Book Groups and Shared Inquiry Discussions
For more than 70 years, people of all ages and backgrounds throughout the United States and Canada have come together to discuss meaningful ideas in Great Books Foundation book and discussion groups. Over the decades, we have been assisting book and discussion groups as they interpret complex texts using our Shared Inquiry™ discussion method.
Today, many of the Foundation’s programs and publications for K–12 classrooms, colleges, and adult book groups are built around this powerfully collaborative process.
Join a Great Books Discussion Group
You may be able to join an existing book group near you! We have a registry of groups in the United States and Canada that you can search by zip code or state.
Start Your Own Book Group
To help you start your own book group and to use the Shared Inquiry method to best effect, we have developed An Introduction to Shared Inquiry, which you can download for free. This concise booklet provides a basic overview of Shared Inquiry and gives you pointers on how to have dynamic and engaging discussion sessions.
The free booklet includes:
- An overview of the Shared Inquiry method of discussion
- Guidelines to ensure that conversations are productive and civil
- Suggestions for choosing readings and asking effective questions
- Tips on using follow-up questions that deepen discussion
- Practical ideas for setting up your group and scheduling meetings
Book Group Materials
We publish compelling, authentic literary and nonfiction writing from around the globe and across subject areas, including civic engagement, immigration, popular culture, environmental science, and other timely and relevant topics. Our books include suggested discussion questions, helping you generate discussion on the important issues of our time.
Great Books Bestsellers
Big Ideas in Popular Culture
The great ideas are all around us! Across music, film, and television, popular culture is a rich source of vibrant and provocative writing on ideas central to our modern world. These three anthologies showcase some of the best short stories, poems, memoirs, essays, and journalism on popular culture topics from the last 70 years.
Her Own Accord
Explore the experiences, challenges, and achievements of women from a contemporary point of view through the 27 selections in Her Own Accord: American Women on Identity, Culture, and Community. Delve into how gender informs every aspect of a woman’s life: self and identity, family, sex and relationships, work and creativity, and activism and politics.
Counterparts presents pairs of contrasting texts that interact with one another in different and surprising ways. These 20 texts offer a range of perspectives on topics such as art and war, love and fidelity, gender, aspiration, and death.
The selections in Imperfect Ideal: Utopian and Dystopian Visions illustrate the best and worst of what can happen when we attempt to mold the complex communities in which we live into our vision of a perfect state. All 23 selections in this anthology challenge readers to question how society should be structured and governed, as well as what kinds of communities are most conducive to human fulfillment, both privately and in the civic arena.
Free Discussion Resources
Our free downloadable discussion questions and discussion guides will help your book group delve deeper into the ideas presented in our bestselling anthologies. The discussion questions focus on the big ideas in our three anthologies on film, music, and television, while the discussion guides cover seven of the books and films that complement our anthology Imperfect Ideal: Utopian and Dystopian Visions.
- The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
- 1984 by George Orwell
- Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
- The Republic by Plato
- Alphaville directed by Jean-Luc Godard
- Blade Runner directed by Ridley Scott
- Metropolis directed by Fritz Lang
Each guide includes an overview of the novel or film as well as thought-provoking questions to support lively discussion of each of these cultural masterpieces.
Book Groups and Councils
There are several independent Great Books councils, made up of volunteers, that support Great Books groups in the United States. In addition, there are many Great Books groups in locations that aren’t covered by these councils. For more information on Great Books groups in your area, please contact us or any of the individuals and organizations listed below.
Great Books Councils
San Francisco Great Books Council
(serving Northern California)
Louise DiMattio, President
Midwest Great Books Council
Cari Barnes, President
New England Great Books Council
Roberta Tansman, President
Minnesota Great Books Council
Gary Westlund, Founder/Coordinator
Westchester Great Books Council
Mary Ann Baiyor, President
Philadelphia Great Books Council
John Dalton, President
Great Books Summer Institute at Colby College
P.O. Box 8188
Radnor, PA 19087