***This blogpost was originally published on July 13, 2015. We encourage you to share your thoughts about Harper Lee.***
It's an exciting day for readers, libraries, and anyone who cherishes a good story: Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman was published today 55 years after the phenomenal To Kill a Mockingbird. Considered a classic and on many school lists, To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the most beloved novels.
We asked our staff to share their memories of its impact:
One of my favorite books! I read it about every five years, and I always get something different out of it. The first time I read it, I was in 6th grade and I remember being madly in love with the idea of Scout – this fiercely independent young woman who refused to wear dresses. I was a tomboy who grew up with all brothers, so I saw Scout as a kindred spirit! When I read it again traveling through South America in my 20s, I remember sitting in the jungle in Paraguay and realizing how truly rare this book was; humorous, heart breaking and wholly absorbing. I spent an entire day in the jungle reading a book I’d read at least twice before, and I didn’t have a single regret.
To Kill a Mockingbird was one of those rare instances where I saw the movie on TV, then read the book. I grew up in Tulsa, OK, which has a history of racial strife and riots that occurred due to racism and injustice. Unfortunately racism and injustice have continued through to the present.
Somehow, I managed to get through school—including a bachelor’s in English—without reading To Kill a Mockingbird. I first read it as a librarian at HPL, as my “classic” book during our staff summer reading program one year. It struck such a strong chord with me that when I inaugurated a book discussion group when I was manager of the Young Neighborhood Library in 2004, I chose it for the first book we read.
I was recently asked to name my favorite book of all time. Without hesitation, I answered To Kill a Mockingbird. I read it for the first time when I was in 9th grade, but like so many books I read for school, I often had to skip parts in order to keep up with the nightly readings so I could pass the quizzes. Even with the disjointed reading experience, I remembered the book fondly, and I finally picked it up again and gave it a thorough reading about 10 years ago. I have read it at least one more time since then, too, and I’m sure I will read it again in the future. I grew up in rural Mississippi, the daughter of a small-town lawyer, and while I wasn’t quite the tomboy Scout was, I identified with her.
My favorite book of all time which I did not discover until I was in my early 20s. I have reread it every few years and feel I could win a trivia contest based on it. I cannot really define why it had such an impact on me. Lessons on courage, strong moral fiber, compassion and empathy are woven throughout the story. Good life lessons to reflect on as you journey through your own.
I read it as an adult since I didn't grow up in the United States. The story was bold and the characters relatable. I immediately grew fond of Scout and Atticus since he reminded me so much of my bookish father. When my son had to write a book report for a school assignment, he predictably chose this classic.
Read it again or for the first time - you will not regret it! Reserve your copy of Go Set a Watchman. Click on the image to get to the catalog.
And while you are waiting, may we suggest a few read-alikes? Click on the image to see its catalog record.
Share your memories with us! Tell us how To Kill a Mockingbird made you feel? Are you looking forward to reading Go Set a Watchman? We look forward to reading your stories.