Reading Roundtable

formerly Great Books Discussion Group

meets 2nd & 4th Wednesdays at 10 am

Reading Roundtable started a new book on September 14, 2022, called The Civically Engaged Reader. This is a great time to join us!

This anthology is a collection of short readings that range across literature, philosophy, and religion. Meant for people engaged in volunteer work, philanthropy, service organizations, and other forms of civic activity, the book addresses what it means to work to serve others in our community. Published by the Great Books Foundation, the book includes discussion questions that encourage close reading. We will discuss one short (2–10 page) reading each time we meet. Our schedule through December:

  • 9/14: “Earliest Impressions” (pp. 33–42)
  • 9/28: “What We Don’t Talk About…” (pp. 148–154)
  • 10/12: “The Sweetness of Charity” (pp.190–191)
  • 10/26: “The History Teacher” (pp. 276–277)
  • 11/9: from Democracy in America (pp. 54–57)
  • No meeting on 11/23
  • 12/14: “Dry Dock” (pp. 100–103)
  • No meeting on 12/28
  • 1/11: “Four Traditions of Philanthropy” (pp. 210–217)
  • 1/25: The Gospel of Wealth, Carnegie (pp. 194–203)
  • 2/8: from “Self-Reliance” by Emerson (pp. 204-205)
  • 2/22: from the Mishneh Torah, Maimonides (218-219) and “A Bed for the Night” by Brecht (pp. 208-9)
  • 3/8: from The Souls of Black Folk by Du Bois and “Theme for English B” by Hughes (pp. 58-64)
  • 3/22: “Recitatif” by Toni Morrison (pp. 65–80)
  • 4/12: II Samuel Ch. 11-12 (pp. 236-237)

The Civically Engaged Reader explores various themes through classic and contemporary readings. How, why, and with whom do we associate? What sustains our bonds with others, and how do these bonds determine who is excluded from a group? What are our motives for volunteering? Does service address inequalities in our society? What does it mean to give and receive?

The readings are diverse. Alexis de Tocqueville claims that the egalitarianism of American democracy is the cause of our many civic associations, but an excerpt from W.E.B. DuBois’s The Souls of Black Folk analyzes the great lack of equality between the races in America. An essay by Andrew Carnegie ponders how to give away a large fortune, while Dave Eggers describes trying to give money to strangers and not feeling right about it. A short story by Toni Morrison tells of two girls who meet living in a homeless shelter. Jane Addams reflects on how her father instilled “moral concerns” in her as a child that help explain why she opened Hull House.

We meet the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month at 10 a.m. on Zoom. This is a great time to join! All are welcome.