When It Comes to Local Literary Options, Santa Barbara Is an Open Book | Homes & Lifestyle

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Book lovers looking to read about places, people and events involving Santa Barbara County history or the local literary scene have plenty of options.

There are several thought-provoking books written by local authors with strong connections to the area.

Readers seeking out a new treasure or hoping to reread a favorite book can explore the Santa Barbara Public Library‘s online catalog.

There’s a list of titles — more than 1,000 — that are tagged in the library’s catalog as “local author,” “local history” or “locked case.”

SBPL Collection Development Librarian Beate Bjoerklund explained what those designations mean.

» “Local author” is a collection consisting of titles donated to the library by the author in accordance with the SBPL’s Local Authors Collection guidelines. Authors must be current Santa Barbara County residents, or the book must take place in the county, or otherwise demonstrate a strong local interest, according to the guidelines.

»  “Local history” is history from Santa Barbara in some shape or form.

»  “Locked case” is local history titles that are rare and cannot be checked out from the library.

Whether you’re looking for a book about Santa Barbara architecture, street names in Santa Barbara, the stagecoach days in the county, Santa Barbara wildfires or hiking areas — the SBPL’s “local history” description has you covered.

In addition, Bjoerklund said, the library owns titles that are either taking place in Santa Barbara or that are written by local authors that are part of its regular collections, such as Sue Grafton, Sameer Pandya, Louise Schwartz and Matthew Dennis Kettmann.

A helpful tool is searching the library’s catalog and type “Santa Barbara,” or narrow down the search to book and by subject on the left hand menu. Click here to search the library’s catalog.

The COVID-19 pandemic changed all SBPL branch hours of operation and availability for contact, including phone, online chat and email service times.

Grab-and-go service is offered at the Central Library at 40 E. Anapamu St., the Carpinteria Library at 5141 Carpinteria Ave., the Eastside Library at 1102 E. Montecito St., and the Montecito Library at 1469 E. Valley Road.

The service varies by the location, time and day of the week. Click here for more information on the grab-and-go service.

There are many local residents who have books on Santa Barbara, and Noozhawk turned to a beloved bookstore, Chaucer’s Bookstore at 3321 State St. in Santa Barbara, for suggestions. 

An employee at Chaucer’s offered the following below. 

Check out Neal Graffy, Santa Barbara researcher, historian, author and lecturer, as well as author-historian Erin Graffy for books on Santa Barbara history.

Curious about what it was like to reside in Santa Barbara in 1919 or in 1914? Betsy Green, local author and historian, has a series of books titled Way Back When that describe Santa Barbara history and aspects of life a year at a time — from 1914 to 1919.

The Way It Was: Santa Barbara Comes of Age by local author and researcher Hattie Beresford focuses on the history of Montecito and Santa Barbara between 1880 to 1930, and Santa Barbara’s former mayor Sheila Lodge describes the history of development in Santa Barbara in her book Santa Barbara: An Uncommonplace American Town

Local author and naturalist Joan Easton Lentz has written A Naturalist’s Guide to the Santa Barbara Region, as well as Story of a Santa Barbara Birder, a birding memoir.

Santa Barbara resident and geologist Michael Hoover has published Drought & Flood: The History of Water in Santa Barbara and Montecito.

Longtime Santa Barbara resident and photographer Macduff Everton captures Santa Barbara’s beauty in the 230-plus-page The Book of Santa Barbara, which includes essays by Pico Iyer.

Everton’s color photographs of Santa Barbara County wines are featured in Vines & Vision: Winemakers of Santa Barbara County, a 600-plus-page book and multiyear research project by both Everton and writer Matthew Dennis Kettmann.

In addition to Chaucer’s, readers can check out local book retailers The Book Den at 15 E. Anapamu St. in Santa Barbara, Mesa Bookstore at 1838 Cliff Drive in Santa Barbara, Lost Horizon Bookstore at 539 San Ysidro Road in Montecito, and Tecolote Book Shop at 1470 E. Valley Road in Montecito.

Noozhawk columnist Susan Miles Gulbransen, a Santa Barbara native, writer and book reviewer, shared the following book recommendations about Santa Barbara and local authors below. The list is edited to prevent duplication.

» Riven Rock by author T.C. Boyle.

» Author Sameer Pandya‘s novel Members Only.

» Author Sue Grafton’s alphabetically ordered mystery novels — A Is for Alibi through Y Is for Yesterday. This series covers letters A through X.

» Sleeping Beauty by crime-fiction writer Kenneth Millar, better known as the pseudonym Ross Macdonald.

» Banshee by the mystery-suspense writer Margaret Millar.

» Fannie Flagg‘s latest The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop.

» Lou Cannon, journalist and author of books about President Ronald Reagan.

» Barnaby Conrad, an accomplished writer and founder of the Santa Barbara Writers Conference.

» Award-winning investigative journalist and author Kathleen Sharp.

» Author Melodie Johnson-Howe.

Santa Barbara Public Library to Hold Workshops for Annual Local Author Day

The Santa Barbara Public Library is hosting its fifth annual event that will support the local writing community and increase community awareness of local authors’ work in the area.

The 2021 Local Author Days: First Impressions Matter will offer two separate online workshops during a Saturday in January and a Saturday in February. The virtual workshops are free and open to all members of the public, and registration is limited.

UC Santa Barbara’s College of Creative Studies lecturer Jervey Tervalon will lead the Writing the Compelling Opening workshop from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Jan. 30 and Feb. 6.

Workshop participants will engage in developing and critiquing the opening sentences as well as paragraphs of narrative pieces they are working on, according to library staff. Click here to sign up for the event and for more information

Local authors Ellen O’Connell Whittet and Aaron Shulman will offer insight about the publishing world during the Writing the Query & Landing the Agent workshop from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Jan. 30 and Feb. 6.

This workshop will take attendees through the process of approaching literary agents, from crafting a query letter that is both compelling and professional to pitching books in savvy terms, library staff said.

Participants will study examples of query letters, listen to advice on mistakes to avoid, and receive feedback from fellow participants and the workshop leaders on a draft of a query. Click here to sign up for the event and more information.

The workshops were selected from dozens of submissions by local Santa Barbara authors, publishers and researchers, according to library officials.

“We’re fortunate to have a vibrant writing community in Santa Barbara full of talented professionals, and they have a wealth of knowledge and experiences to share,” Library Director Jessica Cadiente said in a statement. “With this event, the library seeks to provide a way for writers to connect with each other, enhance their skills, and also celebrate their work.”

People also are encouraged to visit the SBPL’s Facebook to view several local authors whose work will be featured from January through mid-February.

Visit the Santa Barbara Public Library online,, for information about the Local Author Collection, programs and services.

All library programs are free and open to the public.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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