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Book Group: Past books

Book Group Information

A list of books selected and read by this book group from 2008 to 2013 can be found here. For recent books, see below.

05/18/2015 - 2:00pm Book Group: "Being Mortal"

“Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End,” by Atul Gawande (201). Available in paperback. How medicine can not only improve life, but also the process of its ending. Examples of freer, more socially fulfilling models for assisting the infirm and dependent elderly, and varieties of hospice care. Includes research and riveting storytelling. See

04/20/2015 - 2:00pm Book Group: "A Skeptic's Guide to the Brain"

“A skeptic’s Guide to the Brain: What Neuroscience Can and Cannot tell us about Ourselves,” by Robert Burton (2013). Some of the conclusions about brain/mind that are coming from modern neuroscience are genuine advances in our knowledge, but Burton shows that some are overreaching, wrong-headed, self-serving, or just plain ridiculous. He also has a vision of how to think about what the mind might be and how it works.

03/16/2015 - 2:00pm Book Group: "The Improbability Principle"

“The Improbability Principle: Why Coincidences, Miracles, and Rare Events Happen Every Day” by David J. Hand (2014). Examines phenomena that seem “miraculous” to many people, and explains the mathematics showing that such events are in no way paranormal or supernatural.

02/16/2015 - 2:00pm Book Grp: "You are now Less Dumb"

David McRaney wrote You are Now Less Dumb: How to Conquer Mob mentality, how to buy happiness, and all the other ways to outsmart yourself in Aug. 2014, but it is inexpensive to purchase. He addresses self-delusion using results from many fields, including philosophy (logical fallacies) and brain science (biases and heuristics). His tone is not so much holier-than-thou, with less "We are smarter than all those other stupid people who don't believe what we believe." He thinks we all make mistakes and can learn together to think better.

01/19/2015 - 2:00pm Book Grp: Carol Tavris "Mistakes Were Made (but not by me)"

Carol Tavris will be visiting Ashland as the spring featured speaker in our Thomas Jefferson Lecture Series. She wrote this book in 2007. Full title: Mistakes were made (but not by me): Why we justify foolish beliefs, bad decisions, and hurtful acts. She addresses cognitive dissonance and why it is not in itself sufficient to challenge pre-set interpretations already inside our minds.

12/15/2014 - 2:00pm Book Group Discussion: "Nonsense on Stilts" by Massimo Pigliucci

Nonsense on Stilts: How to tell Science from Bunk by Massimo Pigliucci (2010) distinguishes between science, hard science, soft science, almost science, and pseudoscience, and presents a few case studies about current controversies over the nature and uses of science. Note change of date to third Monday at 2 pm

11/17/2014 - 2:00pm Book Group Discussion: "Age of Insight" by Eric Kandel (2012). second half

Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind, and Brain, from Vienna 1900 to the Present, by Eric Kandel (2012). We will discuss the first half (up to p. 225) in October and the second half in November. Vienna in about 1900 fostered unusual cross-disciplinary interaction between artists and scientists, leading to the first real thinking about the importance of the unconscious. Kandel traces these beginnings through to the present and the new neuroscience, including discussion of the arts.

10/20/2014 - 2:00pm Book Group Discussion: "Age of Insight" by Eric Kandel (2012). first half

Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind, and Brain, from Vienna 1900 to the Present Vienna in about 1900 fostered unusual cross-disciplinary interaction between artists and scientists, leading to the first real thinking about the importance of the unconscious. Kandel traces these beginnings through to the present and the new neuroscience, including important discussions of the arts.

09/17/2014 - 1:30pm Book Grp discussion: Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, by Jon Meacham (2012)

Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power won the Pulitzer prize. It's about our center's namesake. Of so many books about Jefferson, this one focuses on his uses of power.

08/20/2014 - 3:30pm Book Group CANCELLED for August 2014

switching to 1:30 start time beginning Sept. 2014

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