How to read ‘Go Set a Watchman.’

Note: this isn’t a review; there are plenty of those to be found and this blogger doesn’t have one in her. 

If you’re feeling uneasy about Harper Lee’s newly released novel Go Set a Watchman, you’re in good company. The book’s provenance is murky, Ms. Lee’s intentions about it unclear (if you’re feeling charitable towards its publishers). The state of Alabama actually launched an elder care investigation into the events surrounding its publication, and while it found no evidence of mistreatment, the doubts linger.

Watchman is being called a rough draft of Mockingbird, its sequel, or something in between. It’s also being called too good to be true: rumors are flying that the timing of this release is too uncanny to be believed, and Watchman was fabricated for commercial gain.

Others compare Watchman to Lee’s character Boo Radley: it’s cruel to drag this manuscript into the light; it’s not meant for the public’s eyes.

In spite of its suspicious origins, the book was published last Tuesday, and readers must now decide if they will read it at all, and if so, how to approach it.

Watchman Mockingbird

I considered not reading it, but eventually decided to buy myself a copy (since I was #356 on the library waiting list by the time I got around to requesting it, and that was still well in advance of the publication date).

Every reader must decide for herself how to approach this book.

One can let Watchman stand alone, and read it completely independently of Mockingbird. I think this is craziness.

One can read Watchman as a sequel, of sorts. In it, a 26-year-old Scout (now going by her given name, Jean Louise) returns home from New York City to check on her ailing father. She is dismayed by heightening racial tensions in her hometown, and shattered by Atticus’s participation in a local segregationist movement.

Read this way, Watchman is a story about growing up: about realizing that our families are broken and our heroes flawed, sometimes devastatingly so. Read this way, Watchman obliterates Atticus Finch as archetype, although it does make Malcolm Gladwell’s harsh criticism of Atticus in his highly controversial 2009 New Yorker piece look a lot less crazy.

One can read Watchman as a first draft of Mockingbird. The two books are obviously constructed from the same raw material: her own experiences, her personal background, her imagination. I’m sympathetic towards this approach, especially because Lee’s narrative voice is exactly the same. But for all their similarities, I don’t believe the books share enough common ground, plot-wise, to truly view Watchman this way.

Instead, I think Watchman is best read as the first imagining of Mockingbird. It’s the seed, but it’s not anywhere close enough to be called a first draft. Watchman is heavily biographical, opening with a twenty-something girl returning to Alabama after a long absence in New York City—a journey Lee herself made, perhaps with similar results.

Watchman is Lee’s debut novel—albeit an unpublished one—with a debut’s typical faults: the structure is weak, the phrasing gets clunky, the characters unpolished. (Although it’s important to remember that the published version of Watchman didn’t undergo the regular editing process that published manuscripts are almost always subjected to. It was copyedited, but otherwise printed almost exactly as found.)

But of course, Lee’s first manuscript wasn’t published back then. Her editor liked her writing, but told her, Write something about Scout when she was a girl.”

And so Lee took her angry young woman and made her a child; she turned her aging bigot into an ordinary hero. She transformed her decent coming-of-age story into an enduring classic.

(I read Watchman as though its Atticus was an entirely different being than Mockingbird’s Atticus, and as though its Scout was entirely different from Mockingbird’s Scout. Not just older characters, but different characters who happened to share the same name. Depending on which reviews you read, this is either wise or naive.)

If you choose to skip this book, I understand that decision. I do think that serious students of writing or literature will be enthralled by the ties between the two works. The comparisons are rich, and many.

My advice: get this book from the library, if you can stand the wait. (Although I feel obligated to tell you that Reese Witherspoon narrates the audio version, and the sample is pretty fantastic.)

UPDATE: The giveaway is now closed and the winner has been notified. Thanks for playing! Your other option: I accidentally pre-ordered two copies and I’m giving away my extra. Leave a comment sharing your favorite Mockingbird moment to enter. (If you’ve never read it or seen the movie, leave a comment saying so to enter. If you don’t want to enter the giveaway, share your favorite moment anyway and add “no entry.” U.S. only, 18 or older, giveaway ends Wednesday July 21 at noon eastern time.)

Books mentioned in this post:

Go Set a Watchman

Go Set a Watchman

As a standalone book, this was far from amazing, but serious students of writing or literature will be enthralled by the ties between Watchman and Lee's beloved classic To Kill a Mockingbird. The comparisons are rich, and many. I had complicated feelings about reading this one but I'm so glad I did. (Here's how I approached this controversial work.)

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About the Book

Publisher’s description:

A historic literary event: the publication of a newly discovered novel, the earliest known work from Harper Lee, the beloved, bestselling author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning classic, To Kill a Mockingbird.

Originally written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman was the novel Harper Lee first submitted to her publishers before To Kill a Mockingbird. Assumed to have been lost, the manuscript was discovered in late 2014.

Go Set a Watchman features many of the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird some twenty years later. Returning home to Maycomb to visit her father, Jean Louise Finch—Scout—struggles with issues both personal and political, involving Atticus, society, and the small Alabama town that shaped her.

Exploring how the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird are adjusting to the turbulent events transforming mid-1950s America, Go Set a Watchman casts a fascinating new light on Harper Lee’s enduring classic. Moving, funny and compelling, it stands as a magnificent novel in its own right.

Series: audiobooks featuring celebrity narrators
Genre: Literary Fiction
Tag: 2015 Reading Challenge
Length: 288 pages
ASIN: 0062409859
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Leave A Comment
  1. Kari Sweeney says:

    My daughter’s name is Scout so I asked her what her favorite part is. She said it’s a tie between when Atticus and Scout sit together on the porch and when Scout says, “Oh Hi Boo!”

  2. Kirsten says:

    I can’t decide if I am going to read it or not. I loved TKAM soooo much that it might hurt me too much to read it! I don’t know 🙂

  3. Mary Lou says:

    I am ashamed to admit I’ve never read To Kill a Mockingbird, but it’s on my summer reading list. I think it will be interesting to read the 2 books in sequence, so I’d love to win the new one.

  4. Stacey B. says:

    It has been so long since I read TKAM; I’m no sure I can honestly answer about a favorite part. I was in junior high and remember very little. I will be re-reading, so I’d really like to win this copy to read first, as you suggest.

  5. Colleen says:

    I read To Kill a Mockingbird sometime in middle or high school (so probably close to 20 years ago). It’s been so long, I don’t really recall a favorite part of the book. I’d like to re-read it and read Go Set a Watchman.

