The Bookshelf

The One Book Program has selected books that touch upon a wide variety of topics and issues. Please click on any of the books covers to find out more about each one. 

By clicking on the book, a new browser window will open and take you to the website for that year's One Book.



Girl In Translation

by Jean Kwok


Ah-Kim Chang, or Kimberly as she is known in the U.S., had been a promising student in Hong Kong when her father died. Now she and her mother are indebted to Kimberly's Aunt Paula, who funded their trip from Hong Kong, so they dutifully work for her in a Chinatown clothing factory where they earn barely enough to keep them alive. Despite this, and living in a condemned apartment that is without heat and full of roaches, Kimberly excels at school, perfects her English, and is eventually admitted to an elite, private high school.

An obvious outsider, without money for new clothes or undergarments, she deals with added social pressures, only to be comforted by an understanding best friend, Annette, who lends her makeup and hands out American advice. A love interest at the factory leads to a surprising plot line, but it is the portrayal of Kimberly's relationship with her mother that makes this more than just another immigrant story.

The Other Wes Moore bookcover

The Other Wes Moore 

by Wes Moore

Two kids with the same name lived in the same decaying city. One went on to be a Rhodes Scholar, decorated combat veteran, White House Fellow, and business leader. The other is serving a life sentence in prison. Here is the story of two boys and the journey of a generation. Through alternating narratives that take readers from heart-wrenching losses to moments of surprising redemption, The Other Wes Moore (2010, Random House) tells the story of a generation of boys trying to find their way in a hostile world.

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Weed Land: Inside America's Marijuana Epicenter and How Pot Went Legit

by Peter Hecht

Written by Peter Hecht, a senior writer for The Sacramento Bee who covered marijuana issues for four years, Weed Land takes readers into the laboratories of researchers who challenged federal drug policy with clinical studies revealing the medical benefits of cannabis. It also explores an exploding marijuana marketplace that pitches compassionate healing with the pure joy of pot. And it takes readers inside the law enforcement backlashand unfolding consequencesof a federal crackdown on America's largest marijuana economy.

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Blasphemy: New and Selected Stories

by Sherman Alexie

Alexie show­cases his many talents in Blasphemy, where he unites fifteen beloved classics with fifteen new stories in one sweeping anthology for devoted fans and first-time readers. Included here are some of his most esteemed tales, including “What You Pawn I Will Redeem,” in which a homeless Indian man quests to win back a family heirloom; “This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona,” a road-trip morality tale; “The Toughest Indian in the World,” about a night shared between a writer and a hitchhiker; and his most recent, “War Dances,” about a man grappling with sudden hearing loss in the wake of his father’s death. Alexie’s new stories are fresh and quintessential, about donkey basket­ball leagues, lethal wind turbines, a twenty-four hour Asian manicure salon, good and bad marriages, and all species of warriors in America today.

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Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats 

Kristen Iversen

In Sacramento State's sixth One Book, Kristen Iversen takes a hard-hitting look at how secrets can destroy families and the environment in her exploration of the fallout from Rocky Flats.

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One Amazing Thing 

Chitra Divakaruni

 In Sacramento State's fifth One Book, Chitra Divakaruni takes a fictionalized disaster and turns into an opportunity to share separate stories into a unified novel about about hope and love.

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The Grace of Silence

Michele Norris

 In Sacramento State's fourth One Book, Michele Norris writes a memoir of recovering hidden family histories as a means to examine race relations in the United States.

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The Devil's Highway

Luis Alberto Urrea

In Sacramento State's third One Book, Luis Alberto Urrea describes a harrowing account of a group of Mexican immigrants lost in the Arizona deserts.

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When the Emperor Was Divine 

Julie Otsuka

In Sacramento State's second One Book, Julie Otsuka explores the history of Japanese internment through the eyes of her fictional characters.

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Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America 

Firoozeh Dumas

In Sacramento State's inaugural One Book, Firoozeh Dumas uses humor and vignettes to illustrate her story of finding her identity as an Iranian-American and transitioning between cultures following her family's immigration to the United States.

Help us keep adding more books to this list!

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