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Virtual Book Club

Core Conversations is a new online book club experience that allows College alumni to re-engage with the Core Curriculum, in a faculty-guided Columbia-only experience. Read Core and Core-like texts with the critical approach and dialogue experienced in the classroom.

Virtual Book Club

The Core Curriculum is one of the most profound intellectual and personal experiences students have at Columbia College. Core Conversations invites you to join fellow alumni and Columbia faculty in an exciting program that encourages critical reading and thought-provoking discussions characteristic of the Core classroom, from wherever you are and at your own pace. In three-month sessions, alumni will read and discuss Core or Core-like texts through this private book club on the Goodreads online platform.

Fall 2018 Session: Professor Deborah Martinsen will lead the first Core Conversation with the Literature Humanities favorite Crime and Punishment. Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s tale of a nihilist student whose brutal crime launches an examination of injustice, inequality and the rights of the individual versus the collective maintains a startling salience today. This Core Conversation will begin on Thursday, October 4th and run for three months.



  1. Go to and sign in if you already have an account. If you are new to Goodreads, click "Create an Account" and enter your name, email address and create a password.
  2. Once logged in to your Goodreads account, click here to reach the Core Conversations group, then click the "Join Group" button. Make sure to type your full name and your Columbia College year into the message box that appears, so we can verify your Columbia College connection. Your membership should be confirmed within 24-48 hours.
  3. Non-alums should include the full name and Columbia College class year of the alum with whom they are joining.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Columbia using Goodreads?

Through Goodreads, the professor posts your reading assignments and guiding questions to generate discussion. Members can post to discussions, ask questions and exchange insights, making the reading experience communal and more expansive than when you read great books on your own.

What if I want to join, but missed the first session?

Feel free to join the discussion at any point. If you like, you can read the past discussions to learn what the group has been focusing on.

What's the cost?

None! There is no cost to join Goodreads or to participate in Core Conversations.

How will I interact with the professor?

The professor leading each Core Conversation will be available via discussions posts and on occasion via a live video stream.

Do I need a certain edition or version of the book?

Please check the "Upcoming" and "Currently Reading" descriptions for whether a specific edition is required. In addition, Goodreads will have a link to the version the professor is using. Faculty will likely not require a specific edition, although they will likely reference page numbers from the edition they are using.

Can I do more than one Core Conversation each year?

Yes! Please join as many Core Conversations as you'd like!

How much will I have to read? Do I need to have finished the entire book or set of readings by the first session?

No. The professor will post a reading plan that assumes you have not read any of the book before the first session. Each Core Conversation will last approximately three months.

Can non-alumni join?

Yes! Feel free to invite friends, spouses and family members to join with you in a Core Conversation experience. Non-alums cannot join on their own, though, as our goal is to maintain the Columbia College connection. When your non-alum clicks the "Join Group" link, they must list the name and class year of their affiliate alumnus/a in the Note section.