Top 10 California Novels

Historic Folsom Mural2 Growing up in Manila, I always thought of California as John Steinbeck country.  I didn't make a distinction between northern or southern California. I only thought of the California in "The Grapes of Wrath" and "Of Mice and Men."This memorable prologue by Steinbeck, who was born in Salinas, Calif., was stuck in my brain: "Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream." I always thought of Steinbeck’s stories as one big California adventure.

I feel very lucky to make that adventure myself—I moved to northern California earlier this month. In honor of my new home state, I rounded up my favorite novels set in California.

Folsom Lake in northern California. (Photo by Vincent Fazzi, July 2015)

Top 10 Novels Set in California

These are my favorite novels set in California. How about you, which California novel is your favorite? Leave a comment below.

#1 "The Grapes of Wrath" by John Steinbeck, Viking Press, originally published in 1939

#2 "The Joy Luck Club" by Amy Tan, G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1989

#3 "The Maltese Falcon" by Dashiell Hammett, Plume, 1930

#4 "Jewel" by Bret Lott, Pocket Books, 1991

#5 "The House of Sand and Fog" by Andres Dubus III, W.W. Norton & Co., 1999

#6 "Cannery Row," by John Steinbeck, Viking Press, originally published in 1945

#7 "Of Mice and Men" by John Steinbeck, Penguin Publishing Group, originally published in 1937

#8 "Oil!" by Upton Sinclair, Penguin Random House, originally published in 1927

#9 “Devil in a Blue Dress” by Walter Mosley, Norton, 1990

#10 "White Oleander" by Janet Fitch, Little, Brown, & Co., 1999

There’s one California novel I have yet to read. I loved the movie "Sideways," directed by Alexander Payne, and I've always wanted to read the novel of the same title by Rex Pickett. I will save that one for another blog post. If you've read the novel, let me know what you think of it.


The California State Capitol in Sacramento. (Photo by Vincent Fazzi, July 2015)