It was 50 years ago yesterday, July 11th, that Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird was published. It ranks near the top of almost all must-read lists, including my own. In 2006 it came out on top of what I consider a rather highly regarded survey: that of British librarians. When asked what books every adult should read before they die, the people who are the keepers of literature listed only 30. To Kill A Mockingbird was first, The Bible was second.
The 1961 Pulitzer Prize winning piece, which remains Lee’s only novel, is a rite of passage for many high school students, even while some continue to call for its censorship. Interestingly, I read the book for the first time exactly twenty years ago this summer. I still recall picking it up in a small bookstore in the Kootenays during late July or early August in 1990, and my father recommending it. I hardly put it down until I had finished it.
I have re-read it a few times since then, yet it seems appropriate now, 50 years since it was written, 20 years since I first read it, and in the hot days of summer that are reminiscent of those hot days in an Alabama court room, to pick it up again. I have a little bit of a pressing task at hand to be finished in the next few days, but then I’ll turn to the book shelf that contains two copies – the one I first read, and another ready to give away, just in case – and start again. I have never really been one for the book club thing, but this one’s always worth talking about. Anyone ready to pick it up and read along on this anniversary with me? I have a copy you can borrow.