  6. Molly Kennedy says:

    I am so excited I read Watchman. I reread Mockingbird in just three days last month in preparation for it. There are so man wonderful moments! Think one of my favorite, though, is when the kids are rolling Scout in the tire down the street and she pops out in Boo Radley’s front yard. I can sense her confusion, dizziness, and child’s fear at being so close to the neighbohood ghost.

  7. Adrienne says:

    I read TKAM many many years ago, and I’m going to re-read it, either right before or right after I read Go Set A Watchman. Any suggestions as to which of them I should read first?

    And although I read it so long ago, one quote has stuck with me, that people will “…see what they want to see and hear what they want to hear.” I’ve found that to be the truth.

    • I’d advise you to read Mockingbird first. Otherwise, you might bog down in some of the historical descriptions in Watchman that were edited into witty dialogue or POV for TKAM. Plus, as a writer and teacher, I firmly believe Watchman must be seen for what it is–the seed that grew into Mockingbird. My favorite moment is a tie between when she realizes that’s Boo Radley standing against Jem’s wall and when Scout puts herself between her father and the angry mob of men at the jail.

  8. Erica Kelley says:

    So hard to pick just one moment!
    I think a quote that has had a profound effect on my life is, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” This evolving concept throughout the book definitely contributed to my empathy and compassion in both life and my work as a nurse.
    (I am still unsure about reading Go Set A Watchman, but I almost feel like I have to. I like the idea of reading it as a seed, a first imagining. I think I would find it easier to read the characters as entirely different characters with the same name.)

  9. Peggy says:

    I love TKAM and Atticus. I have many favorite parts. But i think my most favorite is when he shoots the dog and Jem sees Atticus in a different light.

  10. Elizabeth says:

    I read To Kill a Mockingbird for the first time as an adult, just a few years ago. I can’t remember a specific phrase or quote that stood out, but Scout reminded me so much of my oldest daughter and that has stuck with me. My daughter read it in school last year, and talking about the book with her has probably been my favorite thing about reading it. It’s precious to be able to talk about your favorite books/characters with loved ones who appreciate them the same way you do.

  11. Samantha says:

    My favorite line of To Kill a Mockingbird: “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy . . . but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” Perhaps it’s a cliche choice, but that doesn’t lessen the impact of the words for me.

  12. Cristy Perez says:

    It’s been about 20+years since I read TKAM. I couldn’t tell you a favorite part. I am interested in get this new book and then reread TKAM.

  13. Joyce says:

    Scout just being her innocent self and unwittingly diffusing the tension in the gathering outside the jail cell. Beautiful.

  14. Amanda says:

    I just started To Kill a Mockingbird for the first time. I’m not sure how I got through high school and college without reading it. The publicity about Go Set a Watchmen convinced me it was time. Thanks for the chance to win!

  15. ruth says:

    I have to be honest. There is so much to love in TKAM, but my favorite moment is when Scout busts out with “Pass the damn ham.”

  16. Sarah says:

    It’s so hard to choose a favourite part, instead I shall go with a part that sticks heavily in my mind’s eye – the scene with the rabid dog. I have been circling around reading Go Set A Watchman, I’m sure my curiousity will win out over my unwillingness to see Atticus in this new light.

    • Jaime says:

      My favorite, too! Maybe my best memory of teaching this book is when my kids finally got the symbolism of the rabid dog and the description of the town as diseased. They were so excited to finally “get” symbolism on their own.

  17. Chris says:

    Of course there’s the classic scene where Scout is told to stand up because her father is passing by (love that one!) but I’m also going to pick when Scout asks for the damn ham.

  18. Jennifer Wright says:

    I love when the kids are trying to get a glimpse of Boo, and Atticus explaining that they should leave Boo alone. She captures childhood curiosity (gone amok) perfectly.

  19. Katie Thompson-Laswell says:

    I, too, am ashamed to admit I’ve never read To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s been long on my ever-growing list. I have mixed feelings about reading Go Set a Watchmen for many of the reasons you detailed above. However, I’d be interested in reading them both – perhaps Watchmen first. Please choose me 😉

  20. Melanie says:

    I read TKAM in high school, some 20+ years ago and I can’t tell you whether or not I even enjoyed it. My 15 year old read in recently for school and loved it so much that I’ve considered revisiting it from an adult perspective.

  21. Brooke says:

    I’ve loved TKAM since I first read it in middle school. It’s too hard to pick a favorite part, but I have always been partial to the phrase “bust up a chifferobe.”

  22. Liesl says:

    I remember writing this epic paper on TKAM in high school… I enjoyed Scout and Boo – there was always such an innocence to their friendship, that you wouldn’t really see between two adults. I haven’t decided if I’m going to read it yet, but let’s say that if I win your extra copy that it’s fate 😉

  23. Heather Cardenas says:

    I read TKAM during my early school years and also saw the movie later on- it’s been SO long that I do not recall favorite scenes. I will probably read GSAW, but most likely after re-reading TKAM. Thank you!

  24. Sara says:

    I love TKAM! My favorite Mockingbird memory was watching the movie with my parents. We had a movie marathon of sorts and the next pick had Gregory Peck as the bad guy. I just kept shaking my head thinking, “Shame on you, Atticus!” Mom is now in the nursing home and Dad is in heaven. Oh, to have that night back again.

  25. Meg Evans says:

    Anne, I had the same apprehensions as you, and yet I re-read Mockingbird last month in preparation for Watchman. You perfectly summed up my experience:
    “I read Watchman as though its Atticus was an entirely different being than Mockingbird’s Atticus, and as though its Scout was entirely different from Mockingbird’s Scout. Not just older characters, but different characters who happened to share the same name.”

    There is still so much to discuss in this book, and I have been reading reviews as they come out. This book may not be a classic like Mockingbird, but it’s still full of passages and themes that are ripe for discussion.

  26. Elizabeth says:

    I’ve read TKAM 3 times. Not only is it beautifully written, but also set in my native and beloved Alabama.

    I loved how the children didn’t have the prejudices that the adults had. “There’s just one kind of folks. Folks.”

  27. Bekki says:

    My favorite moment was when my teenaged son declared it the best book he’d ever read. He had been a diehard pop fiction fan until this book. He and his brother used to tease me that classics were chosen by old guys in British barber shops…now that’s all he reads.

  28. My favorite Mockingbird moment was when Atticus told Scout that you don’t really know what a person is going through until you walk around in their shoes. That might not be exact – but I have taken that to heart many, many times through my life and I believe that what I learned in 9th grade has stayed with me into my retirement. I am more empathetic than most and I believe it all started with that part of the book.

  29. Sarepta says:

    I probably have similar comments to most. Read 20 yrs ago, can’t remember specifics but loved TKAM. I want to read both now and see how I feel as an adult.

