Required Reading Revisited – January 2016

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.

Our last meeting of the year was a rousing discussion of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart.

9780385474542The novel itself has a number of notable things going on. Written in 1958, it was one of the first African novels to be written in English from the perspective of Africans. It garnered much praise and is read in Nigerian schools to this day, as well as American ones. It covers themes of identity, nationalism, colonialism, and ethnocentrism, but is told in an almost parable style. The style made it easy to read, but the simplicity of the style is deceptive. The storytelling is actually quite sophisticated. Achebe most certainly knew what he was doing.

In our discussion we noted this hidden sophistication, as well as the apparent lack of Achebe’s judgement regarding the morals of both the tribespeople and the missionaries. Achebe managed to fit a very large story into a relatively small number of words, and we all felt their impact when we reached the end of the novel.

To kick of the beginning of 2016 we’ve decided to go into classic American Literature with Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell To Arms.

9781476764528Written in 1929, A Farewell to Arms is a novel about a love affair between an American ex-patriot, Frederick Henry, and Catherine Barkley, and English nurse. Henry serves as a Lieutenant in the ambulance corp  of the Italian Army during the World War I.

The book is semi-autobiographical, based on some of Hemingway’s own experiences in the Italian campaign. It was also Hemingway’s first best selling novel. The edition we have reserved for the book club is an edition published in 2012 that includes a facsimile of the original dust jacket, as well as an appendix with multiple alternate endings written, but ultimately discarded, by Hemingway.


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, January 10th). 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. Things Fall Apart and A Farewell to Arms 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, January 10th!

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