Santa Monica READS, a community reading program that invites everyone in the community to read and discuss the same novel in free book discussions and events held throughout the city, takes place Feb. 14 through March 21.

In 2015, Santa Monica READS marks its thirteenth year with the novel “Longbourn” by Jo Baker. Set in the Bennet household made famous in Jane Austen’s Regency Period classic “Pride and Prejudice”, “Longbourn” takes readers below stairs to learn about the lives of the servants working there. We meet longtime butler and housekeeper Mr. and Mrs. Hill and learn the secrets that keep them tied to the Longbourn estate. We also meet impressionable young housemaid Polly and fret as she ends up being tempted by a threat most Austen readers will find familiar. But just as “Pride and Prejudice” is the story of strong-willed Elizabeth Bennett and her proud suitor Fitzwilliam Darcy, “Longbourn” is the story of headstrong young housemaid Sarah and a mysterious new footman named James. Their budding romance and gripping backstories offer one of the most respectful extensions of Jane Austen’s world yet written.

“Longbourn” is available now from the Santa Monica Public Library, as is a resource guide that provides more information on the book, its author and upcoming Santa Monica Reads events. Santa Monica READSis sponsored by the Santa Monica Public Library, with support by the Friends of the Santa Monica Public Library and other community, educational and business partners.


Kickoff Celebration – Celebrate the launch of this year’s program with Regency Period music, English Country Dancing with guest caller Judee Pronovost, and refreshments. Sat., Feb. 14, 2 p.m., Main Library, North Entry Courtyard, 601 Santa Monica Blvd.

Petals and Pages – Angharad Jones leads this craft workshop on making paper flowers and valentines. Sat., Feb. 14, 3 p.m., Main Library, Auditorium Anteroom, 601 Santa Monica Blvd.

Bookmaking with Lace – Crafting expert Deborah Disman teaches this bookmaking workshop using lace. Tuesday, Feb. 24, at 6:30 p.m., Pico Branch Library, The Annex, 2201 Pico Blvd.

Behind the Scenes of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries – Cast and crew from the Emmy-winning multimedia online sensation, produced by Santa Monica-based Pemberley Digital, discuss their contemporary spin on Pride and Prejudice. Sat., Feb. 28, 3 p.m., Main Library, MLK, Jr. Auditorium, 601 Santa Monica Blvd.

The World of Longbourn – Join us for a panel presentation and discussion about what life was like in the Regency Period. Presenters include art and fashion historian Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell, food and drink historian Richard Foss, and Jane Austen expert Janet Fahey. Sun., Mar. 1, 2 p.m., Main Library, MLK Jr. Auditorium, 601 Santa Monica Blvd.

Nickel & Dimed with Cheryl Spector – CSUN Professor Cheryl Spector compares and contrasts the story of Longbourn’s put-upon servants with the contemporary story of minimum wage workers portrayed in Barbara Ehrenreich’s nonfiction classic Nickel and Dimed. Tuesday, March 3, 7 p.m., Main Library, MLK Jr. Auditorium, 601 Santa Monica Blvd.

Austen Variations Panel – A panel of authors-including Syrie James, Diana Birchall and others who have expanded on Jane Austen’s world with various prequels, sequels and alternate takes-discusses the fertile world of Austen’s characters and settings. Sat., Mar. 7, 2 p.m., Main Library, MLK Jr. Auditorium, 601 Santa Monica Blvd.

A Jane Austen Education with William Deresiewicz – William Deresiewicz, a former English professor at Yale, discusses his recent book in which he shares how Jane Austen and her literary work taught him to be a man. Thursday, March 12, 7 p.m., Main Library, MLK, Jr. Auditorium, 601 Santa Monica Blvd.

An Afternoon with Jo Baker – Author Jo Baker presents an engaging discussion of Longbourn, followed by a book sale and signing. Saturday, March 21, 2 p.m., Main Library, MLK, Jr. Auditorium, 601 Santa Monica Blvd.

Movie screenings

Gosford Park (2001) – Thursday Feb. 19, 6 p.m. (Main Library)

Austenland (2013) – Wednesday, Feb. 25, 6:30 p.m. (Pico Branch Library)

Pride and Prejudice (2005) – Thursday, March 5, 6:30 p.m. (Fairview Branch Library)

Bride and Prejudice (2004) – Tuesday, Mar. 17, 6:30 p.m. (Pico Branch Library)

Sense and Sensibility (1995) – Thursday, March 19, at 6:30 p.m. (Fairview Branch Library)

Participation in a book discussion of Longbourn is also greatly encouraged. Trained volunteer facilitators lead these free public discussions. Discussions are open to readers of all ages, but Teen Discussion will be led by and focused on teen readers.

Wednesday, Feb. 18, 7 p.m., Montana Branch Library, 1704 Montana Ave.

Saturday, Feb. 21, 2 p.m., Barnes & Noble, 1201 Third Street Promenade.

Monday, Feb. 23, 5:30 p.m., Teen Discussion, Main Library, 601 Santa Monica Blvd.

Saturday, Feb. 28, 11 a.m., Fairview Branch Library, 2101 Ocean Park Blvd.

Thursday, March 5, 4 p.m., Ken Edwards Center, 1527 4th St.

Monday, March 9, 2:30 p.m., Ye Olde King’s Head Restaurant, 116 Santa Monica Blvd.

Saturday, March 14, 11 a.m., Ocean Park Branch Library, 2601 Main St.

Thursday, March 19, 7 p.m., Pico Branch Library, 2201 Pico Blvd.

Saturday, Mar. 21, 11 a.m., Main Library, 601 Santa Monica Blvd.

For more information, call the Santa Monica Public Library at (310) 458-8600 or visit

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