  30. L Reed says:

    TKAMB was one of my favorite reads in school. I love the scene with the ham because it showed her independence and the part with the dog. It would be a delight to read this new publication. Thank you for the opportunity to win. “You never understand a person unless you walk in their skin” was one of my very favorite quotes in literature. It resonates with me always as a basis of compassion.

  31. I can’t really remember anything about Mockingbird. I need to re-read it before reading Watchman. Thanks for sharing your insights on the different ways to approach this book. I was under the impression that it was a sequel until reading the link you put up last week. Now I have much more context that will aid when reading both books.

  32. EmilyR says:

    My favorite moment in TKAM is when Scoutin all innocence, approaches the men at the jail. My favorite aspect of reading TKAM has been sharing it with my three children. It’s provoked many a good conversation during the past 5 years, and I’ll always be grateful to Harper Lee for that. I’d love to read Watchman. Thanks for the opportunity!

  33. mom2triplets04 says:

    I just recently read To Kill a Mockingbird for the 2nd time. I think I read it way back in high school. I didn’t particularly like the book. I found it hard to read with the writing style. I did watch the movie this year as well. I’m not sure I will read the new book. They certainly are trying to sell it to us though. Barnes and Noble had like 4 displays throughout the store.

  34. Joanne says:

    Having read the hard copy in high school, I wanted to refresh my memory of the story. I recently listened to the audio book narrated by Sissy Spacek and it was fabulous. My favorite theme was Scout’s innocence and caring spirit.

  35. Becky says:

    I’ve never read To Kill a Mockingbird or seen the movie. I’m not sure how I missed it in my education (I was even an English major in college!), but I did.

  36. Kitty Balay says:

    A favorite momeant? Must I choose a favorite child, as well? Impossible. But I’ll share a personal anecdote. My mother grew up in a tiny town in the 1930’s-40’s South. She says she’d never need to write her memoir because Harper Lee wrote To Kill A Mockingbird.

  37. Karen says:

    I remember fondly the scene in which Scout walks home from a play dressed as a ham. As a high schooler, I depicted that scene with a paper mâché ham and a doll house girl for an English class diorama.

  38. Wendy says:

    I have not read TKAM, but after reading all the wonderful comments, It is coming off the shelf today! If I win GSAW, I will read that, too. Otherwise I’m not so sure.

  39. We’ve had many dinnertime debates in our house about Watchman’a murky surfacing after Nelle’s sister’s death and about Nelle’s true wishes (including Alabama’s investigation). The thing that’s hard for me is the editing. I don’t know one author who would ever want to release a book that hadn’t been rigorously edited. Copy edits are window dressing.

    My husband has decided he wants nothing to do with it (Mockingbird is his favorite book). I think I need a few years to pass before I can read it dispasionately.

  40. i read TKAM my freshman year in english class, and truthfully can’t remember a favorite part. it’s been 15 years! BUT i do remember thinking about how the book really encouraged me to understand other people, to work towards understanding others. i want to reread TKAM before reading go set a watchman…. and i wonder what my high school english teacher (now retired) thinks about this book!

  41. Susan says:

    Oh man. So much to love in TKAM. I may be confusing the book and the movie, but I love when Scout takes Boo’s hand to walk him home.

  42. malissa says:

    when my sister, who is 8 years older than me, read tkam for school, she read to me the part where the dog with rabbies comes down the street. that image will forever be engrained in the coffers of my mind.

  43. Susan Elledge says:

    It’s been 20+ years since I read the book so I don’t remember much, but I did find a copy of it in the garage this weekend. I’ll find some time to reread it before school starts.

  44. Sonia Davis says:

    I read To Kill a Mockingbird almost every year. My favorite part changes from year to year. Like other readers it’s hard to pick one moment but what comes to mind is the classroom scene when the teacher lays her head down and her students are kind and understanding.

  45. Becky says:

    I read the book so many years ago (in the 60’s when I was a young girl) that I really don’t remember specifics. I do remember admiring Scout and Atticus so much. I believe I’d like to read it again and would also love to read Watchman.

  46. Karen says:

    I haven’t seen the movie and it’s been many many years since I’ve read To Kill A Mockingbird. But I plan to reread it and would like to also read Watchman.

  47. Conni says:

    I can’t remember a favorite part- maybe a favorite feeling? The feeling as Atticus makes his case but you just don’t know if it will be enough. Will good overcome evil? How deep does racism run? Does it ruin the waters of justice? And the grace of the black community. Again & again.

  48. Kristy ! says:

    Growing up on Canada I read this but because our society did not have impact of slavery it did not make as deep an impact as many of my American friends say it did for them. Now we live in the US and I would like to go back and read it again as well as read Watchman.

  49. Shannon says:

    My book club chose this so I will be reading it… But my favorite part about mockingbird is when we learn why it is a sin to kill one.

  50. Sharell says:

    Such a fabulous book with so many favorite scenes and quotes. I love the entire court scene and the friendship between Boo and Scout. I am definitely going to re-read it and then read GSAW as well. I would love to win. Thank you for the opportunity!

  51. Sara says:

    I first read Mockingbird in high school. Though I don’t remember a specific favorite moment, I do remember how gripping the story was. So gripping, in fact, that when the book started to fall apart (my mom’s old copy) I just kept on going. I got to the end and found a pile of pages in an untidy pile on the floor by my bed–and found these pages represented my own feelings. I wanted to go back and re-read from the beginning, but of course this was impossible at the time, and I’ve not yet gotten around to picking up another copy.

  52. Cathy Lange says:

    My moment isn’t so much a favorite part in the book, but what happened as a result of reading this book in High School. This book was the turning point for me as a student of classical literature. I loved TKAMB so much that my average grades in English became above average. This book started my love for the classics!

  53. It’s been SO long since I read it, I honestly need a re-read, I can hardly remember anything. Would love to win– but then would have to decide whether to read Watchman or Mockingbird first!

  54. Amy Patton says:

    I remember reading TKAM in 7th grade. There was something dark and frightening about it to me. (I know, odd, when it is the favorite of so many.) As an adult I see why that was so. TKAM’s character Scout left such an imprint on me, we named our first dog Scout. I am nervous but excited to reread TKAM and Watchman through the eyes of an adult. Thank you for giving me some hints on how to do this. PS- I didn’t know about Gladwell’s comments. I’m intrigued to read them.

  55. Kristin says:

    I read Mockingbird in High School. Sometimes, when you read something that really matters, its hard to reread it later. I always wanted my first initial reaction to stay with me and not to have it tarnished by my cynical older self. But, with this new book coming out I am interested in rereading and also reading Watchman.

