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UCSB Reads 2024

UCSB Reads 2024 Book Selection Announced

The UC Santa Barbara Library and the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor are pleased to announce the selection of the 2024 UCSB Reads book, Your Brain On Art: How the Arts Transform Us by Susan Magsamen and Ivy Ross.Your Brain on Art book cover with logo Announcement Video.

Now in its 18th year, UCSB Reads brings the campus and Santa Barbara communities together to read a common book that explores compelling issues of our time. 

Your Brain on Art is a journey through the science of neuroaesthetics, a new and rapidly expanding field of research at the intersection of psychological aesthetics, biological mechanisms, and human evolution. The interdisciplinary book demonstrates how our brains and bodies transform in profound ways when we participate in the arts, even for as little as 45 minutes, and how this knowledge can improve health and build stronger communities. 

Magsamen and Ross argue that creative activities such as painting, dancing, playing music, or expressive writing are more essential to our daily lives than we realize, and can be used to ease distress, invigorate communities, improve learning and academic achievement, or bring joy to our lives.

Susan Magsamen is the founder and director of the International Arts + Mind Lab, Center for Applied Neuroaesthetics at Johns Hopkins University. Ivy Ross is the Vice President of Design for hardware product area at Google.

UCSB Reads will launch in January with a free book giveaway for students. The Library will sponsor talks, panel discussions, film screenings, book clubs, and creative workshops. to explore the book’s themes throughout winter and spring quarters. Faculty are encouraged to incorporate Your Brain on Art into their courses. The Library will provide free copies of the book to all students who are assigned to read it as part of coursework.

UCSB Reads will culminate with a free talk by the authors at Campbell Hall in the spring quarter. This public lecture is presented in partnership with UCSB Arts & Lectures.

If you wish to teach the book, participate in UCSB Reads programming, or support UCSB Reads 2024, please contact Alex Regan, the Library’s Events & Exhibitions Program Manager, at We are grateful for the generous support of our many sponsors. For details about UCSB Reads events, sponsors, and more, go to

Thank you for reading, teaching, and learning along with us.

Kristin Antelman, University Librarian, and David Marshall, Executive Vice Chancellor



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UCSB Reads 2024 book

Announcement Video

UCSB Reads 2024 Short List

The UCSB Reads selection committee selected the UCSB Reads 2024 book from the following short list.

The selections are listed in alphabetical order:

Alta California: From San Diego to San Francisco, a Journey on Foot to Rediscover the Golden State (2019) by Nick Neely

An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us (2022) by Ed Yong

Poverty, by America (2023) by Matthew Desmond

Sitting Pretty: The View from My Ordinary Resilient Disabled Body (2020) by Rebekah Taussig

Your Brain on Art: How the Arts Transform Us (2023) by Susan Magsamen and Ivy Ross

Going into its 18th year, the UCSB Reads program will kick off at the beginning of Winter Quarter 2024 with a book giveaway and culminate in a public lecture with the author in the spring. A variety of free events will be held along the way to engage UCSB and the community at large around the book’s themes.

If you would like to find out more about supporting the UCSB Reads program, please contact Heather Silva, Senior Director of Development, at