“Reading without reflecting is like eating without digesting.” – Edmund Burke

Every two months, the Maxim Institute Book Club covers a book chosen by one of our research team. At the end of the first month of reading, we produce a reading guide, with links to reviews and summaries to assist your reading, and at the end of the second month, we release our podcast conversation about the book, featuring Maxim staff, and questions submitted by our Book Club community. Click here to sign up.

Book Club VII | Robert Nisbet

The Quest For Community

In the fight against COVID-19, we have seen nations employ varying approaches that shed light on the role of the State, the individual, and communities in different societies. Some responses are agreeable, and others questionable. All, however, highlight the deeper complexities underpinning these relationships.

American sociologist Robert Nisbet’s The Quest for Community provides a framework for understanding the intricacies and tensions between central government, the rise of individualism, and the decline of community. Throughout the book, we get glimpses of Nisbet’s observations of what was happening throughout communities in the Western world, particularly the looming threats of totalitarianism and socialism.

“The quest for community will not be denied, for it springs from some of the powerful needs of human nature.”

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Book Club VI | Alan Jacobs

Breaking Bread with the Dead

“It’s fashionable to think of the writers of the past as irredeemably tarnished by prejudice. Aristotle despised women. John Milton, the great champion of free speech, wouldn’t have granted it to Catholics. Edith Wharton’s imaginative sympathies stopped short of her Jewish characters. But what if it is only through the works of such individuals that we can achieve a necessary perspective on the troubles of the present?
…Discover what Homer can teach us about force, what Machiavelli has to say about reading and what Charlotte Bronte reveals about race. Not all the guests are people you might want to invite into your home, but they all bring something precious to the table.”

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Book Club V | Vivek Murthy


In his book, Murthy dives deep into the innate power that humans are social creatures, and that this simple and obvious truth can transform the effects that are haunting those who are lonely. He grapples with the shame that is associated with loneliness, and the self-deprecating thoughts that surround lonely people, like “I am unlovable,” and “If I disappeared tomorrow, no one would know I was gone.”

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Danielle, Jeremy & Kieran’s thoughts on the book

Book Club IV | E. F. Schumacher

Small is Beautiful

For our pick October/Nov 2020, Julian Wood chose Small is Beautiful by economist E. F. Schumacher. First published in 1973, this analysis on culture looks at our history, Schumacher observes that the process of the industrial revolution has done less for us than what it once promised. Mass production, over productivity, profit over people, flawed education, failing capitalism has all contributed to an economic, environmental and social catastrophe that we are seeing the consequences of now. He calls readers to understand that bigger is not better, and small really is beautiful.

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Julian & Jeremy | thoughts on the book

Book Club III | Viktor Frankl

Man’s Search For Meaning

For our pick August/September 2020, Rowan Light chose Viktor Frankl’s classic – Man’s Search For Meaning. Viktor offers essential insight from his experience in the concentration camps and as a clinical psychiatrist is that the striving to find a logos (from the Greek for “reason” or “meaning”) is the primary motivational force in a person’s life. The experience of the concentration camp provides stark proof that neither pleasure nor power are an adequate motive for life.

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Joanne, Danielle & Rowan | thoughts on the book

Book Club II | Ross Douthat

The Decadent Society

For our pick June/July 2020, Kieran Madden chose Ross Douthat’s latest book, The Decadent Society | How we Became the Victims of Our Own Success. This book aims to comment on and critique American culture, and in doing so, draws out a broader critique of Western culture which has been heavily influenced by the American creative imagination and academy in the post-Second World War period. Douthat explores celebrity politics, sterility, religious renaissance, cultural repetition, moral numbness, climate catastrophe, and space travel.

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Jeremy, Judy & Kieran | thoughts on the book

Book Club I | David Brooks

The Road To Character

For our pick in April/May 2020, Danielle van Dalen chose David Brooks’ latest book, The Road to Character. Brooks’ dives deep into questions that ultimately shape the development of who we are as people.

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Jeremy, Danielle & Joanne | thoughts on the book

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