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.

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

2012

Eugen Herrigel, Zen in the Art of Archery

 

James Joyce, The Dead

 

Jean-Paul Sartre, No Exit

2011

Plato, Phaedrus

 

Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway

 

George Bernard Shaw, Caesar and Cleopatra

2010

Francis Bacon, The Four Idols of the Mind

 

Toni Morrison, Beloved

 

Michael Frayn, Copenhagen

2009

Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi

 

J. M. Coetzee, Disgrace

 

Sophocles, Antigone

2008

Niccolo Macchiavelli, Discourses

 

Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

 

Tina Howe, Painting Churches

2007

Stephen Jay Gould, Rocks of Ages: Science and Religion

 

Iris Murdoch, The Bell

 

Nilo Cruz, Anna of the Tropics

2006

Anthony de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

 

Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary

 

Arthur Miller, The Price

2005

E. O. Wilson, Consilience

 

Cynthia Ozick, The Shawl and Rosa

 

August Wilson, Fences

2004

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self Reliance and American Scholar

 

Franz Kafka, The Trial

 

William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part I

2003

Eric Hoffer, The True Believer

 

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

 

Anton Chekhov, The Sea Gull

2002

Lewis, Amini, Lannon, A General Theory of Love

 

James Joyce, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

 

Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman

2001

Matt Riley, The Origins of Virtue

 

Albert Camus, The Stranger

 

Henrik Ibsen, Hedda Gabler

2000

Aristotle, Ethics (selections)

 

Jose Saramago, Blindness

 

George Bernard Shaw, Saint Joan

1999

Abraham Lincoln, Lincoln's Great Speeches

 

Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon

 

William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

1998

Carl Jung, The Undiscovered Self

 

Andre Gide, The Immoralist

 

David Henry Hwang, M Butterfly

1997

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, On the Origins of Inequality

 

Herman Melville, Benito Cereno

 

August Strindberg, Miss Julie

1996

Thomas Paine, Rights of Man

 

Kobo Abe, Woman in the Dunes

 

William Shakespeare, The Tempest

1995

Pope John XXIII, Pacem in Terris

 

Jane Austen, Persuasion

 

Euripides, The Trojan Women

1994

Sir Thomas More, Utopia

 

George Eliot, Silas Marner

 

Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire

1993

Plato, Protagoras

 

Honore de Balzac, Eugenie Grandet

 

Arthur Miller, The Crucible

1991

Brian Swimme, The Universe is a Green Dragon

 

Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

 

William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

1990

Percy Bysshe Shelley, A Defence of Poetry

 

William Faulkner, The Bear

 

T. S. Eliot, Murder in the Cathedral

1989

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self Reliance

 

Eugene O'Neill, A Moon for the Misbegotten

1988

Plato, Meno

 

Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn

 

Bertolt Brecht, Galileo

1987

Jean-Paul Sartre, Existentialism

 

J. M. Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians

 

Euripides, The Bacchae

1986

Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning

 

Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse

 

Archibald MacLeish, J. B.

1985

George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier

 

Anne Tyler, Celestial Navigation

 

William Shakespeare, Coriolanus

1984

Hannah Arendt, On Violence

 

Ford Madox Ford, The Good Solider

 

Luigi Pirandello, Six Characters in Search of an Author

1983

John Dewey, Freedom and Culture

 

Tillie Olsen, Tell Me a Riddle

 

J. Robinson Jeffers, Dear Judas

1982

Carl Jung, Answer to Job

 

Albert Camus, The Fall

 

William Shakespeare, King Lear

1981

John Milton, Areopagitica

 

Ivan Turgenev, Fathers and Sons

 

Andre Gide, Two Legends: Oedipus and Theseus 

1980

Aristotle, Ethics

 

Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome

 

Friedrich Durrenmatt, The Visit

1979

Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own

 

John Gardner, Grendel

 

Honore de Balzac, Le Pere Goriot

 

William Butler Yeats, On Baile's Strand

1978

Rene Descartes, Meditations

 

Doris Lessing, Memoirs of a Survivor

 

George Bernard Shaw, Heartbreak House

1977

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

 

Saul Bellow, Dangling Man

 

Peter Shaffer, Equus

1976

Anthony de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

 

William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying

 

Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound

1975

Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan

 

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

 

William Shakespeare, Richard II

1974

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

1973

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

1972

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

1971

Nikos Kazantzakis, The Saviors of God: Spiritual Exercises

 

Fyodor Dostoevsky, Notes from Underground and The Grand Inquisitor

 

Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle

1970

David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding

 

Plato, Theaetetus

 

Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus

 

Franz Kafka, Metamorphosis 

1969

King James Bible, The Book of Job

 

Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

 

Arthur Koestler, Darkness at Noon

 

Leroi Jones, Dutchman

1968

Plato, The Republic (Chapters 4 & 5)

 

B. F. Skinner, Walden II

 

Sir Thomas More, Utopia 

1967

Friedrich Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy

 

Martin Buber, I and Thou 

 

Joseph Conrad, The Nigger of the Narcissus

 

William Shakespeare, Richard III

1966

Soren Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling

 

Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

 

Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot

1965

Jose Ortega y Gasset, What is Philosophy?

 

Thorton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey

 

Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound

1964

Edmund Sinnott, Biology of the Spirit

 

Plato, Symposium

 

Edward Albee, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? 

1962

Plato, The Republic (The Cave) 

 

Jacob Bronowski, Science and Human Values 

 

Jean Racine, Phaedra

 

Henrik Ibsen, The Wild Duck

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