Reading Over Streaming

We challenge you to a digital detox! Rather than picking up your trusted digital device, we encourage you to instead grab a book and give your eyes a well-deserved screen break. Whether you’re on vacation in Santa Barbara or spending quality time at home, there couldn’t be a better time to cozy up with a good story. And lucky for you, we’ve compiled a list of great books that are centered around Santa Barbara, or are by authors that are Santa Barbara-based. Whether you’re interested in history, photography, winemaking, or just want to browse through a beautiful cookbook for culinary inspiration, we have just the book for you.

The Book of Santa Barbara
by Macduff Everton

A long time resident of Santa Barbara, Macduff Everton uses his panoramic camera to reveal the play of light on sea and rock, the quirky corners of historic landmarks, and the unexpected variety of lush gardens and open spaces in our destination. Capturing all the zest of Santa Barbara’s public celebrations, from the colorful Old Spanish Days Fiesta to the free-spirited Summer Solstice Parade, use this book (and your imagination) to transport you to our festive shores. 

Street Names of Santa Barbara
by Neal Graffy

In Street Names of Santa Barbara, author and local historian Neal Graffy details the interesting stories behind the street names of Santa Barbara. Unlike other towns whose streets bore the unimaginative A – Z, numbers, trees or names of presidents, the past leaders of Santa Barbara gave the names of our streets that portrayed the geography and botany of our town, honored the Chumash, early settlers, governors, and showed a distinct sense of humor and in some cases, delightful sarcasm.

How to Santa Barbara
by Erin Graffy

Sister to Neal Graffy, Erin Graffy is a wicked observer and her deft and deadpan delivery makes How to Santa Barbara a delight at every page turn. A keen observer of our quirky town, Erin Graffy writes bitingly and lovingly about Santa Barbara, in this fun and lighthearted guide book.

Fiesta, The Celebration of Old Spanish Days, Santa Barbara, California
by A. Arthur Fisher

More than a coffee table book, Fiesta, The Celebration of Old Spanish Days, Santa Barbara, California is an exquisite book of contemporary pictures showcasing the long history behind Santa Barbara’s richest tradition, Old Spanish Days Fiesta. After reading, you’ll be ready to don your best fiesta wear and dance the night away. ¡Viva la Fiesta!

Unique Eats & Eateries Santa Barbara
by Geneva Ives

Taste your way through the delectable menus that pair perfectly with Santa Barbara County’s famous wines, with farm-to-table dishes that change with the season. Unique Eats & Eateries Santa Barbra will introduce you to the friendly and inventive chefs, chocolatiers and all other food producers who call Santa Barbara home. Best of all, since many of the area’s best eats and eateries can be found on small side streets and tucked in quiet neighborhoods, this food-a-licious book will be your guide to discovering mom-and-pop shops, historic local landmarks, and the hidden gems in the foodie paradise known as The American Riviera®. 

100 Things to do in Santa Barbara Before You Die
by Tara Jones

Santa Barbara is more than just beautiful beaches and surf culture. Whether it’s your first time visiting Santa Barbara or you’ve lived here for decades, this is your best guide to going off the beaten path and experiencing Santa Barbara like a local. Find one of the best burritos in town inside a liquor store, float over the Santa Ynez Valley in a hot air balloon, knock back a cold brew with the animals at the zoo, or get a massage in a salt cave to discover just how diverse this city can be. From kids to adults and luxurious to inexpensive, this is your guide to fully experiencing paradise seasonally and year-round.

Chumash Ethnobotany: Plant Knowledge Among the Chumash People of Southern California
by Jan Timbrook

The first-of-its-kind, Chumash Ethnobotany: Plant Knowledge Among the Chumash People of Southern California is a botanical guide featuring plant names, their traditional uses, their mythological roles, and is accompanied by beautiful sketches by Oak Group painter Chris Chapman. Packed with in-depth knowledge of the plants around us, this book is the culmination of nearly 30 years of research and writing for Timbrook.

Around the Table: The Lark Cookbook
by Macduff Everton, Jason Paluska and Sherry Villanueva

This cookbook by Executive Chef Jason Paluska of The Lark in Santa Barbara offers delicious recipes, stories and stunning imagery inspiring you to think like a Chef. Get to know those that raise and farm for a truly farm-to-table experience chapter after chapter. From the farm, ocean, or ranch, you too can create amazing delicacies from The Lark.

Island of the Blue Dolphins
by Scott O’Dell

Standard reading for kids in California middle schools, Island of the Blue Dolphins is a work of historical fiction based on the life of an American Indian woman who spent 18 years in isolation on San Nicolas Island, one of eight Channel Islands off the coast of Southern California.

Vines and Vision: The Winemakers of Santa Barbara County
By Macduff Everton & Matthew Dennis Kettmann

Vines and Vision: The Winemakers of Santa Barbara County profiles winemakers, vineyards, and wineries throughout Santa Barbara County while marrying words and images in a hardcover, coffee-table format. Authored by long-time Santa Barbara residents and wine aficionados, this book includes essays on the history of Santa Barbara County’s wine country, descriptions of each wine appellation, and place a special spotlight on the life of an entire wine growing season, from pruning to bottling.

The “Alphabet Series”
By Sue Grafton

Former famed mystery writer Sue Grafton, who resided in Santa Barbara, was known for her suspenseful novels about a resilient, doggedly independent private detective Kinsey Millhone. The “alphabetically series,” beginning with A Is for Alibi, introduced Kinsey Millhone, a tough-as-nails private investigator based in the fictional California city of Santa Teresa, modeled after Santa Barbara. With 25 novels ranging from A – Y, you’ll have plenty of reading material to keep you busy during quarantine. 

Fun fact: At the Susan B. Quinlan Teddy Bear Museum you’ll find a few teddy bears acting out scenes from her famous novels.


If the literary work of poetry is more of your cup of tea, Gunpowder Press has published the works of many previous Santa Barbara poets and Poet Laureates including Barry Spacks, Chryss Yost, Enid Osborn, and Perie Longo to mention a few. The current Santa Barbara Poet Laureate is Laure-Anne Bosselaar, author of These Many Rooms, The Hour Between Dog and Wolf, and Small Gods of Grief, which won the Isabella Gardner Prize for Poetry.

Where to Purchase

Interested in one of the books mentioned above? Local bookstores include Chaucer’s Bookstore, Lost Horizon Bookstore, The Book Den, and Mesa Bookstore, just to mention a few. Or, as an alternative option, you can also check out books from the Santa Barbara Public Library system.