On Wednesday, April 26, 2017 we will meet to discuss this year’s choice for the Great Books Intercollegiate Student Symposium, On the Road by Jack Kerouac.  We will meet at 11:30 a.m. in room 1603.

This year, on Thursday, April 27th, students of Oakton’s Great Books Program will participate in the 12th Annual Great Books Intercollegiate Student Symposium at Harper College in Palatine.  Oakton students will have the opportunity to share their analysis of On the Road and discuss their ideas with peers from Harold Washington, Wright, and Harper Colleges.

Best of luck to Professor Braud and to all the students involved.

Prof. Braud has provided the following to promote a robust discussion:

Spontaneous Prose and Tone

What did you notice about the text’s style (syntax, diction, etc.) and tone?
Were these stylistic things easy or difficult to read and why?
Does the tone seem to match the events of the plot?
Look at FORMALISM as a theory and see how Kerouac’s text uses style and how the deviations from standard sentence structure can be interpreted.
“The run-on sentence is the product of Kerouac’s spontaneous prose and is used to illustrate things Sal feels nostalgic about.”
The research question is “What effect does the use of run-on sentences have on the narrative


March 2017 – Animal Farm

Please join us on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 to discuss Animal Farm by George Orwell.  We will meet at 11:30 a.m. in room 1603.

from the inside cover flap by Harcourt Brace & Company ~

“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

George Orwell’s classic satire of the Russian Revolution has become an intimate part of contemporary culture.  It is an account of the transformation of Manor Farm into Animal Farm, of the brave struggle on the part of the animals to create a wholly democratic society built on the credo that All Animals Are Created Equal.  Of course, as with its many counterparts in modern society, this brave struggle results in a new totalitarian regime and a new maxim: But Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others.

Orwell’s succinct, frightening fable is unsparingly descriptive of the fates of those who have suffered monstrous regimes and terrible leaders.  A masterfully written allegorical novel, Animal Farm remains a warning for our times.




Please join us on Wednesday, February 22, 2017 to discuss Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance.  We will meet at 11:30 a.m. in room 1603.

From HaperCollins Publishers:

J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy, part memoir, part social analysis, is a fascinating examination of culture, class, and the American dream of working class white Americans in Appalachia. Hillbilly Elegy explores how and when “hillbillies” lost faith in the American dream and in any hope of upward mobility through the prism of Vance and his mother and grandparents.

J.D. Vance is a former Marine and a graduate of Yale Law School.




January 2017 – The Iliad

Please join us on Wednesday, January 25, 2017 to discuss The Iliad by Homer*.  We will meet at 11:30 a.m. in room 1603.

From Barnes & Noble ~~

Robert Fagles, winner of the PEN/Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation and a 1996 Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters presents us with his universally acclaimed modern verse translation of the world’s greatest war story. Rage-Goddess, sing the rage of Peleus’ son Achilles, murderous, doomed, that cost the Achaeans countless losses, hurling down to the House of Death so many sturdy souls? Thus begins the stirring story of the Trojan War and the rage of Achilles that has gripped listeners and readers for 2,700 years. This timeless poem still vividly conveys the horror and heroism of men and gods wrestling with towering emotions and battling amidst devastation and destruction, as it moves inexorably to its wrenching, tragic conclusion. Renowned classicist Bernard Knox observes in his superb Introduction that although the violence of the Iliad is grim and relentless, it co-exists with both images of civilized life and a poignant yearning for peace. Combining the skills of a poet and scholar, Robert Fagles brings the energy of contemporary language to this enduring heroic epic. He maintains the drive and metric music of Homer’s poetry, and evokes the impact and nuance of the Iliad’s mesmerizing repeated phrases in what Peter Levi calls “an astonishing performance.

*We will use the Robert Fagles translation.

Please join us on December 14th as we celebrate our past year of Great reads, look forward to next year’s challenges, and discuss: In the Dark Streets Shineth by David McCullough.  We will meet in room 2527 at 11:30am.

From the inside cover panel:

Christmas Eve, 1941. Mere days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt met at the White House. As war raged throughout the world, the two leaders delivered a powerful message of hope that still resonates today.

If your copy of the book did not come with a DVD, you may see it on YouTube.

