Here are some of the other new selections and what readers had to say about them, lightly edited for clarity:

“Where I Was From” by Joan Didion (2003)

“Born and raised in Berkeley, I had a disdain for the Central Valley and Sacramento — hot and flat, they seemed to me — until I read this book. It opened my eyes (and my mind) to the depth of history, the richness of family and community, the importance of place, and the wonder that is all of California.” — Peg Cahill, Mt. Shasta

“Southern California: An Island on the Land” by Carey McWilliams (1970)

“Written in 1946, it is the fascinating story of how Southern California got well on the road to what it is today. It starts with geology and the all-important climate, but is filled with larger-than-life characters like Helen Hunt Jackson, Aimee Semple McPherson and the makers of Hollywood. This is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the region and its hold on America.” — Dave Wilkinson, Moorpark

“Cadillac Desert” by Marc Reisner (1986)

“It’s a terrific mix of firsthand journalism, deep research and great storytelling, and it reveals just how precarious the West’s interdependent water supply is. Throw in political rivalries, underhanded deals, and the larger battle between the increasing demands of new arrivals and an overtaxed ecosystem, and you have a landmark work. It was written more than a generation ago, but its story of the conflict between land development and water policy in the American West remains one of the nation-shaping stories of today.” — James Daly, Alameda

“Properties of Thirst” by Marianne Wiggins (2022)

“Set mostly during World War II in central California, it is written in such marvelous prose. This sprawling masterpiece is filled with multigenerational coming-of-age stories and dives into the California water wars, as well as the birth (and shameful disgrace) of the Japanese internment camp at Manzanar. It shines a light on the cultural and class differences of that era. There is much about agriculture and the produce native to central California, and there is lots of cooking.” — Nancy Dolan, Oxnard

“City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles” by Mike Davis (1990)

“This incredible deconstruction and examination of the myth of the Golden West is a brilliant cultural geography of Los Angeles. From the ruins of Llano to the founding of the Church of Scientology, Davis illuminates the power structures that have controlled Los Angeles since its founding.” — Elizabeth Rood, San Francisco

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