Sunday, July 11, 2010

50th Anniversary of To Kill a Mockingbird - My Thoughts

To Kill A Mockingbird 50th Anniversary


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.

17 comments:

Sandy Nawrot said...

It is one of my top books ever I think. And not only is the book good, but the audio is phenomenal, with Sissy Spacek as a narrator. It is no wonder that you hear about people naming their kids Scout! I actually think it would be a dream to have access to a small library of classics...it would force me to just stop the insanity and read things I should have read years ago. You can't go wrong with that list!

Beth F said...

The kids aren't all that idealized for the time. Or I just have fuzzy memories. They seemed very realistic when my mom read the book to us in 1960. My older brother and I totally related to Scout and Jem.

Amanda said...

I really need to reread this book. I haven't read it since middle school and I don't think I really understood it then.

Side note: I love your list of classics. The Bell Jar is one of my very favorite books.

....Petty Witter said...

Grief, it really seems as if I'm the only person not to like To Kill A Mockingbird - I've read it several times now, each time expecting to find that I've enjoyed it. Now, Of Mice And Men, one of my favourite books of all times, simply wonderful.

bermudaonion said...

I bet it was a special treat reading a book like that in Europe!

Liviania said...

You know . . . I saw the movie first, at my grandparents. And even though I loved the movie I waited until one of my classes read TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.

Jeane said...

I loved this book. You've got a lot of other great ones on that list! I've always meant to read Turn of the Screw and Daughter of Time, but not yet...

Miss K said...

This is my favorite novel to teach and to recommend to people. It's always amazing to find a treasure trove of English-language books abroad!

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

I have yet to read To Kill A Mockingbird, but - one is on its way to me for the 50th anniversary and I am so excited! :D

Rhiannon Hart said...

Idealised or not, Atticus Finch makes my heart melt! What a good summer of books you had.

Zibilee said...

I read it for the first time in middle school, and remember that it just blew me away. I think it was one of those books (along with The Great Gatsby) that really heightened my love of reading. I recently bought a new copy and stuck it right on my keeper shelf. Time for a reread, I think!

Linda said...

I read To Kill a Mockingbird years ago in high school and loved it. I love the movie too. I think I need to buy the book and put it in my books to keep pile!

Serena said...

This book can be life changing. I have to read it again.

Okie said...

It took B&N putting up an anniversary endcap for me to finally pick this one up. I just started it last night and even though I'm only up to page ~50, I'm loving the vibrant writing and looking forward to getting into the story.

caite said...

I have to agree,not only is TKaMB a great read, that is a list full of great books. They may not have had a lot of English language books, but the ones they had were winners!

Lauren said...

I have watched the movie many times over the years although I've never read the book. I think I better since everyone has!

Vishy said...

It was wonderful to read your thoughts on 'To Kill a Mockingbird'. I read it recently and loved it. I loved Scout's voice and innocence, Atticus' courage, Jem's and Dill's adventurous spirit, Calpurnia's personality. I even liked Aunt Alexandra after a while. It is such a great classic.

I loved the list of books that you read during your classics renaissance - all of them are wonderful!