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)
The Road is a postapocalyptic story. Basically, the whole book revolves around a man and his son walking down a road in hopes of survival and finding...moreThe Road is a postapocalyptic story. Basically, the whole book revolves around a man and his son walking down a road in hopes of survival and finding regular old civilzation.
The writing style is sparse and stark. At first, McCarthy's random punctuation drove me nuts. I even had to set this book aside for a few days because I just could not get into it. Eventually, I forced myself to take some time to truly get into this book. I got over my qualms with the puncation, and wound up reading this book very quickly. Read the rest of my review here(less)
Essentially the Yearling is about a boy, Jody Baxter and his pet deer. But at the heart of this book is the relationship of Jody Baxter and his father...moreEssentially the Yearling is about a boy, Jody Baxter and his pet deer. But at the heart of this book is the relationship of Jody Baxter and his father, Penny Baxter. The Baxters are an impoverished family who live in the Florida scrub. Rawlings descriptions of the solitude and wilderness in which the Baxters live are lovely, one would almost want to leave civilization to fall asleep hearing the call of the whip-poor-will after reading The Yearling. The Yearling symbolizes the transition from childhood to manhood, in Jody's case. Jody must make hard decisions, and eventually grow up. The final chapter, where Penny Baxter is speaking to Jody is so heartfelt and well-written I about teared up. (less)