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UCSB Reads 2023

UCSB Reads 2023 Book Selection Announced

The UC Santa Barbara Library and the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor are pleased to announce the selection of the 2023 UCSB Reads book, Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design by Charles Montgomery.

Now in its 17th year, UCSB Reads brings the campus and Santa Barbara communities together to read a common book that explores compelling issues of our time.

In Happy City, the award-winning journalist Charles Montgomery looks at the intersection between urban design and the emerging field of “happiness studies.” The book draws on the work of behavioral economists, psychologists, neuroscientists, and city planners to explore how city planning and personal decisions can have profound implications for social equity, sustainability, and our overall well-being. The book asks us to explore the question: “What kind of living environment makes us happy?” Montgomery’s emphasis on the importance of living a “connected life” and feeling connected to others is especially relevant as we return from the isolation of the pandemic.

UCSB Reads will launch in January with free books given away to students. From January through May, the Library will sponsor talks, panel discussions, film screenings, book clubs, and other events to explore the book’s themes. Faculty are encouraged to incorporate Happy City into their winter or spring 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 Charles Montgomery 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 2023, please contact Alex Regan, Events & Exhibitions Librarian, 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