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Contact Sheri Kindsvater 
Great Books Council of San Francisco


Friday March 31, 2017 at 3:00 PM PDT
Sunday April 2, 2017 at 1:00 PM PDT

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Asilomar Conference Grounds 
800 Asilomar Avenue
Pacific Grove, CA 93950-5310

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Barbara McConnell Asilomar Great Books Weekend 2017


One of the major events of the year for the Great Books Council of San Francisco is the Asilomar 2011 boardwalk spring weekend at the Asilomar Conference Center in Monterey, California, named in honor of beloved Great Books leader Barbara McConnell. During the weekend there are discussions of poetry, a work of nonfiction, a work of theatre and a work of fiction. The beauty of the area is conducive to stimulating discussions and convivial parties.

  In 2017, the Asilomar Weekend will celebrate and discuss the works of John Steinbeck.  He is the only California native to have been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Born in Salinas, he attended Stanford and chose to remain in Central California, living in Salinas and Pacific Grove. The California people and its land often provide a backdrop or subject for his novels, including East of Eden, The Grapes of Wrath, Cannery Row, Of Mice and Men, Tortilla Flat and The Red Pony. Most of his works explore themes of fate and injustice.

For our novel, we'll discuss Steinbeck's novel Cannery Row. It is set in Monterey during the Great Depression, and examines the lives of people who worked in or lived near its sardine canneries.

For our theatrical work, we'll discuss Of Mice and Men, in the theatrical adaptation written by Steinbeck himself. It won the 1938 New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best Play (a high honor in a year prior to the start of the Tony and Drama Desk Awards). Of Mice and Men has been revived several times on Broadway, most recently in 2014 with James Franco as George and Chris O'Dowd playing Lennie.

Asilomar 2shade Our nonfiction discussion will examine Steinbeck's The Log from the Sea of Cortez. This remarkable book is a day-by-day account of The Western Flyer's 4000-mile voyage around the Baja peninsula and then around the Sea of Cortez. It is at once a vivid and engaging story of an adventure, a serious scientific record, and a log of Steinbeck's deep and often witty philosophical musings. We'll meet Steinbeck's friend Ed Ricketts, a marine biologist, who became the model for Doc in Cannery Row.

    Steinbeck didn't publish any volumes of poetry, so for our poetry evening we'll turn to some of the short works of another Central Californian, Robinson Jeffers. Born in Pennsylvania, Jeffers eventually relocated to Carmel, where he built a remarkable home, Tor House and Hawk Tower. Like Steinbeck, Jeffers often devoted his works to themes involving social injustice and the less fortunate among us.

Our weekend plans also include:

A docent-conducted tour of the National Steinbeck Museum in Salinas.

A talk about Steinbeck's life and work by Joseph Coulson, President of the Great Books Foundation.

 A Saturday-evening party with entertainment and refreshments.

Asilomar Dining Hall  

Asilomar Dining Hall

Arrival and Departure: Registration at the conference is between 3:00 and 5:30 on Friday, March 31 in the main lodge. Your departure will be after lunch on Sunday, April 2.
Cost: The costs shown include lodging, six meals and books, which will be mailed soon after you register.  Costs vary based on single or double occupancy and are shown on the registration form.  Registration deadline is March 1.  All rooms have private baths.  There is a reduced rate available for those living or staying offsite which does not include room or meals.  Please contact Sheri Kindsvater at or 916-761-7349 for more information.
Refunds: Cancellation notices postmarked before February 1 will receive refunds less $50 for book and postage/handling costs. Cancellations after that date will receive no refunds.
Added Attractions: There will be an orientation for newcomers late Friday afternoon. A party will be held on Saturday with entertainment, refreshments and a good time for all.
Box Lunches: Box lunches are available instead of lunch at the Dining Hall on Saturday and Sunday, but must be ordered when you register.
Free Time: There will be some free time on Saturday afternoon for visits to nearby attractions, or to spend as you please.
Asilomar is for Families! Please contact Sheri Kindsvater at or 916-761-7349 for more information and for special discounted family rates.  Phone messages take up to 24 hours to be returned.  Email is generally answered more quickly. Asilomar 1sunset

Take a deep breath and settle in for a time of serene relaxation, reflection and rejuvenation. Celebrated as Monterey Peninsula's "Refuge by the Sea" - Asilomar State Beach and Conference Grounds is a breathtakingly gorgeous 107 acres of ecologically diverse beachfront land. Asilomar is situated within the quaint and scenic town of Pacific Grove.

 For more information, contact Rob Calvert at or Sheri Kindsvater at or call 916-761-7349.

To obtain a printable registration form to register by postal mail click here or go to our website at

To register online and pay by PayPal or credit card or via postal mail click on the Register Now! button below.  For a $10 discount, register by January 1.