Monday, July 17, 2006

To Kill a Mockingbird - Impressions.

A teacher once told us that you shouldn't read too much when you are too young. You should wait until you are mature enough to really be able to appreciate good writing. Of course, who listens to stuff like that when you are too young?

I had heard a lot of good things about "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee, and so when I came across a copy, I browsed through it and saw that the narrator was an eight-year-old girl, and so I went ahead and read it. I was least impressed with it. I don't think I even understood it.

I usually avoid reading books a second time. I am of the opinion that there are too many books waiting to be read, so I'd rather read them than waste time reading books I have already read.

But I know many people who name "To Kill a Mockingbird" as the best book ever. And I wanted to know why. It bugged me that I had read it and did not remember the story at all. And try as I might, I could not remember any significant birds in it, let alone a Mockingbird.

So I broke my rule. I read it again.

And I want to read it again.

This time, it is not because I did not understand it. But because it is such a beautiful book. Moving. Touching. Thought-provoking. Wonderfully written.

The book is alive with incidents and characters. But everything happens in a sleepy, laid-back age and town. The book sometimes thrills you and sends chills down your spine, sometimes it just makes you feel warm and fuzzy.

The characters - The eight-year-old narrator, Scout Finch, is very likeable, as is her brother Jem. Though all the colourful characters in the book are from an unfamiliar land, and a distant age, they are very real, and believable.

Atticus Finch is probably one of the best male characters I have ever encountered in the world of fiction. Wish there were more people like him in real life.

I will not review the book, but here is a very nice review if you are interested. If you haven't read the book yet, you really should!


Ducati-Man said...

I read novels, used to like Jeffrey Archer novels when I was around 15, my friends read nancyDrew and Hardy boys then.... I never read the books again but about a few years ago I read JA's Kane and Able all over again. It made more sense, maturity does matter. Now however I read books written by Warren Buffet (not Novels... ) his Ideas on business is amazing. It will obviously make sense only when you start to analyse the industry your working with.

What shocked me this time around when I came to blr was that my neice (8 yrs old), was updating herself with the stock market she started to tell me how the closing price of a stock determines the activity of the next day. Well Warren Buffett's writings will def make sense to her. The kids are too good these days, unlike me. At first I suggested she reads healthy novels, when I was leaving I suggested Warren Buffett. A lot changes with time.

Viky said...

If you ask me, a good book is one, which will give you different insightful interpretations, each time you read it.

Which is why I think that buying a book is a better option than borrowing it and reading.

RK Narayan's "English Teacher" deals with the death of the protagonist's wife and how she talks to him even after death.

The first time I read it, I thought it was just a story. The second time I read it, a couple of yeas later, it left me deeply sad for the widower, and his reaction to the tragedy. The third time I read it, I was able to connect to his idea of him seeing his wife in his dream and bringing out her ideas in his writing. I was even able to draw interpretations in those touching paragraphs.

Same is the case with classics like "Godfather". You tend to idolise a person, or be overawed by the protagonist in your first read, but as you read it again, you are able to see things in other perspectives.

I started reading Mockingbird on a boring Sunday afternoon, but dozed off. Everyday it beckons me, perched above the TV, and I intend to read it too, but somehow I haven't been able to.

Light fiction seems to be my calling now. Tangled Webs is my current, hee hee hee ;-)

Shruthi said...

Ducati-man: 8 years old?? And the stock market?? I hadn't even heard of the term at that age! Oh man I am growing old! :D
Haven't read Warren Buffet - will leave it to your niece! :O :D

Viky: Oh yeah I agree with you. Each reading brings out something new. Actually I would really love to read all those books I read in my childhood, once again. I frequently re-read short stories - they don't take too much time, you see - just for that extra bit of info I find in the story each time I read it.
But my to-read list is much too long, and is only growing longer. If I stop to go back and re-read books, then who will read the to-read books? :(
Life, Viky, is much too short! :D

Maverick said...

thx for giving me a good book, im searching for it in my univ library catalog :-)

Shruthi said...

Maverick: Hope you enjoy it! :)

Viky: Do try out To kill.... continue it.. its good! :)
As for Tangled Webs - it is really good allva? :D

Viky said...

Are you tracking me down?

I read your reply here, and navigate to your reply on the previous post, about Sangeeta's hold, and to the Tangled Webs page.

And now you ask me, its really good alwa...

Say, are you a hacker or something snooping on my screen?

