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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.

09/18/2013 - 3:30pm Book Discussion Group--The Brain that Changes Itself, by Norman Doidge (2007)

The brain should not be viewed as strictly "hard-wired"; neuroplasticity is real. This book discusses both the current scientific findings about neuroplasticity and includes stories of personal transformations.

08/21/2013 - 3:30pm Book Group Discussion for August is CANCELLED

Several members will not be available for August, and "don't want to miss anything." The rest of us "don't want to miss" those members. So we push everything forward one month.

07/17/2013 - 3:30pm Book Discussion Group--Galileo's Daughter by Dava Sobel (1999)

Using letters written to Galileo by his daughter, and other sources, Dava Sobel illuminates a loving personal relationship and some of the events of Galileo's life.

06/19/2013 - 3:30pm Book Group Discussion -- Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, by Jared Diamond (2011) NOTE NEW DAY AND TIME

Examining selected societies around the world and through time, Jared Diamond identifies a pattern of collapse involving environmental damage, population change, and political choices. Diamond helps us see why some societies fell apart, while others avoided collapse. We might extrapolate some of this information to our own current environmental challenges. This book followed Diamond's Pulitzer Prize-winning Guns, Germs and Steel, which our book group read in April 2012.

05/15/2013 - 3:30pm Book Group Discussion -- Thomas Jefferson: Author of America by Christopher Hitchens (2009) NOTE NEW DAY AND TIME

This brief biography of the namesake of The Jefferson Center is written by someone familiar to us--Christopher Hitchens, one of the famous "new Atheists." In a "startlingly new and provocative interpretation of our Founding Father," Hitchens discusses such Jeffersonian contradictions as slavery, human rights, size of government, states rights, and separation of church and state. Jefferson, the "author of America," virtually embodied contradictions. Hitchens can identify and skewer them.

04/16/2013 - 1:00pm Book Group Discussion - The Belief Instinct: The psychology of souls, destiny, and the meaning of life (2011) by Jesse Bering

Jesse Bering (2011) provides secular, science-based examinations of questions often raised in religious contexts, but that tend to persist even for those of us who have rejected supernatural explanations.

03/19/2013 - 1:00pm Book Group Discussion - The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are divided by Politics and Religion

Jonathan Haidt (2012) reviews recent scholarship on brain function and anatomy, with special attention to moral emotions and why they divide us.

02/19/2013 - 1:00pm Book Group Discussion - 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

Charles C Mann (2006) offers a revisionist view of pre-Colombian America, asserting that the Indians were not sparsely populated and did not live lightly on the land.

01/15/2013 - 1:00pm Book Group Discussion: What Intelligence Tests Miss: The Psychology of Rational Thought

Keith Stanovich (2010) demonstrates that IQ tests (or their proxies, such as the SAT) are radically incomplete as measures of cognitive functioning. They fail to assess abilities that most people associate with “good thinking,” such as judgment and decision making.

12/18/2012 - 1:00pm Book Discussion Group -- Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do?

In this readable book—based on his Harvard course—Sandel walks readers through philosophical analyses of various contemporary ethical issues.