring kids to protect our world.

Who am I?

I have been privileged to see a penguin chick running to its parent for a meal, a blue-footed booby couple doing a mating dance, a cheetah racing across the savannah, and a whale spouting out at sea. I am committed to do what I can to preserve natural habitats and limit the effect humans have on the environment. As a teacher, librarian, and author, I encourage and laud kids who want to protect our world. It is a joy to be involved with books that are models for enthusiastic youngsters. 

Andrea's book list on inspiring kids to protect our world

Why did Andrea love this book?

Each of us who has felt the awe of being in a redwood forest will identify with the kids in this book.

Julian is less than happy about having to spend the summer with his Uncle Sibley, CEO of a big company, while his mother is doing research in China. Though he knew it is wrong, he reads his uncle's email and discovers that the company is about to cut down first-growth California redwoods. Irate about both his situation and the prospect of losing the redwoods, he and friends devise a convoluted plan to solve both. 

This story shows the persistence and resolve of the kids in their concern for the environment.

By S. Terrell French,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Operation Redwood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Clandestine e-mail exchanges, secret trips, fake press releases, and a tree house standoff are among the clever stunts and pranks the kid heroes pull in this exciting ecological adventure. Smiley Carter is a moron and a world-class jerkA"-when Julian Carter-Li intercepts an angry e-mail message meant for his greedy, high-powered uncle, it sets him on the course to stop an environmental crime! His uncle's company plans to cut down some of the oldest and last California redwood trees, and it's up to Julian, and a ragtag group of friends, to figure out a way to stop them. This fantastic debut…