Welcome to Objectivism Online Forum

Welcome to Objectivism Online, a forum for discussing the philosophy of Ayn Rand. For full access, register via Facebook or email.

Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Tenure

Reading Groups - Book Suggestions

Rate this topic

56 posts in this topic

On the subject of books, I wonder if there is any interest (here on OO.net) to do some form of reading groups... where two or more people read the same book, during roughly the same time frame (say a quarter) and discuss it? The primary reason would be to gain from such discussion. I don't want to side-track this topic, and intend to post more fully on this. If anyone is really keen, and wants to respond, please start a new topic.

I am quite interested in doing this - even having just two people reading the same book would be very good, from my perspective. I get distracted when reading a book, by another book, and another. Having to reach a target, like, say, "Read Chapters 1-4 by Thursday" and then having the reward of being able to actually discuss all the stuff in it by the time of that target, would really encourage me to read and to be a better reader.

If anyone else wants to do this, I'm up for it. Let's do it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I am quite interested in doing this - even having just two people reading the same book would be very good, from my perspective. I get distracted when reading a book, by another book, and another. Having to reach a target, like, say, "Read Chapters 1-4 by Thursday" and then having the reward of being able to actually discuss all the stuff in it by the time of that target, would really encourage me to read and to be a better reader.

If anyone else wants to do this, I'm up for it. Let's do it.

There's a group of us systematically working our way through OPAR. (We did Tara Smith's book Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics before that.) We're averaging about one section a week. We just wrapped up chapter 6 on Sunday. There are archived podcasts of all the earlier discussions.

Check out the web site.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I am quite interested in doing this - even having just two people reading the same book would be very good, from my perspective. I get distracted when reading a book, by another book, and another. Having to reach a target, like, say, "Read Chapters 1-4 by Thursday" and then having the reward of being able to actually discuss all the stuff in it by the time of that target, would really encourage me to read and to be a better reader.

If anyone else wants to do this, I'm up for it. Let's do it.

Once finals are over I'm looking for a good book to read over break. I'd love to do this.

Do you have any particular book in mind? I'd prefer not to do an Objectivist text, but I'm flexible.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Once finals are over I'm looking for a good book to read over break. I'd love to do this.

Do you have any particular book in mind? I'd prefer not to do an Objectivist text, but I'm flexible.

I too would be interested in doing this, but I do not want to limit myself to Oist-related readings. Also I'm partial to fiction, though good non-fiction is fine.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

khaight, sounds good, but it's a bit inconvenient for me, being 01:00 GMT.

Madkat, Athena, I as well want to avoid Objectivist literature. I think we've all read widely and enough of that. It depends on our collective tastes. I like books on the Arts, on psychology, on philosophy and history. I also like layman's books on science.

A few I'd be up for doing:

The Red Queen (although I think a few of you have already read this book)

Aristotle's Ethics (Nichomean)

Titus Groan (fiction)

The Russian Revolution 1917-1932, by Fitzpatrick (supposed to be a very good book giving an introduction to the topic, though might be a bit too pedestrian and not deep enough for a group reading)

Markets Don't Fail

Shane (fiction; a rather brief read, but a good 'un)

I'm quite easy - any recommendations?

Edited by Tenure

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Fair warning that if we do Red Queen I'm just going to rip it apart for most of the discussion. ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
khaight, sounds good, but it's a bit inconvenient for me, being 01:00 GMT.

Madkat, Athena, I as well want to avoid Objectivist literature. I think we've all read widely and enough of that. It depends on our collective tastes. I like books on the Arts, on psychology, on philosophy and history. I also like layman's books on science.

A few I'd be up for doing:

The Red Queen (although I think a few of you have already read this book)

Aristotle's Ethics (Nichomean)

Titus Groan (fiction)

The Russian Revolution 1917-1932, by Fitzpatrick (supposed to be a very good book giving an introduction to the topic, though might be a bit too pedestrian and not deep enough for a group reading)

Markets Don't Fail

Shane (fiction; a rather brief read, but a good 'un)

I'm quite easy - any recommendations?

