What makes a book group great? Great Books and great discussion, of course. Today, hundreds of book groups are affiliated with the Great Books Foundation, forming a community of thoughtful, dedicated readers. It’s easy to join one of the many discussion groups across the United States and Canada or to start your own group.

Would you like to start a Great Books Discussion group? It’s not hard to do. Just follow the steps outlined below, and the lively discussions that follow will make it well worth the effort!

  1. Select a date, time, and place for your initial meeting. Use our downloadable flyer to publicize.
  2. Gather an excited and enthusiastic group of participants. The ideal number of participants is between 8 and 12, but groups vary in size.
  3. Use the initial meeting to determine your ongoing approach.

  • Determine where you’re going to meet. Groups meet in a variety of locations including libraries, community centers, churches, members’ homes, etc.
  • Determine how often you’re going to meet. Many groups meet monthly as this gives participants enough time to carefully read longer selections or read shorter selections twice.
  • Use our catalog and/or website to choose the Great Books anthology you want to use and to pick your first reading.
  • Choose your first discussion leader and decide how you’ll pick discussion leaders in the future.
  • Conduct a sample discussion with your group, using a short piece. We have included two sample selections in the Shared InquiryTMHandbook for you to use, however any brief, meaningful piece of literature will work.
  • Encourage all the group members to download our Shared Inquiry Handbook and become familiar with the Shared Inquiry approach to discussion. (Remember, Shared Inquiry is a gathering of equals without the presence of an expert. It’s important that group members keep the discussion focused on the ideas presented in the text and that no one steers the discussion toward personal anecdotes.)

  1. Enjoy yourselves! We at Great Books believe that the discussion of literature is a fun and challenging way to become thoughtful, more engaged citizens. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.