Nevada County Reads 2024
Nevada County Reads, a project developed in 2005, is presented in partnership with the Nevada County Superintendent of Schools, and is funded in part by the Friends of the Nevada County Libraries and made possible through the National Endowment for the Arts’ Big Read initiative. A program designed to deepen engagement in literature through reading and discussion, everyone in the community can participate: read a book, share perspectives, attend a program, engage on social media and build a stronger Nevada County together.
by Ross Gay
Ross Gay is the author of four books of poetry: Against Which; Bringing the Shovel Down; Be Holding, winner of the PEN American Literary Jean Stein Award; and Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, winner of the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award and the 2016 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. In addition to his poetry, Ross has released three collections of essays—The Book of Delights was released in 2019 and was a New York Times bestseller; Inciting Joy was released in 2022, and his newest collection, The Book of (More) Delights was released in September of 2023.
Author Event with Ross Gay
Saturday, April 13th at 5:30 pm
Sierra Poetry Festival at Center for the Arts
Free and open to the public
Previous Year's Nevada County Reads Book Selections
"From the infinitely inventive author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe comes a deeply personal novel about race, pop culture, immigration, assimilation, and escaping the roles we are forced to play. Willis Wu doesn’t perceive himself as a protagonist even in his own life: he’s merely Generic Asian Man. Every day, he leaves his tiny room in a Chinatown SRO and enters the Golden Palace restaurant, where Black and White, a procedural cop show, is in perpetual production. He’s a bit player here too. . . but he dreams of being Kung Fu Guy–the highest aspiration he can imagine for a Chinatown denizen. Or is it? After stumbling into the spotlight, Willis finds himself launched into a wider world than he’s ever known, discovering not only the secret history of Chinatown, but the buried legacy of his own family, and what that means for him, in today’s America. Playful but heartfelt, a send-up of Hollywood tropes and Asian stereotypes–Interior Chinatown is Charles Yu’s most moving, daring, and masterful novel yet." -- Charlesyuauthor.com
The Round House is a winner in the National Book Award for fiction. One of the most revered novelists of our time—a brilliant chronicler of Native-American life—Louise Erdrich returns to the territory of her bestselling, Pulitzer Prize finalist The Plague of Doves with The Round House, transporting readers to the Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota. It is an exquisitely told story of a boy on the cusp of manhood who seeks justice and understanding in the wake of a terrible crime that upends and forever transforms his family.
Riveting and suspenseful, arguably the most accessible novel to date from the creator of Love Medicine, The Beet Queen, and The Bingo Palace, Erdrich’s The Round House is a page-turning masterpiece of literary fiction—at once a powerful coming-of-age story, a mystery, and a tender, moving novel of family, history, and culture.
One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time—from the actor's early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future, when a theater troupe known as The Travelling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains—this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor's first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet. Sometimes terrifying, sometimes tender, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it."
“[An] ambitious take on a post-apocalyptic world where some strive to preserve art, culture and kindness ... Think of Cormac McCarthy seesawing with Joan Didion ... Mandel spins a satisfying web of coincidence and kismet ... Magnetic ... a breakout novel. "
- Kirkus (starred)
“A unique departure from which to examine civilization's wreckage ... [a] wild fusion of celebrity gossip and grim future ... Mandel's examination of the connections between individuals with disparate destinies makes a case for the worth of even a single life. "
Ties That Bind honors the people who nourish and strengthen us. StoryCorps founder Dave Isay draws from ten years of the revolutionary oral history project’s rich archives, collecting conversations that celebrate the power of the human bond and capture the moment at which individuals become family. Between blood relations, friends, coworkers, and neighbors, in the most trying circumstances and in the unlikeliest of places, enduring connections are formed and lives are forever changed.
"The collection successfully fulfills its mission: to make readers feel 'more connected, awake, and alive.'" - Publishers Weekly
"[T]ruly inspiring...scores of autobiographical stories about the life-changing connections that make us who we are." - Barnes and Noble
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
“Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.” So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos. A profoundly moving story of family, secrets, and longing, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.
New York Times Bestseller · A New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice · Winner of the Alex Award· Winner of the APALA Award for Fiction · NEA Big Read Selection
NAMED A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR BY:
NPR · San Francisco Chronicle · Entertainment Weekly · The Huffington Post · Buzzfeed · Amazon · Grantland · Booklist · St. Louis Post Dispatch · Shelf Awareness · Book Riot · School Library Journal · Bustle · Time Out New York ·Mashable · Cleveland Plain Dealer
The Martian by Andy Weir
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first.
Nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read
Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.
“Every bit as moving as To Kill a Mockingbird, and in some ways more so . . . a searing indictment of American criminal justice and a stirring testament to the salvation that fighting for the vulnerable sometimes yields.”—David Cole, The New York Review of Books
“Searing, moving . . . Bryan Stevenson may, indeed, be America’s Mandela.”—Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times
“You don’t have to read too long to start cheering for this man. . . . The message of this book . . . is that evil can be overcome, a difference can be made. Just Mercy will make you upset and it will make you hopeful.”—Ted Conover, The New York Times Book Review
Trash by Andy Mulligan
Three young teens, trash-picker living in the city dump of an unnamed third-world country, discover a mysterious bag one morning, triggering a chain of events that will change their lives forever. Raphael, Gordo, and Rat take turns nar-rating the story of how they uncover a network of political corruption and abuse of the poor. Each puzzle the boys solve leads to yet a new riddle for them to work out. The chase leads them throughout the city, exposing the great disparity be-tween the “haves” and the “have nots,” and the huge injustice this represents. Several run-ins with the police make it clear that getting caught means death for the three boys.
“Trash is a compelling read. The action is riveting and the secret codes throughout will appeal mystery fans” - School Library Journal, starred review
“This gripping book engages readers both as an adventure and as a social justice story. Readers will be satisfied by the cinematic conclusion and the noble decision the heroes make.” - Publishers Weekly, starred review
"The three boys, and others, act as alternating narrators of the story, giving vivid descriptions of their lives. In spite of this, the boys’ hope and determination for justice and the dilemmas they face with so much courage will impress readers. Recommended." - Library Media Connection
The Fault in our Stars by John Green
Sixteen-year-old Hazel, a stage IV thyroid cancer patient, has accepted her terminal diagnosis until a chance meeting with a boy at cancer support group forces her to reexamine her perspective on love, loss, and life.
"The greatest romance story of this decade." —Entertainment Weekly
“This is a book that breaks your heart—not by wearing it down, but by making it bigger until it bursts.”
“A story about two incandescent kids who will live a long time in the minds of the readers who come to know them.”
“Remarkable . . . A pitch-perfect, elegiac comedy.”
Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork
Marcelo Sandoval, a seventeen-year-old boy on the high-functioning end of the autistic spectrum, faces new challenges, including romance and injustice, when he goes to work for his father in the mailroom of a corporate law firm.
“Stork introduces ethical dilemmas, the possibility of love, and other “real world” conflicts, all the while preserving the integrity of his characterizations and intensifying the novel's psychological and emotional stakes. Not to be missed.” -- Publishers Weekly, starred review
“…Stork delivers a powerful tale populated by appealing (and decidedly unappealing) characters and rich in emotional nuance.” -- Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“Writing in a first-person narrative, Stork does an amazing job of entering Marcelo's consciousness and presenting him as a dynamic, sympathetic, and wholly believable character." -- School Library Journal, starred review
“It is the rare novel that reaffirms a belief in goodness; rarer still is one that does so this emphatically.” -- Horn Book, starred review
“Shot with spirtualism, laced with love, and fraught with conundrums, this book, like Marcelo himself, surprises.” -- Booklist, starred review
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
In Jackson, Mississippi, in 1962, there are lines that are not crossed. With the civil rights movement exploding all around them, three women start a movement of their own, forever changing a town and the way women--black and white, mothers and daughters--view one another.
“This could be one of the most important pieces of fiction since To Kill a Mockingbird…If you read only one book...let this be it.”—NPR.org
“Wise, poignant...You’ll catch yourself cheering out loud.”—People
“Graceful and real, a compulsively readable story.”—Entertainment Weekly
“A beautiful portrait of a fragmenting world.”—The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Trying to make sense of the horrors of World War II, Death relates the story of Liesel--a young German girl whose book-stealing and story-telling talents help sustain her family and the the Jewish man they are hiding, as well as their neighbors.
- Time Magazine
"Elegant, philosophical and moving...Beautiful and important."
- Kirkus Reviews, Starred
"This hefty volume is an achievement...a challenging book in both length
- Publisher's Weekly, Starred
"One of the most highly anticipated young-adult books in years."
- The Wall Street Journal
Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson
San Piedro, a small island in the Pacific Northwest, is home to salmon fishermen and strawberry farmers. It is also home to many Japanese-Americans. Snow Falling on Cedars opens in Judge Lew Fielding's courtroom as the trial of one of these Japanese-Americans, Kabuo Miyamoto, who is on trial for killing fellow fisherman Carl Heine, Jr., commences.
