Good Minds Suggest: Brit Bennett's Favorite Books About California

Posted by Goodreads on October 3, 2016
Brit Bennett

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Brit Bennett is living her version of the California Dream. Born and raised in Southern California, she graduated from Stanford University before picking up her MFA in fiction. Her debut novel, The Mothers, hits bookshelves this month. Have you heard of it? The buzz around the book is electric. Early reviewers praised the story's lyrical prose and poignant character studies, welcoming Bennett as an exciting new voice in literary fiction. The Mothers is set in a contemporary black community in Southern California, and it begins with 17-year-old Nadia. One summer—the summer Nadia mourns her mother's suicide and starts a seemingly harmless fling with the pastor's son—a secret is born. As the years pass, Nadia's life never untangles itself from that summer…or that secret. This is a story of the big "what ifs" that haunt us and of the communities (and people) that make us who we are.

Bennett shares the brilliant, heartbreaking, and unforgettable stories that capture her home state.


Desert Boys by Chris McCormick
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"A novel-in-stories that follows Daley, an introspective gay boy who finds refuge from his conservative hometown when he escapes to the Bay Area for college but continually finds himself drawn back to the town he tries to flee. McCormick captures the beauty and harshness of the Antelope Valley—a rapidly suburbanizing desert community north of Los Angeles—as well as the inextricable pull of home."


Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley
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"In 1948 Watts, Easy Rawlins, a recently fired factory worker, is hired to search for a missing woman. As the mystery thickens and bodies begin to pile up around him, we witness a man transition from a day laborer—desperate to pay his mortgage—to a full-blown detective. Mosley captures all the thrills of noir while exploring the lingering traumas and racial anxieties of postwar Los Angeles."


The Girls from Corona del Mar by Rufi Thorpe
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"Two girls grow up in a beach town, but their lives diverge after both girls become pregnant as teens—only one decides to keep her baby. Thorpe's novel, set amid the affluence of Orange County, evokes all the passion and intimacy of female friendship while following the ugly twists life can take, all the ways girls can grow apart from each other, and all the ways we can grow apart from ourselves."


Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
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"Steinbeck's classic 1937 novel follows George and Lennie, two migrant workers who travel throughout Central California, searching for jobs during the Great Depression. This pair of unlikely friends dreams about owning a ranch together someday but instead find themselves steadily marching toward tragedy. A teacher slid this book in my hands when I was young, and I still remember it as one of the first books that tore out my heart."


The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson
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"This beautiful genre-bending book is about many things—family, motherhood, queerness, identity—but I also read it as a distinctly Californian book. Nelson explores the personal and political ways in which Prop. 8—the California ballot measure that outlawed same-sex marriage—affected her life. She marries her partner in a rush before the measure takes effect, but as her family begins to appear more conventional, she grapples with the idea of domestic normalcy that proponents of Prop. 8 claimed to protect."





Vote for your own favorites on Listopia: Best Novels Set in California



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Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* The Mothers was excellent!


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