Last year a small non-fiction reading group was established in the village - with the help of ‘The Villager’. The group meets every three months to discuss a work of non-fiction -in science, sociology, history, politics, or the arts. The touchstone for the choice of book is a strong contemporary relevance - a book about issues in which everyone has a stake and about which everyone can have an opinion. Although the intention is to keep the group small, we would welcome one or two more members (we are currently six). To give a better idea of the group, it might be helpful to mention the three books we have already discussed. They are:
Happiness - by Richard Layard The economist Richard Layard argues that the overall happiness of society can now be estimated by direct measurement and that such estimates provide a better guide to progress and policy than the currently dominant proxy measures of GNP and economic growth. Layard also examines what is known about what makes people happier and suggests how progress might be made a) by individuals and b) by government and public policy.
Hegemony or Survival - by Naom Chomsky A review of US foreign policy over the last fifty years - by the man often described as America’s foremost public intellectual. Chomsky argues that the political-military-industrial establishment in the United States has consistently pursued a strategy of global domination without regard to its own professed ideals and constitution (i.e. an opposite point of view from the one taken in Niall Ferguson’s recent work, Colossus, which defends America’s role in the wider world).
What Good are The Arts? - by John Carey John Carey, Professor of English Literature at Merton College, Oxford, questions many of the prevailing assumptions about the place of the arts in society and argues that our current concept of 'high culture' has less to do with the innate superiority of opera over soap-opera and more to do with the attempt of a self-appointed cultural elite to demonstrate its superior taste and status.
The next two books to be discussed will be The Human Story by the evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar and either The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins or The End of Faith by Sam Harris.
If there is anyone who would like to discuss joining the group, please telephone on 838431 or email firstname.lastname@example.org