    • Lisa says:

      Reread! Reread – It’s so amazing the second or third or fourth time! When you read it again, you see the parallels in the first and second parts. You see the beauty of the gift that Ms. Lee has for writing – and understand why so many are up in arms that she may not have wanted “Watchman” published!

  56. Sarah M says:

    I read TKAM so long ago, I can barely remember details about it, but I do still have it on my bookshelf (and that’s saying something, because I only keep ONE bookshelf, so it’s prime realty), so that’s saying something. I’d like to read this, but I’m a little conflicted on the story behind the publishing…
    Sarah M

  57. Chelsey says:

    My favorite moment of TKAM isn’t specific-it’s teaching the book to my tenth graders and drawing comparisons to events happening in their daily lives. It’s using the book as a conversation starter and seeing kids realize what racism, privilege, and honor mean in our own society.

  58. Allison says:

    Truthfully, I don’t remember if I read TKAM or not. It was not mandatory when I went to school. I would like to read the new book.

  59. Jennifer says:

    It’s been far too long since I read TKAM but I do love the scene with Scout dressed up as a ham. We’ve been calling our baby (due in January) Scout. I’m intrigued to read the two side by side.

  60. Heather says:

    My favorite part is definitely when Scout stands up in front of the whole mob about to attack Atticus, and just starts talking. I love kids. She didn’t see anything strange or heroic about what she did, she was just being her. She reminds them (if only for a little bit) that this shouldn’t be happening. What have they become?

  61. Margaret says:

    I see that I’m not the only one but the first thing that came to me when I read the question was the ham scene. Really torn about reading it but would love to win!

  62. Lisa says:

    It’s tough for a Sophomore English teacher who has taught the novel 13 years to have a “favorite part.” I love the end though, when Scout and Atticus are reading and she comments on how the “Grey Ghost” wasn’t bad at all, underneath the stories he was really nice. Atticus answers, “Most people are, Scout, when you really see them.” My students usually hate the ending until we take a look at Scout’s journey to Boo Radley’s porch and re-read the beginning lines of, “When he was nearly 13, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.”
    I, too, am a bit reluctant to read “Watchman” but know that my students will have questions I’ll want to be able to answer – or at least allude to! I do have to say that as I read the Chapter 1 sample, I was disheartened to hear that Jem died!!

  63. Alicia says:

    There are so many parts to love in To Kill A Mockingbird! I think my absolute favorite was when Scout asked for “the damn ham” to be passed at the table.

  64. Kelsey says:

    My favorite moments are when Scout finds small gifts in the tree. I mean, can you even imagine what it would be like to find that kind of treasure as a small child, particularly in a tree that is on property you’re not even supposed to step foot on?! What an adventure!
    I have always loved To Kill A Mockingbird! In college, I went on a hiking trip and each person told their life story one night. After they are finished, all of the other people give you a name. You can probably already see where this is going, but our leader dubbed me Scout and they called me that the rest of the trip despite the many other names I received that evening. That as stuck with me over the past couple years and I always try to imagine having a heart like Scout. —K.

  65. Jesabes says:

    I honestly remember not really liking To Kill A Mockingbird, but that was high school and I should really read it again 🙂 I’ve been so interested reading all about Watchman, but not interested enough to buy it!

  66. Sara K. says:

    I read To Kill a Mockingbird in high school (10th grade maybe?). My 15-year-old self was more interested in romance novels than classics. Thankfully that has changed 🙂 I am planning to re-read it again very soon to discover all the things I overlooked or forgot in the last 20 years.

  67. Marisa R says:

    Must admit I have never read To Kill a Mockingbird but one my to read list after my daughter read it in English this year and loved it. Would be interesting to read them consecutively to see the parallels etc. Thansk for the chance to win.

  68. Ciera S. says:

    I had noticed that Watchman was being portrayed as many things (“sequel,”prequel,” etc.) and wasn’t sure if I was just misinterpreting. Glad to know that there really is a confusion around it.

    I haven’t read the book in a long time, but the scene I remember most from the movie is Scout in an awkward Halloween (play?) costume!

  69. Faith says:

    There are probably quotes upon rereading that I would put as my favorite part/line, but the first thing that comes to mind is when they see Boo at the end and there’s a line that they never see him again. That’s so haunting it’s stuck with me. It parallels not seeing Tom Robinson anymore.

  70. Sara says:

    Thank you for raising this topic Anne. I had a long car trip this weekend and decided to listen to it, mostly because I loved TKAM so much and this ‘new’ novel is such a landmark event in publishing. I really hadn’t known much of the controversy before starting it, so I was surprised by it, and like Jean Louise kept looking for a better explanation from her father, but one never really came through.

    I enjoyed the first half immensely due to the writing itself, with the beautiful descriptive language of the characters and countryside. I enjoyed the second half immensely due to Reese Witherspoon’s FANTASTIC performance of it. But I couldn’t help but draw parallels to the State’s Rights issues in the book and our current State’s Rights issues, and worry some will still see Atticus as a hero BECAUSE of his views on strong state’s rights and use it in the upcoming presidential campaigns.

    If you want a strong thought provoking book I think people should read it, or much better yet LISTEN to it via audible, because it Reese W. really brings it to life in an amazing way.

  71. Stephanie says:

    its been a long time since I read it but to kill a mocking bird inspired me to pursue justice and fairness for people who don’t have a voice. May be why I’m a lawyer today. ?

  72. Ana says:

    My favorite moment was mentioned above by Erica—the quote about not knowing a person until you get inside their skin. I read the book originally as a young teen and that lesson in empathy has really stuck with me…and I thought of that quote often as I learned to care for the sick and their families.

  73. Yvonna says:

    I don’t remember the exact quote, but I knew I was reading something profound when Atticus telling Scout about not really knowing a person until you walk in his shoes. I read this book 42 years ago. I don’t know why I’ve never reread it as I reread books often. I have seen the movie too many times to count. I cry every time I hear the black minister tell Scout to stand up as her father is passing and again when I see Atticus sitting with Jem throughout the night after the attack. I can’t help but smile when Scout sees Boo in Jem’s room, Scout acknowledging that Boo is a friend. Even writing this evokes such memories.

  74. Debi B says:

    As crazy as it is, I have never read the book, nor seen the movie. I just had this discussion last week with a friend. TKAM is my next read and would love this book as well. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  75. Lisa says:

    Anne, Thank you too, for your observations – that is pretty much how I was planning to read. Thanks for affirming the decision to “dissect” the two Atticus! (Attici?)

