Russell Readers

Great Books and Shared Inquiry

For the past two years, Russell Readers have been reading from 100 Years of the Best American Short Stories.  With only five selections left in this anthology, we will move on to another short story collection in June for the remainder of 2019:  The Best American Short Stories of the Century.  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.

Our new text, The Best American Short Stories of the Century, brings together wonderful selections from more than fifty different authors.  A brief biography of each author is 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

From 100 Years of the Best American Short Stories:
January 8
My Old Man – Earnest Hemingway

February 12
Those Are as Brothers – Nancy Hale

March 12
Communist – Richard Ford

April 9
Old Boys, Old Girls – Edward P. Jones

May 14
What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank – Nathan Englander

From The Best American Short Stories of the Century:
June 11
Double Birthday – Willa Cather

July 9
The Things They Carried – Tim O’Brien

August 13
Here We Are – Dorothy Parker

September 10
Resurrection of a Life – William Saroyan

October 8
“That in Aleppo Once . . .” – Vladimir Nabokov

November 12
Greenleaf – Flannery O’Connor

December 10
Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? – Joyce Carol Oates

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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