Read Contra Costa 2023

Communal events can be so joyous, don’t you think? Whether it’s simple things like birthdays or holidays, bigger special events like weddings, or even something as ground-breaking as watching the first moon landing in 1969, nothing brings the community together like sharing something great.  

Even tragic events can strengthen community bonds. Mr. Roger’s famously said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” What a comforting notion for children and one that hopefully encourages them to grow up to be the helpers that they themselves looked for when they were younger. We teach our children to be a part of something larger so that they’ll carry those lessons into their adulthood. For example, kids who come to the library grow up and bring their own children to the library. Kids who watch adults read for pleasure often grow up to be readers themselves.  

The world keeps trucking no matter what life throws at us, so finding that communal joy is so important. It’s why we have things like parties and dances, why we all go to the movies to sit in a dark theater together, and why the library remains so vitally important to our everyday lives. The library strives to be the heart of any community and it’s with that in mind that we host Read Contra Costa every year. A book club is a communal event that is meant to sustain us intellectually and emotionally. While we all know reading is important, it’s easy to let reading fall down the list of priorities, so book clubs hold us accountable and help us keep good habits, they foster intellectual curiosity, and allow us to talk about the things that we love with other people. And if you didn’t love the book, reading something new, at the very least, gives us different perspectives to consider and broadens our horizons. 

 We think you will love this year’s Read Contra Costa pick. We’re so happy to announce that we’ve chosen The Bandit Queens by Parini Shroff 

Five years ago, Geeta lost her no-good husband. As in, she actually lost him—he walked out on her and she has no idea where he is. But in her remote village in India, rumor has it that Geeta killed him. And it’s a rumor that just won’t die. 

It turns out that being known as a “self-made” widow comes with some perks. No one messes with her, harasses her, or tries to control (ahem, marry) her. It’s even been good for business; no one dares to not buy her jewelry. 

 Freedom must look good on Geeta, because now other women are asking for her “expertise,” making her an unwitting consultant for husband disposal. 

 And not all of them are asking nicely. 

 With Geeta’s dangerous reputation becoming a double-edged sword, she has to find a way to protect the life she’s built—but even the best-laid plans of would-be widows tend to go awry. What happens next sets in motion a chain of events that will change everything, not just for Geeta, but for all the women in their village. 

 Reserve your physical copy of The Bandit Queens here or download a digital copy through Libby today. We have a ton of great programs coming up to support Read Contra Costa this year, including Henna programs, Bollywood films screenings, mystery writing programs for those budding authors looking to take the plunge into publishing, and four events with the author herself, Parini Shroff, at Pleasant Hill Library, Hercules Library, San Ramon Library, and Brentwood Library. For more information about everything Read Contra Costa, please visit today. 

 Contra Costa County is your community, and the library is your space to connect with others, to learn about new resources available to you, or to find your next great read. We hope to see you soon.