  76. Abigail says:

    I am actually listening to the audiobk for To Kill A Mockingbird right now! I was preparing for the sequel, but now I wonder if I might need to wait a bit between the two to enjoy them both separately without ruining everything I love about the original-Atticus a racist?! 🙁 my favorite part is definitely when scout asks Atticus why he is on the case even though he knows he’s not going to win, and he says courage is “when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.” And he also says “before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself.” Some things are that important, even if you’re on the losing side. That’s why I’ll be reading it as if it’s a different Atticus, but I can’t help wondering if it will be in the back of my head afterwards every time I’m reading Mockingbird instead. But somehow I can’t just not read it 🙂

  77. Karianna says:

    It’s been a few years since I’ve read TKAM but the image, from the film and book, that just sticks with me is Scout in the ham costume. I know it’s trivial and not central to the plot but it also reminds us that Scout is a little girl. (No entry)

  78. Kay Taylor says:

    Being sixty I remember all the hoopla over the book, the movie and still didn’t read the book until my late thirty’s in an English class as an older college student.
    My favorite memory was the gentle southern voice throughout the text. If you didn’t look out of your draped windows you didn’t know that there was anything wrong. People always prefer innocence over guilt especially when you are referring to the lives the live.

  79. liz n. says:

    “To Kill a Mockingbird” is one of my favorites, so, of course, I plan to read “Go Set a Watchman.” Under the circumstances, I don’t mind that we’re getting the raw, uncut version. I’m also very curious to see this other man Atticus has become…I know someone who changed in the same way it sounds like Atticus has/did, so that transformation caught my attention.

    Anyway, favorite moments, which probably resonate so much because I’m an INTJ:

    Essentially, the entirety of the courtroom chapters. With all the lessons to be learned in the pages of “Mockingbird,” I still love the way Atticus picks apart the Ewells’ testimony and makes his case.

    My favorite words spoken, by Atticus: “Best way to clear the air is to have it all out in the open.”

    I did pre-order, by the way, but Someone Who Knows Who He Is made off with my copy, and he should know that Someone Who Was Very Much Looking Forward To Reading Her New Book might very well forget to pick him up from the airport on his return trip.

  80. Velma says:

    I’ve read TKAM several times but the last time was many years ago. I am also on the library’s waiting list for Watchman so I have time to re-read Mockingbird. My favorite parts of the book are the conversations between Scout and Atticus.

  81. Debbi Faust says:

    Actually, I have never read the book. Recently I read another book about a book club and one of the books they read was “To Kill A Mockingbird”. Ever since then I have wanted to read it. Then found the book at a thrift store and plan to read it soon. I have only seen bits and pieces of the movie. Thanks for writing your views on the two books. And thanks for the chance to win one.


  82. My favorite part of To Kill a Mockingbird is the walk home from school, dressed as a ham, in the darkness–the suspense, then the action swirling incomprehensibly around you (Scout) as you are ludicrously trapped in a ham. 🙂 It’s such a great combination of tension and humor.

  83. Lynn Corbaley says:

    Great article! I would love to win the extra copy.

    My favorite part of Mockingbird part is the part about Scout reading so early. I used it to start a graduate paper I wrote on Language Arts for the gifted. I too read before Kindergarten and back in the day, it was very frustrating for the teachers. No one knows how I started reading. I think it was from listening/watching my older sister, as my parents did not read to me. However, she doesn’t remember reading to me that much either. I was also what they used to call a tomboy, like Scout, a bit rough and tumble for a girl.

    I am going to read Watchman for what I see it as, a book Ms. Harper wrote at a different time with differently developed characters. I hope she makes a bit of money out of it. I love the way we can read books and bring our own history and memories and ideas to them, creating worlds and adventures that try our ideas and concepts. I look forward to adding “Go Set a Watchman” to the mental mix.

    I appreciate your blog. Thank you.

  84. Julie P says:

    I read the book in high school and again when my kids were in high school. Such a great read. I guess my favorite part is at the end when Scout finally gets to see Boo Radley and walks him home.

  85. Lynn Corbaley says:

    Of course, now my comment is posted, I see the errors. Ack! Please mentally correct them for me as you read. I will be busy here dying of embarrassment.

  86. Heather says:

    I read To Kill a Mockingbird in one sitting in the back of a Jeep Cherokee while on vacation when I was a teenager. I started it reluctantly as an assignment for school. When I finished it I remember thinking, “That’s the best book I’ve ever read.” I loved it when Scout says “Hey, Boo.” as if she’d known him her whole life. Love that book.

  87. Anne C. says:

    I have read TKAM several times throughout my life, and love it more each time. It is the only book for which I can say that the movie was just as good! It is a very special book to me, because it was also my mother’s favorite, and really informed her views on race and the injustice of bigotry. I am afraid to reach GSAW….I don’t want to internalize a tarnished view of Atticus, but then again, I see the point that he is and always has been a fictional character. Real human beings whom we love and respect are also capable of being contradictory and disappointing. If I win a copy, I will read it!

  88. Amy Joliet says:

    Like many others, I read TKAM many years ago – in high school and I think in a college Southern Women Writers class. I am also a lawyer and watched the movie in law school in a seminar about lawyers in film. Now I get the chance to talk about the novel with my kids as they reach middle school. While I am excited to read this new release (and would love to win a copy) I will be firmly in the camp of not having it affect my feelings about the power and importance of TKMB. I am not convinced that Harper Lee really intended this second work to be published.

  89. Dana says:

    TKAM is my favorite book of all time. I just re-read it and re-read “Scout, Atticus and Boo”, a compilation of interviews with different people about TKAM. I wanted to re-read them to prepare for “Watchman”. I was excited about reading that until I started hearing about it. Then I was so saddened by the whole thing. I had planned to go the first day and get a copy, but instead I am still waiting. I want to read it and yet I don’t.
    I think most people who have loved TKAM understand what I mean. I am sure I will read it at some point.
    My favorite part(s) are so many…but I do like it when Scout tells Jem that she doesn’t think there are different kinds of people, ” I just think there are just folks.” On the inside, where it counts, we all want the same things…basically love, peace and safety and to take care of those we care about.
    I also love when Scout gets in trouble with her teacher on the first day of school. That was me…in Kg., first grade and 2nd grade.

  90. Christina Brack says:

    It honestly has been quite a while since I have read the book. I do remember loving it and be truly moved. I have been super excited for the release, I even bought a replacement copy of Mockingbird to reread. I became a little hesitant after reading some reviews, but I still prefer to form my own opinion. I love your suggestions for how to approach the new book!

  91. Cassie says:

    I just picked my copy up from the library. I can’t believe it was my turn already, but I’m looking forward to seeing what all the buzz is about.

  92. Becky says:

    It’s been awhile since I’ve read it or watched the movie so it’s hard to pick a favorite part when it’s all fuzzy in my mind 🙂 As some mentioned above, though, I do remember the jail scene as being pretty moving.