Shruthi said...

Viky: Muhahahhaha!!

Viky said...

And as far as your catching up on reading is concerned, well, you have to take some time out to smell the flowers .

Ok now, I can see that glare. Look whose book is lying on the TV, catching dust

Yes, Tangled Webs is so "un-not-openable". andre office ge banda takshaNa open maDade irokke agalla And I'm waiting for Ano to get a bit further, and then I will start a detailed analysis of the story - Ta Da Ta Da - Bloap Saga - The Story till now

Shruthi said...

Viky: Guilty as charged! :D
Ha ha... Bloap saga indeed! Complete with music :D Remember - this also started off with a comment - err.. sort of! :D

Anonymous said...

Coincidence again?! I too re-read Mockingbird recently, and it was soooo lovely!

Shruthi, there's one book I'd really like to reco - Identity by Milan Kundera. You'll find it's a completely different kind of book. That's the only book I've re-read immediately after finishing it.

LOL@TW surfacing yet again - you are sure making me all anxious! :))


Shruthi said...

Ano: Wow, coincidence indeed!
Identity? Milan Kundera? Duly noted. One more, sigh, in my to-read list. Thank you! :)
Watch out, Ano, someone somewhere sometime will say, have you read TW by Anitha Murthy? ;)

Viky said...

Hey Shru, have you read TW by Anitha Murthy.

I can see people like me googling the book out. Tee hee hee.

Shruthi said...

Viky: You won't need to! You will have an autographed copy of the book, courtesy the author herself ;)

Inder said...

to kill a mockingbird... found it at the library a couple of months ago. wanted to find out why everyone has got nothing but nice things to say about it. wanted to know why the movie version of the novel too is considered a classic.

read a couple of chapters. was very disappointed. the story was going nowhere. harper lee's narration style was totally hazy. the author didn't care to give proper introduction to his characters... from few pages per day, ended up reading few paragraphs per day... was like "why the hell is this book considered a classic???"

and then, it picked up... started getting used to the author's narration style and started liking it. but then the return date approached. returned it. looking for the book ever since. will continue it once i get it again.

Shruthi said...

Inder: :D I agree with you! The story starts off strangely. The first two paragraphs are : When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow. When it healed, and Jem’s fears of never being able to play football were assuaged, he was seldom self-conscious about his injury. His left arm was somewhat shorter than his right; when he stood or walked, the back of his hand was at right angles to his body, his thumb parallel to his thigh. He couldn’t have cared less, so long as he could pass and punt.
When enough years had gone by to enable us to look back on them, we sometimes discussed the events leading to his accident. I maintain that the Ewells started it all, but Jem, who was four years my senior, said it started long before that. He said it began the summer Dill came to us, when Dill first gave us the idea of making Boo Radley come out.

You are left wondering who is who and what on earth is happening. There is a lot of local history in the first chapter. But if you stick it out for two chapters or so, then you get totally hooked :)
Go ahead, take a shot at it again!

Roopadarshi said...

Many of you may not be knowing that there is movie based on this story by the same name. This movie was released in the year 1962, a year after the book was released. Gregory Peck enacted the role of Atticus Finch and won an Oscar award for the role. Incidently this was the one and only Oscar award won by Gregory Peck for acting (he got an Oscar for Life Time achievement later).

This movie is one of the few movies which has done full justice to the original story. For more details on the movie you can follow the link:

This book is a textbook for 9th graders in Massachussets. Ironically children of todays world (in MA)find it incomprehensible as the extent of racial discrimination is much reduced here in this part of the US. Moreover, these childrern are far less innocent than those portrayed in the novel.

rajeev said...

Well said about Atticus. I can still picture Jim in his ecstasy - "Atticus is a gentleman "
BTW, about bibliophiles, here is another one-

Shruthi said...

Roopadarshi: Yes, I did know about this movie - in fact I wanted to add a comment at the end of my post, asking everybody if you have watched the movie, but then I thought, somebody will definitely comment on it :). I haven't watched it, but have heard a lot about it!
And thanks for the interesting input!

Rajeev: That's an interesting blog! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

So you finally read that ?!! One of my favs for very personal reasons...How can we ever forget this book or its quotes "Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird "
Its one of those rare books which will remain in memory for long

Whenever I hear the name Scout, I think of a blogger friend of mine who could "recite" this book !!

RK said...

