Although I approved of its goals, I was skeptical about the popularity of Williams Reads. I e-mailed AB ’07, who was scheduled to lead the January 16th discussion section. He didn’t reply, but my guess is that the exercise largely failed, meaning that almost no one not directly involved in planning the project showed up for the 4 discussion sections. To repeat a comment I made in the EphBlog thread about the claim that 500 copies of the book had been distributed.

Again, I am a fan of the idea behind Williams Reads and hope that the program continues for 50 years. But 500 copies! Color me skeptical. Are there really 500+ students/faculty/staff at Williams willing to take hours of time to read and discuss The Namesake? I doubt it. (The test will come if even half of these diligent readers come to one of the discussion sections during 1/16 to 1/19. I would be shocked to see 250 people show up for these events.)

An empirical question! How many people showed up? How interesting was the discussions? And how did the distribution of the next 200 (!) copies go?

Even though I suspect that very, very few people actually read the book or were interested enough to attend a discussion, I am still a fan of the idea. Better next year to 1) Have an on-line presence of some kind; 2) Involve alumni and 3) Pick a book of wider interest. In January 2008, something related to Presidential elections might work.

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