  93. Jennifer says:

    My favorite would be all of the nuggets of wisdom that Atticus gives to his children…about understanding others, being brave and standing up for what you believe in.

  94. Linda Joan says:


    I don’t know if thesis my favorite scene, but its the first one that came to mind: when Atticus shoots the rabid dog. The children lean so much about their father in that scene.

  95. I loved how Scout was able to view Boo Radley as a person who still had redemptive qualities. Her perspective throughout Mockingbird was priceless. I can’t wait to read Watchman, but haven’t secured a copy yet!

  96. Brooke B. Marin says:

    Entry: My favorite part of Mockingbird is the court scene with Atticus. Although Atticus may have a belief system that the world now views as both surprising and disappointing, at the time, he zealously represented his client, as all lawyers should, which means placing personal beliefs aside to promote the client’s best interest. I most identify with the court scene and find it enduringly powerful.

  97. VikkiD says:

    I did not read TKAM in high school (Nathaniel Hawthorne was on the reading list back then) so I picked up a copy this weekend. Looking forward to finally reading this classic.

  98. pam says:

    I read To Kill a Mockingbird so long ago that I’ve forgotten any moments I might have cherished. I have it on the hold list at my library along with Go Set The Watchman. I’m way down on that list so would love to win the copy you are offering.

  99. Morgan German says:

    I would love to win a copy of Go Set A Watchman! I just read To Kill A Mockingbird this past year for school and now I’m excited to read another of Lee’s novels. I love this “review” or whatever you want to call it, because I was just expecting it to be a sequel. It helps to be prepared. 😉

    My favorite part is at the end of TKAM when Scout figures out that she is seeing Boo Radley stand in the corner of the bedroom. 🙂

  100. Lynn says:

    I’ve not read either and I think I’ve seen the movie but I don’t remember it. So you’ve made me interested in reading them both. Thank you. I’ll hold off on buying Watchman just in case I win yours. 🙂
    Thank you again for your fun posts.

  101. Hannah says:

    No entry. I just can’t make myself read this book. I felt the same way about the posthumously published letters of Mother Teresa–those letters she specifically asked to never see the light of day. In the end, I succumbed and read them, but I felt guilty.

  102. Angie Bishop says:

    Loved the book. It’s been too long to remember my favorite part! Definitely going to read ‘sequel’

  103. MK says:

    My husband and I had a similar take when we discussed it. I look forward to reading it on its own two legs, then talking the differences and similarities and intriguing bits to death…my poor husband. 🙂

    I’m rereading Mockingbird right now and for some reason have been really drawn into Dill’s storyline. I forget just where he ends up in the end (I haven’t read it since tenth grade), but he’s an interesting character.

    I also just finished the scene where Atticus is sitting outside the jail and Scout breaks up the mob; such a moment can’t be called a “favorite,” but it was breathless and intense and perfect.

  104. Connie says:

    It’s been a while since I’ve read TKAM. However, the part that has always stayed with me was the chapter about the gifts that Boo left for Scout in the tree. It showed that Boo wasn’t as scary as everyone thought. It taught me that people deserve the benefit of a doubt when public opinion is widespread and potentially dangerous.

  105. Pam says:

    I retread this last year with my 13 year old. The image of Scout walking through the woods made my daughter want to be a ham for Halloween.

  106. Suzanne says:

    I’m super interested to read GSAW, but unwilling to pay for it (I only pay for books I’ve read and know are worth owning). Since I’ve got a ways to wait for it at the library, I’d love to win your extra copy. 🙂

    I haven’t read TKAM since middle school, but I will always remember Atticus explaining the title of the story, how it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird because all they do is sing beautiful music and hurt nothing. I think about that often.

  107. This is something I’ve been longing to read…as a writer, as a lover of the creative process. Not as a sequel or first draft but just as someone who’s curious to see where the story came from and how it evolved before hitting the shelves in the first place. It’s been so long I’m having trouble thinking of a favorite scene so I hope I’m not fabricating this (I must need to reread TKAM) but I love the discoveries Scout and Jem make in the hole in the tree in front of Boo’s house. There’s a kind of magic and wonder to that.

  108. Anna says:

    I read “To Kill a Mockingbird” at some point, and I had started reading it to the kids for school last year. We ran out of time, and I was thinking about returning to it next year. I have been hesitant to read the new one, because of the reviews. I finally put my name on the waiting list at the library. I figured it’s less pressure. I hate when I buy a book and am disappointed!

  109. Cindy Flim says:

    I haven’t read either book, but I would love to read both books. I’m a math teacher, but I love to use my summer reading all types of genre. Thanks for your post.

  110. Erika says:

    i have read the book a couple of times- in school and then as an adult. I remember being moved by it both times. However, the memory that stands out most is watching the movie in my teens with my grandmother at her house up in the remote mountains. It was amazing and the best place I could have watched it. It completely captured my attention and my heart.

  111. Dee says:

    I’ve never read it or seen the movie… the shame 😀

    I remember at school there was a quiz on the book and my score was too close to call, so the teacher told me to come after school and asked me a couple more questions… I passed on blind luck 🙂 Thanks for the giveaway.

  112. Amy O'Quinn says:

    It’s been so many years that I read (or watched) TKAM that I honestly can’t remember specifics. However, I plan to re-read my copy before reading GSAW. I’d love to be entered in the give-away!
    Amy O’Quinn

  113. Meg says:

    I can remember where I was both times that I read Mockingbird!
    The first time was in sophomore English class in High School and the second time, as an adult, was on a plane on my way to Nevada. I was oblivious to the flight from take off through landing- such a good book!

  114. kendra says:

    It’s been many years since I read To Kill a Mockingbird and I actually picked up a copy a few years back, to reread it. It’s one of those I want to get to but sadly, don’t find the time.

    That said, I vividly remember the scenes near the end, with Bo Radley, as he helped Scout and her brother escape. I remember being scared for them. And confused.

    I just remember it being a book that makes you remember how things were and look to how they could be, if we would all put aside our nonsense and see past the outer shell. I think I need to go back and read it again and then go to the library for a copy, because I’m dying to see them both.

    Thanks for your awesome blog 🙂

  115. Harper Lee’s words. Sigh. The use of simple words to convey complex, and also ironic humor, makes me swoon. My fave example is when Scout samples Maudie Atkinson’s famous Lane cake, which is laced with whiskey. “Miss Maudie Atkinson baked a Lane cake so loaded with shinny it made me tight.” This conveys Scout’s personality – her strength, chutzpah and sense of humor so perfectly.

