Great Books Council of San Francisco

Asilomar Readings

The Great Books Council of San Francisco has held an annual weekend at Asilomar since the 1950s. The following is a nearly-complete record of the fiction, nonfiction and theatre readings that have been discussed each year.


C.P. Snow, The Two Cultures
V.S. Naipaul, Miguel Street
Albert Camus, The Possessed
2018 W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk
Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness
Eugene O'Neill, The Iceman Cometh
2017 John Steinbeck, The Log from the Sea of Cortez
John Steinbeck, Cannery Row
John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men
2016 Alexander Hamilton et al., The Federalist Papers (selections)
Saul Bellow, Seize the Day
August Wilson, The Piano Lesson
2015 Vladimir Nabokov, Speak, Memory
Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
Peter Weiss, Marat/Sade
2014 Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
Joseph Conrad, The Secret Sharer
Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
2013 Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address and Second Inaugural Address
Jane Smiley, A Thousand Acres
William Shakespeare, King Lear


Eugen Herrigel, Zen in the Art of Archery


James Joyce, The Dead


Jean-Paul Sartre, No Exit


Plato, Phaedrus


Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway


George Bernard Shaw, Caesar and Cleopatra


Francis Bacon, The Four Idols of the Mind


Toni Morrison, Beloved


Michael Frayn, Copenhagen


Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi


J. M. Coetzee, Disgrace


Sophocles, Antigone


Niccolo Macchiavelli, Discourses


Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter


Tina Howe, Painting Churches


Stephen Jay Gould, Rocks of Ages: Science and Religion


Iris Murdoch, The Bell


Nilo Cruz, Anna of the Tropics


Anthony de Tocqueville, Democracy in America


Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary


Arthur Miller, The Price


E. O. Wilson, Consilience


Cynthia Ozick, The Shawl and Rosa


August Wilson, Fences


Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self Reliance and American Scholar


Franz Kafka, The Trial


William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part I


Eric Hoffer, The True Believer


F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby


Anton Chekhov, The Sea Gull


Lewis, Amini, Lannon, A General Theory of Love


James Joyce, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man


Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman


Matt Riley, The Origins of Virtue


Albert Camus, The Stranger


Henrik Ibsen, Hedda Gabler


Aristotle, Ethics (selections)


Jose Saramago, Blindness


George Bernard Shaw, Saint Joan


Abraham Lincoln, Lincoln's Great Speeches


Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon


William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure


Carl Jung, The Undiscovered Self


Andre Gide, The Immoralist


David Henry Hwang, M Butterfly


Jean-Jacques Rousseau, On the Origins of Inequality


Herman Melville, Benito Cereno


August Strindberg, Miss Julie


Thomas Paine, Rights of Man


Kobo Abe, Woman in the Dunes


William Shakespeare, The Tempest


Pope John XXIII, Pacem in Terris


Jane Austen, Persuasion


Euripides, The Trojan Women


Sir Thomas More, Utopia


George Eliot, Silas Marner


Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire


Plato, Protagoras


Honore de Balzac, Eugenie Grandet


Arthur Miller, The Crucible


Brian Swimme, The Universe is a Green Dragon


Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter


William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar


Percy Bysshe Shelley, A Defence of Poetry


William Faulkner, The Bear


T. S. Eliot, Murder in the Cathedral


Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self Reliance


Eugene O'Neill, A Moon for the Misbegotten


Plato, Meno


Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn


Bertolt Brecht, Galileo


Jean-Paul Sartre, Existentialism


J. M. Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians


Euripides, The Bacchae


Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning


Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse


Archibald MacLeish, J. B.


George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier


Anne Tyler, Celestial Navigation


William Shakespeare, Coriolanus


Hannah Arendt, On Violence


Ford Madox Ford, The Good Solider


Luigi Pirandello, Six Characters in Search of an Author


John Dewey, Freedom and Culture


Tillie Olsen, Tell Me a Riddle


J. Robinson Jeffers, Dear Judas


Carl Jung, Answer to Job


Albert Camus, The Fall


William Shakespeare, King Lear


John Milton, Areopagitica


Ivan Turgenev, Fathers and Sons


Andre Gide, Two Legends: Oedipus and Theseus 


Aristotle, Ethics


Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome


Friedrich Durrenmatt, The Visit


Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own


John Gardner, Grendel


Honore de Balzac, Le Pere Goriot


William Butler Yeats, On Baile's Strand


Rene Descartes, Meditations


Doris Lessing, Memoirs of a Survivor


George Bernard Shaw, Heartbreak House


Marcus Aurelius, Meditations


Saul Bellow, Dangling Man


Peter Shaffer, Equus


Anthony de Tocqueville, Democracy in America


William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying


Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound


Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan


Mary Shelley, Frankenstein


William Shakespeare, Richard II


Pico della Mirandola, Oration on the Dignity of Man


James Madison, James Monroe, etc., The Federalist Papers


Robert Browning, The Pied Piper of Hamelin


Hans Christian Anderson, The Emperor's New Clothes


William Shakespeare, Othello


Immanuel Kant, Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals


Zen Flesh, Zen Bones


Alexsander Solzhenitsyn, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich


Albert Camus, Caligula


Epictetus, Enchiridion (The Handbook)


Eugen Herrigel, Zen in the Art of Archery


D. H. Lawrence, The Man Who Died


William Shakespeare, The Seven Ages of Man (from As You Like It


Nikos Kazantzakis, The Saviors of God: Spiritual Exercises


Fyodor Dostoevsky, Notes from Underground and The Grand Inquisitor


Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle


David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding


Plato, Theaetetus


Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus


Franz Kafka, Metamorphosis 


King James Bible, The Book of Job


Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness


Arthur Koestler, Darkness at Noon


Leroi Jones, Dutchman


Plato, The Republic (Chapters 4 & 5)


B. F. Skinner, Walden II


Sir Thomas More, Utopia 


Friedrich Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy


Martin Buber, I and Thou 


Joseph Conrad, The Nigger of the Narcissus


William Shakespeare, Richard III


Soren Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling


Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass


Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot


Jose Ortega y Gasset, What is Philosophy?


Thorton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey


Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound


Edmund Sinnott, Biology of the Spirit


Plato, Symposium


Edward Albee, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? 


Plato, The Republic (The Cave) 


Jacob Bronowski, Science and Human Values 


Jean Racine, Phaedra


Henrik Ibsen, The Wild Duck

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