Must-Read Books by Sacramento Authors (and Where to Get Them!)
September 27, 2023

Must-Read Books by Sacramento Authors (and Where to Get Them!)

Fall has officially arrived, and there’s nothing cozier than curling up on a brisk autumn day with a good book. Whether you prefer fiction or fantasy, true crime or memoirs, there are thousands of books out there just waiting to be read. While it’s true there are “so many books, so little time,” there are a few you may want to put on the top of your must-read pile: books by local authors. Sacramento-area authors have released some great books over the decades, spanning a wide range of genres and topics. So, if you’re looking for something new to add to your stack, following are just some of the must-read books by Sacramento-area authors. 


Photo courtesy Shawna Yang Ryan

“Water Ghosts” by Shawna Yang Ryan. Not only is the novel “Water Ghosts” written by a Sacramento native, it also takes place in the Sacramento area — the Delta town of Locke, to be exact. The book tells the tale of three Chinese women who appear out of the mist in the Chinese settlement and how their appearance intertwines with the lives of the townspeople. Originally published as “Locke 1928,” the book was a finalist for the 2008 Northern California Book Award.

“The Sh!t No One Tells You” by Dawn Dais. Parenting isn’t for the faint of heart, and this book by humorist and Roseville resident Dawn Dais sums up the challenges of the first year pretty well. Subsequent books in the series focus on the toddler years and having baby number two. Once your kids are older and your life is once again your own, consider her other book, “The Nonrunner’s Marathon Guide for Women.”

Photo courtesy Rachel L. Ertassi

City of Trees, City of Shadows by Rachel L. Ertassi. A murder mystery set in Midtown Sacramento, “City of Trees, City of Shadows” focuses on the lives of three main characters: a murderer, a college student, and a therapist. Not only is it a crime novel, it also touches on medical care and mental health care issues.

“Already Toast” by Kate Washington. This poignant memoir illuminates the struggles of caregiving in America as told through the eyes of the author, whose husband was diagnosed with cancer. With two young children and a career, Washington was so burned out she was “Already Toast” during her time as a full-time, unpaid caregiver for her sick husband. 

“The Swank Hotel” by Lucy Corin. Written by U.C. Davis professor Lucy Corin, “The Swank Hotel” is a comic novel about the world that swirls around the main character Em — her missing sister, her parents, her coworkers, and others in her lives. It depicts the impact of generational trauma and mental health in our modern, uncertain world. 

“Europe Central” by William T. Vollmann. Winner of the National Book Award for Fiction in 2005, “Europe Central” is a historical novel that examines the human experience during wartime. Its cast of characters includes historic military figures, artists, and activists and tells their interwoven narratives.

“The Marriage Wars” by Melissa Gowdy Baldwin. Book one of The Marriage Wars” series introduces readers to a dystopian society in which the state carefully orchestrates family lives. The main character begins to question her role in the system, bringing into focus the issues of gender, power, and love.

Photo courtesy T.R. Ragan

“Abducted” by T.R. Ragan. The first in the Lizzy Gardner series by Sacramento author T.R. Ragan, “Abducted” tells the tale of a teenager who was abducted and imprisoned by a serial killer. She escaped, but years later learns her captor is once again on the prowl, and she’s his main target. T.R. Ragan has written dozens of thrilling books, as well as romance novels under the name Theresa Ragan.

“Dance with Me” by Shea Robinson. Set in Sacramento, “Dance with Me” stars local high schooler Charlie, who has been left to juggle the feeling of loss while navigating the ups and downs of growing up. When she receives a secret note, she’s faced with a whole new world. Self-published by Robinson, this YA novel is just the first of many to come.

The Year of Magical Thinking” by Joan Didion. No talk of Sacramento authors would be complete without mentioning native Joan Didion, a journalist and novelist who published more than a dozen books, both fiction and nonfiction. Perhaps her best known is “The Year of Magical Thinking,” released in 2005, which recounts her experience with grief and mourning following the death of her husband and her daughter’s illness.

Photo courtesy Capital Books on K

Independent Book Stores in the Greater Sacramento Area

If you’re looking to pick up these or any other books, there are plenty of independent book stores throughout the Sacramento region. Not only do they offer books for sale by local authors, many also host special events such as book signings, author meet-and-greets, poetry readings, release parties, and more! Some even have events especially for kids, such as storytimes and junior book clubs. Following are some independent book stores in the greater Sacramento area to check out.

Category Neighborhood Guides

Lyon Real Estate

With the Lyon Local blog, Lyon strives to deliver the most valuable information to both home buyers and sellers while highlighting our favorite local gems that make Sacramento the best place to live in California.