Monday Musings | When Was the First Time You Read To Kill a Mockingbird?

Scout Atticus and Boo To Kill a Mockingbird Mary McDonagh Murphy

Over the weekend, I read Scout, Atticus & Boo by Mary McDonagh Murphy. It appealed to me in a similar way that I’m sure So We Read On by Maureen Corrigan appeals to me: it attempts to figure out why a book like To Kill a Mockingbird is still so influential over 50 years after its publication. In a series of interviews, Scout, Atticus & Boo is a celebration of a classic American novel.

But while the premise appealed to me, I felt like Part 1 (the author’s introduction) gave away a little too much of the content that was to come in Part 2 (the interviewee’s monologues). That being said, I loved reading everyone’s experience with the book. It made me want to ask you: when was the first time you read To Kill a Mockingbird?

I read To Kill a Mockingbird in high school (like many others) and remember falling in love with it. It’s definitely one of those high school reads that is so compelling that it doesn’t feel like required reading. It was so cool discussing it with my classmates; it was such a bonding experience. Re-reading it last year was even better; I felt like I could appreciate Atticus so much more and got just as swept up with the story as I did the first time. This is definitely a book that’s meant to be read over and over again. (Aside: I thought it was so weird to read this book in light of the Go Set a Watchman announcement; suddenly, To Kill a Mockingbird is no longer Harper Lee’s “first and only book.” I wonder how all the interviewees who were hoping for a second book feel about the upcoming book? Also, as I was reading, I realized that at some point, the fact that Harper Lee has two books will be just common knowledge instead of a revolutionary thing. Crazy!)

Anyway, I digress. Have you read To Kill a Mockingbird? When did you read it for the first time? Did you enjoy it?

Monday Musings | Harper Lee and Posthumous Works

3 Books That Have Inspired One More Page kmn04books 2

Last week, some big news hit the internet: after 55 years, Harper Lee of To Kill a Mockingbird fame is releasing a new book. My reaction to this has been up and down. First, I was SUPER EXCITED. Then, I was shocked. Now that almost a week has past… I’m not exactly sure how I feel.

I’m sure by now most of you are familiar with the controversy: Harper Lee has previously gone on record saying that she’d never publish another book again. So… why is she deciding to publish Go Set a Watchman now? This announcement seems interestingly timed too, as Lee’s sister, who previously managed her legal issues, recently passed away. Plus, after suffering from a stroke in 2007, Lee’s health isn’t exactly in the best shape… I won’t continue to delve into this as it really is kind of a “he said, she said” situation, but for more information about this, Tanya from 52booksorbust has a very informative and interesting post here.

Personally, I’m torn. On one hand, I would hate it if something untoward was happening behind the scenes, but on the other hand, would me not buying the book even change anything? (Is that the wrong attitude to have?) I guess whether or not I decide to read the book is something for me to decide in a few months’ time (though if I’m being honest I can’t see myself resisting too hard), but all of this talk has me thinking about posthumous works.

Let’s say, hypothetically, that Lee doesn’t actually want this book to be published. Obviously, we should respect her wishes and not publish something against her will. But what happens to the manuscript if she passes? One example of a posthumous publication comes to mind here: Franz Kafka famously wrote to his literary exectuor and friend Max Brod telling him to destroy all of his unpublished works and letters after his death. Brod decided to ignore Kafka’s wishes and publish most of what remained in his possession anyway. Nowadays, The Trial is an often-studied and critically-acclaimed work of literary fiction, and it seems like the fact that Kafka never wanted it to see the light of day hasn’t really affected consumers. So… how does this relate to this Harper Lee situation?

To be honest, I don’t really know. I think it’ll be interesting to see how this continues to develop. Either way, a new novel by one of the most highly regarded English novelists is coming out this year and it is sure to be a huge literary event.

What do you think? Would make a difference if Go Set a Watchman was published posthumously? Would it somehow make this situation less controversial? How do you feel about this news? Do you think you’ll read Go Set a Watchman regardless? Please feel free to weigh in – I’m incredibly curious to hear your thoughts!

