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Books I Should Have Read:To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

January 19, 2011

Books I should have read…

There are many books out there that I feel as though I should have read at some point in my life but for some reason I never have. I am going to try and make this a frequent thing on my blog – maybe once a month or so – and just pick up something that has almost become one of those ‘books to read before you die’ – something classic (including modern classics) & important that has managed to make an impact in the world of literature today. This month’s choice is To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee…



‘Shoot all the Bluejays 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.


To Kill A Mockingbird is one of those important classic pieces of literature that everyone seems to have read at some point in their lives – mostly in schools these days. Yet somehow, I had never read it before until a couple of weeks ago. I can’t quite come up with a good enough reason for this except that it just seemed to have passed me by somehow.

I was hesitant to read it at first – would it live up to the quality and standard it’s been praised for so long? Would it stand the test of time now that it’s in it’s 50th anniversy edition? Would it still be important? And the answers to these questions inevitably have to be yes! I assumed this would be another court-case drama where most of the novel revolves around the trial of a black man who has been accused of the rape of a white girl. But it isn’t this at all. It’s so much more than that. It follows the lives of the lawyer – Atticus Finch’s – family and the neighbourhood in which they live. This really is the deep south and racial issues are very much a part of their every day lives. It’s fascinating to read. It’s not until about half way through that the case of the rape even comes into it. I was surprised at the depth of the novel – the world that Lee has created so vividly with it’s array of intriguing, and sometimes comical characters. I felt sucked into this world – as though I were living right there with them.

I won’t go into too much detail about the plot because let’s face it, I’m sure most of you had more sense than me and have read this years ago! What I will say is that this novel is still so important. I understand why it is taught to kids in most schools these days – it’s an accessible classic with fantastic characters and a thrilling plot. The questions of race and morals are silently weaved in throughout and I only  hope that I can be half the person Atticus Finch is! The reason this has stood the test of time is because we can still learn so much from it – the true meaning of family and friendship, of having decent morals and treating every human being fairly before judging them, of simply having a bit of faith in people. It is as relevent today as the day it was published!


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