Great Books Council of San Francisco

Barbara McConnell Great Books Weekend at Asilomar

One of the major events of the year for the Great Books Council of San Francisco is the spring weekend at the Asilomar Conference Center in Monterey, California, named in honor of beloved Great Books leader Barbara McConnell. During the weekend there are discussions of poetry, a work of nonfiction, a work of theatre and a work of fiction. The beauty of the area is conducive to stimulating discussions and convivial parties.

Our next Asilomar weekend will be held on March 31 - April 2, 2017.

John Steinbeck is the only California native to have been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Born in Salinas, he attended Stanford and chose to remain in Central California, living in Salinas and Pacific Grove. The California people and its land often provide a backdrop or subject for his novels, including East of Eden, The Grapes of Wrath, Cannery Row, Of Mice and Men, Tortilla Flat and The Red Pony. Most of his works explore themes of fate and injustice.

In 2017, the Asilomar Weekend will celebrate and discuss the works of John Steinbeck.

Our weekend plans also include:

Registration for this event is now closed.

There are two ways to get more information and register for this event:

For a mail-in form, please download the mail-in registration form.

To register online with PayPal or a credit card, please use online registration.

During retreats in recent years we've discussed plays such as The Piano Lesson, Marat/Sade, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, King Lear, and No Exit; works of fiction such as Seize the Day, The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Secret Sharer, A Thousand Acres, and The Dead; and nonfiction works by authors such as Alexander Hamilton, Vladimir Nabokov, Annie Dillard, Abraham Lincoln, and Eugen Herrigel; as well as selected poetry. To see what works the San Francisco has discussed during our 50+ years at Asilomar, please click this past discussion list.

The Asilomar event co-coordinators are Rob Calvert and Louise Morgan. Rob can be reached via email at

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