July 11th marked the 50th anniversary of the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird, a Pulitzer Prize winning novel, and arguably one of the most influential cultural books of its kind in the U.S.
Have you read To Kill a Mockingbird? When did you first read it? Did it affect the way you think about race and class in the U.S.? Do you agree that it's an influential and/or important book?
If you read the book but don't live in the U.S., how did the novel influence your opinions about race in the U.S.?
Here's a link to one of the many stories about the novel's anniversary. Have you come across any other interesting stories about the book or the author, Harper Lee?
What other novels have you read that have affected the way you view culture, either your own or others?
Like most people throughout the world, I had to read To Kill a Mockingbird in middle school and I wasn't all that impressed. It seemed kind of boring at the time. Then last summer, I read it as part of my summer reading challenge focusing on Southern literature (see my review here). And I was completely blown away. I became so wrapped up in Scout's story that at times I almost cried. Part of me really thinks that this story is forced upon kids way too early. Not to say that isn't a great book (it is), but it is so hard to grasp the shattering of childhood innocence when you are still living in yours.
I think that what I liked most about this book is that it transcends the very issue that everyone brings up when this book is discussed. This isn't simply a book about race, but about being human. It is about seeing beyond a person's exterior circumstances and realizing that they are just as human as we are. Whether a country's problems lie in race, religion, class, caste, or wealth, this is a story that speaks to all of it.
May I express my hearty congratulations to Harper Lee and her amazing work on 50 years of changing how we view each other. Check out this article from Southern Living if you would like to visit Harper Lee's hometown that she based the book on. And please find below one of my favorite parts of the film starring Gregory Peck. The opening credits.
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