Calendar of Events

Great literature encourages conversations and stimulates thinking.


A Celebration of The Grapes of Wrath and John Steinbeck

NEA Big Read: John Steinbeck and The Grapes of Wrath—30 Events


Santa Cruz Reads, a collaboration of the Friends of the Santa Cruz Public Libraries, the Santa Cruz Public Libraries, and Santa Cruz Writes, has coordinated a month-long series of events showcasing The Grapes of Wrath and the life and work of John Steinbeck. Supported by a $20,000 grant from the National Endowment of the Arts in conjunction with Arts Midwest, the project has partnered with over a dozen local agencies and businesses to build the program. The Final Celebration takes place from 6-8pm at MAH on Wednesday, March 27, featuring music by the Dust Bowl Band, door prizes, and a slideshow of the month’s activities. Come join the community close out our salute to John Steinbeck and The Grapes of Wrath.

Download the Events Brochure for complete listings.

Read the article in The Guide by Wallace Baine.

Event Photos

Marcia Quackenbush and other photographers have been capturing the essence of Santa Cruz Reads’ events during the month. Enjoy this Kick-Off sampler and visit full-size slideshows linked on the bottom of event pages listed below. Allow a few seconds for loading.

Kick-Off Event
Writing Contest Readings
Harvest of Shame
Musical Celebration
Visualizing the Depression
Discussion Groups
More to come!

  • “The profession of book writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable profession.”

  • “The writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. And he must hold to this illusion even when he knows it is not true.”

  • “It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it.”

  • “Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.”

  • “In the souls of people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.”

  • “I guess there are never enough books.”

  • “And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected.”

  • “It is one of the triumphs of the human that he can know a thing and still not believe it.”

  • “I hate cameras. They are so much more sure than I am about everything.”

  • “If a story is not about the hearer, he will not listen. And here I make a rule—a great and interesting story is about everyone or it will not last.”

  • “What a frightening thing is the human, a mass of gauges and dials and registers, and we can only read a few and those perhaps not accurately.”

  • “Maybe the hardest thing in writing is to tell the truth about things as we see them.”

  • “The free exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world.”

  • “There are no ugly questions except those clothed in condescension.”

  • “Literature is as old as speech. It grew out of human need for it, and it has not changed except to become more needed.”

  • “It takes great courage to back truth unacceptable to our times.”

  • “The finest weapon is the brain, everything else is supplemental.”

  • “Learning to read is probably the most difficult and revolutionary thing that happens to the human brain.”

  • “The discipline of the written word punishes both stupidity and dishonesty.”

  • “Time is the only critic without ambition.”

  • “No one wants advice, only corroboration.”

  • “Our species is the only creative species, and it has only one creative instrument, the individual mind and spirit.”

  • “In utter loneliness a writer tries to explain the inexplicable.”

  • “My whole work drive has been aimed at making people understand each other.”

  • “I have written a great many stories and I still don’t know how to go about it except to write it and take my chances.”

  • “Power does not corrupt. Fear corrupts…perhaps the fear of a loss of power.”

  • “It seems to me that if you or I must choose between two courses of thought or action, we should remember our dying and try so to live that our death brings no pleasure on the world.”

  • “We spend our time searching for security and hate it when we get it.”

  • “Man is the only kind of varmint sets his own trap, baits it, then steps in it.”

  • “Writers are a little below clowns and a little above trained seals.”

  • “Man, unlike anything organic or inorganic in the universe, grows beyond his work, walks up the stairs of his concepts, emerges ahead of his accomplishments.”

  • “Give a critic an inch, he’ll write a play.”

Upcoming Santa Cruz Reads Events

CTV Airing Schedule

Community Television of Santa Cruz County was on hand to tape and produce a number of the Santa Cruz Reads events this year.

The first program is now ready for airing and scheduled to play on Comcast 25/Charter 71 on the following dates and times:

Santa Cruz Reads – Winners of the Writing Contests:
3/26/2013 at 11:30 am
3/27/2013 at 7:00 pm
3/28/2013 at 6:00 pm
3/29/2013 at 1:15 pm
3/30/2013 at 9:00 am
3/31/2013 at 1:30 am
3/31/2013 at 9:30 pm
4/1/2013 at 8:00 pm
4/2/2013 at 11:30 am
LIVE Streaming Link

Artists’ Exhibit

“The Joads by Another Name” is a documentary photography show that illustrates a more modern take on The Grapes of Wrath. The basis of the show is to bring to light the transformative power of positivity, self-progress, and art even in the more troubled times of our lives. The main idea to take from this is that even in the most trying, uncertain of times there can be hope and change.

The Joads, once a large family traveling across the country, are now several homeless artists that attend a weekly art therapy class in Santa Cruz, CA and the journey to the fertile land of California is now a journey of self, therapy through art, and re-establishment into the community. Read more.

Exhibit Dates
March 12 – 29
Available during library hours

Artists’ Reception
Monday, March 18 – 2:00 – 4:00 pm
Downtown Library Meeting Room

Discussion Groups

Steinbeck’s Legacy
Discussion centers on the written legacy of John Steinbeck and how his belief in the configurations of the landscape imitates human interactions and the complexities of life’s joy, pain, and suffering evidenced in The Grapes of Wrath. Participants will be guided through a media journey of Steinbeck’s valley of the world, highlighting points of interest to Steinbeck from our coastal regions.

Presented by Susan Shillingham
Downtown Library Meeting Room
Thursday, March 21 – 7:00 pm

Reading Like a Historian
Looking at The Grapes of Wrath through the eyes of the historian provides a fresh approach to viewing the text and the Dust Bowl story.  Who left the area and who stayed behind? How does history view the economic depression and the environment then and now?

Presented by Daisy Martin & Julie Minnis
Downtown Library Meeting Room
Monday, March 25 – 7:00 pm

Cypress Charter Students and Teachers Embrace The Grapes of Wrath

In conjunction with the Santa Cruz Reads focus on John Steinbeck and The Grapes of Wrath, Cypress Charter School has taken a strong interest in the project, with students and staff not only dressing up and emulating the plight of the Joads and other immigrants to California, but also in their strong participation in the Writing Contests for students and adults. Check out the winners and runners-up HERE.

Cypress Charter School staff as the Joad family, thanks to a little Photoshop magic by student Mei Curry.