Required Reading Revisited Book Club – August

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, July 12th in preparation for the release of Harper Lee’s new book, Go Set a Watchman, we discussed 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.

Our discussion focused on a number of aspects of the novel; social commentary, gender roles, the effectiveness of discussing racial issues in a “slice-of-life” style narrative, and the current controversy regarding the portrayal of Atticus as blatantly racist in the new book. All seemed to be in agreement that Lee’s writing is incredibly effective and a pleasure to read. It seemed no character was missed in our discussion, and Miss Stephanie Crawford inspired a side discussion about the state of our country’s education system, and our personal experiences within it. Personally I was pleased at how compelling the novel still was after all these years, and am looking forward to reading Go Set a Watchmen soon.

Our next book is a major departure in both theme and settings from our last several months. For our August 9th meeting we will be discussing Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha.

This strangely simple tale, written with a deep and moving empathy for humanity, has touched the lives of millions since its original publication in 1922. Set in India, Siddhartha is the story of a young Brahmin‘s search for ultimate reality after meeting with the Buddha. His quest takes him from a life of decadence to asceticism, through the illusory joys of sensual love with a beautiful courtesan, and of wealth and fame, to the painful struggles with his son and the ultimate wisdom of renunciation. It’s a moral allegory told through the integration of both Eastern and Western spiritual and philosophical traditions.

Hesse, a German novelist, poet, and essayist, often covered themes of conflict between the elements of a person’s dual nature and the problem of spiritual loneliness. He won the Nobel Prize in 1946. During the 1960s Hesse became a favorite writer of the counter culture, especially in the United States.

We have a number of editions/translations on hand. There is no official one we will be discussing, but rather the contents of the novel itself. Choose whichever translation you so desire.

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, August 9th). 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. To Kill a Mockingbird and Siddhartha are both available online at 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, August 9th!

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