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You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org
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Life in a California Mission
A remarkable essay about the natural life and native customs of 18th-century California, written by a French explorer while his ships lay at anchor in Monterey Bay.
Based on memories of characters he met living in Monterey, including his good friend the marine biologist Ed Ricketts, this is Steinbeck's story of the good-natured bums, prostitutes, alcoholics and other denizens of Cannery Row.
The Golden Shore, California's Love Affair With the Sea
In this eminently readable and well-researched tribute, Helvarg, an environmental journalist and filmmaker, considers the crosscurrents of culture, history, economy and myth that come together on the state’s golden shores.
California, A History
A lively short history in the excellent Modern Library Chronicles series, written by a renowned historian.
Eyewitness Guide California
A literate, visually rich guide to the Golden State, featuring color photography, dozens of excellent local maps and a region-by-region synopsis of California's attractions with a particular focus on San Francisco and Los Angeles.
National Audubon Society Field Guide to California
A compact, easy-to-use guide to 1,000 California trees, wildflowers, mammals, insects, birds and other flora and fauna.
The Golden West, Hollywood Stories
This marvelous collection of stories and essays from Sunny California, many originally appearing in The New Yorker and Commentary, capture the spirit (and personalities) of Hollywood in the heyday of the studio era.
California the Beautiful
Rowell's exquisite photographs are accompanied by excerpts from Joan Didion, M.F.K. Fisher, Jack London, William Saroyan and many other luminaries in this celebration of the nature and spirit of California.
Hearst Castle, The Biography of a Country House
An illustrated history of newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst's estate at San Simeon.
My First Summer in the Sierra
Muir's original account of a summer in Yosemite and surrounding High Sierras, based on his youthful notebooks of the summer of 1869.
Slouching Towards Bethlehem
A classic collection of essays on the1960s cultural climate, first published in 1968. In the acclaimed title essay, Didion vividly describes the landscape, mood and culture of '60s San Francisco.