Click the book jacket images above to navigate to each year's selection. You'll find more information on the books and their authors and links to book recommendations and other resources related to each book.
What is Santa Monica Reads?Santa Monica Reads is a community reading program that invites Santa Monica residents and visitors to read the same book and then come together in book discussions and special events to talk about it.
How long has the program been going?The program started in 2003 as Santa Monica Citywide Reads. With the 2013 series, the program was rebranded as Santa Monica Reads. In 2014, SMPL was awarded a grant from the NEA to present The Big Read and Santa Monica Reads went on hiatus for a year. In 2015, Santa Monica Reads resumed.
How are books selected?Each spring, the Santa Monica Public Library solicits book recommendations from the public. A group of SMPL librarians researches each title suggested, then cuts the longer suggestion list down to a manageable short list of five or six nominees that meet a number of criteria including the potential for discussion the book is likely to provoke, whether or not the book is currently in print and available for a large-scale bulk purchase, whether the author (if living) is available to come to Santa Monica to discuss the book, and a number of other factors. An Advisory Committee comprised of librarians, educators, city commissioners and other community members then reads each of those shortlisted nominees over the summer. At the end of the summer, the Advisory Committee meets to discuss the books and a selection is made. Selections are usually announced shortly thereafter.
How can I participate in Santa Monica Reads?Read the book, then join us at any of the many discussions we have scheduled or at one or more of our special events. Santa Monica Reads usually takes place in late winter/early spring. Check the library's website or calendar of events for more information on Santa Monica Reads events as they are scheduled.
How can I volunteer to be a discussion facilitator?We currently have a veteran group of discussion facilitators who volunteer each year, but we're always looking for ways those interested in participating in Santa Monica Reads can help us out. The best way to take part is to join us at one or more of our book discussions or special events and let the staff member coordinating that event know you're interested in participating further. When we have openings, we tend to pull from this group of people who've let us know in person that they're interested in helping out on a larger scale.
What types of events happen during Santa Monica Reads?In addition to book discussions held throughout the city over a four to five week period, we host additional special events related to each year's selection. In the past, these events have included author talks with that year's author (if they are living and able to join us), special events related to the subject matter of the book, lectures by scholars on topics related to the book, as well concerts, readings, and movie screenings. And like all Santa Monica Public Library events, Santa Monica Reads events are free and open to the public.