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Book to Action

Caste-2Beautifully 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 check-out a free 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. Click on the following link to view the book discussion questions. 
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
Wednesday, June 30, 2021 - 3:00 pm
Watch the video

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.

john powell by Nick Bruno637576618816637040john 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

Community Impact Panel
Friday, July 23, 2021
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Join us as we wrap up Book to Action 2021 for a conversation about the impact and insights community members experienced reading Isabel Wilkerson's book Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents. After, learn about local organizations working on racial equity, diversity, and inclusion, how you can become involved, and ways to take action. This panel will be educational and focused on letting attendees know about resources and organizations including:

Facilitated by Laurel Lee-Alexander, Community Foundation for Monterey County.

Creating a World for Everyone
Thursday, July 29, 2021
Watch the video

As part of the Book to Action and adult summer reading program, join LaVerne McLeod in this workshop to examine paths that lead to greater awareness, analyzing structures, and sharing visions of equity and belonging as we look at the world we want to create. Be part of the solution. Breakout rooms will be used for part of the workshop.

LaVerne McLeod
LaVerne McLeod is founder and facilitator of Bridge Building to Equity Workshops©.

Local nonprofits and businesses are invited to sign-up to participate in Book to Action and receive book copies while supplies last. Ally organizations encourage their staff or members to read, listen, and discuss Caste as well as participate in programs to the extent possible. A grant from the California Center for the Book provided the book copies to distribute to participating organizations.

Sign-up as an ally organization and participate in Book to Action by completing this form.

Thank you Book to Action ally organizations:
  • Community Alliance for Safety and Peace
  • Community Foundation for Monterey County
  • Community Partnership for Youth
  • First 5 Monterey County 
  • Friends of the Marina Library
  • Junior League of Monterey County
  • MEarth
  • Middlebury Institute of International Studes Library
  • Monterey County Chapter of the ACLU
  • National Coalition Building Institute
  • The Social Justice Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Monterey Peninsula   
  • The Wahine Project
  • Whites for Racial Equity
Book club bag
Community members are invited to check-out a book club bag containing 6 copies of Isabel Wilkerson's book Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents and reading discussion questions. To reserve the book bag, please email libraryinfo(at) or call (831) 646-5603.

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.

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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