Thursday, July 2, 2009

Rant or Rave: To Kill A Mockingbird

Guilty admission: I had never read Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird. I love the movie and have seen it several times, but I had never actually read the book. So, since I am attempting this year to catch up on many of the classic books I have either never read, or don't really remember, I added Mockingbird to my list.

Top of the list, actually. But, as I have with most of my recent reading, I went with the audiobook version. A good book on CD really, really makes traveling much more enjoyable. I like music on the radio okay, I definitely like listening to Bob Uecker call a Brewers' game, and I do occassionally drop-in on talk radio, but the day I popped in my first CD audiobook was a revelatory one for me.

But I digress. To Kill A Mockingbird, as read by Sally Darling, shoots straight onto my favorite books of all time. I wish I hadn't waited so long to enjoy this marvelous book, but I'm very happy I finally took the time to do so. What a marvelous book. I do not think I can rave highly enough about this book to do it full credit.

It explores childhood, southern culture, life during the Great Depression, racism, kindness, joy, human nature, the law, schooling and more. It does so gracefully, seemingly effortlessly (though I know it took Lee a long time to write the story, with many, many revisions), and with such a gentle, easy flow that the profoundness of much of the writing seems to almost settle into the back of your brain without any conscious effort on the reader's part.

The story of Jean Louise "Scout" Finch, her brother Jeremy "Jem" Finch and their father Atticus, is both timeless and timely, gentle and unabashedly direct and unflinching. It is a snapshot into the past and a benchmark for the future.

In short, it is exceptional. Read it, savor it, and share it.

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