Fiction: "I am taken with both of Hilary Mantel's historical-fiction novels (about Oliver Cromwell and King Henry VIII), 'Wolf Hall' and 'Bring Up the Bodies.' "
Nonfiction: " 'Moby-Duck' by Donovan Hohn follows a (maritime) accident in which 28,000 children's bath toys were lost at sea. He tracks them to all the places (around the world) where they washed up."
Malcolm Margolin of Berkeley
Publisher and founder of Heyday Books
Fiction: "T.C. Boyle's 'San Miguel' is a terribly poignant novel with a carefully wrought plot. Boyle displays the nuance, empathy and craft of some of the best writers of the West."
Nonfiction: " 'What Light Can Do: Essays on Art, Imagination and the Natural World' by Robert Hass. For the pleasures of reading a first-rate mind, the beauty of the sentence structure, and his thoughts that are both surprising and sound."
Amanda Scott of Folsom
58 historical-romantic adventures ("The Laird's Choice")
Fiction: "Any thriller by Robert Crais (author of the Elvis Cole series), especially the ones (starring) Joe Pike ('The Watchman,' 'The First Rule,' 'The Sentry, 'Taken')."
Nonfiction: " 'In an Instant' is the story of journalist Bob Wood-ruff's ongoing recovery from injuries suffered in Iraq when an IED (improvised explosive device) exploded under his vehicle. (He and wife/ co-author Lee Woodruff) make people believe in miracles."
Terry Brooks of Seattle
The epic "Shannara" fantasy series
Fiction: "Justin Cronin's 'The 12' rethinks the vampire story entirely. It's an amalgam of Bram Stoker and Stephen King. A terrific, exciting read."
Nonfiction: "Erik Larson's 'In the Garden of the Beast' is about the pre-war rise of the Nazi Party in Berlin, and how it affected the American ambassador and U.S. politics."
Brenda Novak of Carmichael
42 romance novels ("When Snow Falls")
Fiction: "I like that the voice in (the mystery) 'Gone Girl' by Gillian Flynn weaves the reader's sympathies from one character to another."
Nonfiction: "'The Barbarous Years' by Bernard Bailyn is such a great overview of the historical beginnings of the American dream."
Ralph Lewin of San Francisco
President and CEO of the California Council for the Humanities
Fiction: " 'The Devil All the Time' by Donald Ray Pollock. Beautiful writing by this first-time novelist draws you into a furious and driving read of humanity's darker side."
Nonfiction: " 'The Warmth of Other Suns' by Isabel Wilkerson. Profound stories from America's great migration that reveal the hard choices made in search of freedom. This book could quite possibly change the way you see United States."
Judith Horstman of Sacramento
Four "Scientific American" brain books
Fiction: " 'Bring Up the Bodies' is Hilary Mantel's mesmerizing sequel to 'Wolf Hall' (both Man Booker Prize winners). It's Henry VIII's oft-told story, but from the perspective of his 'fixer,' Thomas Cromwell. Gorgeous prose, and gripping."
Nonfiction: "Robert K. Massie's 'Catherine the Great' and Antonia Fraser's 'Marie Antoinette.' The two women lived in roughly the same era -- but, oh, how differently their lives played out. Catherine maneuvered her way to wisely rule an empire. Marie lost her head."
Gerry Maginnity of Sacramento
Acting California State Librarian
Fiction: " 'The Grapes of Wrath' by John Steinbeck because it's part of the California story."
Nonfiction: " 'Sierra Nevada Byways' by Tony Huegel is for people who like to get off main roads and explore backcountry roads."
Barry Eisler of Menlo Park:
Nine titles in two thriller series ("Inside Out")
Fiction: "Some of the best crime fiction I've ever read is 'The Power of the Dog' by Don Winslow. It's an epic crime story built on America's failed war on drugs. Devastating political and social commentary, and great entertainment."
Nonfiction: " 'With Liberty and Justice for Some' by Glenn Greenwald examines America's two-tiered justice system, where we have one set of rules for the country's elite and another system for everybody else." Call The Bee's Allen Pierleoni, (916) 321-1128.
(c)2012 The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.)
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