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Santa Barbara Public Library Recommends Summer Reads

Read Like a Librarian with SBPL’s Molly Wetta


It is summer, which means it’s the perfect time to stock up on audiobooks for road trips and real books for reading at the beach. The Santa Barbara Public Library is ready to help you find the perfect book for summer.

Summer’s long days are made for short stories, and one of the best collections of the year is What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah, with dazzling writing and hints of magical realism.

Readers looking for a thought-provoking sci-fi novel should check out Borne by Jeff VanderMeer. For a twisty mystery for fans of Liane Moriarty and Gillian Flynn, check out It’s Always the Husband by Michele Campbell, which is about three friends who both love and hate each other.

There’s plenty of great nonfiction to read this summer, too.

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay is a powerful, deeply personal memoir about the celebrated author’s relationship with food, shame, and her body.

In Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in 40 Questions, author Valeria Luiselli draws on her experiences translating for migrant children facing deportation to capture the contradictions of the immigration process. For something a little more fun, try It’s All a Game: The History of Board Games from Monopoly to Settlers of Catan by Tristan Donovan, which offers an in-depth account of the evolution, history, and psychology of board games.

There’s no shortage of excellent releases in young-adult (YA) fiction. Fantasy fans will be swept away by the lush storytelling in Laini Taylor’s Strange the Dreamer, about a librarian whose knowledge of fairy tales may be the key to unlocking the mystery of the strange city of Weep, whose residents are held captive by the curse of a god.

For YA readers who prefer realism, it doesn’t get any more real than The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, a pulled-from-the-headlines story about the death of an innocent young black man at the hands of a police officer. What makes the story so compelling is the authentic voice of the narrator, a young woman navigating the aftermath of the death of a friend.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee is a fun YA road trip novel set in the Victorian period about the adventures of a young noble and his best friend ​— ​whom he happens to have a major crush on.

With children out of school, it’s important to keep them reading to prevent summer learning loss. The best way to keep kids engaged is to make reading fun. Balderdash! by Michelle Markel is an introduction to the man who revolutionized children’s publishing, John Newbery, and tells the story of how books for kids became fun and more than pure instruction or religious education.

Even reading about math can be fun with the right book. 7 Ate 9: The Untold Story by Tara Lazar is a cheeky mystery full of math wordplay that will delight young readers while introducing them to math concepts. Laura Ruby’s York: The Shadow Cipher follows a group of kids as they work to solve a puzzle and find a treasure hidden beneath the streets of New York City. This new middle-grade release is sure to be a hit with older children.

And if somehow none of these titles sound appealing, the staff at the library is happy to help you find the right book for you. Adults and children alike are invited to participate in the Santa Barbara Public Library’s Summer Reading Program, where they can earn rewards by reading books and attending programs.



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