To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Classic #6)

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Classic #6)

Shelved: Classic
Published: 11th July 1960
Rating: ★★★★★
Challenge: Classics Challenge – #6 / Re-Read Challenge – #1
Buy: Hive
More: Goodreads

Here’s my sixth post for the 2015 Classics Challenge (and technically my first post for the Re-Read Challenge)!  It’s not too late to join me (and 190+ other people) in reading one classic per month.

Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ’em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

Atticus Finch gives this advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of this classic novel – a black man charged with attacking a white girl. Through the eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores the issues of race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s with compassion and humour. She also creates one of the great heroes of literature in their father, whose lone struggle for justice pricks the conscience of a town steeped in prejudice and hypocrisy.

WHEN I Discovered This Classic
I first read To Kill a Mockingbird in August 2010 and was looking forward to coming back to it nearly five years later. It was one of the few classics I had read at that point (although I was doing well that summer, having also just read A Clockwork Orange and The Great Gatsby). I’m not sure how I discovered it. It’s another classic that I feel I’ve always known, but photos and quotes from the book kept popping up on Tumblr, so perhaps that’s what spurred me to read it for the first time.

WHY I Chose to Read It
I have wanted to re-read To Kill a Mockingbird for a while (and it’s about time I picked up a book for the Re-Read Challenge!). I picked it to be my June classic because I wanted to make sure I read ahead of Go Set a Watchman, the newly discovered sequel set 20 years after the events in To Kill a Mockingbird. I’ll also be watching the film adaptation this evening!

WHAT Makes It A Classic
Even if you’re already aware of the tensions that occurred in the Deep South during the 1930s (and continued through to the 1970s), To Kill a Mockingbird brings history to life in a compassionate and memorable way.

To Kill a Mockingbird is part coming-of-age novel and part cautionary tale about race and class, and the injustice that often comes with it. It’s an example of how foolish – and certainly persistent – prejudice is, especially when two young children can see the absurdity of it more than their adult counterparts. Even so, Scout and Jem are guilty of making judgements about people themselves and are taught to recognise this by their father, Atticus Finch.

To Kill a Mockingbird still has a lot of offer 50 years after publication. From the mystery surrounding Boo Radley and seeing Scout and Jem begin to better understand the intentions of the people in their small-town community, to the powerful case of Tom Robinson and the defense trial spearheaded by Atticus Finch, it still packs an emotional punch.

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

WHAT I Thought of This Classic
I am relieved to say that I loved it even more than when I read it the first time. I am always worried that I won’t enjoy a book the second time around, especially if it’s a favourite. But thankfully To Kill a Mockingbird holds its own.

As I read many more children’s books now than I did five years ago, I appreciated and enjoyed Scout’s voice even more, although she was always my favourite character. She vividly retells the events in To Kill a Mockingbird as an adult, reflecting upon them as experienced as a young child. I love Scout’s curiosity, humour and confidence, and I adore her complex and thoughtful relationships with everyone around her. I enjoy inquisitive characters and Scout rarely accepts what she’s told as fact – especially when it’s demanded that she has to stop reading and writing!

Even thought I already knew the outcome of To Kill a Mockingbird, it didn’t stop me from hoping and feeling the frustration and injustice that is felt by Atticus, Scout, Jem and Dill. It didn’t stop me from being unable to put the book down.

“Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing”.

WILL It Stay A Classic
I do hope so. It’s just turned 55 years old, so it’s still a ‘young’ classic, but I doubt (sadly) that many of its lessons will stop being relevant in the future. My only worry is that Go Set a Watchman won’t live up to its predecessor, but I’m still looking forward to heading back to Maycomb. You can read the first chapter here.

“I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks.”

WHO I’d Recommend It To
People who love books from the point of view of a child. People who love Taylor Swift (because it’s her favourite book!). People who want to delve into modern classics. People who love history.

Have you signed up to the 2015 Classics Challenge?

Books Are For Life | The Re-Read Challenge 2015

Re-Read Challenge
Is it ludicrous to buy and keep books if I’m not going to re-read them? I love re-reading, but I don’t do it as often as I think I should (I’ve re-read 3 books this year). I used to be an avid re-reader when I was a young teenager, but when you’re a blogger – for this is the main reason! – you find out about a lot of books and consequentially buy, borrow and accept a lot of books, meaning that it’s difficult to find time to read books you’ve already read. I have books I’ve bought and borrowed, books I’m reading for work, and books I’ve accepted for review. But I really miss reading my favourite books and it’s easy to forget why they became a favourite in the first place.

Thank you Laura @ Scribbles and Wanderlust for telling me about this challenge, hosted by Hannah @ So Obsessed With and Kelly @ Belle of the Literati. It’s common for bloggers to mostly review newly published books, yet there’s a whole wonderful world of older books just waiting to be talked about. It’s one of the reasons why I’ve enjoyed reading classics (even though I haven’t read as many this year): I’ve loved talking about books that so many people have read before. If you wish you were able to re-read your older books, join in and stop feeling guilty about it! If you would like to blog about books you’ve re-read, but don’t want to write a typical review, Hannah and Kelly have put together fun questions you can answer each time:

WHEN I First Read
WHAT I Remember
WHY I Wanted to Re-Read
HOW I Felt After Re-Reading
WOULD I Re-Read Again

Easy! I can’t commit to a specific number of books (too much pressure!), but here’s a selection from the 669 books I’ve read, that I’d love to re-read:

The Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook by Joyce-Lancaster Brisley (read aged 6)
Book of Shadows by Cate Tiernan (read aged 13)
The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot (read aged 13)
The Girl from the Sea by James Aldridge (read aged 14)
Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman (read aged 16)
A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray (read aged 16)
The Time-Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (read many times, but first aged 16)
Northern Lights by Philip Pullman (read aged 17)
Looking for JJ by Anne Cassidy (read aged 17-18)
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (read aged 22)
Paper Towns by John Green (read aged 22)
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (read aged 23)
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey (read aged 24)

Visit the RE-READ tag to see which books I’ve read for the challenge.