  116. Tina says:

    I have not yet read To Kill a Mockingbird. (Thought I don’t know why or how I made it this far without reading it.) Earlier this summer I found it here on a post as one of the books that my personality type would enjoy. So, it’s sitting on my piano waiting for me to pick it up. I wasn’t sure if I had the energy for a serious book right now but I am curious about it and this post has increased that curiosity.

  117. Katheryn says:

    I loved TKAM. There are just so many wonderful parts, I can’t choose just one. I liked Scout’s character, but I loved Atticus. In that book he was the parent I thought we should all be. I haven’t read Go Set A Watchman yet. I’ve been putting off ordering a copy, but I know I’ll read it.

  118. Beth Anne says:

    This was a favorite assigned book in high school 🙂 I have been reminded many times through the years to get inside someone’s skin and walk around to try and understand them.

  119. Lisa C. says:

    I just recently read TKAM for the first time (as part of your reading challenge as a book I should have read in highschool). I think my favorite part was in front of the jail that night when Scout talked down the mob.

  120. Veronica says:

    I love TKAM and have it practically memorized. So many moments I love, but one of my favorites is at the jail, and Scout recognizes Mr. Cunningham, Walter’s dad. She stood the whole mob down just by her friendly talk.

  121. Kellye says:

    One of my favorite lines from the book is about Aunt Alexandra. “Aunt Alexandra was raised in a time when low self
    esteem was not on the books.” This line reminds me of an acquaintance!

  122. My husband and I actually had this conversation on our road trip this weekend. We decided to approach Go Set a Watchman as a different book about different characters. That may be naive and may not work, but we’ll give it a try! My favorite Mockingbird moment is when Atticus sits in front of the jailhouse with his rifle, guarding Tom. I get chills every time Scout and Jim go over to protect their father and Scout talks with the men of the town. I am always reminded of the phrase–a little child shall lead them.

  123. Hannah Beth Reid says:

    My favorite part of “To Kill a Mockingbird” is rather unorthodox perhaps: the judge in the courtroom has an unlit cigar in his mouth which gradually disappears as the trial wears on. For some reason, this little tidbit has always fascinated me and comes to mind when I think of the book.

  124. Cori says:

    Thanks for the insight. For all of my reading, I have never (*gulp*) read To Kill a Mockingbird or seen the movie. It has been on my list forever, and with this new release is toward the top!

  125. I remember putting so many post-it notes in my copy of To Kill a Mockingbird in high school when we read it. We had to color code them. I am going to see if my parents still have that copy.

  126. Kelly says:

    I recently re-read Mockingbird in anticipation of Watchman. Picking a favorite moment is tough. I loved when they decided to take the treasures from the hole in the tree. I’m on the fence about reading Watchman. But I would like to learn more about the controversy surrounding its publication.

  127. Bonnie says:

    The courtroom scene where the blacks in the gallery stand in honor of Atticus walking by moves me to tears every time. But I have several “favorites” from the movie (it’s been too long since I read the book).

  128. Jana Pasche says:

    My favorite scene is near the end…and Boo is quietly standing against the wall in Scout’s bedroom. I just love him! Jana

  129. Tere Hyfield says:

    I can’t believe I haven’t read Mockingbird, but I’m on the waiting list at the library…finally! I am scared to read Go Set A Watchman, but after your review I know I should. Thank you!

  130. Erin Schaaf says:

    I also debated buying this book due to the publishing issue. My most favorite moment is when Arthur asks Scout to walk him home, and she takes his arm as a lady. This moment is arguably the most important in the whole book for me.

  131. Jessica says:

    It’s been so long since I read (or even watched) To Kill A Mockingbird and my memory generally paints with broad strokes, so I’ll just choose the one scene/moment I actually remember and that is Scout in her ham costume at the Halloween ‘agricultural pageant’.

  132. Brandy Rocheleau says:

    I haven’t read the first yet. It’s on my MMD reading challenge as the book I should have read. I’d love to win this

  133. Vernell says:

    Read the book a couple times and saw the movie. It is one of my all time favorite books. Humm so many great moments but picking one at random is when Atticus was sitting guard outside the jail and the group of men came to get Tom and Scout diffused the situation (without her even realizing it at the time) by talking to Mr. Cunningham about his son Walter and about his entailment. Priceless! I too am on the fence about Watchman but I think I want to reread Mockingbird first and then decide about Watchman.

  134. Laura says:

    The moment when Scout realizes that the man helping Jem was Boo Radley! Can’t wait to read the new book even with all the controversy. It’s also giving me an excuse to re read TKAM 🙂

  135. Morgan says:

    I read To Kill a Mockingbird in high school. We made a book of quotes from the book for our class project. My favorite quote was one by Scout: I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks.

  136. Jess says:

    I’ve actually never read the book or seen the movie, although they are both on my ‘to-do’ list! My first son’s middle name is Atticus after Atticus Finch. Fictitious he may be, I wanted a strong man to be a great example for my growing son.

  137. Southern Gal says:

    To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my all time favorites which I have read over and over again. When I recently re-read it for a book club, this quote made me chuckle. (I read it first in high school. Now I’m 51.) It’s right after the explanation of Atticus giving the children air rifles and then telling them they could shoot at tin cans, but not at mockingbirds. Scout’s talking with Mrs. Maudie, discussing how old the neighborhood is. Not the neighborhood, Scout corrects, but the people in the neighborhood. “…Mrs.DuBose is close on to a hundred and Miss Rachel’s old and so are you and Atticus.”
    “I don’t call fifty very old,” said Miss Maudie tartly. “Not being wheeled around yet, am I? Neither is your father…”
    Bahaha! I’m now older than Miss Maudie. Mercy.

  138. Laura says:

    I haven’t read TKAM since high school, but I’m looking forward to read it again on vacation in August. I will have to wait to share my favorite part until then!

  139. Jamie Costen says:

    I can’t remember the exact quote, but I absolutely loved when the book mentioned that a white man tearing down a black man was trash. I’m currently reading Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg and it has many of the same themes

  140. Carissa Feathers says:

    Read the book and watched the movie as a kid. I remember very little of the story, so I’m really excited to dive in again.

  141. Callie Peterson says:

    It has been such a long time since I read Mockingbird, that I cannot recall a total scene but just the overall feeling that Atticus did a good thing in a hard time. I would like to read both now.

  142. April says:

    I just re-read Mockingbird in May while anticipating the release of Watchman. The whole book is just beautiful storytelling, it’s impossible for me to choose a favorite passage!

  143. Ashley B says:

    I haven’t read TKAM or seen the movie since I was in high school. It’s hard for me to remember any particular moments. However, I remember enjoying the story and I look forward to rereading it soon. I would love to read the two back to back, or close together at least, to compare.

