San diego great books

Frequently Asked Questions

There are about 30 people on our email list and who have come to a meeting at least once in the last couple of years.  Typical attendance of late is rarely more than 10.

How many people are in the book club?

Perhaps like pornography you know a ‘great book’ only when you read one.  Rather than worrying about what a great book is take a look Alex Beam’s book A Great Idea at the Time an entertaining put down of the Great Books movement and our core beliefs.  But then also read the excellent commentaries the book stirred up at the Encyclopedia Britannica Blog and elsewhere for some balance.

What is a Great Book??

1. You must have read the selection to take part in the discussion (although observers are always welcome).

2. Discuss only the scheduled selection.

3. Use direct references to the text to explain your conclusions or opinions.

4. The opinions of outside experts as to the meaning of the scheduled text, while possibly interesting, have not been found to increase our capacity to discuss Great Books.

5. Listen to what others have to say and test their ideas against your own.

6. The leader is expected to only ask questions.  For more info see

7. Rules are suspended at 4 P.M. when we adjourn to continue our discussion over a drink.  Visitors are invited!

What are your discussion rules?

What is the Great Books Tradition of Shared Inquiry?



Please check back later.

What does all this accomplish?



Here are 10 things that might happen to you as a consequence of your participation in Great Books (San Diego version, of course).


1. You meet people who become lifelong friends or confidants, or, yes, it has happened, even lifelong partners.  Of course, there’s a flip side.

2. You always wished for a ‘liberal education’ and now you see how that might be possible.

3. Your Sunday afternoons, especially in the fall, were frustrating, etc..  Now, at least once a month, they’re interesting (applies equally to Monday through Saturday) when you’re reading.

4. Professional sports (college, too) don’t seem to matter as much as they used to.  We all win eventually, don’t we?

5. You recognize references on the editorial page that you would never have imagined.

6. Cocktail parties are suddenly more (but, that could also be less) interesting.

7. You thought Hamlet was only kidding.  Now you see, it’s the ________, stupid!

8. You see that there is never only one answer to life’s most important questions, but you now have reasons for your answers.

9. Your concern about Alzheimers has been set back 10 years or maybe longer.  Your’re now reading, thinking, communicating . . . 

10. You could learn your own most important question and its answer.