I'd be interested, though about mid-semester I always get too invovled in school work. Over the break and into the first of next semester (about March?) I'd be up for Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, many other philosophical texts (suggestions range from Spinoza, whom Rand identified as a qualified good-guy in philosophical history, to Wittgenstein, to Plato, to Locke, to Shopenhauer, and more), some classic literature (Hugo, Homer, Shakespear, Joyce, etc.), and other challenging reads. I'll be using some of my spare time to read intro business managment out of curiosity and interest. I doubt that's the kind of thing anyone else wants to read for kicks, but I'll still throw it out there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd be interested in certain types of non-Objectivist non-fiction. Economic history would be a top preference, legal history would be next, with U.S. history or other history also being of interest. I say "history" for all those categories, because between the extremes of concrete history and abstract theorizing, I'd lean to the former.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was planning on reading "How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe's Poorest Nation Created Our World & Everything in It" by Arthur Herman. It's about the Scottish Enlightenment.

"Focusing on the 18th and 19th centuries, Herman (coordinator of the Western Heritage Program at the Smithsonian and an assistant professor of history at George Mason University) has written a successful exploration of Scotland's disproportionately large impact on the modern world's intellectual and industrial development. When Scotland ratified the 1707 Act of Union, it was an economic backwater. Union gave Scotland access to England's global marketplace, triggering an economic and cultural boom "transform[ing] Scotland... into a modern society, and open[ing] up a cultural and social revolution." Herman credits Scotland's sudden transformation to its system of education, especially its leading universities at Edinburgh and Glasgow. The 18th-century Scottish Enlightenment, embodied by such brilliant thinkers as Francis Hutcheson, Adam Smith and David Hume, paved the way for Scottish and, Herman argues, global modernity. Hutcheson, the father of the Scottish Enlightenment, championed political liberty and the right of popular rebellion against tyranny. Smith, in his monumental Wealth of Nations, advocated liberty in the sphere of commerce and the global economy. Hume developed philosophical concepts that directly influenced James Madison and thus the U.S. Constitution. Herman elucidates at length the ideas of the Scottish Enlightenment and their worldwide impact. In 19th-century Britain, the Scottish Enlightenment, as popularized by Dugald Stewart, became the basis of classical liberalism. At the University of Glasgow, James Watt perfected the crucial technology of the Industrial Revolution: the steam engine."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I could do the Scottish Enlightenment. Sounds like it meets a lot of common interests.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm all up for Athena's recommendation, the Scottish Revolution. Everyone else?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I also like this idea and would be up for reading How the Scots Invented the Modern World.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Re:Scots.... As luck would have it, I already own the book but have not read it yet. So, I'm up for it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Right, I've been thinking about this and realised that we have different time zones. I'm GMT and you're in different parts of America. For me, then, it would be best to do a pre-midday (PST) time, so we would have to do this on the weekend. That's if we want to do it via chat.

The alternate option is to have a text thing. Discuss it via private room on the chatroom here.

What do you want to do?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My recommendation for the next round. Economics and The Public Welfare (A Financial and Economic History of the United States, 1914-1946 by Benjamin Anderson. I have it but have not read it, yet.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
My recommendation for the next round. Economics and The Public Welfare (A Financial and Economic History of the United States, 1914-1946 by Benjamin Anderson. I have it but have not read it, yet.
Excellent! That book is among the top three on my reading list, so count me in for that. In fact, I'll order it this weekend, just in case.

BTW, I think that multiple, though smaller, groups can also work well, unless the same people are really eager to participate in multiple books.

Tenure: I'm not sure what the mechanics should be. We should probably "try something" and work out the kinks as we go. I had figured that we could create one or more forum threads as the primary "discussion backbones" for any particular book. Things like chat etc. can supplement that. I guess, if we've agreed on the Scots book, we should set up some approx. start date (perhaps after everyone's exams, and taking the XMas holidays into account) and maybe we should also aim to agree on an approximate pace (50 pages a week? 100? 25?).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why is non-fiction so popular in Objectivist circles? I like non-fiction, but it doesn't exactly make for great discussion. There are so many great works of fiction in the Western Canon (Shakespeare, Milton, Dante, Virgil, Lucretius, Camoes, Moliere, Ovid, Horace, Stendhal, Austen, Dickens, Dostoevsky, Proust, Ibsen, Wilde, Melville, Faulkner, etc, etc, etc) that will teach me far more about the human condition than non-fiction will.

To me, there's nothing more enjoyable than untangling the abstractions and meaning of a skilled work of fiction, most particulary from an Objectivist perspective.

Edited by adrock3215

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Why is non-fiction so popular in Objectivist circles? I like non-fiction, but it doesn't exactly make for great discussion. There are so many great works of fiction in the Western Canon (Shakespeare, Milton, Dante, Virgil, Lucretius, Camoes, Moliere, Ovid, Horace, Stendhal, Austen, Dickens, Dostoevsky, Proust, Ibsen, Wilde, Melville, Faulkner, etc, etc, etc) that will teach me far more about the human condition than non-fiction will.

