Recommended California Memoirs

Five books that pair well with Myriam Gurba’s Mean.

cbc selections
Alta

Myriam Gurba’s Mean—a California-based memoir that unpacks the intersections of sexuality, gender, and sexual violence over the course of Gurba’s most formative years—joins a group of first-person accounts that chart the contours of one’s relationship to identity, truth, and transparency. Below are a few titles that pair well with Mean, which Alta’s California Book Club will discuss at its April 15 gathering. To join the California Book Club, click here.

1 A STOLEN LIFE, BY JAYCEE LEE DUGARD
Simon & Schuster

Dugard declares her name and identity with forceful power in this memoir that details her kidnapping and the 18 years she lived in captivity in Contra Costa County.

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2 WHERE I WAS FROM, BY JOAN DIDION
Vintage

In this book of collected essays, Didion returns to the environs of California to interrogate her relationship with herself and reality. She mines her memory for new insights on the history and ever-changing dramas of the Golden State.

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3 I AM BRIAN WILSON, BY BRIAN WILSON
Da Capo Press

Singer-songwriter Wilson takes us on a journey from his time creating the world-renowned rock band the Beach Boys to his struggles with addiction and mental health.

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4 AMERICA IS IN THE HEART, BY CARLOS BULOSAN
Penguin Books

Bulosan was a Filipino American and migrant laborer committed to describing the complexities of racism and violence in America, particularly in early-to-mid-20th-century California.

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5 RECOLLECTIONS OF MY NONEXISTENCE, BY REBECCA SOLNIT
Penguin Books

Solnit’s life as a young woman artist in the 1980s is at the center of this memoir. She outlines the early years of her writing career, along with the development of her political commitments as a feminist.

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