Aside from today being the World Cup Final, it is also the 50th Anniversary of the publishing of To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. If y'all haven't...moreAside from today being the World Cup Final, it is also the 50th Anniversary of the publishing of To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. If y'all haven't read this book yet, you really need to. It's gorgeous. Saturday and today I took the time to re-read this classic. I know it's silly to re-read things when my TBR is a mile long, BUT some books merit this.
I first read To Kill A Mockingbird the summer before 11th grade. It was assigned summer reading for A.P. English. I remember pretty much rushing through it and not really taking the time to appreciate the language. I was more interested in the plot and what would happen. I think on being about 6 years older, I have slightly matured and am a bit more able to appreciate this gorgeous book.
I was struck by the moral code of Atticus. This is a man who does not waiver. He perfectly represents Maslow's top level, being someone who is self-actualized. In reading about Atticus, I wished that I could be more like him. His character caused me to examine my own character. Friends, it sorely lacks in comparison. He's just so fascinating. I mean, you could even read into this as a gender studies kind of book, as Atticus challenges societal notions of masculinity and what it means to be brave. Instead of being macho, he reads books in the evenings. He may be the deadest shot in the county, but he doesn't own a gun, nor does he advertise his skills. He's gentle. He's got honor. What I loved was how he is exactly the same in his public life as he is in his private life. I don't see how you can't admire Atticus.
What is perhaps the most wonderful thing about To Kill A Mockingbird is the writing style. It's smooth. It flows off the page. I actually laughed out loud while reading, which I would never have expected. Perhaps I was more taciturn in high school? Anyways, wow, this book is FUNNY. It's also heartbreaking. Harper Lee has excellent wordsmith skillz. Her prose is never flowery just to be flowery. Nor is it ever dumbed down for the audience.
I wonder, could this book be considered YA? When I did the top 100 YA vote, this book wound up in the top five. Now, personally, I would consider this YA. Perhaps it does not conform to today's flavor of YA, but it has the elements. I guess for me, YA really resonates with coming of age stories, features a young protagonist, and has wonderful pacing. This book fit all of those requirements. I think it has perfectly stood the test of time, and will last at least another 50 years.
I can happily say, To Kill A Mockingbird actually improves upon a second reading. When I already know the plot, I find I can focus on other details, such as turn of phrasing and characterization. I must say this excels in characters from Bob Ewell and his dependcy on the county to the Cunninghams and their not taking handouts from anyone to Mrs. Dubose who wants to die free of addiction, I just loved how well done these characters were.
Finally, dear friends, I would like to leave you with some quotes which struck me this time around:
"But I never figured out how Atticus knew I was listening, and it was not until many years later that I realized he wanted me to hear every word he said." - pg 89
"They're certainly entitled to think that, and they're entitled to full respect for their opinions," said Atticus, "but before I can live with other folks, I've got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience." - pg 105
"I wanted you to see something about her --- I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do. Mrs. Dubose won, all ninety-eight pounds of her. According to her views, she died beholden to nothing and nobody. She was the bravest person I ever knew." - pg. 112(less)
Remember back when The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey came out in theaters and there was that awesome trailer with Richard Armitage singing Misty Mount...moreRemember back when The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey came out in theaters and there was that awesome trailer with Richard Armitage singing Misty Mountains Cold and we all threw our hands in the air with excitement over the movie? Just me? Okay, so around that time Audible was promoting some audio release of The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien narrated by Rob Inglis. Y’all, I have already read this book but like way back in high school, I think. However with all the hype of the movie and that badass trailer and the constant LOOK AT THIS NEW AUDIOBOOK on Audible, I could not resist and so, picked The Hobbit up for an audio re-read. I began listening almost immediately because I wanted to be prepared for the movie. Unfortunately, I never did end up seeing the movie, but you guys this is one boss book. I tell you what. Read the rest of my review here Review will be posted November 29, 2013(less)
For such a small book, Steinbeck really packs an emotional punch. Of Mice and Men is the story of two men, George and Lenny. George is small, smart gu...moreFor such a small book, Steinbeck really packs an emotional punch. Of Mice and Men is the story of two men, George and Lenny. George is small, smart guy -- the one who wears the pants in the relationship. Lenny is a big dumb man who doesn't know his own strength. The two men have been travelling and working together for a very long time. Anyways, Lenny causes trouble in Weed, so they move to a ranch. Throughout the story themes of loyalty and home are echoed. Don't read this expecting to be uplifted, it's gritty, but damned if it'll make you feel something.(less)
Imagine living in a society where just the flicker of doubt passing in your mind is considered a crime, where life is so highly regimented, that to th...moreImagine living in a society where just the flicker of doubt passing in your mind is considered a crime, where life is so highly regimented, that to think something against the government is to commit a crime. Welcome to George Orwell's highly-disturbing society known as Oceania. The story follows Winston, an Outer-Party member. Winston has done something wrong, he has entertained thoughts against the party. Essentially, this book is an interesting study on dystopias, the function of government, what happens when we trade freedoms for security, and when we stop loving because hating is much easier. I definately got chills while reading this book.(less)
I'm sure everyone reading this has heard of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, be it through the various movie adaptations, school, or even through a...moreI'm sure everyone reading this has heard of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, be it through the various movie adaptations, school, or even through a children's illustrated classics edition. I can remember when I was little, my parents would often bring home Great Illustrated Classics after a visit to the super market. If we (my sisters and I) were good we would get to pick out a Great Illustrated Classics book for the week. Little Women was one of the first Great Illustrated Classics books we got. The version I read as a child was definitely the abridged GIC version. Read the rest of my review here(less)
When I think of dystopias, several books immediately come to mind, 1984, Brave New World, The Hunger Games, etc. It seems like everyone got to read Br...moreWhen I think of dystopias, several books immediately come to mind, 1984, Brave New World, The Hunger Games, etc. It seems like everyone got to read Brave New World by Aldous Huxley for school except for me. To be honest, I sort of wish I had read it within the classroom setting, more on that later.
Brave New World opens in a laboratory setting, the scientists are making babies in a test tube, and people no longer care to make babies the natural way. Children don't grow up knowing who their parents are, kind of like in The Republic by Plato. The terms mother and father take on negative connotations in the society described. Parallel to the laboratory setting a woman named Leninia is getting ready for a hot date, and we learn people of BNW get it on with whoever they want, whenever they want without care of reputation.
Ultimately Brave New World is about control, reproductive control, and mood control. The people are controlled by these drugs which take away all negative feelings. There's stark contrasts between BNW and this fringe society in the book which lives on a reservation.
Now, Brave New World is supposed to be a satire, and I can certainly see elements of this, as the people don't pray to God, they pray to Ford. However, I think I may have got the book better if I had some sort of guidance, i.e. a teacher who is going to help me tease out the higher meaning of the book and some classmates to dissect it with. I know a lot of people hate those sort of experiences and have emotional scars from classroom reading, but I suppose I'm weird in that I enjoyed that sort of thing.
Overall, I do recommend Brave New World, just because it is a classic of the dystopian genre and well, if you read it in a group/book club, you'll probably get so much more out of it than I did. However, if there's a choice for you between reading BNW and 1984, I'm going to say choose 1984. Personally, of the two I thought 1984 to be easier to connect with emotionally, and to understand.(less)