To Kill a Mockingbird Book Club Discussion – Day 1

Good morning everyone and welcome to the CSLJ Book Club’s discussion of To Kill a Mockingbird. Mockingbird is one of my favorite books so I have really been looking forward to chatting with you all about it and I can wait to hear your thoughts and opinions on this classic book.

I’d like to start off our discussion by introducing ourselves and talking about our overall opinions of the book. To join in the conversation, simply leave a comment with your thoughts and opinions on today’s discussion questions and then check back later on in the day (or later in the week) to read and respond to your fellow book club members’ comments.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What did you think of To Kill a Mockingbird? Did you like it? Why or why not?
  2. Where there any parts of the book that you particularly liked / disliked? Why?
  3. Who was your favorite character? What do you like about them?
  4. Have you read To Kill a Mockingbird before? Seen the movie? If so, did your opinions or impressions of the book change at all this time around?
  5. Why do you think To Kill a Mockingbird has become such an American classic? In your opinion, what makes the book so significant?

I’ll be posting some more discussion questions tomorrow morning. Click here if you would like to receive an email letting you know when the new questions have been posted.

Updated Reading List

I am also thrilled to announce that we have chosen what books the CSLJ Book will be reading in 2016. It looks like a great list and includes: The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jane Austen’s Persuasion, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Click here to see the full reading list and our updated reading schedule.

Thanks to everyone who helped me compile this list by taking my survey. I really appreciate it!

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10 Responses to To Kill a Mockingbird Book Club Discussion – Day 1

  1. Hi everyone. My name is Kerry and I am the book lover / jewelry designer behind C. S. Literary Jewelry and your host for the CSLJ Book Club. I am so excited to be talking about To Kill a Mockingbird because it really is one of my favorite books. I am a chronic re-reader, going back to visit and re-visit the books I love fairly often, so I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve read Mockingbird.

    It isn’t often that you find a book that is culturally significant and fun to read at the same time. Mockingbird is both. We spend so much time talking about the subject matter of the book that we don’t get around to talking about just how amazing the writing is. Harper Lee created amazing characters (particularly Scout, Atticus, and Boo Radley) and used them to entertain us, inspire us, and teach us how to walk this world with compassion, dignity, and integrity. The more I look at the state of the world, the more I think we need these lessons more than ever before.

    I think what I love about To Kill a Mockingbird is how it is so many stories in one. You could describe this book as so many different things and still be right. It is a book about race and justice and standing up for your principles. It’s a story about childhood and coming of age. It’s a story of a young girl and her father. It’s all this and more. It just works on so many levels and I think that is why To Kill a Mockingbird is such a readable (and re-readable) book, because you can always find a little bit more in it each time you open the cover.

    I have a lot of favorite characters from this book – Atticus, Scout, Jem. I am utterly fascinated with Boo Radley. But I have a special fondness for Miss Maudie. In my opinion, she was the perfect role model for Scout about how to balance being a woman with retaining her feisty independence and I think she was one of the few true peers that Atticus could talk to and I really liked that about her.

  2. I truly love this book. It’s a easy read, but it contains so many interesting characters. This is my second read I think.

    I kinda focused on Atticus this time. Partly because I’m gonna read “Go Set A Watchman” soon.
    There is a lot unsaid about him. He’s a vacuum of goodness that people have poured their idealism into for decades.

    But a lot of secondary characters, and their hidden truths poked at me. Judge Jacobs, is actually very active in the case, it’s just behind the curtain.

    • I think you are right, Rob. The the whole town is filled with great characters like Judge Taylor. It’s like Maycomb County was a character in its own right and I think that is definitely one of Mockingbird’s strengths.

  3. I loved To kill a Mockingbird but it’s been such a long time since I last read it! I might have to dig it out again!

    Also, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is an amazing book! So wonderful, it’s actually one of the last books I read! <3 xx

    Can't wait till 2016! <3

    • I love the Night Circus so I was thrilled when everyone voted for it! If you love the Night Circus, you should check out The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. The two books don’t have much in common in terms of the worlds they take place in or plot but the storytelling is of the same caliber.

  4. I sadly feel that I’m having such trouble writing my opinions on this book and I’m not sure why that is but I’m just gonna try anyway. I read To Kill a Mockingbird when I was in middle school or very early high school. I really loved the book when I read it then and I still really enjoyed it this time around. I sadly realized I had not retained as much of the story as I thought I had. I have several favorite characters I really love Scout, Atticus, and Boo Radley. I feel like it is impossible to not love Atticus and get a bit of hero worship for him while reading this book. Now I do feel my opinion changed a little here when I was reading it this time because of all the reviews I had been hearing for Go Set A Watchmen I feel I put a more critical on his character and I wish that I hadn’t I think you are supposed to really let Scout and Jim’s love and hero worship for Atticus really affect you. I have seen the movie before and I would love to watch it again because I haven’t seen it since I first read the book. I do feel this book has become such an American Classic cause it is so much about our history and our sadly continuous struggle with race. I think this book is so significant because Atticus does fight for the underdog and he could have just let the outcome happen with out a fight. I do wish that the outcome had been different but I do feel that it was to show that sometimes no matter how much you fight you can’t always win the battle but maybe start helping change people’s minds to win the war in the end.

