Thanks to my friends at Harper Perennial for reminding me that Sunday, July 11 is the 50th anniversary of the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. They are making a big celebration out of it here, including the publication of a special 50th anniversary edition. I couldn't let this pass by without a mention. What a special and spectacular book. And what about Gregory Peck in the movie? So powerful. I think To Kill a Mockingbird may be the only instance in the history of turning books into movies that the movie actually does the book justice.
I'm not sure how old I was when I first read To Kill a Mockingbird, but I think I was probably in middle school or junior high. I remember it being summertime, so the sweltering Alabama heat in the novel was made all the more tangible for me. Having read this book at a relatively young age, it was a real eye-opener. It was the beginning of reading not just for fun and pleasure, but to become immersed in settings, cultures, and mindsets different from my own.
Recently, I've read a couple of books that reminded me in various ways of To Kill a Mockingbird. First, Marcus Zusak's The Book Thief. The main character Liesel's foster father Hans is a German Atticus Finch. Set during World War II, the novel explores the racial persecution of the Jews in a unique manner--through German characters who are opposed to Hitler. Hans is a sturdy rock for his family to trust in, as their world is turned upside-down by war, fear, and injustice. He is an incredible model of patience and tolerance; the word 'noble' best describes his character. Atticus and Hans will always be memorable characters in my mind because of the tenderness they show their children, which is an often rare virtue bestowed on men in literature.
Two other books are being compared to To Kill a Mockingbird for the way they narrate stories about racial segregation in the South during the 1960s. One is the phenomenal book by Kathryn Stockett, The Help, and the other is Minrose Gwin's The Queen of Palmyra (of which I previously blogged a review).
What are your emotions and memories associated with reading To Kill a Mockingbird? I'd love to read your comments here. What other books do you consider to be as powerful? Are there any current books you think will be in the spotlight 50 years from now?