RIP Chinua Achebe

I remember being deeply affected reading “Things Fall Apart,” “No Longer at Ease” and “Arrow of God.” I remember reading these as paperbacks on #30 bus home to my Columbus Park neighborhood from downtown Worcester, and having the delicious feeling of being worlds away from my everyday life. These books made me feel intelligent and empathetic. I felt like I understood Africa. I felt old and wise. But, in the words of Bob Dylan, “I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.”

I still think of Achebe as “one of my favorite authors” but I must admit I can’t remember anything specific about any of the books. This happens to me a lot now — many books that I remember as my favorites have faded in my memory so I no longer remember them, and when I reread them, I often find they aren’t anything like what I remember.

I’m sorry to hear of Chinua Achebe’s passing the way you regret the loss of a friend when you drifted apart years ago. Fortunately, I can reread his books to renew our acquaintance, and that’s just what I am going to do.

‘Things Fall Apart’ author Chinua Achebe dies at 82 — By Laura Smith-Spark and Faith Karimi, CNN


  • Helen Freeman

    I have recently been rereading favorite titles form my childhood — “The Velvet Room” being the most recent. I vaguely remember the stories, but I vividly recall the feelings they gave me. I was somewhat of a lonely child growing up, and reading was my escape. I went to the library by myself quite young (horrors to think on now of the wandering I did on my own at quite young ages — but it was in the *very* small town of Marblehead in a very different time) and read all sorts of novels. “Charlotte’s Web” is next on my list.

  • Elizabeth Thomsen

    “The Velvet Room” is a wonderful book — that room was so real, the title conjures the whole thing up in my mind as if it were a memory! I was a little too old to have read this when it came out, but it was one of the first books I read in what I think of as my second childhood, at least as a reader, my days working in the Children’s Room at the Salem Public Library in the early 1970s. All of us who worked there read children’s books constantly, old ones, new ones, all sorts of things, and it was such a pleasure to discuss them among ourselves and especially with our patrons! It was so interesting to hear the kids’ opinions — what they liked and didn’t like, what touched them and what left them cold.

    I remember giving this book to one girl at my next job, at the Revere Public Library, and how she looked when she returned it. I asked her if she liked it and she wrapped her arms around herself holding the book to her heart, looked me in the eyes and said quietly, “I loved it.”

    There were times when it felt like such an honor to be a Children’s Librarian. I really miss it!

    I know I have an old paperback copy of this book around here somewhere — I definitely want to read it again!

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