Skip to main content
Arts & Entertainment

7 must-read books of 2022 by local authors

Miriam Petsch, visiting from Copenhagen, browses books in City Lights Bookstore and Publisher in San Francisco. | Camille Cohen/The Standard

We are blessed in the Bay Area with star-studded literary talent, and these seven titles from local authors do not disappoint. Whether your sweet spot is novels, nonfiction or something in between, you’re sure to get lost in—or have your mind changed by—one of these books. You can find them all at your local bookstore or library.

Yerba Buena

By Nina LaCour

This gorgeous novel is the first adult book by the well-known young adult author and San Franciscan Nina LaCour. A queer love story about a florist and a bartender, Yerba Buena features atmospheric locations and unforgettable characters with troubled pasts. The book is filled with exquisite descriptions and intersecting mysteries that will keep you turning pages. 


By Kirstin Chen

Love a good caper? This novel by San Francisco author Kirstin Chen has more twists than Lombard Street. A Reese’s Book Club pick, it revolves around two Asian American women caught up in an international counterfeit handbag scheme. 

On the Rooftop

By Margaret Wilkerson Sexton 

Transport yourself to Jazz-era Fillmore thanks to Margaret Wilkerson Sexton’s delightful novel On the Rooftop, featuring the singing sisters the Salvations. The novel takes you to an iconic San Francisco neighborhood undergoing gentrification in the 1950s—and it also captures the universal dilemma when children’s dreams don’t match up with their parents’ plans. Born and raised in New Orleans, Sexton now calls Oakland home. 

The Man Who Could Move Clouds

By Ingrid Rojas Contreras

Local author Ingrid Rojas Contreras received rave reviews for her first novel, Fruit of the Drunken Tree. Now she’s back with a deftly written memoir that might be even more captivating. The story focuses on the magical capabilities of the curanderos—or practitioners of traditional Indigenous medicine—in her family. In beautiful prose, Contreras examines both the sweep of Colombian history and the intimacy of familial relationships.  

The New Black West

By Gabriela Hasbun

The mythical American West is decidedly white, but Gabriela Hasbun turns that notion on its head by celebrating the modern Black cowboys of the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo—America’s only all-Black touring rodeo—with her book of beautiful full-color photographs.  

Forbidden City

By Vanessa Hua

The cover of Vanessa Hua’s Forbidden City shines at you like a mesmerizing sun, and the story itself is just as provocative. The masterfully imagined novel centers on the experience of a teenage girl in 1960s China who ends up becoming Mao Zedong’s lover and confidante—giving readers a glimpse into the Cultural Revolution from a female perspective.

How To Read Now

By Elaine Castillo 

Bay Area-based Elaine Castillo nearly broke the literary internet with her essay “How To Read Now.” That essay serves as the opening chapter in her new book of essays about reading and literature. You may not always agree with her, but Castillo offers a new way of reading not only books but also the world, turning your assumptions inside out in productive ways.