To me, there's nothing more enjoyable than untangling the abstractions and meaning of a skilled work of fiction, most particulary from an Objectivist perspective.

Well, I was also planning on reading "The Scarlet Pimpernel" By Baroness Orczy over break as well. Would you want to do a fiction reading group with that one? I hear nothing but amazing reviews of it.

and in regards to format, I agree with Snerd:

I had figured that we could create one or more forum threads as the primary "discussion backbones" for any particular book. Things like chat etc. can supplement that.

Forum threads allow flexibility of communication as well as a record of our thoughts in case we want to go back to them (in chat, they disappear forever once you close the window)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you all decide to do more than one book at a time, you could do one non-fiction and one fiction. I like to read books two at a time like that so I've got something for whichever mood I'm in.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Well, I was also planning on reading "The Scarlet Pimpernel" By Baroness Orczy over break as well. Would you want to do a fiction reading group with that one? I hear nothing but amazing reviews of it.

I think we could do as K-Mac suggested. One fiction, one non-fiction. There'd be no necessity that if you read the Non-fiction, that you'd have to do the Fiction, or vice versa. It's just there for those of us who'd like to do both.

As for what adrock said, I have a preference for non-fiction just because I invest more of my time in fiction anyway. And as nice as it is to have these poetic, esoteric discussions of man, one really needs to be able to speak in specifics and to ground ones beliefs in facts, which one needs the non-fiction for.

and in regards to format, I agree with Snerd:

Forum threads allow flexibility of communication as well as a record of our thoughts in case we want to go back to them (in chat, they disappear forever once you close the window)

Indeed. Perhaps this should include someone giving a summary of each chapter? One's reading of the text will be effected by simply what someone understood a certain section to mean, as in, what it was literally trying to say. If we have someone giving their account, and someone disagrees with that, then we know that their difference in judgement of the topic and anything they have to say about it is tied to that reading, and we can check if our reading is correct itself.

As far as the mechanics of when we begin, the first week or two of January would be a nice start, in that people will be resetting their schedules, allowing them to fit this new item in. And, it gives people the time to get a bit of a head start over the Christmas holidays, if they want to give it a briefer read-through first.

Huzzah?

Edited by Tenure

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If any of you guys are interested, I reviewed How the Scots Invented the Modern World here.

I think the book is definitely worth reading, especially for the sections on Adam Smith and on the productive geniuses of the era. However, the latter has a great amount of overlap with Andrew Bernstein's The Capitalist Manifesto. The negatives of Scots is that it gets a little long-winded at times and the author subscribes to the school of history that perceives Scottish thinkers, such as David Hume and Frances Hutcheson, to be more influential on the American Revolution than John Locke.

Tenure also mentioned the possibility of reading one of Sheila Fitzpatrick's books on the Russian Revolution. Although I have not read any of her books, I remember reading somewhere that she downplays the brutality of Lenin. I might have read this in either the Richard Pipes book I read or something written by John Earl Haynes. Anyway, I am not saying that you should not read this book, I am just passing along a warning. If you are looking for a book to read on the Russian Revolutions, I highly recommend Richard Pipes' A Concise History of the Russian Revolution. You can read my review of this book here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
As for what adrock said, I have a preference for non-fiction just because I invest more of my time in fiction anyway. And as nice as it is to have these poetic, esoteric discussions of man, one really needs to be able to speak in specifics and to ground ones beliefs in facts, which one needs the non-fiction for.

Individuals need both fiction and non-fiction, I do agree with you on that much. However, fiction is more important because it forces its reader to integrate knowledge completely. It forces you to reason from concretes to abstractions, and thus is indispensible to a well-rounded individual. Rand would not have had the same effect on me if she only wrote non-fiction. When I was new to Objectivism, the characters of Roark and Francisco were a rough guide to my action.

"Poetry is more philosophical and more serious than history. Poetry tends to express universals, and history particulars. The universal is the kind of speech or action which is consonant with a person of a given kind in accordance with probability or necessity..." - Aristotle from The Poetics (Sec 5.5)

Also,

"Fiction is not fact, but fiction is fact selected and understood, fiction is fact arranged and charged with purpose." - Thomas Wolfe from Look Homeward, Angel

Edited by adrock3215

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.