| August 9, 2018


Podcast #430: Why You Need to Join the Great Conversation About the Great Books

There are conversations between friends. Conversations between family. And conversations in the media. But did you know there’s also been a conversation going on between writers, thinkers, and philosophers for a couple thousand years? What’s been called “the Great Conversation” refers to the way the authors of the so-called “Great Books” have for millennia been referencing and riffing on the work of their predecessors, and this dialogue is one you can not only eavesdrop on yourself, but join in.

My guest today founded an online community that helps people take part in the Great Conversation. His name is Scott Hambrick, and he’s both a Starting Strength barbell lifting coach, and the creator of Online Great Books, a program which helps people read and discuss the classic texts of Western literature. Today on the show Scott and I discuss where the idea of the Great Books came from, why they’re worth reading, and how to read them. Along the way, we offer sample questions to think about when you’re reading these texts, as well as mini models of exchanges you can have with others about them. 

This show will likely inspire you to pick up a copy of The Iliad or something by Plato.

Show Highlights

  • What are the “great books”? Who decided on this list? 
  • Why Scott’s program goes through the books in chronological order 
  • Why reading the great books is a lifelong project, and not a bucket list item 
  • What’s the reward in reading this stuff?
  • The trivium model 
  • The genesis of the Online Great Books (OGB) program 
  • The importance of asking questions of the text you’re reading 
  • Examples of questions that might be asked
  • A sample conversation about The Iliad between me and Scott 
  • The various genres that are part of the Western canon (and why OGB doesn’t read the Bible)
  • The role of myth in the canon
  • The difference between facts and truth 
  • How should you read these texts to get the most out of them?
  • How much time should you devote to your reading?
  • Why you should keep reading, even if you don’t understand something 
  • Reading and the good life 

Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in Podcast

Connect With Scott and Online Great Books

Online Great Books website 

OGB on Instagram 

OGB on Twitter

Listen to the Podcast! (And don’t forget to leave us a review!)






Listen to the episode on a separate page.

Download this episode.

Subscribe to the podcast in the media player of your choice.

Podcast Sponsors

Wrangler. Whether you ride a bike, a bronc, or a skateboard, Wrangler jeans are for you. Visit wrangler.com.

ZipRecruiter. Find the best job candidates by posting your job on over 100+ of the top job recruitment sites with just a click at ZipRecruiter. Get your first posting free by visiting ZipRecruiter.com/manliness.

Starbucks Doubleshot. The refrigerated, energy coffee drink to get you from point A to point done. Available in six delicious flavors. Find it at your local convenience store.

Click here to see a full list of our podcast sponsors.

Read the Transcript

Coming soon!