Credit: Courtesy

Hello, book lovelies! This week marks one of my most favorite weeks in Santa Barbara — the start of S.B. Reads! For those who may not know, S.B. Reads is a time in which the Santa Barbara Public Library chooses a book for the whole community to read and engage with. It’s essentially a city-wide book club! What could be more fun? Exactly. And as if reading the book alongside the whole community isn’t enough fun, SBPL is hosting a series of events and book discussions — including a virtual discussion with the author, Joy Harjo.

This year, I encourage you to pick up the selection, even if you may think poetry is not your thing. This is the perfect opportunity to dip your toe into something new, and you will be surrounded with discussions, events, and resources to guide you along the way. Some of my favorite books of all time have been S.B. Reads selections (Hello, Station Eleven!).

The S.B. Reads 2021 selection is An American Sunrise by Joy Harjo. You can pick up a free copy of An American Sunrise at the Santa Barbara Public Library, 40 East Anapamu St.

SBPL librarian Molly Wetta discusses S.B. Reads and this year’s selection below. We have also listed all of the S.B. Reads special events and An American Sunrise book discussions below.

Each year, Santa Barbara Public Library selects a book for Santa Barbara Reads with the intention that it will be widely read and discussed in the community. Our goal is to broaden horizons, consider the world from another’s perspective, and make connections with one another. We invite all members of the community to explore humanity through stories.

This year’s title is An American Sunrise, a collection of poetry by United States Poet Laureate Joy Harjo. These poems explore Indigenous pasts, presents, and potential futures in the U.S. and prompt readers to unpack the impact of America’s colonial history. These conversations are particularly relevant in Santa Barbara, where the city’s heart stands in the shadow of the “Queen of the Missions” and streets named for Spanish colonizers intersect with those bearing Chumash names.

Harjo steeps her poems in the history of her ancestral lands and culture. They are both profoundly personal and expansively mythic in scope. Harjo invites us to remember, and to reckon with, the past.

Free copies of An American Sunrise will be available from Santa Barbara Public Library beginning Saturday, November 6, at 3 p.m. That’s when the library will kick off Santa Barbara Reads with a Poetry Walk, featuring poems written in response to An American Sunrise by local poets. Join the Indy Book Club in discussing An American Sunrise Wednesday, December 1, at 6 p.m. at Municipal Winemakers. View the full schedule of events related events at

Santa Barbara Reads is funded through the annual support of the Santa Barbara Public Library Foundation. NEA Big Read: Santa Barbara Reads 2021 is also supported by an NEA Big Read grant, a National Endowment for the Arts program in partnership with Arts Midwest.

—Molly Wetta, Santa Barbara Public Library

I hope you will join me (and many others!) this month in reading An American Sunrise by Joy Harjo. Books speak to us all in different ways. I find I always learn something new or appreciate a text more after chatting about it with others.

Happy S.B. Reads!

Your smitten bookworm, Emily

If you are a local author, host book events in the Santa Barbara area, or have any other fun bookish tips for us, please send your recommendations for consideration to

Support the Santa Barbara Independent through a long-term or a single contribution.


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.