Truckee/Tahoe is abundant with talented writers and a scenery that inspires. So, it is no surprise, that there is an eclectic mix of titles — covering a large spectrum of topics and readerships — that come out of the region.

When was the last time you read a good Todd Borg mystery? Not a Patterson or Vince Flynn, but a good old-fashioned Tahoe cliffhanger set right here in your own back yard. Todd Borg is our local mystery writer who has penned 14 popular titles in his Detective Owen McKenna series. If you’re new to Borg, dive right into Tahoe Deathfall, the first in the list. A 14-year old girl comes to believe her twin sister’s death might not have been an accident after all. Is there a child murderer on the loose in Lake Tahoe? And if you already are a Borg fan, but haven’t picked up a copy of the latest in the series, today is the day. In Tahoe Dark a man is found gruesomely murdered after the kidnapping of his adult son.


Murder and mayhem not your thing? Then you might prefer flipping through the pages of Sierra Starlight, a beautiful compendium of astrophotography by Tony Rowell. Available in softcover, the book showcases starlit photos from iconic Sierra Nevada landmarks. Another wonderful idea is Elemental — local photographer Keoki Flagg’s 25-year retrospective of photographs and heartfelt stories. Elemental is available only in hardcover, lending itself for placement on your coffee table after you finished enjoying it. The next time you have company over, know they’ll be just fine sitting there sipping their cocktails and loving Keoki’s fabulous shots of local skiers and the mountains we call home as you greet your other guests. Elemental includes photos from other locales that Keoki has traveled to as well.

Still not biting? Well then, how about the Donner Party? There are a variety of takes on these guys, and some of the books are better than others. We carry most of them, but are currently partial to The Indifferent Stars Above: the Harrowing Saga of the Donner Party by Daniel James Brown, author of The Boys in the Boat (another favorite of ours). Brown is skilled at writing non-fiction that reads like a novel. Another beautifully done reconstruction of the tragedy is Skila Brown’s To Stay Alive: Mary Ann Graves and the Tragic Journey of the Donner Party. A small book told in verse from the perspective of young Mary Ann Graves, it’s almost imperative that you read it by candlelight. She even captures the cannibalism touchingly. It is poetry, history and survival story all wrapped into one — we hardly knew where to shelve it, but ultimately decided to place it with its topical brethren on our Donner Party shelf at the front of the store.

Skiing? We’re in: It’s been an awesome winter here in Tahoe (at times perhaps too awesome — did your kids love their month-long Christmas holiday this year? Did you break a few shovels?) Speaking of kids, are you out there having one heck of a time teaching your youngster to French-fry and pizza? Of course you are! And of course you don’t want to shell out hundreds of dollars to your local ski resort for lessons. Well, that’s where Ski Tips: Fun Instructional Techniques with Cartoons (from never-ever to blue runs) comes to your rescue. Written by ski instructor and cartoonist Mike Clelland, the information and funny illustrations have been helpful to skiing families everywhere. It includes important info about equipment as well as drills and tips to make skiing fun. It really is the best book on the subject.

And continuing on the topic of the kiddos, have you read Bunny Slopes by Claudia Rueda to your babes yet? Oh, well, you must! It is the sweetest little tale about a bunny skiing. We’ve done lots of story-times around it with our stuffed Bunny Slopes bunny and the 3-to-6-year-old crowd loves it. Short, sweet, and interactive — a perfect read-aloud.

Looking for something a little meatier for your bigger kid? The 8-to-12-year-olds have of late had a particular fondness for Donner Dinner Party, part three in Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales series. What we find most important about this book is that it shows the specific bad decisions that lead to the party’s predicament. And although the story is inevitably tragic, Hale offers up humor alongside the tragedy, and the cannibalism is tactfully handled.

Another local author we can’t fail to mention is Tim Hauserman who wrote the much-loved local guidebook, Tahoe Rim Trail: The Official Guide for Hikers, Bikers, and Equestrians. Our guess is that 9 out of 10 locals have a beat-up, dog-eared, highlighted copy of this classic in their hiking backpacks. We all do! If you don’t already know, there is a trail (The Rim Trail, or TRT) that can take you completely around the lake and Hauserman’s book is the guide you want to have with you when you head out to conquer it.

There are many more great authors local to the Tahoe/Truckee area and the region’s newest bookshop, Word After Word, will be hosting local author events.   

Until next time …