Book Club

Over the past couple of years I’ve been leading online discussions of some important and interesting books.  This has been a fun and illuminating process.

These discussions constitute a kind of online book club.  That’s because we use social media to share reflections and information about the books.  The readings usually follow a schedule, but people can read and respond whenever they like.  So far we’ve read a dozen books (scroll down for the list).  Some authors have gotten involved as well through Twitter conversations (Malka Older, Tressie McMillan Cottom) or Future Trends Forum videoconferences (available on YouTube: Rich DeMillo, Sara Goldrick-Rab)).

For each reading I’ve blogged my own path through the book, preceded by organizational posts.  Other readers have joined in by writing comments on these posts and/or blogging themselves.  Each post is tagged, so you can quickly find all posts on a specific title.  People have also added comments on other social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn, not to mention Goodreads.

Weapons of Math Destruction, coverWhy these books?  Sometimes they are titles I was interested in and thought significant.  At other times the book came up through social media discussion.  Our near future science fiction series is the most democratic, with people suggesting and voting on titles from a master list.

Our current reading: Cathy O’Neil, Weapons of Math Destruction.  It is a powerful and critical look at big data and data analytics.  Here is our reading plan.

Previous readings include (links are to relevant blog posts):

Vernor Vinge, Rainbows End (Amazon) (Wikipedia) (published 2006, read 2017).

Tressie McMillan CottomLower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy. (published and read 2017)

Sara Goldrick-Rab, Paying the Price (published and read 2017)

Miles Horton and Paulo Freire, We Make the Road by Walking (read 2016)

Madeline Ashby, Company Town (published and read 2016)

Malka Older, Infomocracy (published and read 2016).

Ernst Cline, Ready Player One (published 2011, read 2016)

Paulo Bacigalupi, The Water Knife (published 2015, read 2016)

Richard DeMillo, Revolution in Higher Education (published 2015, discussed 2015-16)

Robert Putnam, Our Kids (published 2015, discussed 2015)

Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, The Second Machine Age (published 2014, discussed 2014)

Rebecca Solnit, River of Shadows (2003; discussed 2014)

Thomas Piketty, Capital in the 21st Century (2013; discussed 2014)

I’ve enjoyed seeing other people’s opinions, watching them read from their perspectives and through their interests, just like a book club meeting in someone’s living room.  Unlike that living room, we’ve seen people around the world chime in, and do so staggered over time.