To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

This presents me with the opposite problem that I’ve had with books that aren’t good enough to inspire me to write about them.  Quite simply, To Kill a Mockingbird is the best book I’ve ever read.  It also happens to be the first “real” book I ever read.  And, I don’t have a clue what to write about it to do it anything resembling justice.

When I was in the fifth grade or thereabouts, I was bored and giving my folks a hard time.  My mom handed me the old copy that was on our bookshelves, we took turns reading a chapter each out-loud, and a love affair was begun.  Incidentally, I’ve still got that copy I read for the first time even though I’ve had to use a lot of masking tape to keep the cover together and pages are beginning to fall out.  I re-read it again in high school, then again in college, and yet again in law school (not because I was required to, but because I love it that much).  Since law school, I have made an effort to read it at least once every couple of years.  It simply never gets old.

It had probably been more than two years since I last read it and I had been thinking about when I might make time to read it again when, on one of my many pilgrimages to Half Price Books, I found a copy of it on cassette for $2.48.  It didn’t take me long to snatch that up and begin thinking about when I might be in the car for a long enough stretch that I could listen to most of it at one time.

Turns out I was not far away from such an opportunity as I was getting ready to move from Texas to New Mexico.  As I was making that long drive, I eventually ran out of range of The Ticket so I put this in the tape deck.  The rest of the journey was as pleasant a road trip as I’ve had in a long time.  Even having read the book as many times as I have and having watched the movie version more than once, in some ways it felt like I was experiencing the story for the first time.  Roses Prichard does a marvelous job of letting you believe that you’re listening to Scout tell you about her childhood experiences.

I’m not sure if the next time I “read” To Kill a Mockingbird I’ll put the tapes back in or pick up the ratty version I read the first time more than 25 years ago, but I’m pretty sure it won’t take me more than a couple of years to get back to it.


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