UCSB Reads

About UCSB Reads

Big Burn CoverUCSB Reads is a common reading experience that engages the campus and the broader Santa Barbara community in conversations about a key topic while reading the same book.  The program was begun in 2007 by the UCSB Library and UCSB Executive Vice Chancellor Gene Lucas, and immediately won that year’s prestigious John Cotton Dana Award given by the American Library Association.  Lucas remains very supportive of the program: “From the beginning, the goal of UCSB Reads has been to encourage a common reading and intellectual experience for our community and to stimulate discussion of important interdisciplinary issues.  It unifies the campus and provides opportunities for our faculty to go out into the community to share their knowledge and expertise.”  You can support this vital, dynamic initiative by making an online gift.  Please designate "UCSB Reads" in the memo field when making your gift.

2014 Program

The book chosen for discussion is The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America by Timothy Egan. With the help of our sponsors, the UCSB Library distributed 2,500 free copies of the book to UCSB students in January 2014.

The Big Burn is the story of the 1910 wildfire that burned more than three million acres in two days across the national forests of Washington, Idaho, and Montana. Egan’s account of the nation’s largest wildfire is interwoven into the equally-dramatic story of President Teddy Roosevelt’s efforts, along with chief forester Gifford Pinchot, to fight the destruction of the country's natural resources. Set against the backdrop of the fire, Egan chronicles the social, cultural, and political history that led to the formation of the U.S. Forest Service. Pioneers in this new notion of conservation, Roosevelt and Pinchot created the idea of public land as our national treasure, owned by and preserved for every citizen. 

The author is scheduled to speak in person in Campbell Hall on March 4 at 8pm and online on March 5 at 12pm.

Visit our UCSB Reads 2014 site for more details about the book and related events.

UCSB Reads Sites From Previous Years

  • 2013
  • Book: Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything by Joshua Foer
  • 2012 
  • Theme:  Making an Impact.  What's Yours?
  • Book:  Moby-Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists, and Fools, Including the Author, Who Went in Search of Them, by Donovan Hohn
  • 2011 
  • Theme:  Our Bodies, Our Cells: Exploring Identity
  • Book:  The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot
  • 2010 
  • Theme: Beyond Borders: the Human Experience
  • Book:  Enrique's Journey, by Sonia Nazario
  • 2009 
  • Theme:  Ethics. Beyond Ourselves.
  • Book:  Ethics for the New Millennium, by the Dalai Lama
  • 2008 
  • Theme: Globalization and Global Citizenship.
  • Book:  The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy: an Economist Examines the Markets, Power and Politics of World Trade, by Pietra Rivoli
  • 2007 
  • Theme: Global Warming, Science & Society.
  • Book:   Field Notes From a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change, by Elizabeth Kolbert