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Follow This, Readers' Roundtable


[by Kendra Hovey]

“Liking the book is not the point. The conversation that follows is.”

This is what Catalina Gorla would like you to know about Readers’ Roundtable. She’d also like you to know, chances are, that conversation will be “quality,” “organic” and “rich.”

If you haven’t heard, Readers’ Roundtable is the new TEDxColumbus-inspired book club (of sorts). Here’s how it works: a past TEDxColumbus speaker chooses a book, any book (or sometimes a film), and interested people read it (or view it) then gather to eat, meet and discuss. The speaker facilitates, participants are limited to 20 (“to preserve intimacy”), and, technically, it is free—$15 or $20 goes to the cost of a meal. Sessions repeat monthly, each time with a new title, new speaker and new group (the first 20 to sign up).

It is not a lecture, nor a round-robin discussion. It is a conversation, and one that doesn’t typically take much to get going. “We are empowered by information,” says Gorla, “people who read the book find they have something to say.”

And who is Gorla? She is the catalyst and engineer behind the event. She’s also an economist at Nationwide, with a degree in art history and an interest in books, community and entrepreneurship. Born in Romania, when still young she immigrated to the U.S. with her family. Their landing point was Idaho. From there, she went to New Hampshire and in 2009 moved to Columbus, which is where she was when she picked up The Brothers Karamazov.

The book made her feel lonely. Though, no fault of Dostoevsky: “I really wanted to share it and talk about it,” she explains. It was from this want that Gorla developed a new model for a book club—new, because the standard model gravitates towards contemporary fiction and titles are often picked randomly. Gorla thought that if everyone was going to commit to read a book, at least one person should be passionate about it and eager to discuss it. More than anything, though, she wanted diversity. “Not just women my age and my friends,” she says, “I wanted different people with different experiences.”

Gorla did not say what you might be thinking—that books are often tangential to book clubs real purpose: wine and friends. She doesn’t say this because for her, too, the purpose is social. The book is the “glue,” she says, so people can come together to share and listen and build community.

Her affinity-based, open (based on sign-up), and facilitated model, Gorla calls “Our Books.” She tried it out at Nationwide. It is now in its second year (read more about it here). Our Books provides the framework for Readers’ Roundtable and Gorla plans to operationalize the model for use within different organizations. And why would organizations be interested? Focused dialogue is a good in itself, but Gorla believes that with it can come a whole host of good things: community-building, problem-solving, empowerment, understanding, enjoyment, and, of particular importance, communication. “We don’t have to agree to communicate,” she says. The idea is not to reach some crystallized endpoint. Instead, she says, “we can learn how to listen and we can soften the blow of differences of opinion by putting it into dialogue.”

The Readers’ Roundtable schedule can be found here. Claudia Kirsch launched the series in March with a discussion on fixed and growth mindsets. The April dialogue with David Burns focused on the whys of the financial crisis and deepened understanding of the many ways it reverberated through individual lives. Last week, with 2010 speaker David Staley, the dialogue centered on three questions. Given that discipline-jumping and expertise-mashing sparks innovation and creativity, do we:

  1. find similar crossover within ourselves? —The answer: yes, no and sometimes
  2. see it supported and nurtured in institutions and organizations? —Hardly, and it can be challenging to initiate
  3. have ideas to help nurture it within our own sphere of existence? —Yeah, lots, including emptying a room (removing it of embedded routine) and also filling a room (but with two seemingly disparate elements—a math teacher and art teacher, say).

Coincidentally, next month’s Readers’ Roundtable (June 8 at the Main Librarymixes things up a bit. The book this time is a film (“Finding Joe“). The speaker/facilitator is Jason Barger. And this time, instead of dinner, the conversation will be held over lunch (11:30–1pm).


Kendra Hovey is editor and head writer at Follow This. On Twitter @KendraHovey, she blogs at




Claudia Kirsch facilitated our first Readers’ Roundtable session on March 7, 2012 at the Columbus Metropolitan Library-Main Branch
                            A group of 23 discussed their thoughts of “Mindset” by Carol Dweck 


We would love for you to join us for a future session. Below is the complete schedule for Readers’ Roundtable:

April 11: David Burns (2011 speaker) discussing The Big Short by Michael Lewis. Click here to register

May 16: David Staley (2010 speaker) discussing Artscience: Creativity in the Post-Google Generation by David Edwards. Click here to register

June 8: Jason Barger (2010 speaker) discussing the film Finding Joe. Click here to register

July 11: Alex Bandar (2011 speaker) discussing Good to Great by Jim Collins. Click here to register

August 9: Mike Figliuolo (2011 speaker) discussing One Piece of Paper: The Simple Approach to Powerful, Personal Leadership by Mike Figliuolo. Click here to register

For more information on Readers’ Roundtable, click here.

For more photos from Readers’ Roundtable with Claudia Kirsch, click here.



The TEDxColumbus Community continues to ask for more programming beyond our annual event (save the date! October 5 @COSI).  We’re thrilled to announce the first of three initiatives to bring more content to those who want to be challenged, educated and inspired. 

Do you wish you could have more time for discussion with our speakers? Do you love to read? Than Readers’ Roundtable is for you! We are partnering with Catalina Gorla of Our Books to create a dynamic book club for the TEDxColumbus community.

Inspired by their respective TEDxColumbus talk, each session will be lead by a former TEDxColumbus speaker who chooses a book and facilities discussion.

Dr. Claudia Kirsch (2011 Speaker) will lead our inaugural event on Wednesday, March 7 from 6:30-8 p.m. at Columbus Metropolitan Library Main Branch. She will facilitate discussion on the book: Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck.

Kirsch said she chose the book because, “Although we often feel we are ‘doing things right’ or ‘doing the right thing,’ sometimes mentally taking a step back and viewing it with a different ‘mind set’ can drastically alter the outcome and literally and figuratively change the course of one’s life.”

Following March’s conversation with Kirsch, David Burns (2011 Speaker) will facilitate the April 11 session over the book The Big Short, by Michael Lewis.

He chose the book because, “The book deals with “value” – its conception, perception and disposition. Tying emotion with value creates a disconnection between reality and perception. If you lace greed on top of it, the disposition of value tends to injure those who paid the highest price (spiritually and emotionally) and can least afford it.”

Jason Barger (2010 Speaker) will host a discussion on the movie Finding Joe for the June 8 session.

He chose this documentary because, “I am fascinated and inspired by those who are able to share their gifts and passions in the world on a daily basis. American mythologist, Joseph Campbell, encouraged us all to “follow our bliss” and discover what is truly possible in our work and life. This documentary speaks about the journey we are all on everyday to shed the status quo and become the best versions of ourselves in the world. I hope you’ll join the discussion!”

Additional sessions are being scheduled and will be posted here. (Please watch email, facebook and twitter for updates)

To ensure quality conversation, sessions are limited to 20 people. This event is FREE. The cost, either $15 or $20, covers lunch or dinner, respectively.  All events are held at the Columbus Metropolitan Main Library.

Each session requires separate registration.

Click here to register for Claudia Kirsch’s March 7 roundtable dinner (6:30-8pm).

Click here to register for David Burns’ April 11 roundtable dinner (6:30-8pm).

Click here to register for Jason Barger’s June 8 roundtable lunch (11:30-1pm).

If you have any questions, contact Catalina Gorla.