Harper Lee, the author of the American classic To Kill a Mockingbird, turns 89 years old today. It’s been an interesting time to be a Harper Lee fan lately. After more than 50 years since To Kill a Mockingbird came out, a new Harper Lee novel is expected to be released in July. The book, Go Set a Watchman, is partially a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird, telling the story of a grown up Scout Finch returning home to visit her father, but was actually written back in the 50’s before Mockingbird and then put aside when Lee’s editor suggested that she write the story from the perspective of the younger Scout that we all know. The manuscript was allegedly re-discovered by Lee’s lawyer and friend but concerns about the authors’ age and health sparked an investigation into whether or not Harper Lee was being taken advantage or if she really did give consent for this earlier work to be published. Thankfully, the investigation found that there was no evidence of elder abuse and no reason to believe that Harper Lee isn’t on board with Watchman’s publication.
But as excited as I am to read Go Set a Watchman, it is To Kill A Mockingbird that holds a special place in my heart. Mockingbird is one of my favorite novels and one that I love to read and re-read. It isn’t often that you find a book that is both culturally significant and a great read but Mockingbird is all that and more. I can’t wait until September when I get to discuss To Kill a Mockingbird with the other members of the CSLJ Book Club.
Yesterday, I went looking for some fun To Kill a Mockingbird related video or link to share as part of this blog post. I found the usual clips from the wonderful film version of the book – the one with Gregory Peck’s unforgettable performance as Atticus Finch – and lists of inspirational quotes from the novel, and this video talking about what makes Scout Finch such an enduring character. I found great handmade tributes to Mockingbird on Etsy. My personal favorites were this bracelet, this poster, this print, this linocut, and this To Kill a Mockingbird book purse by Novel Creations. And, of course, I am also very partial to this To Kill a Mockingbird ring from my own Etsy shop, C. S. Literary Jewelry.
But as much as I loved the quotes and the film clips, the To Kill a Mockingbird jewelry and art, my favorite discovery of the day was the Call Me Ishmael website.
— Erin Lease (@erinlease) April 24, 2015
I quickly became obsessed with the Call Me Ishmael videos where readers share stories about the books they love. I have been obsessively going through the website, watching videos from all sorts of folks about all sorts of books (I particularly loved this one about The Catcher in the Rye) but I couldn’t have found a more perfect video to share than this one about a woman reading To Kill a Mockingbird to her children. I think the video really speaks to why Mockingbird was (and continues to be) such an amazing and important book and such a significant part of American literature and culture.