Adult Summer Reading

In 2022, we’re taking a break from our Big Book Challenge to delve into “Secrets of the Deep,” a summer of literary excursions and secrets that thematically link our summer reading program and monthly book groups. Never fear though: we’ll still have plenty of in-depth discussions and fantastic online author visits! To sign up for “Secrets of the Deep,” please email reference@ucitylibrary.org and we’ll make sure you get the latest info on what’s happening. You can also fill out a quick RSVP form to help us make sure we have enough materials ready for all of our participants. A full schedule of events is below. We can’t wait to read with you this summer!

Keynote Presentation with Melody Jue
7 p.m. Wednesday, June 8 ONLINE

Melody Jue is an associate professor of English at UC Santa Barbara working across the fields of ocean humanities, science fiction, science studies, and media theory. Her lecture “Diving into Reading” will explore themes of experiencing culture and the arts through water and prepare us for a summer of reading!

Orcs & Aliens Book Discussion
We Are Satellites by Sarah Pinsker
7 p.m. Monday, June 13 ONLINE

Join us for a lively discussion of We Are Satellites, by award-winning author Sarah Pinsker. This 2021 book delves into the role of technology in our lives, in particular a brain implant that soon becomes the standard for academic and career success. Can a loving and complicated family balance their needs for success with the struggle to protect their children? Pinsker tells their story, focusing on issues of discrimination, ableism, transparency, and more.

Read the Classics Book Discussion
Ship of Fools by Katherine Porter
2 p.m. Tuesday, June 21 ONLINE

Join us for an in-depth discussion of Katherine Anne Porter’s debut novel, Ship of Fools. Originally published in 1962, this novel tells the story of covers the crossing of a small ship from Mexico to Germany in August, 1931. While the immediate frame of reference is of course the rabid intensification of German supremacy and antisemitism, the novel has a broader intent and through a voyage of discovery and self-delusion, gives a cross-section view of humanity.

UCity Book Group Book Discussion
The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw
7 p.m. Wednesday, June 22 ONLINE

Join us for a discussion of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, a National Book Award-finalist by Deesha Philyaw. Published in 2020, this debut short story collection explores the raw and tender places where black women and girls dare to follow their desires and pursue a momentary reprieve from being good. The nine stories feature four generations of characters grappling with who they want to be in the world, caught as they are between the church’s double standards and their own needs and passions.

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, won the 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the 2020/2021 Story Prize, and the 2020 LA Times Book Prize: The Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction and was a finalist for the 2020 National Book Award for Fiction. The Secret Lives of Church Ladies focuses on Black women, sex, and the Black church, and is being adapted for television by HBO Max.

Virtual Author Visit with Deesha Philyaw
7 p.m. Wednesday, June 29 ONLINE

After reading and discussing The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, join us for an online visit from author Deesha Philyaw. In addition to the awards she’s received for The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, Philyaw’s work has been listed as Notable in the Best American Essays series, and her writing on race, parenting, gender, and culture has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, McSweeney’s, The Rumpus, Brevity, dead housekeeping, Apogee Journal, Catapult, Harvard Review, ESPN’s The Undefeated, The Baltimore Review, TueNight, Ebony and Bitch magazines, and various anthologies.

Philyaw is also a Kimbilio Fiction Fellow and will be the 2022-2023 John and Renée Grisham Writer-in-Residence at the University of Mississippi. She is  a past Pushcart Prize nominee for essay writing in Full Grown People. Philyaw lives in Pittsburgh, PA.

Orcs & Aliens Book Discussion
The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson
7 p.m. Monday, July 11 ONLINE

Join us for an illuminating discussion of the 2019 historical fantasy novel The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson. Set during the height of the Spanish Inquisition, the book follows a young concubine who risks her life to save that of her one true friend, a mapmaker who can bend reality through his artistry. Filled with lush descriptions and unearthly beings, The Bird King contemplates the meaning of love, freedom, religion, and power while maintaining an adventurous tone and pace.

Read the Classics Book Discussion
The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
2 p.m. Tuesday, July 19 ONLINE

Join us for a discussion of this fantastic true story of a sailor was shipwrecked in the Caribbean for 10 days before washing ashore in his native Colombia. Nobel laureate Garcia Marquez originally published this book as a series of newspaper articles in Bogota, basing his work on more than 120 hours of interviews with the titular sailor. Over the course of the book, readers learn not only about the sailor, but also gain insight into Garcia Marquez’s early writing and the fatalism that would come to be a hallmark of his work.

UCity Book Group Book Discussion
Pym by Mat Johnson
7 p.m. Wednesday, July 27 ONLINE

Join us for a discussion of this biting racial satire, which follows a failing college professor who seeks to devises a mission to find the lost, Black-inhabited island near Antarctica described in Poe’s novel The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, setting off with an all-black crew on an ill-fated sojourn south. Originally published in 2011, Pym is both a death-defying adventure and a probing examination of notions of race, even at the farthest ends of the earth.

Outdoor Movie Night
Whale Rider (2002, PG-13)
7 p.m. Wednesday, August 3

in the parking lot at 6900 Delmar Blvd.

Join us for a parking lot movie night featuring the 2002 award-winning film Whale Rider. On the east coast of New Zealand, the Whangara people believe their presence there dates back a thousand years or more to a single ancestor, Paikea, who escaped death when his canoe capsized by riding to shore on the back of a whale. From then on, Whangara chiefs, always the first-born, always male, have been considered Paikea’s direct descendants. But 11-year-old Pai (Keisha Castle-Hughes) believes she is destined to be the new chief. Written and directed by Niki Caro, Whale Rider is a contemporary story of love, tradition, rejection, and triumph.

Orcs & Aliens Book Discussion
Black Water Sister by Zen Cho
7 p.m. Monday, August 8 ONLINE

Join us for a discussion of this modern fantasy novel that examines a young woman’s return to Malaysia, where she begins to hear voices and see the ghosts of ancestors. A vengeful small god, overbearing relatives, and the internal tension of being true to herself while respecting her family all come together to create a captivating tale of family secrets and self-discovery.

Read the Classics Book Discussion
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
2 p.m. Tuesday, August 16 ONLINE

Join us for a lively discussion of the ultimate undersea classic novel, Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Originally published in 1869, this book retells the adventures of a French professor and his two companions as they sail above and below the world’s oceans as prisoners on the fabulous electric submarine of the deranged Captain Nemo.

UCity Book Group Book Discussion
In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick
7 p.m. Wednesday, August 24 ONLINE

Join us for an in-depth discussion of this non-fiction book that tells of the 1821 wreck of the whaleship Essex, which inspired Melville’s classic Moby-Dick. In this National Book Award-winning book, historian Philbrick recounts the story of the tragedy, using archival materials to bring to life the Nantucket-based sailors’ struggle to reach South America.