Skip to Content

Books set in California


Goodreads

Books set in California

Every state has its hallmark writers. Mississippi has William Faulkner and his incomparable (fictional) Yoknapatawpha County and Missouri can lay claim to Mark Twain. The state of Maine is gifted with Pulitzer winner Richard Russo and horror icon Stephen King. Rural Pennsylvania is the playground of the much-heralded (and occasionally maligned) John Updike, and when many bibliophiles think of New Jersey, they also think of Richard Ford’s series of novels featuring recurring Everyman character Frank Bascombe. Illinois can lay claim to William Maxwell, Sandra Cisneros, and Adam Langer, among numerous others. And what reader can think of Washington State without contending with the sparkle-vampire yarns of Stephanie Meyer?

What makes authors like these inextricably associated with a particular state is not simply the matter of their having been born there or choosing to live there. The connection, from a writerly standpoint, is deeper than that—their work, nearly all of it, is set in “their” state.

Of course, there are certainly exceptions. Whether a writer sets a tale in the town where they went to college or spent part of their childhood—like Donna Tartt’s “The Secret History” and its New England arts school setting and the almost-factual small town of Jo Ann Beard’s “In Zanesville,” respectively—or crafts a story that follows a social or political theme to a location they know little about but lay narrative claim to anyway, the world is rife with books known, loved, and respected that also capture the essence of place—books where setting itself is one of the strongest characters.

Stacker compiled a list of books set in California from Goodreads. Whether you’re looking for a good read set in the state you call home, or you’re looking to expand your curiosity with a writer you’re already familiar with, we’ve got you covered.

You may also like: Best places to retire in California



Goodreads

Of Mice and Men

– Rating: 3.88 (2.3 million ratings)
– Author: John Steinbeck
– Published: February 25, 1937
– Genres: Classics, Fiction, School, Historical Fiction
Read more on Goodreads



Goodreads

The Grapes of Wrath

– Rating: 3.99 (838,909 ratings)
– Author: John Steinbeck
– Published: April 14, 1939
– Genres: Classics, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Literature
Read more on Goodreads



Goodreads

East of Eden

– Rating: 4.39 (485,610 ratings)
– Author: John Steinbeck
– Published: January 1, 1952
– Genres: Classics, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Literature
Read more on Goodreads



Goodreads

The Joy Luck Club

– Rating: 3.95 (643,076 ratings)
– Author: Amy Tan
– Published: January 1, 1989
– Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Classics, China
Read more on Goodreads



Goodreads

Cannery Row (Cannery Row, #1)

– Rating: 4.05 (125,277 ratings)
– Author: John Steinbeck
– Published: January 1, 1945
– Genres: Classics, Fiction, Literature, Historical Fiction
Read more on Goodreads

You may also like: Famous actresses from California



Goodreads

The Maltese Falcon

– Rating: 3.89 (100,167 ratings)
– Author: Dashiell Hammett
– Published: January 1, 1930
– Genres: Mystery, Fiction, Classics, Crime
Read more on Goodreads



Goodreads

The Big Sleep

– Rating: 3.96 (144,959 ratings)
– Author: Raymond Chandler
– Published: February 6, 1939
– Genres: Mystery, Fiction, Classics, Crime
Read more on Goodreads



Goodreads

Daughter of Fortune

– Rating: 3.92 (124,864 ratings)
– Author: Isabel Allende
– Published: January 1, 1998
– Genres: Historical Fiction, Fiction, Historical, Romance
Read more on Goodreads



Goodreads

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

– Rating: 4.09 (406,191 ratings)
– Author: Philip K. Dick
– Published: January 1, 1968
– Genres: Science Fiction, Fiction, Classics, Dystopia
Read more on Goodreads



Goodreads

White Oleander

– Rating: 3.98 (340,290 ratings)
– Author: Janet Fitch
– Published: January 1, 1999
– Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Coming Of Age, Drama
Read more on Goodreads

You may also like: Highest-rated football recruits from California over the last 20 years



Goodreads

The Black Dahlia (L.A. Quartet, #1)

– Rating: 3.77 (87,987 ratings)
– Author: James Ellroy
– Published: September 1, 1987
– Genres: Mystery, Fiction, Crime, Noir
Read more on Goodreads



Goodreads

Ten Good Reasons (Sandy Cove, #2)

– Rating: 4.23 (306 ratings)
– Author: Lauren Christopher
– Published: April 7, 2015
– Genres: Romance, Contemporary Romance, Contemporary
Read more on Goodreads



