The Enlightener Book Club Celebrates First Birthday

Since starting in November 2022, club members covered nine books

The Enlightener’s online book club, the monthly meeting place for all nonfiction book lovers, has turned one year old. The book club members come together to read and discuss popular science books from the Enlightener Award’s* long and short lists (Prosvetitel Prize in Russian). Since starting in November 2022, they’ve covered nine books, including books about stress, atoms and electrons, economic catastrophes, women entrepreneurs of the nineteenth century, and more.

The meetings are moderated by book blogger Ekaterina Aksenova, the author at Telegram channel and a member of the Enlightener.Translation jury board, and professional reader Alexander Gavrilov, a Russian literature major and an organizer of book awards, including the Enlightener. The moderators make sure that every participant in the discussion gets heard.

The book club’s mission is not to make people read all the books on the list. It is to teach people a new type of reading: reading based on the fact that the truth exists. This shapes a community of people who read books and support each other in reading; readers acquire a new methodology of interaction with both the book and the informational field around them.

Here’s what Ekaterina Aksenova says about it: “There’s plenty of clubs where you can argue about fiction literature, but it’s way harder to find people who are ready to discuss entrepreneurship in the nineteenth-century Moscow, or the philosophic meaning of the universe’s potential heat death, or the mysteries of the immune system. Also, non-fiction books have this dangerous tendency to be bought, so to say, for a better version of ourselves, for someone who is one day going to savor a celebrated intellectual bestseller rather than mindlessly scroll Instagram. We can’t always find this elusive better person. I think our book club is the place where such better versions of us actually materialize.”

The Enlightener Book Club has opened pre-enrollment for its book club moderators course. Since reading popular science books is very different from reading fiction literature, the high-school set of reading skills is simply not enough to understand nonfiction. Popular science literature has a different principle of reading, plus it evokes a different kind of emotions. Therefore, moderators of nonfiction book clubs also require a special set of skills that is taught at

*The Enlightener Award was launched in 2008 by the Dynasty Foundation’s founder Dmitry Zimin. Since 2016 it’s being awarded with support from the Zimin Foundation.


November 30, 2023

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