I have been fascinated by the book, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee since I first heard about it as a teenager. However the unavailability of the same in our school library and the local bookstores, never allowed me to read this classic until recently.
What had initially attracted me to this book was its title. I was curious to know what it meant in a larger perspective. I was inquisitive about what made this book a monumental success in the fiction genre.
I had to read it.
The final push came while reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic where Gilbert expresses her love for the book and also her fascination why a gifted author like Harper Lee never published any other book after this masterpiece.
I finally read the celebratory edition that marks the fiftieth anniversary of this unforgettable classic.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee was first published in 1960. It was immediately successful, winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and has become a classic of modern American literature.
The plot and characters are loosely based on the author’s observations of her family and neighbours, as well as on an event that occurred near her hometown in 1936 when she was 8 years old.
The blurb on the back of the book reads:
‘Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit ’em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.’
A lawyer’s advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of Harper Lee’s classic novel – a black man charged with the rape of a white girl. Through the young eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores with exuberant humour the irrationality of adult attitudes to race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s.
The conscience of a town steeped in prejudice, violence and hypocrisy is pricked by the stamina of one man’s struggle for justice. But the weight of history will only tolerate so much.
Why should every adult read To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee?
1. It’s a book set in the 1930’s yet is not obsolete:
The plot of the book is fun, appealing yet profound and thought-provoking. The book made me laugh on several occasions, reminisce about my own childhood on the other and made my heart cringe or come close to tears at others.
The joy of reading this book lies in the fact how the parent in Atticus Finch gently rounds off every event with his wise words or moves. Set in a society that lived almost eighty years ago, the beliefs and principles followed by the Finch family are fresh, liberated and open-minded, relevant even in current times.
2. Pragmatic conversations:
The beauty of the book lies in the easy flow, matter-of-fact conversations that at no point leave the realms of truthfulness and never come across as a pretence. I love how in the voice of Scout (an 8-year-old girl) the sincerity and innocence rises above everything.
Moments when children get involved in fist fights or utter expletives in moments of rage, the adults in the family have come around explaining firmly yet reassuringly why they should behave otherwise.
3. Quintessential characters:
Be it the wise father in Atticus Finch or the scary neighbour in Radley(s) or the moral values indoctrinating aunt Alexandra or the motherly caretaker Calpurnia or the evil Ewell, every character is archetypal.
Every character is sketched close to reality yet inimitable that they’ll make you wish to be like them or be inspired by them.
4. It portrays phases of child growth wonderfully:
The book has three child characters ranging in ages between 8 years to 12 years. The book is an innocent, sensitive portrayal of their growing up, the emotional, physical and psychological changes they undergo as adolescence steps in, captured in a natural, closer-to-life fashion.
The joys, playfulness, pranks, curiosity and ironies of childhood generously season the entire length of the book.
5. Atticus practices what he preaches:
Atticus Finch a lawyer by profession is a single parent who knows how to lead his children by example. Though he comes across as rather reserved, his love for reading is exemplary and how his children follow suit is something you cannot miss. His caring, gentlemanly ways, his way of letting his children go by their instincts, disciplining them (incident with Mrs Dubose) and teaching valuable life lessons like an unflappable parent are heartening.
I loved how Atticus never tried to sugarcoat facts and never hid life’s harsh realities from his children. The freedom he gifts his children while keeping his criticisms and appreciation subtle only add to the plethora of reasons why every parent must read this book.
6. Relevance to current times:
Its heart wrenching that racism, cruelty, prejudices and discrimination talked about in the book, still exist and shockingly in the same ugly magnitude or perhaps in a more severe form.
To Kill a Mockingbird focuses on the gut instinct of right and wrong. It distinguishes it wonderfully from just following the law of the land, a battle that ensues through the ages. Atticus Finch’s messages are all the more relevant in the current times as the book is meaningful in every period, including today.
The plot deals with the incident of rape of a white woman by a dark man. But the sensitivity with which the trial is narrated and also the open-mindedness with which the events are discussed by Atticus with his children from time to time is comforting, stirring and commendable in one go.
A theme of morals is highlighted throughout the novel pertaining particularly to religion and the perception of sin.
8. Lucid Narration and rich vocabulary:
Written fifty years ago and set in a period almost eighty years ago, the writing style is arguably old-fashioned yet unambiguous. The rich vocabulary, keeps the reader going back to the dictionary, more so in the first half of the book, than later.
However, the narration never loses pace, the plot is packed with surprises and most wonderful lessons to be learnt from the most (seemingly) banal situations.
