THE ETHICS CLUB: As this year’s UCSB Reads program continues its events based on the wisdom found in the Dalai Lama’s book Ethics for the New Millennium, its community-wide counterpart, Santa Barbara Reads, does the same. This week offers two more in its series of “community conversations,” small scale, laid back forums for residents and local luminaries alike to further explore the issues discussed in the book. Be apprised that it’s not necessary to have read it in advance; even those who have never picked up a copy are encouraged to drop into the discussions. The community conversation on Thursday, March 5, held at the Solvang Library (1745 Mission Dr.) at 7 p.m., features Joe White, professor of philosophy at SBCC; Manou Eskandari, professor of political theory at SBCC; Jay Kuns, Santa Barbara Superior Court judge; and Tory Babcock of the Santa Ynez Union High School English department. The community conversation on Monday March 9, held at the Goleta Public Library (500 N. Fairview Ave.) at 7 p.m., features David Cleveland, professor of environmental sciences and anthropology at UCSB; Mike McGinnis, also a USCB professor of environmental sciences; LeAnne Kryder from the UCSB writing program; and Reverend Erika Hewitt of the Live Oak Unitarian Universalist Congregation. Such a rich, experientially varied set of panelists is almost guaranteed to give off a veritable shower of intellectual sparks. Call 564-5608 or visit sbplibrary.org/sbreads for details.
NONE DARE SPOIL IT: In 2005, British novelist Chris Cleave shook up more than a few unsuspecting readers when, in his hit novel Incendiary, he vividly conjured the catastrophe of a multiple suicide bomber attack on a packed London stadium as seen through the eyes (and described through the prose) of a confused, enraged and not particularly educated young mother. His new novel, Little Bee, also happens to center on a widowed Londoner, though one embroiled in an unconventional alliance with a Nigerian refugee rather than a feverish misspelled letter-writing campaign to Osama bin Laden. “WE DON’T WANT TO TELL YOU TOO MUCH ABOUT THIS BOOK,” insists the publisher. “It is a truly special story and we don’t want to spoil it.” Thus one suspects there’s a bit more to it than a simple unexpected friendship. Cleave stops by Chaucer’s Books (3321 State St.) to sign and have a chat about his new book on Friday, March 6, at 7pm. For more information, call 682-6787 or visit chaucersbooks.com.
GET HAPPY, IF POSSIBLE: By nobody’s standards is the pursuit of happiness a fresh new concept, but scientific research into the nature and operation of happiness itself has never been more in vogue. The subject sounds simple almost to the point of banality, but, as with most apparently self-evident notions, happiness turns out to be shockingly complex. Here to speak on this thorny subject is Sonja Lyubomirsky, professor of psychology at UC Riverside, associate editor of the Journal of Positive Psychology, and author of The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want. Having recently received a million-dollar grant from the National Institute of Mental Health to probe the subject of whether there’s such a thing as permanently increasing happiness, she certainly has no small incentive to get to the solid facts of the matter. Her lecture, The How of Happiness: Is it Possible to Become Happier and, If Yes, How?, will take place at the Lobero (33 E. Canon Perdido St.) on Monday, March 9, at 7:30 p.m. Lyubomirsky’s appearance is the fourth and final event of this season’s lineup of SBCC Adult Education’s consciousness-centric Mind & Supermind lecture series. Call 963-0761 or visit lobero.com for details.