November 2014

November 2014 One More Page Blog Karen

Books read:

*The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
*The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami
*Us by David Nicholls (Review to come)
*The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes
*Alphabetique by Molly Peacock
*To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Not pictured because I completely forgot I had re-read it when taking this picture, but mentioned here.)
*Mrs. Hemingway by Naomi Wood (Not pictured because I had to return it to the library.)

I spent the nerdiest Sunday today watching Jeopardy! episodes on Youtube and then geeking out by reading Arthur Chu’s wife’s blog about the experience and learning an unexpected amount about Jeopardy! game theory and the whole taping process. I don’t know if you know this about me but I love playing games: board games, trivia games, card games, you name it. I also love learning about strategies and figuring them out for myself, so I guess I really admired Chu’s gameplay, even though my googling tells me it made a lot of Jeopardy! fans mad. It’s been a really good Sunday on the internet, I have to say.

Anyway, this month felt like a slow reading month, but looking back it looks like I managed to read quite a few books. I finally finished reading The Bell Jar after putting it down to read other things, and was charmed by The Strange Library and officially jumped on the Murakami bandwagon. I also developed a huge crush on Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird, so there’s that. Of the books I haven’t reviewed, I can’t wait to write about Us. It was compelling and so human that it kept me up late at night unable to put it down.

I don’t have too much personal news this month; work has been keeping me busy, as have the upcoming holidays. I can’t wait to get a Christmas tree and start Christmas baking!

How was your November, friends? What are you looking forward to the most (bookish or otherwise) in December?

3 Inspiring Books That Have Shaped My Worldview

3 Books That Have Inspired One More Page kmn04books 2

One of my favourite things about books, besides their ability to transport me to another place and time, is how they are able to present new ideas and perspectives that may not have reached me otherwise. I’ve been lucky enough to have read and studied many books growing up, and this has continued even after I graduated from formal schooling. I can’t be more thankful that reading has provided me with so many opportunities to learn and absorb stories that are different from my own, and as I grow older (and hopefully wiser), I’ve come to the conclusion that I never, ever want to stop learning. The following three books are ones that have strongly influenced me, helping to shape my worldview and opinions on certain topics. Since this weekend is American thanksgiving, I thought I’d give my thanks to these books on my blog.

1. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

With everything that has been going on lately, I’ve been compelled to put all of my other books aside and re-read Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird. I read this book for the first time in high school and even then it resonated strongly with me. During this re-read, I am not only aware of its political message, I am also appreciating Atticus Finch’s character a lot more; he is a great father to Jem and Scout and their relationship is so wonderful and heartwarming to read about. I have not finished my re-read, but I’m seriously contemplating reviewing the book once I am done.

Everyone should at least give this classic book a go as it reminds us that right thing isn’t always the easiest to do, but standing up for what is right is always worth a try.

2. All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews

Shortlisted for the 2014 Giller Prize, this tender and skillfully crafted book asks us to reconsider our views on assisted suicide and depression. As Yoli grapples with her sister Elf’s desire to end her own life, she is faced with a difficult question: should she help her sister? Is it selfish to keep someone alive when they want to die? Is there a right or wrong thing to do? This has always been something that I’ve wondered about, and I respect Toews’ nonjudgmental way of presenting the varying point of views on this subject. After reading this book, I feel like my thoughts on this are more well-rounded, and I am thankful that this book allowed me to work out my feelings along with it.

I’d recommend this book for those who have ever wanted to read an insightful and thought-provoking book that deals with the morality of suicide. The book itself doesn’t deliver a concrete answer, but perhaps you’ll be able to work out your views yourself along the way.

3. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Another classic that is commonly taught in high school, The Handmaid’s Tale is a book that reinforced my views regarding gender inequality, and how haunting it can be when a society or regime is so oppressive that basic human rights are restricted by made up rules. What would happen if women’s basic rights to read and live a fulfilled life with a chosen family get taken away? Logically, human rights should be a given, but The Handmaid’s Tale presents a terrifying world where these rights are privileges belonging to a select few.

Interested in human rights and gender equality or unconcerned when it comes to these matters? This book is bound to be thought-provoking to whoever picks it up.

That’s it for me! These books have all profoundly impacted me in one way or another and I would love to hear your thoughts on them. Have you read any of these books? Are there any books that have shaped YOUR worldview and changed your mind about things?