Sunday, July 11, 2010
It was August 2003. I had just discovered the tiny library in my Frankfurt, Germany neighborhood had an even tinier section of English books, mostly classics and Oprah Book Club picks. I was hungry for books in English, and buying enough to satisfy me was not an option due to the high price of imports.
The first novel I checked out was Harper Lee's TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. I'd heard a ton about it, but I'd never commited to reading it. I vividly remember opening it, and just getting lost in the story. I loved Scout's voice, her innocence. And I loved Atticus Finch - how tender he was with her. I know the characters are very idealized, but that's part of their charm. I remember putting the novel down at the end with a satisfied sigh. And then grabbing my library card and going back to that single bookshelf tucked away in the back and gathering up other gems.
All the rest of that summer and fall I kept going back for more. It was my classics renaissance. I read:
THE BELL JAR by Sylvia Plath
THE POWER AND THE GLORY by Graham Greene
OF MICE AND MEN by John Steinbeck
DAUGHTER OF TIME by Josephine Tey
THE LEFT HAND OF DARKESS by Ursula LeGuin
ON THE ROAD by Jack Keroac
FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD by Thomas Hardy
THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER by Carson McCullers
MIDDLEMARCH by George Eliot
THEM by Joyce Carol Oates
THE TIME MACHINE by HG Wells
THE TURN OF THE SCREW by Henry James
with a few of the Oprah approved books mixed in. Then I found the main branch of the library, with its rows and rows of books in English, and started reading more modern literary fiction. But I still remember that reading period fondly. And it all started with TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.
Find out more about the 50th Anniversary of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and share your own thoughts about the novel at the official 50th anniversary website.