If you enjoy meeting new people, exchanging ideas, expanding your literary knowledge, and sampling gourmet cuisine, MSOE’s Great Books Dinner and Discussion Series is an adventure you must experience. Partake in a lively discussion, or simply sit back, observe and enjoy the haunting atmosphere of MSOE’s beautiful Alumni Partnership Center. Your reading experiences will spring to life as we gather once again! Whet your appetite in a delightful exchange of great books, great food, and great conversation.

Register for Great Books


October Selection: The Last Days of Night 

by Graham Moore 
October 16, 2019 (session full, spots no longer available)
5:30 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Presenter: Judith Steininger, Professor Emerita
A "shocking" (all puns intended) historical fiction about the vicious competition between George Westinghouse and Thomas Edison as to whom would dictate if the U.S. would run on A.C. or D.C. current. Nikola Tesla is a genius pawn and man incapable of running his own affairs yet so technically capable he can light up the world.  I could not put the book down it was so fascinating.  Alexander Graham Bell makes a cameo. His true-life whereabouts was a jaw dropper. Lots to learn and ponder in this novel; running around New York in the early days is a fringe benefit of the work. The story sticks very tightly to real life.

Appetizer Electrifying Fried Panko Crusted Chicken Strips with AC/DC Dipping Sauce "Honey-Mustard"
First Course Lobster Bisque
Entrée Bourbon BBQ Ribs
Southern Mac & Cheese
Fried Green Tomato
Dessert Edison's Cheesecake with Blueberry Sauce

November Selection: Man's Search for Meaning 

by Viktor Frankl 
November 13, 2019
5:30 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Presenter: Katherine Wikoff, Ph.D.
Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl's memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival. Between 1942 and 1945 Frankl labored in four different camps, including Auschwitz, while his parents, brother, and pregnant wife perished.  Based on his own experience and the experiences of others he treated later in his practice, Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose. Frankl's theory-known as logotherapy, from the Greek word logos ("meaning") - holds that our primary drive in life is not pleasure, as Freud maintained, but the discovery and pursuit of what we personally find meaningful. At the time of Frankl's death in 1997, Man's Search for Meaning had sold more than 10 million copies in twenty-four languages. A 1991 reader survey for the Library of Congress that asked readers to name a "book that made a difference in your life" found Man's Search for Meaning among the ten most influential books in America.


Appetizer Knodel (Dumplings)
First Course Austrian Goulash
Entrée Tafelspitz (Beef with Broth
Vegetables and Potatoes)
Dessert Apple Strudel

January Selection: Riders of the Purple Sage

by Zane Grey
January 15, 2020
5:30 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Presenter: Judith Steininger, Professor Emerita
This western written in 1912 is set in Utah in 1871.  Out of so many great western's Riders is ranked at the top by many critics.  It has bad guys, good guys, an independent woman, lots of Mormons (not all praiseworthy) and elegant scene descriptions. Elroy Leonard probably took some tips for writing his shoot-em up detective stories; some of the best gun fights I've ever read. I was shocked the first time I read it years ago by the nastiness and hatred of many participants. I always stick to my thesis that you can't understand American without studying the west - warts and all.

Appetizer Baked Bean Dip
First Course Western Chopped Salad
Entrée Braised Short Ribs, Sauteed Greens, Purple Sage Potatoes
Dessert Blueberry Pie

February Selection: Blue Pastures

by Mary Oliver
February 19, 2020
5:30 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Presenter: David Howell, Ph.D.
With consummate craftsmanship, Mary Oliver has fashioned fifteen luminous prose pieces: on nature, writing, and herself and those around her. She praises Whitman, denounces cuteness, notes where to find the extraordinary, and extols solitude.

Appetizer Grilled Chicken Kabobs
First Course Brussels Caesar Salad
Entrée Seared Scallops, Thyme Roasted Potatoes, Sauteed Garlic Spinach
Dessert Pineapple Upside Down Cake

March Selection: The Master and Margarita

by Mikhail Bulgakov
March 11, 2020
5:30 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Presenter: Jennifer Farrell, Ph.D.
Nothing in the whole of literature compares with The Master and Margarita. One spring afternoon, the Devil, trailing fire and chaos in his wake, weaves himself out of the shadows and into Moscow. Mikhail Bulgakov's fantastical, funny, and devastating satire of Soviet life combines two distinct yet interwoven parts, one set in contemporary Moscow, the other in ancient Jerusalem, each brimming with historical, imaginary, frightful and wonderful characters. Written during the darkest days of Stalin's reign, and finally published in 1966 and 1967, The Master and Margarita became a literary phenomenon, signaling artistic and spiritual freedom for Russians everywhere.

Appetizer Smoked Trout
First Course Shchi (Cabbage Soup)
Entrée Beef Stroganoff
Buttered Egg Noodles
Dessert Ponchiki (Donut)

April Selection: The Art of Travel

by Alain de Botton
April 1, 2020
5:30 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Presenter: David Howell, Ph.D.
Any Baedeker will tell us where we out to travel, but only Alain de Botton will tell us how and why. With the same intelligence and insouciant charm, he brought to How Proust Can Save Your Life, de Botton considers the pleasures of anticipation; the allure of the exotic, and the value of noticing everything from a seascape in Barbados to the takeoffs of Heathrow.

Appetizer Bitterballen with Mustard (Savory Breaded Meatball)
First Course Ensalada Mixta (Spanish mixed salad)
Entrée London Broil, Mashed Potatoes,
Broccolini Sautee
Dessert Creme Caramel

May Selection: Pale Fire

by Vladimir Nobakov
May 13, 2020
5:30 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Presenter: Jennifer Farrell, Ph.D.
In Pale Fire Nabokov offers a cornucopia of deceptive pleasures: a 999-line poem by the reclusive genius John Shade; an adoring foreword and commentary by Shade's self-styled Boswell, Dr. Charles Kinbote; a darkly comic novel of suspense, literary idolatry and one-upmanship, and political intrigue.

Appetizer New England Crab Cakes
First Course Roasted Beet Salad
Entrée Turkey ala King in Pastry, Grilled Asparagus

Dessert Whoopie Pie

June Selection: Longbourn

by Jo Baker
June 3, 2020
5:30 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Presenter: Katherine Wikoff, Ph.D.
In this irresistibly imagined below stairs answer to Pride and Prejudice, the servants take center stage. Sarah, the orphaned housemaid,spends her days scrubbing the laundry, polishing the floors, and emptying the chamber pots for the Bennet household.  But there is just as much romance, heartbreak, and intrigue downstairs at Longbourn as there is upstairs. When a mysterious new footman arrives, the orderly realm of the servants' hall threatens to be completely, perhaps irrevocably, upended. Jo Baker dares to take us beyond the drawing rooms of Jane Austen's classic - into the often overlooked domain of the stern housekeeper and the starry-eyed kitchen maid, into the gritty daily particulars faced by the lower classes in Regency England during the Napoleonic Wars - and, in doing so, creates a vivid, fascinating, fully realized world that is wholly her own. 

Appetizer Warm Oven Brie with Baguette
First Course Nicoise Salad
Entrée Coq au Vin (Chicken & Wine), Whipped Potatoes, French Green Beans

Dessert Flourless Chocolate Cake