The original version of this newsletter was sent out on Tuesday, June 18.

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Hello, fellow bookworms!

This week, our wonderful Copy Editor, Nathan Vived, is taking over to bring us a mix of fascinating fantasy and scintillating sci-fi. I hope you find something to add to your reading list!

And if you haven’t already, check out our June 13 cover story about James Joyce’s Ulysses and the history of literary censorship, something that is unfortunately alive and well in today’s times. I’ve only read one of the books on the list of the Top 10 Challenged Books of 2023, and I definitely plan to add more of them to my list. Though I think I’ll save Ulysses for if I ever take a month-long vacation!

In other exciting book news, Chaucer’s Books has new owners! Chaucer’s is one of my favorite places in town, and I’m so glad that it’ll be in good hands. All the best to the new owners!

Happy reading,


I do a lot of reading in my day-to-day job as a copy editor, so it might be a bit surprising that I spend the majority of my free time reading, too, but I caught the bug young and have refused the cure at every turn.

My tastes run to the fantastical; I never turn down an opportunity to get lost in a brand-new world, whether they have swords and sorceries or starships and lasers.

Credit: Courtesy

The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett (1983)

Starting off with one of the most prolific and celebrated authors of fantasy, Terry Pratchett hardly needs any introduction. The Color of Magic is the first in his Discworld series, and my first foray into his work, and I am already on the lookout for the next one. A standalone piece, the book follows Rincewind, a wizard who finds himself playing tour guide to Discworld’s first-ever tourist, a painfully naïve sod named Twoflower and his Luggage … who has teeth.

The Color of Magic is an incredible introduction to the Discworld setting, unfailingly witty, and had me bursting with laughter from page two, not to mention my favorite use of the term “Big Bang” to spawn a universe.

Credit: Courtesy

Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb (2023 Edition)

“Fantasy as it ought to be written…,” George RR Martin says on the cover, and I’m inclined to agree. Still waiting on his next fantasy, but I digress. Hobb’s first novel and the first installment in the Farseer Trilogy, Assassin’s Apprentice follows the early life of FitzChivalry Farseer, bastard son of the crown prince Chivalry. Due to his illegitimate status, he grows up never meeting his father, and he finds himself being trained in the most useful of arts for a royal son that can never be officially recognized: assassinations. And so, Fitz grows up being embroiled in the darker side of diplomacy in an era in which confidence in the crown is crashing to an all-time low.

Credit: Courtesy

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir (2021)

From the author who brought us The MartianProject Hail Mary is another breathtakingly smart science fiction that blends real scientific knowledge of astrophysics, normal physics, and biology with a premise so extraordinary that it feels right out of Independence Day. In short, the sun is dying. A microscopic alien life form is draining the sun of its mass, and all life on Earth is given mere decades to live. It’s a seemingly impossible problem, and there is no magic bullet, but Weir has the incredible ability to break existential issues down to their constituent parts with manageable, even simple solutions if one has the right knowledge. I learned more applicable uses for random facts than any class I’ve ever taken. Who knew the relationship between a radius and the speed of rotation could save humanity?

—Nathan Vived


Below, you will find a few bookish events coming up in Santa Barbara. If you are hosting a bookish event in Santa Barbara, be sure to submit the event to our online events calendar.

Lunch at the Library
Monday through Friday until August 16, noon 1-p.m. | Central Library Plaza

Book Talk and Signing: Catherine Ann Jones
Tuesday, June 18, 6 p.m. | Chaucer’s Books

Author Meet-Up and Book Signing: Kiki Astor
Wednesday, June 19, 4 p.m. | La Lieff Wines Tasting Room

Read to a Dog
Thursday, June 20, noon | S.B. Central Library

Wiggly Storytime
Friday, June 21, 10:15 a.m. | S.B. Central Library

Baby & Me Storytime
Friday, June 21, 10:30 a.m. | Goleta Valley Library

Preschool Story Time
Monday, June 24, 10 a.m. | Carpinteria Community Library

Book Talk and Signing: Shelly Lowenkopf
Monday, June 24, 6 p.m. | Chaucer’s Books

Montecito Book Club
Tuesday, June 25, noon | 1469 E. Valley Rd., Montecito

Mystery Book Club: Hello, Transcriber by Hannah Morrissey
Tuesday, June 25, 5:30 p.m. | Goleta Valley Library

Bilingual Songs & Stories for Kids
Wednesday, June 26, 11 a.m. | Franklin Elementary School

Book Talk and Signing: Ivor Davis
Wednesday, June 26, 6 p.m. | Chaucer’s Books

Read to a Dog
Thursday, June 27, noon | S.B. Central Library

Bring Your Favorite Poem Club
Thursday, June 27, 6 p.m. | Idyll Mercantile

Wiggly Storytime
Friday, June 28, 10:15 a.m. | S.B. Central Library

Baby & Me Storytime
Friday, June 28, 10:30 a.m. | Goleta Valley Library

Book Talk and Signing: Steven Gilbar
Saturday, June 29, 3 p.m. | Tecolote Book Shop

Preschool Story Time
Monday, July 1, 10 a.m. | Carpinteria Community Library


We at the Independent get many books sent to us by local authors, sometimes too many! It’s practically impossible for us to read and review them all, but just because we are busy bees does not mean that they aren’t worth the attention. In an attempt to not completely drop the ball, we have compiled a list of books here that have a local spin. They are all either written by a local author, feature someone in our community, or have another tie to Santa Barbara. I urge you to look through this list. Perhaps you will find your new favorite read!

The following are the most recent titles that have been sent to us. Click here for a more comprehensive list.

The Flute Player by Gregory Charlton

Shadows on the Echoes of Love by Carson Avery

If you are a local author and would like us to feature your book in this section, please email with the subject line “Local Author Spotlight.”

Book Reviews Courtesy of CALIFORNIA REVIEW OF BOOKS*

Thanks to the generous contributions of David Starkey, Brian Tanguay and their team of reviewers at California Review of Books, we are able to provide a steady stream of book reviews via our content partnership. Recent reviews at include:

Last Acts by Alexander Sammartino; review by George Yatchisin

*At the present time, all of the Independent’s book reviews are provided in collaboration with California Review of Books (

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