About the group
The Great Books Discussion Group meets the first Saturday of every month at the Lawrence Public Library, 700 New Hampshire St., from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. It is free to join and all ages are welcomed.
About 20 people gathered in the north room of the Lawrence Public Library on Saturday afternoon, arranging chairs, riffling through their books and quietly discussing things like contemporary critiques of William Wordsworth, modern realism and classical female authors.
They were preparing for a meeting of the Great Books Discussion Group, wherein teachers, academics and like-minded readers discuss works of literature for two hours each month.
Terry Smith arranged the group in late 2011 after moving to the Lawrence area from Houston.
“I was really surprised when I came to Lawrence and there wasn't one," Smith said. "I think it’s so good for the community to have a group like this. We have some really stimulating discussion and some really dedicated people.”
At a glance, the list of books the group has discussed — and plans to discuss — resembles a reading list for a college Western Civilization course. Dante Alighieri, Joseph Conrad and Niccolo Machiavelli are but a few of the selected authors.
Saturday’s discussion centered on John Stuart Mills’ “On Liberty.”
“It’s a perfect example of what we read,” Smith said. “It deals with the kinds of ideas we want to discuss; they’re eternal, classical ideas that are never resolved and that we can discuss them to, in this case, get Mill’s perspective.”
The group is open to the public, but there are a couple of rules that attendees must follow: Only those who have read the selected book may participate in discussion and digressions must be limited.