First-novelist Guterson presents a multilayered courtroom drama set in the aftermath of the internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII. -- Publishers Weekly
"Haunting. . . . A whodunit complete with courtroom maneuvering and surprising turns of evidence and at the same time a mystery, something altogether richer and deeper." -- Los Angeles Times
Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin
"Greg Mortenson’s dangerous and difficult quest . . . is not only a thrilling read, it’s proof that one ordinary person, with the right combination of character and determination, really can change the world."-Tom Brokaw
"An inspiring chronicle . . . this is one protagonist who clearly deserves to be called a hero."-People
"Mortenson’s mission is admirable, his conviction unassailable, his territory exotic."-The Washington Post
Nature Noir by Jordan Fisher Smith
Slated to be drowned by a dam, the California state park patrolled by the author of this haunting memoir is a "condemned landscape" of gorgeous river canyons hemmed in by exurban sprawl and peopled by eccentric gold miners, squatting families, drug dealers and miscellaneous drunken, gun-waving rowdies, a place where "turkey vultures floated... savoring the hot air for the inevitable attrition of heat, drought and violence." -Publishers Weekly.
"Eloquently meditative . . . [Smith writes]with a gritty candor -- think of a gun-toting Norman Maclean or Wallace Stegner." -- Alan Burdick The New York Times Book Review
"Gloriously unlike anything I've ever read before . . . gives entree into a strange, dark, and mesmerizing outdoor world that's absolutely unforgettable." -- Caroline Leavitt Boston Globe
"He writes about the natural world with more grace than anyone since Edward Abbey." Newsweek
"Extraordinary . . . Nature Noir marks the debut of a terrific new nature writer, one whose penetrating, ranger's-eye view of the Sierra Nevada recalls the plain-spoken timbre of Edward Abbey and David James Duncan." Outside
Holes by Louis Sachar
Grade 5-8-Stanley Yelnats IV has been wrongly accused of stealing a famous baseball player's valued sneakers and is sent to Camp Green Lake, a juvenile detention home where the boys dig holes, five feet deep by five feet across, in the miserable Texas heat. It's just one more piece of bad luck that's befallen Stanley's family for generations as a result of the infamous curse of Madame Zeroni. Overweight Stanley, his hands bloodied from digging, figures that at the end of his sentence, he'll "...either be in great physical condition or else dead."
"There is no question, kids will love Holes."-SLJ, Starred Review
"[A] rugged, engrossing adventure."-Kirkus Reviews
"This delightfully clever story is well-crafted and thought-provoking."-VOYA
"[Sachar] comes fully, brilliantly into his own voice. This is a can't-put-it-down read."-The Bulletin
Epitaph for a Peach by David Mas Masumoto
A lyrical, sensuous and thoroughly engrossing memoir of one critical year in the life of an organic peach farmer, Epitaph for a Peach is "a delightful narrative . . . with poetic flair and a sense of humor" (Library Journal).
“[Masumoto is] a poet of farming and peaches.” (New York Times Book Review)
“[A] wonderful writer...[Masumoto] uses his farm as Thoreau did his.” (Los Angeles Times)
“A peach of a book.” (Publishers Weekly)
“. . . lyrical . . .enough to make a peach lover drool and also weep...[A] charming tale.” (Atlantic Monthly)
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
After years of working as a fireman--one who burns books and enjoys his work--Guy Montag meets a young girl named Clarisse who makes him question his profession and the values of the society in which he lives. His wife spends all day with her television "family," imploring Montag to work harder so that they can afford a fourth TV wall. When Clarisse disappears mysteriously, Montag is moved to make some changes, and starts hiding books in his home. Eventually, his wife turns him in, and he must answer the call to burn his secret cache of books. After fleeing to avoid arrest, Montag winds up joining an outlaw band of scholars who keep the contents of books in their heads, waiting for the time society will once again need the wisdom of literature.
“Brilliant . . . Startling and ingenious . . . Mr. Bradbury’s account of this insane world, which bears many alarming resemblances to our own, is fascinating.” —Orville Prescott, The New York Times
“A masterpiece . . . A glorious American classic everyone should read: It’s life-changing if you read it as a teen, and still stunning when you reread it as an adult.” —Alice Hoffman, The Boston Globe
“The sheer lift and power of a truly original imagination exhilarates . . . His is a very great and unusual talent.” —Christopher Isherwood, Tomorrow