Alumni Book Club

Alumni Book Club

  • Previous selected Book Covers

Read and connect with your fellow alumni

Join Cambridge alumni for stimulating conversations about our bimonthly book selection. Discussions will be moderated by a dedicated group leader, who will share additional content and ask questions to prompt debate.

Join the Club

The Anarchy front cover

March - May 2023

The Anarchy: by William Dalrymple (Trinity College 1984)

The story of how the East India Company took over large swaths of Asia, and the devastating results of the corporation running a country.

In August 1765, the East India Company defeated the young Mughal emperor and set up, in his place, a government run by English traders who collected taxes through means of a private army.

The creation of this new government marked the moment that the East India Company ceased to be a conventional company and became something much more unusual: an international corporation transformed into an aggressive colonial power. Over the course of the next 47 years, the company's reach grew until almost all of India south of Delhi was effectively ruled from a boardroom in the city of London. 

Suggested Reading Schedule

  • On March 17th, visit Before the Book in our forum and begin reading The Anarchy
  • By March 31st, finish reading through Chapter 2
  • By April 7th, finish reading through Chapter 5
  • By April 14th, finish reading through Chapter 7
  • By April 28th, finish reading through Chapter 9
  • By May 5th, finish reading the book and join our After the Book forum discussion

Past reads

The Reading List: A Novel by Sara Nisha Adams

Honor by Thrity Umrigar

Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende

The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi

Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

The Old Way by Robert Macfarlane

The Pull of the Stars by Donoghue

The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Packinko by Min Jin Lee

Educated by Tara Westover

How are books selected?

Alumni Book Club members vote during each reading period to choose the next book. The selection of books on which you vote is usually based on participants’ interests, member recommendations and Cambridge authors. The very first book in June 2020 was pre-selected to get the group started.

How do I get hold of the books?

Alumni are responsible for sourcing their own books.

Participants can either buy, borrow or download a copy of the chosen book.

Will the book club meet in person?

No, the book club will be entirely online. The advantage of this is that alumni living all over the world can participate, meaning we will get diverse perspectives on the texts we read.

How do book discussions work?

Our book club will have a dedicated moderator who manages the forum where discussions occur online. The moderator will pose questions to the group, share relevant articles, and facilitate conversation about topics in the book. Members will be encouraged to post and share as well. This format allows for ongoing conversation and makes it easy for alumni to connect with each other. 

How often will books be read and what is the time commitment?

Books will be read every two months.

If you have on average 30 minutes a week to read you should be fine. There is no required level of participation in group discussions; if don’t have time to read one of the books that's okay. The goal of the club is to make connections with other alumni through reading, so if you don’t have time to read one of the books, that’s ok.

Is there a cost to participate?

Participation is free for Cambridge alumni.

Readers are responsible for buying, borrowing or downloading the texts we read.

What if my question isn’t answered here?

Feel free to send an email to and we'd be happy to help.