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Santa Barbara Reads

Santa Barbara Reads
One Book, One Community, Thousands of Conversations

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption
by Bryan Stevenson

This book is available from the library system in printed format, book on CD, eBook, eAudiobook, and Book Club in a Bag sets.

This year’s book offers a riveting personal story by Bryan Stevenson, an attorney and social justice advocate, about his involvement in the exoneration of several innocent people sentenced to death, and raises issues about the death penalty, inherent economic and racial bias in the jury system, youth incarceration, and many related topics.  Stevenson not only is a MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient, but a powerful speaker. His book, winner of the Carnegie Medal for Nonfiction, winner of the NAACP Image Award for Nonfiction and winner of a Books for a Better Life Award, is being made into a feature film. 

While the culminating event will be a free, public talk by Bryan Stevenson on April 18th at UCSB, the Santa Barbara Public Library System hosts a series of community events to inspire discussion and dialogue around the book’s themes. These activities include the following free activities:
February 24th             “The Hurricane” film screening, Central Library at 6:00pm
March 1                      Los Prietos Drama Kings “My Story”, Eastside Library at 1:30pm
March 2                      “Central Park 5” film screening, Central Library at 6:00pm
March 8                      TED talk, Buellton Library at 1:00pm
March 9                      “To Kill a Mockingbird”, Central Library at 1:30pm
March 12                    “The Hurricane” film screening, Buellton Library at 2:00pm
March 16                    UCSB/Community panel, Carpinteria Library at 6:00pm
March 17                    Los Prietos Drama Kings “My Story”, Central Library at 6:00pm
March 20                    DramaDogs performing “Qualities of Mercy”, Central Library at 5:00pm
March 21-28               Solitary Confinement Cell Exhibit, Central Library
March 22                    TED Talk, Goleta Library at 6:30pm
March 23                    “The Hurricane” film screening, Carpinteria Library at 6:00pm
April 6                        UCSB/Community panel, Montecito Library at 6:00pm
April 6                        Los Prietos Drama Kings “My Story”, Carpinteria Library at 6:00pm
April 7                        TED Talk, Solvang Library at 6:00pm
April 11                      UCSB/Community panel, Central Library at 6:00pm
April 17                      DramaDogs performing “Qualities of Mercy”, Solvang Festival Theater at 2:00pm
April 18                      Bryan Stevenson at Campbell Hall, UCSB at 8:00pm

Funds for the Isolation Cell Exhibit generously provided by the Atterbury Foundation and the Fund for Santa Barbara.The Isolation Cell Installation was created by Richard Ross, a UCSB art professor, social activist, and photographer, and presents a powerful visual and audio experience that actively engages people in learning about the practice and the impact of solitary confinement, especially on youth offenders.

All events, screenings and discussions are open to all and free.

Read the first chapter here.

Santa Barbara Reads partners with UCSB, Santa Barbara City College and Westmont College.
SBCC Reads Subject Guide
UCSB Reads Subject Guide
Westmont College Subject Guide


Praise for Just Mercy

“From the frontlines of social justice comes one of the most urgent voices of our era. Bryan Stevenson is a real-life, modern-day Atticus Finch who, through his work in redeeming innocent people condemned to death, has sought to redeem the country itself. ‎This is a book of great power and courage. It is inspiring and suspenseful. A revelation.”

—ISABEL WILKERSON, author of The Warmth of Other Suns

“A searing, moving and infuriating memoir . . . Bryan Stevenson may, indeed, be America’s Mandela. For decades he has fought judges, prosecutors and police on behalf of those who are impoverished, black or both. . . . Injustice is easy not to notice when it affects people different from ourselves; that helps explain the obliviousness of our own generation to inequity today. We need to wake up. And that is why we need a Mandela in this country.”

—Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times

“Not since Atticus Finch has a fearless and committed lawyer made such a difference in the American South. Though larger than life, Atticus exists only in fiction. Bryan Stevenson, however, is very much alive and doing God’s work fighting for the poor, the oppressed, the voiceless, the vulnerable, the outcast, and those with no hope. Just Mercy is his inspiring and powerful story.”

—John Grisham


Santa Barbara Reads is an annual community reading program started by the Santa Barbara Public Library System in 2002 and now includes UCSB, Santa Barbara City College and Westmont College. Each year a book is selected for community-wide reading and discussion. 

View our previous Santa Barbara Reads.

For more information about Santa Barbara Reads, please contact (805) 564-5641 or your local library.

Last Updated: Mar 15, 2016