Boulder Great Books

Site last modified on 12/23/2016


Boulder Great Books meets year-round on first and third Wednesday nights from 7:30 - 9:00PM at the Boulder Alfalfa's Market Community Room , unless otherwise noted in the schedules below.  The group is free and open to the public.  Newcomers are welcome anytime!

Boulder Great Books uses discussion guidelines and some materials from the Great Books Foundation.  Some selections come from the 54 volume set Great Books of the Western World. History is the group's theme for 2017. If, after looking at our schedule you want to go even deeper into American History, the Longmont Great Ideas Group is discussing selections from The Annals of America in 2017. Volume 1 of the 54 volume set of the Great Books, The Great Conversations, contains a Ten Year Reading Plan for the set. (Here is the plan in html format or pdf format.) You can check out volumes of the Great Books from the Denver Public Library, call number 808.8. The Longmont Public Library has a set of the 1990 expanded 60 volume set available.  Norlin's reference room has a library use only 60 volume set. Having a complete set available is extremely useful for taking advantage of the Syntopicon, a great research tool. We will do the "History" selection from the first volume of the Syntopicon on March 15, 2017. Another source of reading selections for the 54 volume set comes from the Great Ideas Program, a 10 volume set with reading lists and commentaries on the readings.  The Great Ideas Program reading list is available on this web site in pdf format. Other sources of book choices are the running list of books people in the group are interested in discussing.  Around Christmas we try to have at least one selection that has a religious connection.

The first rule of the group is to read the selection twice. This rule is relaxed when we read very long selections. (Deanna Hawkins is the group's hero for reading Joyce's Ulysses twice.) The second rule is to stick to the selection, do not bring in comments from other sources that people in the group have not read. Expect to spend about eight hours a week reading for the discussion. If a selection one week can be read in less time, read ahead for the next meeting. Some effort is made to schedule alternate short and long selections with this in mind. If you would like to help publicize our group, there is a flyer we update monthly that can be posted at your work or public places you think would be effective, or that you can pass along to friends. Thank you!


 Reading schedule (HTML and PDF files):

    2016 Great Books Schedule (html)       2016 Great Books Schedule (pdf)

    2017 Great Books Schedule (html)       2017 Great Books Schedule (pdf)

Note - The PDF files are for printing. If you are unable to read the PDF files with your browser, save the file as a pdf file to your computer and view with Acrobat Reader (free download) or another Portable Document Format reader. The HTML files have links and reference information not included in the PDFs or the two-sided schedules handed out at group when they won't fit on one page.    Selections six months or more into the future are subject to change - feedback is requested for this schedule so e-mail Kay and Rick (adress at the bottom of this page) with what you do and don't like about it.


Group History

Boulder Great Books was started in the fall of 1988 by Carol Heepke for the Boulder Public Library.  It first met in the auditorium of the old main library building before it was renovated.  The meeting place was affectionately called the “toaster oven” since it was small and hot.  Meetings were changed to the Meadows Branch soon after it opened in 1990.  The original group met every other week, primarily reading and discussing works in the Great Books Foundation five year adult series, but also mixing in other books. This series was completed in the spring of 1993.  (Early history courtesy of Carol Heepke, founder of the group.)

In the fall of 1993 Boulder Great Books began reading and discussing the five year series again.  In the spring of 1994 the group started to meet every week, making some selections from the Ten Year Reading Plan. In the fall of 1998 the group began the 50th Anniversary Series from the Great Books Foundation (nine paperbacks focusing on various themes). In April 2003 the group meetings moved from the Meadows Branch to the George Reynolds Branch of the library because budget cutbacks necessitated closure of Meadows on Tuesdays. In 2004 the meetings returned to the Meadows. On February 16, 2005 the group changed its meeting day from Tuesdays to Wednesdays, again driven by budget cuts that threatened closing the branch libraries an hour earlier. In 2007 the group eased off a little, meeting on even-date Wednesdays instead of every week. In 2013 we went to first, third, and fifth Wednesdays. Starting in 2015 the first Wednesday meeting of the month was to view and discuss DVD lectures relevant to the group's theme for the year. In 2016, mainly because the library's new closing time of 8PM didn't really work for people in the group who wanted to have supper before the discussion, we moved the discussions to the Alfalfa's Community Room at our accustomed time of 7:30PM. We also gave up on the DVD lectures. They didn't attract new people like we had hoped.

See the following link for a list of all readings done by the group since it started:
                All discussion group readings.
We're always looking for books to put on our schedule, so if you have looked at the list of all our readings and think we have missed a great book please send an e-mail to Kay and Rick.


Other links: