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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 two to three-month sessions, alumni will read and discuss Core or Core-like texts through this private book club on the Goodreads online platform.

Fall 2019 Session 1: The Iliad

"Fate is the same for the man who holds back, the same if he fights hard.
We are all held in a single honor, the brave with the weaklings.
A man dies still if he has done nothing, as one who has done much." (Book 9, lines 318-320)

Perhaps you recall these lines from Homer's epic poem, The Iliad, the first work on the Lit Hum syllabus. Read this classic again in the fall's first session of Core Conversations virtual book club, beginning Saturday, September 7, 2019, with Professor Kate Meng Brassel CC'06.

September 7–October 12

join the discussion

Fall 2019 Session 2: Plato's Republic

In the 100th year of Contemporary Civilization's introductory class, don't miss the chance to join our October-November virtual book club, with Plato's Republic, guided by Professor Marcus Folch. Republic, which discusses the meaning of justice and the structure of an ideal society and soul, is considered by many as the cornerstone of Plato’s corpus.

October 18–November 23


Past Sessions

Julius Caesar and Othello, William Shakespeare with Professor Julie Crawford

Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville with Professor Richard John

Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoevsky with Professor Deborah Martinsen

How to Sign Up

  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!

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.

Can non-alumni join?

Yes! Feel free to invite friends, spouses and family members to join 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.