9. A classic that stands the test of time:
Why the book is a classic can be best understood only after having read it. But, it is one that has been loved by my mother when she was 27 years old just as much when she’s 63 years old.
I, harbouring a completely different taste in reading from my mother, loved this book just as much.
“‘A lady?’ Jem raised his head. His face was scarlet. ‘After all those things she said about you, a lady?’
‘She was. She had her own views about things, a lot different from mine, maybe…Son, I told you that if you hadn’t lost your head I’d have made you go read to her. 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.'” ~ To Kill A Mocking Bird
Whether you love reading classics or not, this is a book that’ll make you fall in love with its simplicity, grace and rational approach.
I highly recommend To Kill A Mockingbird for every adult because it is a good book that shall continue to inspire good in the people.
“‘First of all,’ he said, ‘If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view-‘
‘-until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.'” ~ To Kill A Mocking Bird
The book cover has been changed many times over the past 50 years but two things that shall stay with me from the 50th-anniversary cover is Scout (the protagonist on the swing) for her thoughtfulness and innocence and Blue Jays for their brilliant correlation in the title and the plot.
About the Book:
- Title – To Kill a Mockingbird
- Curator – Harper Lee
- Publisher – Arrow Books
- Genre – Fiction
- Pages – 309 pages
- Price – INR 184
- ISBN – 978-0-09-954948-2
Have you read this book?
What are your views?
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23 thoughts on “9 Reasons Why You Must Read “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee”
I have only watched the movie
This book is on my list
I am told that the movie is actually a true depiction of the book, though the book is surely going to be better than the movie as is usually the case 🙂
I have read it and loved it! Throughout the book there are so many lessons for us to take…to be a parent like Atticus Finch…to accept an innocent but rebel child like Scout….to support the innocent black man so unfairly a victim of racism…to love an elusive but caring Boo Radley….and so on.
I have a copy of it and read it once in a while.
Loved your takings from the book Varsh 🙂
I am sure I’d love to re-read this book over time to revise the lessons learnt while seeing how my perspective changes over time.
I couldn’t agree more with you. Every point you make – I have made it as well. A great book, well written. It has many, many layers. Beautiful. Have you read the sequel?
No, I haven’t read the sequel as yet because many of my friends have been discouraging me to. Have you read the sequel? How did you find it?
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It’s one of my all time favourite books!
It’s a charmer 🙂
I have not read the book and now wish i had .. 🙂
but I have seen the movie and have it in my collection …
The movie is said to be a true representation of the book, so it must be quite a similar experience as reading the book 🙂
I absolutely loved this book! its one of my all-time favourites and even I have a copy of this 50th Anniversary edition 🙂
Wow! So glad to note you too have this celebratory edition copy 🙂
This year, besides the new releases I’m trying to catch up on reading books like these that I’ve missed reading earlier 😀
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I am trying to do that since last year – catch up on reading some amazing books which I missed for some reasons rather than reading random books, life is too short and there are so many books! 🙂 🙂
Very rightly said 🙂
I have a similar plan for this year in mind 😀
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good luck to both of us then! 🙂
I read this book in ’08, when I wasn’t an avid reader. I read just to pass time because I was at a place where I had no other option. And I’m glad.
This book is painfully slow in the beginning, and I would’ve given up if I could do anything else. But after a hundred pages, I couldn’t put it down. Atticus Finch was the first example of true maturity for me.
A true classic which has stood the test of time, indeed!
I agree with you on the book being slow in the start, but that lasted just the first 30 pages for me. The language used did add to the slow feel but once the story picked up, there was no looking back 🙂
Atticus Finch inspires in so many wonderful ways and how Jem follows his footsteps makes it shine all the more as a vital parenting lesson to me 😀
I agree with your thoughts. The book remains one of my favorites, for reasons you’ve mentioned and others too, though I couldn’t put it across as eloquently maybe. 😀 It’s one I recommend to friends often.
Vinay you are too kind with your words 🙂
I agree, this is one book I’d love recommending from here on.
Now that you mentioned I remember buying this book in kindle.. Sadly I haven’t read it.. I am going to read this one now. Thanks for reminding!!
Go for it Sia, I am sure it has something valuable to offer to every reader 🙂
I am not very far in,but am enjoying the read very much. Such a wonderful way to capture a book. I am planning on seeing the movie too, after I finish reading it. 🙂
Welcome to my blog Shanaya 🙂
It is a beautiful book and I have been told the movie is just as wonderful (though I haven’t seen it yet).
I am glad you liked my review of this classic, would love to hear from you how did you find the book.
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