Keep Tahoe Read: Breaking down top Tahoe-themed must-read books |

Keep Tahoe Read: Breaking down top Tahoe-themed must-read books

Cassandra Walker

There’s no shortage of excitement and adventure to be had outdoors in beautiful North Lake Tahoe, and locals get especially fired up during storms dumping feet of freshies.

But what about those times when the power’s out and you’re homebound — or you’re just otherwise having one of those stay-at-home-and-read-all-day-long kind of days?

Luckily, the next best thing to experiencing Tahoe’s majesty firsthand is reading about it, and local libraries have offered their expert opinion on the top area-themed titles you should add to your reading list.


Dr. Betts Markle, library director at the Prim Library at Sierra Nevada College in Incline Village, offers her favorite Tahoe-themed reads: “These are all great books covering the Tahoe area history, environment, stories and more.”

Saving Lake Tahoe: An Environmental History of a National Treasure

Michael J. Makley

This book chronicles Lake Tahoe’s history beginning with its Native American heritage. Page after page, it explains how the landscape has been impacted throughout the years simply for being such an alluring place to visit and develop. Makley explains historical environmental impacts to water clarity, forest lands, fisheries due to expansion in the Lake Tahoe area.

Tahoe Beneath the Surface: The Hidden Stories of America’s Largest Mountain Lake

Scott Lankford

Lankford discusses the transformation of America through civilizations and cultural innovation at Lake Tahoe. This book covers the ski industry’s inception, famous people’s mark on American history from the lake and the hidden history of the largest mountain lake as told by influential storytellers.

Tahoe Wildflowers: A Month-by-Month Guide to Wildflowers in the Tahoe Basin and Surrounding Areas

Laird Blackwell

The pages of Tahoe Wildflowers are filled with full-color photography of various plant species. Expand your knowledge of natural Tahoe plants in a guide covering almost 300 of the most common wildflowers you may encounter around the lake. Each entry is organized by month and region for bloom phases and includes driving and hiking directions and tips on where to spot them.


The public libraries in Truckee, Kings Beach and Incline Village all suggest wonderful books on Tahoe’s natural landscape. A favorite among all three, and a wonderful addition to your coffee table featuring lavish imagery, is the beautiful hardcover, “Tahoe: A Visual History” by Anne M. Wolfe and Kevin Starr Ph.D.

Anne Greenwood, branch manager of the Kings Beach Library, offered three additional titles for outdoor aficionados and those enamored by gorgeous Lake Tahoe.

“There are so many great books depending on one’s level of expertise in regard to Tahoe’s history, flora and fauna identification, hiking, skiing, mountain biking abilities, or whatever the interest,” she said.

The Tahoe Rim Trail: The Official Guide for Hikers, Mountain Bikers and Equestrians

Tim Hauserman

Hauserman (a freelance writer for the Sierra Sun-Bonanza, as well as other regional publications) offers a comprehensive guide of the Tahoe Rim Trail, which at 165 miles long, is home to terrain for all kinds of outdoor, human-powered sports. This book covers one of the world’s most famous trails that circles Lake Tahoe and offers an in-depth look at its reach, the plants and animals which inhabit the trail areas, and how it came to be.

A Wall of White: The True Story of Heroism and Survival in the Face of a Deadly Avalanche

Jennifer Woodlief

Woodlief has written this novel to tell the story of one woman’s struggle for survival after the avalanche at Alpine Meadows in 1982. The book covers the catastrophic damage done by the avalanche that buried a community and took with it 7 lives. The book is described as a wrenching tale of human versus nature and follows the heroic efforts of Ski Patrol saving lives in disastrous weather conditions.

The Laws Field Guide to the Sierra Nevada

John Muir Laws

This title is hailed as the most comprehensive field guide of Sierra life including an in-depth look at naturally occurring flora and fauna species. It is easy-to-use with clear topic organization and features full-color illustrations, range maps and an index for scientific names of Tahoe wildlife and was published in conjunction with the California Academy of Sciences.


Truckee Library technician Sachi Neumann recommends readers who love a good mystery and who love the lake pick up some titles by Todd Borg. As a South Lake Tahoe local, Borg writes mystery novels and draws his inspiration locally. These page-turners will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

“The Todd Borg ones contain a lot of local insight since he lives locally,” Neumann said. “You can discover cool restaurants and other spots in South Lake Tahoe while you’re reading.”

Borg has written 14 thrilling titles chronicling the fictitious tales of Detective Owen McKenna for readers. The Truckee Library carries these popular reads so you can immerse yourself in one intense sequences of events after another.

“Tahoe Dark”: The story of a Lake Tahoe house cleaner wrongfully arrested for murder. She must find the real killer to clear her name and keep her from being sent off to death row. The real murderer, of course, isn’t going to let that happen.

“Tahoe Heat”: A riveting read begins with a man’s business partner falling from Cave Rock to his death. Filled with twists and turns the reader is taken through a horror story involving murder, kidnapping and deciphering signs to crack the code.

“Tahoe Ice Grave”: A harrowing tale of one young man brutally murdered in the icy waters of Lake Tahoe, and the investigative plight of Detective Owen McKenna. Could Mark Twain’s manuscript — a gift given in 1866, now hidden in a cave in Lake Tahoe — be cause for murder?


Neumann also suggests those looking to embrace the creepy, yet famous, side of Truckee history pick up a fairly recently released novel of the #1 bestselling author of “The Boys in the Boat.”

The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of the Donner Party

Daniel James Brown

This epic tells the tale of the 19th century settlers who found themselves stranded in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, but from the point of view of a young bride who lived to tell the tale. It delves into their lifestyle, struggles they encountered and the need to resort to cannibalism for survival.

Cassandra Walker is a features and entertainment reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at, 530-550-2654 or @snow1cass.

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