Dov Peretz Elkins, a Conservative rabbi, has compiled selections from the Talmud along with his own commentary and organized them by major theme: responsibility for the welfare of others, human relationships, personal values, family values, teaching and learning, and everyday problems. These all come back to the basic premise of the Golden Rule and involve treating others fairly, being humble and preserving human dignity, preserving the family, learning, and teaching the next generation. Rabbi Elkins points out that Jews must balance their duty to God with their obligations to other people. Performing mitzvot is a way to do this since they require honest interactions and bring people closer to God.
This brief introduction to Talmud is a good way for interested lay readers to begin their studies. It is an excellent text for discussion groups as well. Bibliography.