Book to Action


Beautifully written, original, and revealing, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents is an eye-opening story of people and history, and a reexamination of what lies under the surface of ordinary lives and of American life today.

Named the #1 Nonfiction book of the year by Time, one of the ten best books of the year by People • The Washington Post • Publishers Weekly And one of the best books of the year by The New York Times Book Review • O: The Oprah Magazine • NPR • Bloomberg • Christian Science Monitor • New York Post • The New York Public Library • Fortune • Smithsonian Magazine • Marie Claire • Town & Country • Slate • Library Journal • Kirkus Reviews • LibraryReads • PopMatters

Book to Action initiatives tackle important issues in the community and encourage reading, community discussion, and action. Through book, film, and panel discussions, explore the complicated concepts of race, equity, empathy, antiracism, intersectionality, and more.

Monterey Public Library, in partnership with the Community Foundation for Monterey County, invites you to join this summer's Book to Action program to read, listen, discuss, learn, and act.

Check-out a copy of Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents from the Monterey Public Library. Hard copies and audio CD available, or download an e-book or audiobook to your personal tech devices such as smartphone, computer, laptop, iPad, or Kindle from the Northern California Digital Library (use Libby or OverDrive apps, or your internet browser).

"Caste is insidious and therefore powerful because it is not hatred, it is not necessarily personal. It is the worn grooves of comforting routines and unthinking expectations, patterns of a social order that have been in place for so long that it looks like the natural order of things.” - Isabel Wilkerson

Book Discussions

June 22 – July 24, 2021

The same facilitated book discussion takes place two times per week. Participants may join on Zoom or by phone. Participants will receive the discussion questions in advance. Register in advance at or call (831) 646-3933.

Tuesdays, 3:00 - 4:00 pm

June 22: Intro, Parts 1 & 2 -- pp. xv – 98

June 29: Part 3 --  pp. 99 – 166

July 6: Part 4  -- pp. 167 – 262

July 13: Part 5 & 6  -- pp.  263 – 360

July 20: Part 7 & Epilogue -- pp. 361 – 388

Saturdays, 11:00 am - 12:00 pm

June 26: Intro, Parts 1 & 2 -- pp. xv – 98

July 3: Part 3 --  pp. 99 – 166

July 10: Part 4  -- pp. 167 – 262

July 17: Part 5 & 6  -- pp.  263 – 360

July 24: Part 7 & Epilogue -- pp. 361 – 388

Building Belonging in a Time of Othering

john powell by Nick Bruno637576618816637040

Wednesday, June 30, 2021 - 3:00 pm

In a time of othering, how do we build a community, a culture, and a world of belonging?

In recent years, a sense of “othering” has become the norm. Our time beckons a collective healing. Join together for an afternoon of warmth, wisdom, connection, and learning with john a. powell.

Register online at or call (831) 646-3933.

john a. powell

john a. powell is Director of the Othering and Belonging Institute and Professor of Law, African American, and Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He was previously the Executive Director at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at the Ohio State University, and prior to that, the founder and director of the Institute for Race and Poverty at the University of Minnesota. john formerly served as the National Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). He is a co-founder of the Poverty & Race Research Action Council and serves on the boards of several national and international organizations. john led the development of an “opportunity-based” model that connects affordable housing to education, health, health care, and employment and is well-known for his work developing the frameworks of “targeted universalism” and “othering and belonging” to effect equity-based interventions. john has taught at numerous law schools including Harvard and Columbia University. His latest book is Racing to Justice: Transforming our Concepts of Self and Other to Build an Inclusive Society

In this brilliant book, Isabel Wilkerson gives us a masterful portrait of an unseen phenomenon in America as she explores, through an immersive, deeply researched narrative and stories about real people, how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings.



Local nonprofits and businesses are invited to sign-up to participate in Book to Action and receive a copy of the book. Ally organizations encourage their staff or members to read, listen, and discuss Caste as well as participate in programs to the extent possible. A generous grant from the California Library Association provided 60 book copies to distribute to participating organizations. 

Local organizations and businesses, sign-up as an ally and participate in Book to Action by clicking here.

Book to Action is a program of the California Library Association, supported in whole or in part by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered in California by the State Librarian.

De Libro a Acción es un programa de la Asociación de Bibliotecas de California, apoyada enteramente o en parte por el Instituto de Servicios Bibliotecarios y de Museo de Estados Unidos conforme a lo dispuesto por la Ley de Servicios Bibliotecarios y Tecnología, administrada en California por la Bibliotecaria del Estado.

   Thank you for making Book to Action possible:


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