    • I think you are right, Leslie. To Kill a Mockingbird does owe a lot of its status as a classic to Atticus and what he represents but I think it’s more than just hero worship. To Kill a Mockingbird (and Atticus) is how we would like to think of ourselves – both as people and as a nation.

      Also, there’s a point in the book where Miss Maudie says that the town asking Atticus to defend Tom and putting him in this position was actually a compliment – that they needed men of integrity like Atticus that they can trust to do the right thing, since they couldn’t (or wouldn’t) do it themselves. Maybe many readers feel the same way and that’s why we are so emotionally invested in his character and why the changes in Go Set a Watchman hit so hard.

  5. What did you think of To Kill a Mockingbird? Did you like it? Why or why not?
    I loved it. It reminds me of the days when I was young and spent summers at my papaw and mamaw’s house in east Texas. It was a small town of about 250 and right next to another town of about 300. One area was very racist while 10 miles down the road it was practically non-existent. But as a kid you didn’t understand why you weren’t allowed to play with those kids across the highway but it was fine to play with the ones next door. We didn’t see color as kids we saw people. I loved those carefree days and this book brought me back briefly to that innocent time before my eyes were truly opened to reality.

    Where there any parts of the book that you particularly liked / disliked? Why?
    I especially liked the schemes to get Boo Radley to come out of his house. It was just such pure childlike shenanigans, reminded me of being 10 running around with my cousins hatching schemes to get candy, baked goods and whatever else we could worm out of people.

    ho was your favorite character? What do you like about them
    It’s hard not to love Scout. I loved the fact that even at her young age she was scrappy and never seemed to loose that fight no matter how much they tried to civilize her.

    Have you read To Kill a Mockingbird before? Seen the movie? If so, did your opinions or impressions of the book change at all this time around?
    I had read it a long time ago I would’ve been 13 or 14, I was a voracious reader and read way above me age level but unfortunately when I read it I did not have the life experience to honestly see some of the undertones of the book that I noticed this time around.

    Why do you think To Kill a Mockingbird has become such an American classic? In your opinion, what makes the book so significant?
    I have noticed that some want to focus solely on the racial aspect but the book is more about the innocence of growing up in a time period and location that harbored that type of people In that sense the reason, I feel, that it has become a classic is that it shows the tremendous struggle of one man trying to do the right thing as told thru the eyes of his biggest admirer, his daughter. In this way we are allowed a special glimpse into the mind of a child and that maybe in our lives as adults we can be strong for our children, and even other people’s children who watch us, and be a strong example for them too.

    • Thank you Mike for your great comments. I really love your thoughts on the book. I grew up in the suburbs of NY, not far from NYC, so I didn’t have the same small town experience that you and Harper Lee had. But my grandmother grew up as a tom boy (just like Scout) down South in Chattanooga, TN during the Depression. I used to love listening to her tell stories about her childhood. I never really realized why Maycomb felt so familiar to me until I read your comments so thanks for giving me another insight into the book and why it resonnate so personally with me.

      I also love your comments about having read the book at a young age and then reading it again as an adult. It’s funny but the first time I read the book I was pretty close to Scout’s age and my focus was very much on the idyllic days of playing in the schoolyard and scheming to lure Boo Radley out of his house. But now I am much closer to Atticus’ age (or at least Miss Maudie) and the book is very different. I find that, as much as I love the adventures of Scout, Jem, and Dill, I am also picking up on a lot of the undertones of the book.

      For example, this time around I found myself thinking a great deal about Mayella Ewell. As a woman and a feminist, I tend to be very wary about things that reinforce the assumption that a woman reporting a rape or sexual assualt must be lying but Harper Lee put a lot of complexities and layers to Mayella and her situation and treats her with compassion and dignity. A lot of people talk about Scout and her femininity and how people try to force her into a specific mold but I feel that Harper Lee’s depictions of Southern womanhood as seen by all the women of Maycomb County really come together to say something complex and interesting about gender roles and society that I wouldn’t have begun to pick up on as a child.

      I guess it’s true what they say, you really do need to read the great books at several points in your life to truly appreciate them.

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