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Fall Conference Wrap Up: Race Matters

After a stressful ten days of anticipating, enduring, and cleaning up after Hurricane Irma, twenty storm-hardened Great Books veterans gathered today (Friday, September 15, 2017) at Tampa Palms Country Club for the Great Books Fall Conversation Conference, centered on the topic “Race Matters: From Baldwin to Coates.”

Using the texts “The Fire Next Time” (James Baldwin) and “Between the World and Me,” a more recent work by Ta-Nehisi Coates, moderators Patrick De Marco, Sara Cohen, and Joel Fyvolent led our group though a somber and realistic examination of the state of race relations in America, while exploring different approaches to the lingering question of how to relieve racial tension and foster inclusivity.

The intensity of discussions continued from the formal discussion groups through the lunch break, and no doubt will be revisited in future Great Books sessions.

Thanks to all of the Great Books members who braved the aftermath of Irma in an attempt to be “part of the solution” with their participation today.  Our thoughts are certainly with those in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manatee, and Sarasota Counties who find themselves still without power and basic supplies tonight.



“Great Thoughts” about “Great Books” were flying through the air as the Tampa Bay Great Books Council’s Board of Directors met for their Annual Retreat in this sylvan setting along the shores of the Hillsborough River in Temple Terrace.

Read more….


fall 2017 Great books announced

Registration for the Fall 2017 Great Books reading series in now open!

Two exciting Great Books Roundtable discussions – Rereading the Western Canon of Classics in Literature and Philosophy and  Classic to Modern – start in October and run for 8 weeks.

Click here to view more information for each series and registration instructions.

summer Message from Sara Cohen, President

The summer is going past in the blink of an eye.  It’s the time of casual summer reading in the mountains, or at the beach.   Enjoy that pile of books you’ve been accumulating……summer seems much too short and there’s so much to read, digest and think about.

We here at Great Books have started the summer with a bang at our June Drama Retreat, reading and analyzing two plays: “The Humans” by Stephen Karam and “Three Sisters” by Anton Chekhov.  Heady stuff, but incisive in translating everyday drama and coping mechanisms we all employ just to get by in these highly fragmented times.  Some things never seem to change.

Click here to continue reading…



January 2018 Conference weekend

Registration is open for the January 19-21, 2018, Great Books Conference:  Vietnam: Looking Back Through Three Vietnamese Novelists

While geographically only slightly larger than the State of New Mexico, Vietnam will always have life-changing significance for American “Baby Boomers” and those within a few years of that population bubble.  Some Boomers fought there…died there…while others mounted their first political crusades domestically to end the conflict.  The American perspective on the Vietnam experience is well-chronicled, most recently in Ken Burns’ PBS series, “The Vietnam War.”

Seldom, however, have Americans paused to consider the conflict from the point of view of the Vietnamese, and that is precisely the opportunity that awaits us in the Tampa Bay Great Books Conference Weekend on January 19-21, 2018:  “Vietnam: Looking Back Through Three Vietnamese Novelists.”

Venue for all conference sessions will be the Hilton St. Petersburg/Bayfront, and a Friday night  reception and Saturday luncheon are included in the conference registration fee, as well as copies of the three texts to be discussed:  The Sympathizer (the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Viet Thank Nguyen); The Sorrow of War: A Novel of North Vietnam (by Bao Dinh); and Paradise of the Blind (by Duong Thu Huong.

All discussions will be led by moderators trained in the Great Books method of “shared inquiry.”

Deeply-discounted overnight accommodations ($160, single; $180, double) will be available to Conference registrants, and can be arranged by contacting the Hilton directly at (727)-894-5000.  We will notify you when the room reservation window opens, but you must make the reservation directly with the hotel.

Conference registration fee is just $189; with an additional $79 fee for non-participating guests.  Further details and registration forms are online at the Tampa Bay Great Books website:  Or contact Patrick DeMarco ( for more information.

Click here for the registration form and all the details.


Are you interested in learning more about the “Shared Inquiry” method?  Are you curious what it takes to be a  Great Books Moderator?  Contact Great Books Council Member Barbara Brown at to begin the dialogue.







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For the past 12 years the Tampa Bay Great Books Council has provided a venue for book discussions, conferences, and other cultural events. Explore our site to learn more!