Goodreads

The Day of the Locust

– Rating: 3.73 (21,301 ratings)
– Author: Nathanael West
– Published: January 1, 1939
– Genres: Fiction, Classics, Literature, Novels
Read more on Goodreads



Goodreads

Tales of the City (Tales of the City, #1)

– Rating: 4.01 (41,183 ratings)
– Author: Armistead Maupin
– Published: January 1, 1978
– Genres: Fiction, LGBT, Queer, Humor
Read more on Goodreads



Goodreads

The Tortilla Curtain

– Rating: 3.66 (30,504 ratings)
– Author: T. Coraghessan Boyle
– Published: January 1, 1995
– Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Book Club, School
Read more on Goodreads

You may also like: Best places to live in California



Goodreads

The White Album: Essays

– Rating: 4.11 (27,122 ratings)
– Author: Joan Didion
– Published: January 1, 1979
– Genres: Nonfiction, Essays, Memoir, History
Read more on Goodreads



Goodreads

Island of the Blue Dolphins

– Rating: 3.85 (317,911 ratings)
– Author: Scott O’Dell
– Published: September 9, 1960
– Genres: Young Adult, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Classics
Read more on Goodreads



Goodreads

Mildred Pierce

– Rating: 3.93 (9,143 ratings)
– Author: James M. Cain
– Published: January 1, 1941
– Genres: Fiction, Classics, Noir, Mystery
Read more on Goodreads



Goodreads

Freaks I’ve Met

– Rating: 3.53 (1,058 ratings)
– Author: Donald Jans
– Published: May 1, 2015
– Genres: Humor, Drama, Contemporary, Fiction
Read more on Goodreads



Goodreads

L.A. Confidential (L.A. Quartet, #3)

– Rating: 4.17 (33,808 ratings)
– Author: James Ellroy
– Published: January 1, 1990
– Genres: Fiction, Crime, Mystery, Noir
Read more on Goodreads

You may also like: See how low property taxes in California are



Goodreads

China Blues

– Rating: 4.14 (1,547 ratings)
– Author: Ki Longfellow
– Published: January 1, 1989
– Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Fiction, Historical
Read more on Goodreads



Goodreads

House of Sand and Fog

– Rating: 3.85 (129,966 ratings)
– Author: Andre Dubus III
– Published: January 1, 1999
– Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Literary Fiction, Adult Fiction
Read more on Goodreads



Goodreads

Ask the Dust (The Saga of Arturo Bandini, #3)

– Rating: 4.11 (31,979 ratings)
– Author: John Fante
– Published: January 1, 1939
– Genres: Fiction, Classics, Novels, American
Read more on Goodreads



Goodreads

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore (Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, #1)

– Rating: 3.73 (193,971 ratings)
– Author: Robin Sloan
– Published: September 26, 2012
– Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Fantasy, Books About Books
Read more on Goodreads



Goodreads

Less Than Zero

– Rating: 3.59 (78,774 ratings)
– Author: Bret Easton Ellis
– Published: May 1, 1985
– Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Novels, American
Read more on Goodreads

You may also like: Highest NFL draft picks from California



Goodreads

The Language of Flowers

– Rating: 4.09 (209,682 ratings)
– Author: Vanessa Diffenbaugh
– Published: August 23, 2011
– Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, Book Club
Read more on Goodreads



Goodreads

Play It As It Lays

– Rating: 3.91 (46,707 ratings)
– Author: Joan Didion
– Published: January 1, 1970
– Genres: Fiction, Classics, Literary Fiction, Novels
Read more on Goodreads



Goodreads

A is for Alibi (Kinsey Millhone, #1)

– Rating: 3.86 (175,831 ratings)
– Author: Sue Grafton
– Published: April 15, 1982
– Genres: Mystery, Fiction, Crime, Mystery Thriller
Read more on Goodreads



Goodreads

Devil in a Blue Dress (Easy Rawlins, #1)

– Rating: 3.87 (23,957 ratings)
– Author: Walter Mosley
– Published: January 1, 1990
– Genres: Mystery, Fiction, Crime, Noir
Read more on Goodreads



Goodreads

Farewell, My Lovely

– Rating: 4.11 (37,048 ratings)
– Author: Raymond Chandler
– Published: January 1, 1940
– Genres: Mystery, Fiction, Crime, Noir
Read more on Goodreads

You may also like: Countries California imports the most goods from



Goodreads

The Bonesetter’s Daughter

– Rating: 3.99 (126,173 ratings)
– Author: Amy Tan
– Published: February 19, 2001
– Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction, China, Historical
Read more on Goodreads



