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San Francisco Regional Mensa

Big Ideas Reading Group

Big Ideas Reading Group photo

In early 2009, a Mensa reading group began meeting, with the theme of big ideas. The current meeting location is Le Boulanger, 20488 Stevens Creek Blvd., Cupertino, CA 95014. Le Boulanger is at the southeast corner of De Anza and Stevens Creek in Cupertino, in front of the Cypress Hotel, with plenty of free garage parking. We meet the second Saturday of the month, 3:30-6pm. Deviations from that are highlighted. The Menlo Park meetings are at Kepler's Books, 1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park. All are welcome to attend. Each book is selected by the group at least a month in advance. Members are encouraged to read the book before the meeting. The format is open discussion, with just enough moderation to assure everyone gets a fair chance to share. Our book list is below. We use this email list for announcements and some discussion. Contact .

This unsolicited testimonial from Mary E. expresses it well:

I love the Big Ideas Reading Group too (even though for various reasons of life logistics that I won't go into here I have missed the last few sessions). I highly recommend it for anyone within driving distance of Cupertino (California). It is my all time favorite Mensa event. That group reads mostly great non-fiction, and I am really loving this month's book (Too big to know... by David Weinberger). Besides the books being really good (at least for my non-fiction tastes), there are always lots of interesting discussions, which in typical Mensa fashion often wonder far from the book :)

  1. The Next Fifty Years: Science in the First Half of the 21st Century, edited by John Brockman
  2. Conversations on Consciousness, a collection of interviews conducted by Susan Blackmore
  3. Decoding the Universe by Charles Seife
  4. The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence, by Ray Kurzweil
  5. Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon, by Daniel Dennett
  6. Unweaving the Rainbow by Richard Dawkins
  7. How We Believe by Michael Shermer
  8. Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever by Ray Kurzweil and Terry Grossman
  9. 12-12-2009 The Political Mind by George Lakoff
  10. 01-16-2010 Descartes Error:Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain by Antonio Damasio
  11. 02-13-2010 The Monty Hall Problem: The Remarkable Story of Math's Most Contentious Brain Teaser, by Jason Rosenhouse
  12. 03-13-2010 Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes
  13. 04-10-2010 Don't Believe Everything You Think: The 6 Basic Mistakes We Make in Thinking, by Thomas Kida
  14. 05-08-2010 The Intelligent Universe, by James Gardner
  15. 06-12-2010 How We Decide, by Jonah Lehrer
  16. 07-10-2010 The Greatest Show On Earth: The Evidence for Evolution, by Richard Dawkins
  17. 08-14-2010 Quantum Evolution, by Johnjoe McFadden
  18. 09-11-2010 Introducing Evolutionary Psychology, by Dylan Evans and Oscar Zarate
  19. 10-09-2010 If the Universe Is Teeming with Aliens... Where Is Everybody? Fifty Solutions to Fermi's Paradox and the Problem of Extraterrestrial Life, by Stephen Webb
  20. 11-13-2010 Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell
  21. 12-11-2010 The Faith Instinct: How Religion Evolved & Why It Endures, by Nicholas Wade.
  22. 01-08-2011 Visions, by Michio Kaku
  23. 02-12-2011 Fabric of Reality, by David Deutsch
  24. 03-12-2011 (no March meeting)
  25. 04-02-2011 Godel, Escher, Bach, by Douglas Hofstadter
  26. 05-14-2011 Godel, Escher, Bach, by Douglas Hofstadter
  27. 06-11-2011 The Grand Design by Hawking and Mlodinow
  28. 07-09-2011 Unbounding the Future: The Nanotechnology Revolution by Drexler, Peterson, and Pegamit.
  29. 08-13-2011 Beyond AI, by J. Storrs Hall
  30. 09-10-2011 Complexity: The Emerging Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos, by M. Mitchell Waldrop
  31. 10-08-2011 Guesstimation: Solving the World's Problems on the Back of A Cocktail Napkin, by Lawrence Weinstein
  32. 11-12-2011 Ending Aging: The Rejuvenation Breakthroughs that Could Reverse Human Aging in Our Lifetime, by Aubrey de Gray
  33. 12-10-2011 Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe, by Peter D. Ward & Donald Brownlee
  34. 01-14-2012 Physics for Future Presidents, by Richard Muller
  35. 02-11-2012 The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievment, by David Brooks
  36. 03-10-2012 The War of Worldviews--Science vs Spirituality, by Leonard Mlodinow with Deepak Chopra
  37. 04-14-2012 The Clock of the Long Now: Time and Responsibility. The ideas Behind the World's Slowest Computer, by Stewart Brand
  38. 05-12-2012 The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World by David Deutsch
  39. 06-16-2012 Note date change. Truth: A Guide, by Simon Blackburn
  40. 07-14-2012 Do Not Go Gentle, Book One, Discovery [book one of three], by Mark Millstorm (Muhlestein). Mark is a member of our group. This is his new book that has just came out on Kindle. You can download a free copy of Kindle and then download the book at $0.99.
  41. 08-11-2012 Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts Aren't the Facts, Experts Are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room Is the Room, by David Weinberger
  42. 09-08-2012 NOTE location change Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, Kepler's in Menlo Park, with a 2pm pre-meeting event
  43. 10-13-2012 Knocking on Heaven's Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World, by Lisa Randall
  44. 11-10-2012 NOTE location change The Evolution of Cooperation (Revised Edition) by Robert Axelrod with forward by Richard Dawkins, Kepler's in Menlo Park at 4pm
  45. 12-08-2012 The Drunkard's Walk:How Randomness Rules Our Lives, by Leonard Mlodinow.
  46. 01-12-2013 NOTE location change The Perfect Swarm: The Science of Complexity in Everyday Life by Len Fisher, Kepler's in Menlo Park at 4pm.
  47. 02-09-2013 Paradox: The Nine Greatest Enigmas in Physics, by Jim Al-Halili.
  48. 03-09-2013 NOTE location change Nine Algorithms That Changed the Future: The Ingenious Ideas That Drive Today's Computers, by John MacCormick, Kepler's in Menlo Park at 4pm.

An expanded book list has a brief description of some of the books.

Big Ideas Reading Group photo