Dear friends, Sorry to go off the mark. just wanted to tell you all that my blog has shifted to:

See you there and take care.

travel plaza said...

Shruti, Like you, I had also read 'To kill a mocking bird' at a very young age. Did not understand a word then. Would like to read it again now...Thanks for reminding me of such a great book.

Sudipta Chatterjee said...

Hmm... yes, but you know what, sometimes if you read a book as a 10-year-old, the perception you get of the book is very different. I'm not talking about liking or disliking the book, it is more about the way you perceive people, characters, their actions, hidden meanings and stuff.

Good post... and thanks for dropping by at my place! :)

Shruthi said...

Anon: Which one are you now? :D
Wow, I do have a few books like that - which I can recite ;)

RK: ATB with the new blog!

Travel Plaza: Great! Me glad! Let me know after you read it :)

Sudipta: Ah yes, I agree with you. I remember reading some stories when I was a child, and then when I read it later, so many of the hidden meanings, the implied philosophy, etc came out then. Agree with you on that!
And drop by? Don't tell me you don't remember me :D

Anu said...

To kill a Mocking bird is one of my all time favourites. Fell in love with Atticus. When I learnt that Grigory Peck had played that role, phew, I declared that I would watch it even if it was screened just one day before my exams. I did get to see it many years after all exams were over! Lovely.

Vinod R Iyer said...

They say the best way to rewind a book is to close it. I just dont rem any of the charecters of the books.Not a bad idea to read it again.Have heard abt this book a lot.WIll give it a try !

Sachin said...

Hey Shruthi!!

I read TKAM only about 8 months back the first time (I plan to read it again). I'd heard the name a long time ago but never really knew what it was about thogh. When my wife said she wanted it, I bought it for her. She read it first and then I did. Both of us loved it. Both of got felt that Atticus was a great Dad, one that made us of think of ours. Jem and Scout were both good kids, the kind that even get into trouble with an innocent aura around them.

Another good book I'd like to recommend even though I am only through a quarter of it is "A Complete Guide to the Hitchhiker's Galaxy". Actually, the one I am reading has all the 7 parts of the story in it. It is simply hilarious....and you have to hand it to the author for coming up with so many new words for places, people, species and other stuff. Yes, it reads a little differently from most other books in the comedy genre but this one is after all, unique. And also, some people may not like it just because of the totally un-relatedness of whats happening in the book! Cheers!!!

Shruthi said...

Anu: Yes, I know. When I said, "It is a fave of a lot of ppl I know" I had you in mind too! :) Atticus is fantastic, allva? :D
I really want to watch the movie. I like Gregory Peck.

Vinod: Ha, that quote is worth a thought! :D Yup do try reading the book again!

Sachin: Yeah that's what I meant when I said - so many people love this book! :)
I have read the first one of Hitchhiker's guide - the one with the towel and Marvin and 42. IT was outright crazy :D. Haven't read the others - will get around to it sometime soon!

Sachin said...

Shruthi, that was a really fast response!!! I'm impressed!!! :) Commented on your Thriller post now as well, in case you want to have a look.

Shruthi said...

Sachin: Yeah I already replied to that too :D
Some people have all the time in the world - sometimes :D

Sachin said...

Well, then some people are very lucky then!! Sometimes!! Am actually in my notice period myself right now, about 5 days to go before I leave this company. Though they seem to want to wrench it all out of me before I go. :)

Am answering your query in the Thriller comment here: I travel from Andheri to Borivli. You know of it too?

Shruthi said...

Sachin: Oh, so will you still need to commute in your new job? All the best for the new job! :)
Oh yeahhh don't I know of it - I will do a post on the locals sometime. My worst experience was on a trip from Bandra to Malad on a slow local - we were pushed out of the train at Jogeshwari. We had to take an auto upto Malad :D

chitra said...

Me too loveth that booku :)!

Shruthi said...

Chitra: Ohho!! You too? Another similarity ;)

Prashanth M said...

Finally got hold of the book last week nad read it :)
Its such a nice book, Atticus' character is damn good. And so is Scout.

And if you read kannada books also - read these - Karvalo and Jugari Cross - both by Poornachandra Tejaswi.

Friendship SMS said...

Classics. Both the movie and the book. Once I picked it up, I couldn't put it down. Everyone should read this book once in their lifetime. This edition is nice. I really like the cover too.I am one of those who like to judge the print, if not the book, by the cover.

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