Sacramento is a veritable hotbed of talented writers and authors, with numerous legendary journalists and novelists calling our region home. Mark Twain was drawn out here during the Gold Rush but became enchanted by the rich culture and landscape of the foothills. Journalists Joan Didion and Herb Caen may have moved on to larger zip codes but they often talked about their Sacramento roots. From science fiction to romance, many bestselling authors have found inspiration in the Central Valley. Here are just a few of the literary landmarks to delight Sacramento bibliophiles.
The Rivers – Sacramento and American
Sacramento native Joan Didion has said that the region’s rivers are her strongest memory of what the city meant to her. In her debut novel, “Run River,” those beloved rivers are the backdrop to a suspenseful tale of life in mid-20th-century Sacramento. In interviews, Didion said she wrote the story during a period of nostalgia for her hometown. Woven through the story are familiar places – the camellias of Capitol Park, the Governor’s Mansion and Old Sacramento – but it is the majestic rivers that take center stage.
Herb Caen House
1631 26th St.
Sacramento, CA 95816
Before making his mark in San Francisco, legendary journalist Herb Caen was born and raised in Sacramento. Caen was born in 1916 and lived with his family in a modest home on Bungalow Row in downtown. Although he called San Francisco home for most of his life, he still considered himself a “Sackamenna kid.” His childhood home at 1631 26th Street is currently for sale.
Tsakopoulos Library Galleria
828 I St.
Sacramento, CA 95814
The Vacaville-Sacramento corridor is the setting of Karen Joy Fowler’s bestselling novel “The Jane Austen Book Club.” Although Fowler was born in Indiana and lived in the Bay Area for many years, she captures the life and landscapes of the Yolo causeway like a true native. The Library Galleria is featured in the story when her characters attend an annual fundraiser for the Sacramento Public Library. The stunning galleria is Sacramento’s premier event venue, hosting everything from weddings and proms to business meetings and conferences.
Angels Camp Museum
753 Main St.
Angels Camp, CA 95222
American author and humorist Samuel Clemens (better known as Mark Twain) came out west to try to strike it rich in the California Gold Rush. When he was unsuccessful as a gold miner, he turned to journalism. His short story, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” was published in numerous publications and led to the annual Jumping Frog Jubilee held each May. Stop by the Angels Camp Museum to see the Mark Twain exhibit which celebrates the early life of the author.
Bella Vista High School
8301 Madison Ave.
Fair Oaks, CA 95628
Prior to settling in North Carolina, bestselling author Nicholas Sparks called Sacramento home. He moved to Fair Oaks with his family at the age of eight and graduated as valedictorian from Bella Vista High School. According to his website, he married his wife Catherine and lived in Sacramento while working odd jobs and writing his second novel. He has published 16 novels, seven of which have been adapted into films.
Related: Best Local Authors In Sacramento
Karen Boruff is a freelance writer living in Sacramento. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.