Other discussion topics include: books we’ve read this year and would recommend to others,  books on our wish lists, and books on our To Be Read piles.   Do you have a reading selection you enjoy at this time of year?

If you can’t attend the meeting but would like to share your thoughts, please leave a comment.

We will meet on Wednesday, November 16, 2016 to discuss Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare.  We will meet at 11:30 a.m. in room 2527.

From the Shakespeare Resource Center at www.bardweb.net (note: spoiler alert!)

“Don Pedro, Prince of Arragon, pays a visit to Leonata, the governor of Messina, while returning from a victorious campaign against his rebellious brother, Don John. Accompanying him are two of his officers, Benedick and Claudio. While in Messina, Claudio falls for Leonato’s daughter, Hero; Benedick verbally spars with Beatrice, the governor’s niece. The budding love between Claudio and Hero prompts Don Pedro to arrange with Leonato for the marriage.

Meanwhile, the trickery begins as Don Pedro (with the help of Leonato and Claudio) attempts to sport with Benedick and Beatrice in an effort to make the two of them fall in love. Likewise, Hero and her waiting woman help to set up Beatrice. Both Benedick and Beatrice will think that the other has professed a great love for them.

The marriage of Claudio to Hero is set to go. Don John—ostensibly reconciled with his brother—despises Claudio, however, and plots against him. First, he tells Claudio that Pedro wants Hero for himself; next, he enlists the aid of his henchman Borachio and one of Hero’s gentlewomen disguised as Hero to stage an encounter that will bring Hero’s virtue into question. Claudio falls for the ruse and denounces Hero at the altar. Friar Francis helps her, hiding her away and enlisting the aid of Leonata, who announces that his daughter has died of grief from the proceeding.

Fortunately for Hero, Borachio is arrested while drunkenly boasting of his part in the plan (and the 1,000 ducats paid him). With Borachio’s confession, Hero is to be exonerated. Leonato demands a public apology from Claudio, then tells him that he will allow Claudio to marry one of his nieces in Hero’s place—a niece that turns out to be none other than Hero herself. Claudio and Hero are reunited, Benedick and Beatrice will wed alongside them, and they receive the news that the bastard Don John has been apprehended.”

Dramatis Personae:

  • Don Pedro, Prince of Arragon
  • Don John, his bastard brother
  • Claudio, young lord of Florence
  • Benedick, young lord of Padua
  • Leonato, Governer of Messina
  • Antonio, brother of Leonato
  • Balthasar, servant to Don Pedro
  • Borachio, follower of Don John
  • Conrade, follower of Don John
  • Dogberry, a constable
  • Verges, a headborough
  • Friar Francis
  • A Sexton
  • A Boy
  • Hero, daughter of Leonato
  • Beatrice, niece of Leonato
  • Margaret, gentlewoman to Hero
  • Ursula, gentlewoman to Hero
  • Messengers, Watch, and Attendants

We will be reading from the Folger Shakespeare Library edition.   For those interested in watching a Much Ado About Nothing movie, Lyn suggests the 1993 Kenneth Branagh version (Much Ado About Nothing on IMDB).

October 2016 – I, Robot

On Wednesday, October 26, 2016 we will meet to discuss  I, Robot by Isaac Asimov. We will meet at 11:30 a.m. in room 2527.

I, Robot is a collection of short stories, all written between 1940 and 1950.  These stories were previously published in either Super Science Stories or Astounding Science Fiction. In 1950, Gnome Press compiled them into a single book, woven together with an interview with Dr. Susan Calvin, who tells these stories as individual historical events.

Asimov created the “three laws of robotics”:
1)    A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2)    A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3)    A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

He was an author and a professor of biochemistry at Boston University.  He was considered one of the “Big Three” of science fiction writers (Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clark were the other two).  In addition to science fiction, Asimov also wrote mysteries and fantasy as well as non-fiction subjects, including astronomy, math, history, chemistry and Shakespeare.

He was a long-time member and vice-president of Mensa International. He has won more than a dozen awards for particular works, half a dozen lifetime achievement awards and 14 honorary doctorate degrees.

An asteroid, a crater on Mars, a Brooklyn elementary school and a literary award are all named in his honor.

Happy Birthday Book Club!  8 years old.