Russell Readers

Great Books and Shared Inquiry

For the bulk of 2017, Russell Readers have been reading from 100 Years of the Best American Short Stories and it has served us so well, we are using it again this year.  We continue to use the Great Books discussion strategy, the “Shared Inquiry” method for our meetings as we have found this gives our group a positive platform with which to discuss significant writings.  We come from a variety of backgrounds and discuss important ideas and issues that have shaped civilization.  Our discussions are lively, probing and enlightening.  We challenge our own and others’ opinions in light of the text we are all reading.  The object is not one “right answer” but rather to examine questions raised in the readings, with reasoning informed by our diverse experiences. 
The “Shared Inquiry” method is a collaborative, question-driven method of learning that helps us read actively, pose evocative questions, and listen and respond effectively.  We examine the words and the possible ways to interpret the ideas and issues.  To this end, we follow these guidelines:

  • We read the selection before coming to the discussion.
  • We support our opinions by focusing on ideas from the reading.
  • We explore the ideas in the selection before going beyond them.
  • We listen to the opinions of others and respond directly to them.
  • We ask each discussion leader to begin the questions.

100 Years of the Best American Short Stories brings together wonderful selections from forty different authors.  We have selected twelve stories to be read and discussed for 2017.  The individual pieces are organized by decade and a general overview of the period is provided as well as where the authors were in their lives at the time they wrote the stories.  A brief biography of each author is also provided for perspective to the reader on what influences may have molded the author’s work.  Questions for discussion and further reflection, however, are not provided.  The leader of the session is responsible for providing these to the group prior to the session.

Socrates wrote that the unexamined life is not worth living.  In these reading-discussions, we will examine many lives.

For more information or copies of the readings, call 860/573-2946 or email Chantal.foster@comcast.net.   Join us! 

Tuesdays, 6:30 – 7:50 PM,
Second Floor Meeting Room

January 9
Haircut – Ring Lardner

February 13
That Will Be Fine – William Faulkner

March 13
The Whole World Knows –Eudora Welty

April 10
The Enormous Radio – John Cheever

May 8
Pigeon Feathers – John Updike

June 12
Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?
– Raymond Carver

July 10
The Conventional Wisdom – Stanley Elkin

August 14
Harmony of the World – Charles Baxter

September 11
Helping – Robert Stone

October 9
Xuela – Jamaica Kincaid

November 13
Brownies – ZZ Packer

December 11
Awaiting Orders – Tobias Wolff

In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you. – Mortimer J. Adler

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