“My all-time favorite book. I first read it when I was about 13 or 14 years old and have read it at least 20 times. I get something new out of it each time I read it. EVERYONE should read this book.
In 1998 I was the discussion leader for my book club and my notes are as follows: "Southern" women/ladies; maturation; tolerance; security; self-esteem. I still am struck with the impact of the story. With Atticus' strength of character and parenting skill.
In 2004 I read the hardcover special anniversary edition and wrote: a singularly powerful book. Lee captures a time and place in American culture. 40+ years old and still fresh!
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August 14, 2010 UPDATE
I listened to the audio book for this, my (approx.) 20th reading of this classic of American literature. It is my favorite book of all time and each time I revisit it, I find something else that I’ve never noticed before.
The audio version I had featured Academy-Award-winning actress Sissy Spacek. She does an admirable job, though her accent is wrong. She is a Texan, and the Southern Alabama accent is softer than her twang. Still, by the 2nd disc I had stopped noticing this, and allowed myself to be carried into the story by her expert reading.
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Without exaggeration, this must be my 20th reading of this classic of American Literature. It never fails to move me and inspire me and educate me. I find something “new” – or at least new to me – virtually every time I read it.
This time I paid closer attention to some of the minor characters, especially the women – Calpurnia, Aunt Alexandra, Helen Robinson, Mrs Merriweather, Lula, Miss Maudie, Mrs Dubose, Miss Caroline, and Mayella Ewell. I was struck by what a wide range of personalities, strengths, weaknesses, and ethics Lee was able to express using just these minor characters (some appearing for only a page or two) living in a small town.
Many people feel this is a book about racism. I don’t think that is the core theme of this book, though it is the central plot device Lee uses. I think the major theme of the book is personal integrity and courage – doing what you know is right when all about you seemingly disagree and even when it may be dangerous to do so, being true to your own moral compass, and instilling those values in your children by example not just words.
This was a great book.