Must-Read Sonoma County Books and Authors

Sonoma County Expert

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When it comes to Sonoma County books and authors, there’s no one more famous than Jack London. While growing up in the Bay Area, and spending much of his life traveling, London settled down in Glen Ellen at Beauty Ranch, which is now Jack London State Historic Park. Arguably his most popular book, The Call of the Wild, was released earlier this year as a major motion picture, starring Harrison Ford.

Beyond Jack London, however, numerous books have been set in Sonoma County, while many authors call Sonoma County home. Below, discover a few Sonoma County books and authors to add to your summer reading list.

The Valley of the Moon, by Jack London

We’d be remiss not to feature at least one Jack London book. And no Jack London book is more fitting than The Valley of the Moon, a novel that in some respects mirrors London’s own journey from Oakland to his dream home in Glen Ellen. The story follows a working-class couple, Billy and Saxon Roberts, who leave their struggling work conditions of Oakland in search of suitable California farmland to call their own. "Valley of the Moon," is an indigenous word for "many moons," and a name that the Sonoma Valley is often called today.

Picture of Jack London State Historic Park overlooking vineyards
Jack London State Historic Park in Glen Ellen

The Secret Life of Mrs. London, by Rebecca Rosenberg

The Jack London theme continues with The Secret Life of Mrs. London, a historical fiction featuring Charmian London, who was Jack London's second wife. Set amidst the Great War, it captures the meeting of two of the most famous couples of that time, the Londons and Houdinis. Married to famous husbands, Charmian London and Bess Houdini end up striking a bond together in this novel about the challenges of fame, love, and success intersecting during a time of war.

Rebecca Rosenberg is a California native who lives with her husband in Sonoma on a lavender farm. They founded Sonoma Lavender more than 20 years ago, and it's become the largest lavender product company in America.

Divisadero, by Michael Ondaatje

If the name Michael Ondaatje sounds familiar, that’s because you may have already read one of his books, such as The English Patient. Published in 1992, The English Patient was made into a critically-acclaimed film just a few years later, featuring Juliette Binoche, Ralph Fiennes, and Willem Dafoe.

Divisadero, published in 2007, is a novel set in Northern California that weaves a little bit of Sonoma County farmstead life into the story. It tells the interconnected family story of a single father and his children during the 1970s, taking the reader from Northern California farm life to Nevada casinos to San Francisco, and eventually to Southern France.

The Underside of Joy, by Seré Prince Halverson

While the town of Elbow, California may not be a real town, the setting of river towns, redwood forests, and sprawling vineyards will certainly be recognizable to Sonoma County travelers. That's because Seré Prince Halverson calls Occidental home. 

The Underside of Joy tells the story of two women, who amidst a tragic loss, claim to be the mother of the same two children. On, the novel was listed as 1 of 12 books to devour on a long flight. 

Below, discover several other Sonoma County books and authors.