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To Revist a Mockingbird

GSAW posterThis week’s release of Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman has been greeted with no small amount of anticipation and controversy. First there were concerns about the circumstances of the novel’s release, which was announced a mere three months after the death of Lee’s sister Alice, who had been her lawyer and caretaker. Lee is 89 and in poor health following a stroke, and publishers admit that all discussion has taken place through her current lawyer, Tonja Carter.

Then the reviews began to trickle out, and readers have been surprised to find a different portrayal of Atticus Finch, the iconic and beloved character who fought on behalf of Tom Robinson. Watchman was an early take on the story of the Finch family and the town of Maycomb, told from the perspective of an adult Scout. It was later revised to become the novel we now know. In Watchman, Atticus Finch is an elderly, bigoted man who attends a KKK rally and bears little resemblance to the social justice figure readers have admired for decades. The last few weeks have seen spirited debates as to whether or not this should tarnish the original novel’s legacy, and if it is possible given the setting and time that Atticus could have had these two very different, though genuine, sides to his character.

As Sarah has already noted, the waiting list for Go Set a Watchman is a long one. While you wait for your name to come up, here is a list of titles that you may enjoy. Several of them will be available in the New Fiction room. For titles not found there, please visit the reference desk for assistance. Many of these are coming of age tales set against similarly racially-charged backdrops, while some are stories about crimes that divide towns.

Dollbaby — Laura Lane McNeal
Hope Mills — Constance Pierce
Peace Like a River — Leif Enger
The Help — Kathryn Stockett
Lay That Trumpet in Our Hands — Susan Carol McCarthy
Whistling Past the Graveyard — Susan Crandall
I’ll Take You There: A Novel — Joyce Carol Oates
A Time to Kill — John Grisham
The Burying Field — Kenneth Abel
The Air Between Us — Debra Johnson

Harper Lee:

The Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Lee — Marja Mills
I am Scout: The Biography of Harper Lee — Charles J. Shields
Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee — Charles J. Shields

To Kill a Mockingbird

Scout, Atticus, and Boo: A Celebration of Fifty Years of To Kill a Mockingbird — Mary McDonagh Murphy
Racism in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird — Candice Mancini, Ed.

Race in America:

The Fire Next Time — James Baldwin
The Education of Booker T. Washington — Michael Rudolph West
Mr. and Mrs. Prince : How an Extraordinary Eighteenth-Century Family Moved Out of slavery and Into Legend — Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina
Martin & Malcolm & America : A Dream or a Nightmare — James H. Cone.
A Dreadful Deceit : The Myth of Race From the Colonial Era to Obama’s America — Jacqueline Jones.
News For All the People : the Epic Story of Race and the American Media — Juan Gonzalez and Joseph Torres


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cover of the novel to kill a mockingbird by harper lee


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Celebrating To Kill A Mockingbird

In the interest of full disclosure, I need to start by saying that To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is one of my all time favorite novels.  I remember reading it with my class in school, and I have read it several times again since.  I know that many others feel the same as I do about this book – librarians especially.  In 1999, Library Journal ran a poll of its readers in which To Kill a Mockingbird was voted the best novel of the century.

55 years ago this July 11th, To Kill a Mockingbird was first published and the world was introduced to Atticus, Sco24817626ut and Jem Finch (not to mention Boo Radley).  The book was an instant bestseller, and went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961.

In celebration of this wonderful novel, the Nevins Memorial Library will be screening the equally impressive movie adaptation featuring the incomparable Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch.  The screening will take place on Tuesday, July 7th at 6pm.  You may reserve your seat for this free screening by clicking HERE.

There has also been some major excitement around here regarding the release of Harper Lee’s novel Go Set a Watchman on July 14th.  This long anticipated novel was actually written by Lee before To Kill a Mockingbird, but takes place 20 years later.  In this novel, Scout is now an adult and is returning to Maycomb, Alabama.  The wait list for this novel is already growing, so click HERE to add yourself to the list!