Goodreads

The Kitchen God’s Wife

– Rating: 4.02 (81,747 ratings)
– Author: Amy Tan
– Published: January 1, 1991
– Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction, China, Asia
Read more on Goodreads



Goodreads

Post Office

– Rating: 3.95 (116,461 ratings)
– Author: Charles Bukowski
– Published: January 1, 1971
– Genres: Fiction, Classics, Novels, Literature
Read more on Goodreads



Goodreads

Tortilla Flat

– Rating: 3.83 (50,143 ratings)
– Author: John Steinbeck
– Published: January 1, 1935
– Genres: Fiction, Classics, Literature, Novels
Read more on Goodreads



Goodreads

Stories and Early Novels: Pulp Stories / The Big Sleep / Farewell, My Lovely / The High Window

– Rating: 4.51 (1,395 ratings)
– Author: Raymond Chandler
– Published: January 1, 1933
– Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Short Stories, Crime
Read more on Goodreads

You may also like: Highest rated beer in California



Goodreads

The Octopus: A Story of California

– Rating: 3.81 (1,759 ratings)
– Author: Frank Norris
– Published: January 1, 1901
– Genres: Fiction, Classics, Historical Fiction, Novels
Read more on Goodreads



Goodreads

The Girl with Ghost Eyes

– Rating: 3.87 (4,029 ratings)
– Author: M.H. Boroson
– Published: November 3, 2015
– Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Fiction
Read more on Goodreads



Goodreads

The Postman Always Rings Twice

– Rating: 3.79 (38,286 ratings)
– Author: James M. Cain
– Published: January 1, 1934
– Genres: Fiction, Classics, Mystery, Crime
Read more on Goodreads



Goodreads

Zorro

– Rating: 3.78 (21,857 ratings)
– Author: Isabel Allende
– Published: May 3, 2005
– Genres: Historical Fiction, Fiction, Adventure, Historical
Read more on Goodreads



Goodreads

The Long Goodbye (Philip Marlowe, #6)

– Rating: 4.19 (39,426 ratings)
– Author: Raymond Chandler
– Published: January 1, 1953
– Genres: Mystery, Fiction, Crime, Noir
Read more on Goodreads

You may also like: Highest-rated breweries in California



Goodreads

Double Indemnity

– Rating: 4.06 (24,949 ratings)
– Author: James M. Cain
– Published: January 1, 1936
– Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Noir, Classics
Read more on Goodreads



Goodreads

Miss Lonelyhearts / The Day of the Locust

– Rating: 3.90 (9,773 ratings)
– Author: Nathanael West
– Published: May 16, 1939
– Genres: Fiction, Classics, Literature, Novels
Read more on Goodreads



Goodreads

Shanghai Girls (Shanghai Girls, #1)

– Rating: 3.90 (149,722 ratings)
– Author: Lisa See
– Published: May 26, 2009
– Genres: Historical Fiction, Fiction, China, Historical
Read more on Goodreads



Goodreads

The Wayward Bus

– Rating: 3.86 (10,651 ratings)
– Author: John Steinbeck
– Published: February 1, 1947
– Genres: Fiction, Classics, Literature, Novels
Read more on Goodreads



Goodreads

1st to Die (Women’s Murder Club, #1)

– Rating: 4.09 (322,519 ratings)
– Author: James Patterson
– Published: March 5, 2001
– Genres: Mystery, Fiction, Thriller, Crime
Read more on Goodreads

You may also like: States where people in California are getting new jobs



Goodreads

The Pastures of Heaven

– Rating: 4.07 (8,205 ratings)
– Author: John Steinbeck
– Published: January 1, 1932
– Genres: Fiction, Classics, Short Stories, Literature
Read more on Goodreads



Goodreads

The Witching Hour (Lives of the Mayfair Witches, #1)

– Rating: 4.11 (109,420 ratings)
– Author: Anne Rice
– Published: October 1, 1990
– Genres: Horror, Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal
Read more on Goodreads



Goodreads

The Buddha in the Attic

– Rating: 3.66 (50,444 ratings)
– Author: Julie Otsuka
– Published: August 23, 2011
– Genres: Historical Fiction, Fiction, Japan, Historical
Read more on Goodreads



Goodreads

The Man in the High Castle

– Rating: 3.61 (194,484 ratings)
– Author: Philip K. Dick
– Published: October 1, 1962
– Genres: Science Fiction, Fiction, Classics, Dystopia
Read more on Goodreads


Article Topic Follows: stacker-California

Stacker

BE PART OF THE CONVERSATION

News Channel 3 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content