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The Best Books About California

The Central Valley is the setting for numerous books, including a few on our reading list. Credit…Mark Abramson for The New York Times

For some much-needed midweek fun, today I’m updating our California Reading List, a collection of great books that are especially adept at illuminating life in the Golden State.

You can peruse the full list of nonfiction books and novels here. I’ve been assembling it for months based on your excellent recommendations. The latest additions are in boldface.

The most suggested pick this round was “Rabbit Boss,” Thomas Sanchez’s 1973 tale of four generations of Washo Indians in the Lake Tahoe region — what The New York Times has called “a lavishly praised novel of epic dimensions about the tragic experience of the American Indian.”

You can keep emailing me your suggestions at [email protected]. Please include your full name, the city where you live, and a few sentences about why your pick deserves to make the list.

Here are the other books I’ve just added, along with what you shared about them, lightly edited:

“Jesse’s Ghost” by Frank Bergon (2011)

“I think it is one of the best 21st-century novels about U.S. ranching and farming, set in California’s Great Central Valley. John Steinbeck visited the Valley only briefly, and ‘Grapes of Wrath’ has no scenes of field work. Bergon grew up in the Valley, and his novel is rich with workers in the fields. As The Los Angeles Times wrote: ‘Frank Bergon finds beauty in the valley, and not through artifice.’” — Aleksandra Mendive, Belmont

“Daughter of Fortune” by Isabel Allende (1998)

“It tells a gold rush story told not from the typical perspective of the 49ers who traveled from east to west, but from the point of view of a young, pregnant woman from Chile searching for her lover, who sailed to California after the discovery of gold. The characters she meets represent the myriad people of all origins who created California. And while she searches for her lover, Eliza finds something else: herself.” — Susan Champlin, New York City

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