The 60th Annual Great Books at Colby Summer Institute

July 24–30, 2016
Location: Colby College, Waterville, Maine
Costs: $580
Who Should Attend: Anyone who loves books, enjoys discussing them with others, and seeks an inexpensive, intellectually stimulating vacation.
Join our annual week of lively discussion at Colby College. We are a community of people who enjoy reading and discussing Great Books. Have you ever closed a book after reading the last page and wished you could share your thoughts with someone? Colby offers an opportunity to collaborate in discovering insights rarely achieved just reading alone. Located on a beautiful campus, it offers an inexpensive, intellectually stimulating vacation where readers who love to think and talk about the world's great literary works can derive pleasure from spending time with others who share their enthusiasm. For two hours each day, readers discuss their understanding of thought-provoking classics through the Great Books Foundation's Shared Inquiry Method. Our focus this year is on The Search for Meaning. Man's recognition of his mortality and repeated confrontation with the trials and tribulations of human existence invariably initiate a quest for meaning.  Join us in examining how these great writers view this process.

Adult Readings:  The Search For Meaning

Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning
Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain (two days)
J.L. Carr, A Month in the Country
Peter Matthiessen, The Snow Leopard
Margaret Edson, Wit:  A Play

The 2016 Junior Great Books Readings will be updated soon.  Please check back with us.  Thank you!

2015 Junior Great Books Readings: Grade 8 and up:  Lois Lowry, The Giver; Suzanne Fisher Staples, Shabanu, Daughter of the Wind; Gail Tsukiyama, Women of the Silk: A Novel; An Hour with Poetry, William Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, ee cummings, Richard Blanco, et al.

Grades 6 & 7:  Clare Vanderproof, Moon over Manifest; Jacqueline Kelly, The Evolution of Calpernia Tate; E.L. Konigsburg, Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth; and Gary D. Schmidt, The Wednesday Wars.

Grades 1-5: Pearl S. Buck, The Big Wave; Alice Dalgliesh, The Courage of Sarah Noble; Patricia Reilly Giff, Lily's Crossing; Kate DiCamillo, Tale of Despereaux.

Registration covers books and discussions, as well as swimming, tennis, films, group social activities, and a real Maine lobster bake. On-campus registration includes a single or double dormitory room (six nights: Sunday through Friday) and all meals.  This year, there is an option at an additional charge for staying over Saturday night either before the week (July 25) or after (August 1).  Either night provides an opportunity to attend the Atlantic Music Festival's outstanding free classical music concert.  We also offer a Children's Program for ages three and above.  Commuters participate in all activities, but live on their own, off-campus, and receive lunch each day and the Friday night lobster bake.

Bus trip information for the 2016 course will be updated soon.  Please check back with us.  Thank you!


The cost for commuters (participants who live off-campus) is $290 and includes lunches and the lobster bake. Scholarships are available on a need basis. We are also offering a one time $50 discount to Colby alumni!  Our registration deadline is June 28.

2015 Option One:  Bus Trip to Camden, Maine: Wednesday, July 29, 11:45 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.

Camden is a quintessential New England maritime village, home to an abundance of antique shops, boutiques, art galleries, and gift shops.  the afternoon will be spent touring the town with discretionary shopping followed by an early dinner at your own expense.  Please pre-pay for the bus trip with your registration deposit.  Things to do in Camden:

2015 Option Two:  Additional Saturday Nights to Attend the Atlantic Music Festival's Concerts:

Extra nights:  Saturday, July 25 ($80, lodging, dinner, breakfast, and lunch) or August 1 ($75, lodging, dinner and breakfast).  Concerts are free.  Please pre-pay for additional nights with your registration deposit.

You may register online by clicking here to download a registration form.  Or, if you prefer to mail your registration, send it to:

Great Books at Colby
P.O. Box 424
Newtown Square, PA  19073

Contact Information

Great Books Summer Institute at Colby
P.O. Box 424
Newtown Square,
PA 19073

The 2016 schedule will be added soon.  Please check back with us.  Thank you!


Partial Schedule

Arrival:  Sunday, July 26, 2015
1:00-6:00 p.m.:  Registration - Mary Low Building
5:30 p.m.:  First Meal
8:30 p.m.:  Welcome Reception

Daily Discussions:  9:00-11:30 a.m.
Monday:  Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart, pp. 4-209
Tuesday:  John Milton, Paradise Lost, pp. 9-175
Wednesday:  John Milton, Paradise Lost, pp. 177-403
Thursday:  David Hume, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, pp. 1-90
Friday:  William Faulkner, Absalom, Absolom, pp. 3-303
Saturday:  Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, pp. 39-245

Special Events:
Wednesday, Noon, Optional Bus Trip to Camden ($30)
Optional overnight attendance of Atlantic Music Festival's Concert (additional charge):  Saturday nights, 7/25 ($80) and 8/1 ($75).

Departure:  Saturday, August 1
11:15 a.m.:  "Hail and Farewell" on the lawn
11:30 a.m.:  Lunch & Departure

Times and locations of other activities for the week, including a Lobster Bake, films, Talent Show, and Wachs Works, will be announced at registration.