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Friday, February 4, 2011

And Now For Something Completely Different

After the last schizophrenic blog entry (this is what happens when you are your imaginary friend), I've decided to lift everyone's spirits with a light, breezy, inconsquential entry about my first week of college after being off for six weeks.
This is not going to be my topic for the moment. Not that going to a community college isn't fraught with excitement and peril (depending on who you're talking to), but something just occured to me as I was trolling around on the Web today, reading other writer's blogs, seeing their reader reccomendations. It has to do with the books I've been reading over winter vacation.
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee is now in my top ten books to take to a desert island, should I ever crash land there with some twenty-odd people where we deal with polar bears, time travel, hidden bunkers and utopian societies (not necessarily in that order). Much to my shame, I had never read To Kill A Mockingbird before picking it up at the library a few weeks ago. I saw in the teen section and thought, "Hey, classic book. Why not?" and I read it.
It is an awesome book, and I am seriously questioning my intelligence for not picking it up sooner. Apologies to all the moms who might read this (specifically, my own) but Atticus Finch is what some might call a Badass Bookworm and walking Crowning Moment of Awesome for Humanity (it does help that he's a fictional character). He's the kind of guy you want to defend you if you are wrongly accused of raping a white woman in 1930's South (even if you don't win). Scout's narration of the story is both clear-sighted and uncluttered, which I think is the truth of how children's minds work. There's no desperate drama or unnecessary emoting. It's just the facts, ma'am, peppered with the insight of a child and how they see the world.
After reading the book, I ordered the movie off of Netflix (which is the most awesome thing this family's ever done for itself) and watched it.   
A) Gregory Peck is stone-cold brilliant as Atticus Finch, and his speech to the jury at the end will reduce you to tears.
B) This is quite possibly one of the best book-to-movie translations I've ever watched. There's no detracting from the original plot, no unneeded additions to the story line. True, there are some incidents that are removed from the story, such as the introduction of Atticus's brother and sister, but that's not exactly a bad thing. It's a wonderful movie and deserves to be called a classic.
Now what occured to me today, as I was trolling about, was something that made me think back to high school, which seems like a lifetime ago (but it really wasn't). 
Why didn't they have us read this book?  
My tiny Christian high school prided itself on the criteria of our classes and reading material. We read things like the Odyssey or the Aeneid or Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain (no, I'm not kidding) and Saint Augustine's Confessions.  We read Huckleberry Finn and Billy Budd and For Whom the Bell Tolls, but not To Kill a Mockingbird.
Why is this? I don't know. There was probably not enough time in the semester to add it to the list and most likely too many books to choose from when picking them. But I really think that this the was an oversight on the part of whoever picked the books. Because it's a great book. It teaches Christian values. It has an honorable and upright main character. It teaches a junior high/high school audience how the court system and juries work. Though the case is a rape one, there's no explicit material or content. There is some swearing and use of the n-word, but that's kind of par the course for a story set in the 1930's South. 
I suppose I should make it clear that I'm not angry at my high school for being able to pick one book out of a ton of American classics. I just think that I should've read this book earlier on in my lifetime. I missed out on something really good. But at least now that I've read it, I can read it again! *smiles*
Over & Out,


  1. It's an American classic, not a Classical classic. But I agree, the book selection at Veritas wasn't always 100%, in my opinion. Now I have to read it, darn it, Sis.

  2. ok. so first of all, I found your site. Yay me. Second of all, just had to state that I was assigned How to Kill a Mockingbird for the first time in the public school system when I was in 7th grade. Then again in 8th (different school), and yet again in 10th. While it is undoubtedly a good book, it didn't move me nearly as much as S.E. Hinton's Outsiders. However, I probably should state that I am not at all a fan of American literature each's own I suppose.

  3. Rachel! My middle school book club just finished To Kill a Mockingbird, which has been one of MY favorite books since I read it in high school. I am absolutely perplexed by the fact that you only just recently read this novel, and here's why: it WAS on my book list for VCA's American Lit class! In fact, I think it was supposed to be the final novel, so we could end on a high note. Obviously, I wasn't there to see my book list through, and it terribly saddens me that you didn't get to read this years ago. (In response to A. Flores, I would say most novels in an American Lit class will be American classics and not "Classical" classics. I'm assuming the distinction has something to do with age; we are, after all, a young country and our great books are still mostly babies, at best adolescents.)

    All this to say: I (originally) picked the book list you read for American Lit. To Kill a Mockingbird was (originally) on it. I am glad you've finally discovered this wonderful book. :)

    (Miss) Elise