2021 Great Books Winter Conference – Listening to the Earth

The Tampa Bay Great Books Council invites you to our Winter 2021 Conference, featuring two outstanding books about our environment! Mark the date (Saturday, February 13, 2021) for this timely examination of the world we live in, the creatures we share it with, and the challenges and opportunities of the future. After this, you may never “hear” the Earth the same way again! Participate in comfort and security in our ZOOM-based conference.

After five natural extinctions, is our Earth facing a sixth man-made catastrophe? Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction, Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction was described as an “exploration of nature that forces readers to consider the threat posed by human behavior to a world of astonishing diversity” and “a page turner” on even the most sober scientific aspects of extinction. (Available in paperback from Amazon for under $12.)

The Boston Globe describes author Sy Montgomery as “part Emily Dickinson, part Indiana Jones” and her National Book Award nonfiction Finalist, The Soul of an Octopus, takes a deep dive into the emotional and physical world of the octopus, examining its unique personality, problem-solving skills, and implications for understanding our own human consciousness. Don’t miss what one reviewer describes as “a page-turning adventure that will leave you breathless.” (Available in paperback from Amazon for under $10. )

Conference Registration and Details

Conference sessions will be held on Saturday, February 13, 2021, using ZOOM, with the first session from 10 AM to 12 Noon and the second session from 1 to 3 PM. There will be an off-line lunch break from 12 to 1 PM. To register, click here to download and compete the registration form. Detach the form at the bottom of the page, and mail it with your check for $20 payable to Tampa Bay Great Books. Participants are responsible for the purchase of the required texts. You will receive an e-mail message
confirming your registration. Attendance limited to 30 persons.

Hyde, George 04 crop

George Hyde, a member of the Board of the Tampa Bay Great Books Council and the Immediate Past Chairman of the OLLI-USF Advisory Board, asked the most active members of TBGB for books what they would recommend for enjoyment and enlightenment during our mandated period of social distancing. See what they choose and why.

If you enjoy the intellectual stimulation and social interaction that OLLI-USF offers, you’re probably a little miffed at how the Coronavirus is affecting your daily life right now and for at least a few weeks to come.

Let’s face it…government and University officials are taking prudent steps to protect us from a disease with disproportionately adverse impact on older people – “the OLLI Generation,” if you will.  Now we’re being told that one of the most important behaviors under the COVID-19 threat is “social distancing,” just as we’re settling into a schedule of Spring classes with instructors and classmates whose company and whose ideas we enjoy!  So, with OLLI classes in hiatus or cancelled, how can you avoid going stir-crazy?

We asked some of OLLI’s most active members for books they would recommend for enjoyment and enlightenment during our mandated period of social distancing, and some of their ideas are listed below.  The criteria were simple – enjoyable and thought-provoking reads with easy availability (by Amazon delivery or Kindle download, for example).

Linda Feeney of New Tampa is a regular participant and discussion leader

Mystic River

in OLLI Great Books courses, and was one week into leading her new course (“Up for Discussion: Memoirs and Novellas”) when the ban on public gatherings went into effect, putting her course on hiatus. Here’s Linda’s list of “Five Books to Curl Up With”:  “The Man Who Smiled” (Henning Mankell), “Mystic River” (Dennis Lehane), “The Plot Against America” (Philip Roth), “Villette” (Charlotte Bronte), and “Alias Grace” (Margaret Atwood).

Barbara Brown of Temple Terrace managed to complete her

Water Dancer

latest OLLI course on Bob Dylan (“Jokerman: Dylan’s Personas, Masks, and Music”) before classes were suspended.  A former teacher of English in Hillsborough County, Barbara is also active in Literature and Poetry discussions, and serves as an Officer of the Tampa Bay Great Books Council. Barbara offers these ideas to enjoy during this period of enforced social distancing: “The Mirror and the Light” (Hilary Mantel), “The Water Dancer” (Ta-Nehisi Coates ), “American Dirt” (Jeanine Cummins), “The King at the Edge of the World” (Arthur Phillips), and “The Mercies” (Kiran MilIwood Hargrave).

Finally, we checked in with Patrick DeMarco of Riverview, a co-founder of Tampa Bay Great Books and moderator of the OLLI Great Books programs for more than a dozen years.  Patrick’s suggestions include: “Wolf Hall” (Hilary Mantel), “The Italians” (John Hooper), “The Cider House Rules” (John Irving), “On the Plain of Snakes” (Paul Theroux), and “Twenty-five Books That Shaped America” (Thomas Foster).

There you have it – fifteen terrific texts to interest, inspire, and entertain you during this period of reduced social and intellectual engagement. Enjoy!

Tampa Bay Great Books

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Joel Fyvolent offer his input during the Fall conference.

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