Book Reading Group

When in class 9, there was a book fair in Bagalkot, my home town. Although any fair was new and exciting to us, a book fair wasn’t exactly celebrated. On visiting it with a few of my friends, the only familiar author I found there was Darwin. I knew I had heard that name somewhere in my biology class.

Since then, I have made several failed attempts to read On the Origin of Species and have not gone past some of the paragraph long sentences without feeling like a moron. On discussing this with a few people at CES we realised that a lot of people have gone through this exercise of attempting to read the book. So how about starting a book reading group where we can discuss On the Origin of Species chapter by chapter? We could take some ideas from here.

If this works well we could discuss other interesting books. So please do comment on

  • the idea (whether it would last till we reach the end of the book)
  • ways in which we could discuss the chapters
  • Probably we could also post excerpts from each session on the blog

If you are interested to join the book reading group, please leave your mail id here or mail us at ess@ces.iisc.ernet.in  so that we can let you know when we plan to meet.

That’s All! (à la Annette Hanshaw)

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8 comments

  1. torsey

    Sounds great! At least it’ll get me to read that damn book! I skimmed through the link you’ve posted, but there are some great ideas in there.

  2. manvi1989

    Great idea! I feel the discussion should have some format, just to get people talking. We could have a discussion leader each time who could read a little extra especially about the prevailing criticisms to Darwin’s ideas,or the leader could invite others for comments or final thoughts.

    • Aparna Lajmi

      Hey Manvi, sounds good. We could have one person leading the discussion. Also I was thinking if people could read different editions we could see how his ideas changed over time, and with political and peer pressure. Or we could just stick to the first edition as suggested by Dr. Jeremy Fox (link above in the blog). What do you think?

  3. Shrék Deodhar

    Really good idea!! I’m already 2 failed attempts old. Perhaps breaking it down chapter-wise into bite-size pieces should do the trick.

    I remember discussing the same issue (of getting bored and tired after reading the first few paragraphs) with some others. I was told on a couple of occasions, that instead of reading “On the Origin…” you should read “The Voyage of the Beagle”. It’s more of a travelogue and makes a more interesting read and gives insights into the naturalist that Darwin was, and also his adventures with people, diseases and sea-sickness :-P.

    I haven’t yet acted upon this very promising-looking advice. But, what do you guys think of it?

    • Aparna Lajmi

      Hi Shreekant, for me one of the advantages of a book reading group is that we could try and tackle the not-so-easy parts together. If one person doesn’t get it, there would be others to help out. Plus this book could also lead to a lot of discussion on various concepts (well so could The Voyage of the Beagle, but since I have read neither I would blindly place my bet on this book). Its a little ironic that being in CES a lot of people are yet to read this book (We should have a poll to see how many people have actually read this book)!
      What do you think?

      Also, Praveen asks in this course if people have read this book and I have taken his course twice!

  4. Manvi

    @Aparna, i agree it would be nicer to read from both the first and the last edition. Lets call a meeting and ask participants to pick their edition. lets meet this thursday ?

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