In The Required Reading Revisited Book Club we focus on books considered “Required Reading” by most educational institutions, i.e. books you read (or were supposed to read) in school – either high school or university.
On Sunday, June 14th we discussed Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.
The meeting was intimate, with only four people in attendance, and due to ongoing construction on the 3rd floor, we had no lights! Only the filtered light through the windows that looked out onto overcast and thundering skies. It was enough to see by so we sat around and discussed Conrad’s journey into the Congo and treatise on imperialism in semi-darkness. It was appropriate.
What we all agreed on was that Part III was much easier to get through than either Part I or Part II. And while Conrad’s commentary on imperialism is important, and probably still relevant, it’s difficult to divorce that from the other parts of the book that are so obviously racist. And painfully so. It’s disheartening to know how long ago this was written and how far we, as a society, haven’t come in that time. It was kind of a depressing conversation, but a good one to have anyway.
Our next book deals, yet again, with the race issue, but from a much different era and a much different perspective. In preparation for the release of Harper Lee’s new book, Go Set a Watchman, we will be reading To Kill a Mockingbird! Told from the perspective of the young daughter of Atticus Finch, the attorney who defends a black man in the early years of the depression in Alabama,the novel has often been noted for its warmth and humor, despite dealing with issues as heavy as rape and racial inequality.
It is both a Southern Gothic tale and a Coming of Age story, but also deals with themes of class and courage. It’s one of the most widely read novels of our time. I remember it really making an impact on me in middle school. I am very curious to know what kind of impact it will make on me as an adult.
The Required Reading Revisited Book Club, hosted by Consuelo Hacker and Sarah Holdgrafer, meets on the 2nd Sunday of every month at 4pm at Book People (the next meeting is Sunday July 12th). We typically meet on the 3rd floor. Just stop by the 1st floor information desk when you arrive if you are unsure where to go. Heart of Darkness and To Kill a Mockingbird are both available online at Bookpeople.com. Use the code BOOK CLUB when purchasing online, or if you come in to the store, mention it’s for Book Club at the registers and you’ll receive 10% off! Join our Facebook page to get all the latest information on what we’re reading! We look forward to talking with you on Sunday, July 12th!