  144. Amy says:

    When I read the book as a high schooler, I always thought it so funny when Scout falls asleep in the ham costume.

  145. Kellie says:

    I don’t think I could say a favorite moment, it’s honestly been 20 yrs since I read Mockingbird…I’m excited to read them together!

  146. Maribel says:

    I hate to admit this but I never read To Kill a Mockingbird although I did recently (in the past year) buy a copy and have it on my to read be list especially now with Go Set a Watchmen out. I would love to win a copy of it. Thanks

  147. Jenna says:

    Before I started staying home with my kids, I was a HS English teacher. My fave TKAM moment is any moment hearing my students’ discuss the book. I worked in a low-income, mostly black school. Their interpretations always came from such different places than my own.

  148. Amy says:

    The first (and only) time I read To Kill a Mockingbird was for my freshman English class. I was already an avid reader, but it was the first time I’d ever been asked to approach a book with literary criticism, or to look for symbolism. There is so much I am sure I missed, especially as I’ve been following news about Go Set a Watchman this week. I can recall the bones of the story well enough because of discussions we had in Lit classes in college, but my only first hand memory of the story is standing around by the door of my English class, waiting to go on a field trip, talking about Boo Radley. I want to read it again, and soon. Do you think I should read it first, or go ahead and tackle Go Set a Watchman without the Mockingbird Atticus in my mind?

  149. melanie freisinger says:

    Need to reread it! Remember alot but not enough to pick out a fave line or part. Thanks for the opportunity to receive this!

  150. KRISTIE says:

    I have not read the book or seen the movie, but look forward to doing both and then reading Go Set a Watchman. Please enter me in your giveaway. Thanks!

  151. Veronica says:

    I have never read it or watched the movie… But TKAM is actually the book I chose for the “A book you should have read in High School” challenge!! So winning a copy of Watchman would be awesome, so I can read them together 🙂

  152. Adele says:

    I am one the few people on this earth who hasn’t yet read Mockingbird! But it’s in the plans for this summer–and I would love to read this one as well (afterwards).

  153. Kathleen says:

    I read it in high school, and then I re-read it when my younger brother had to read it for school so I could talk about it with him. On the re-read I realized that it was really one of my favorite books and I was so pleased to discover that.

  154. Kandace says:

    I thought I had read it in school but now I’m pretty sure I have not. Moving to the top of my reading list. I’d love to win a copy of the new book. Thanks for the giveaway!

  155. Carol Ann says:

    Chapter 29 when Scout sees Boo Radley in the corner:

    “… and our neighbor’s image blurred with my sudden tears.”

    It gets me every time!

  156. Paula says:

    I’m one who has not read either and I am fascinated by Watchman. I love the idea of comparing the two books and contemplating what really could have been the original intent. Intrigue!! Thank you for your take on it.

  157. PreK Teacher says:

    I read Mockingbird so long ago, but I still rate it as one of my favorites. It has been on my list to reread for a long time. Maybe now I will get around to it!

  158. Kendra says:

    It’s been so long since I last read TKAM, so I can’t even remember my favorite part. I just remember loving it and have planned on a reread this summer, especially with the new release of Watchman.

    I had mixed feelings about whether or not to read Watchman, but I loved your take on it as well as the discussion on Books on the Nightstand. I’m convinced that I want to experience it with realistic expectations of what it is.

  159. Jennifer says:

    my favorite mockingbird scene is the interaction between the kids and Boo, when he leaves gifts for them in the tree. i can’t ever see a hole in a tree without thinking about that.

  160. Tanya says:

    Most of my favorite scenes have been listed, but just in case it hasn’t been mentioned, I appreciate Sheriff Tate’s decision to “let the dead bury the dead.”

  161. Alena says:

    My favorite TKAM moment was when Scout, and Jem first meet Dill! I’m still uneasy about this new release, but your insights helped! I think I will read it after all 🙂

  162. Sarah says:

    It has been several years since I read To Kill a Mockingbird. I chose to read it on my own and I loved it. I remember reading it over summer vacation and finishing it rather quickly. I loved the whole thing, but I do remember being mad as well at various parts. It is a book that I plan to reread soon! -Especially since at this point, I hardly remember what all happens!

  163. My favorite Mockingbird moment is when Mr. Ewell (I think I spelled that correctly) confronts Atticus, spits in his face, and Atticus just walks away. Such a good example to set for a child. (No entry)

    You make some great points in your article. I posted my pre-reading thoughts about it here:

    Personally, I approached it as a separate entity, alternate universe, first draft, etc. I was completely dismayed by all the “click-bait” headlines, despite trying desperately to avoid spoilers. After reading it, however, I can view it as a loose sequel without losing too much sleep about it (though there are still quite a few inconsistencies).

    It is definitely an in-depth book. I was pleasantly surprised. Worth a second, closer read for sure 🙂

  164. Allison says:

    I read TKAM in High School, but barely remembered it, so I bought it the other day and read it again (got through it in about 2 days!). I truly LOVED it. I think my favorite part (and there were a LOT of them) was just after Atticus and Calpurnia left to go talk to Tom Robinson’s wife, and Scout picks up a tray of cookies says to herself, “if Aunty could be a lady at a time like this, so could I.”

    THAT was where I most identified with Scout.

  165. As a teenager in Arizona, I was on the speech/debate team. I loved Mockingbird and, for some reason, choose the courtroom testimony as my monologue. But I’d have to say my favorite Mockingbird moment was actually re-reading the book after moving to Georgia and living both in the Atlanta suburbs and in more rural small towns. This experience brought a whole new perspective to my reading.

  166. Kelly E. says:

    There are so many wonderful scenes … I think my favorite part is when Scout, Jem and Dill sneak off to where Atticus is standing watch at night over Tom Robinson in the jail. The kids get worried about Atticus’ safety and run to protect him and that’s when Scout recognizes Mr. Cunningham, the man who’s been bringing walnuts to the Finches to pay off his “entailment” to Atticus. “Entailments are bad, aren’t they Mr. Cunningham?” The angry mob just breaks up and walks away because of the innocent words of a child. SO moving.

  167. Mandy says:

    My copy of TKAM was my mother’s. She bought it the year it came out.She, too, claimed it perfectly described her childhood in Alabama. She had a father very like Atticus and a brother very like Jem. An avid reader, it was her favorite book, and one of her most treasured possessions.

    She entrusted the book to me one summer when I was about 12, and I (also an Alabama native) fell in love with the characters and the story.I can still remember rushing through my chores so I could get to my favorite reading spot in the hammock beneath our plum trees to devour TKAM. After her death, I inheritied the book, and I have read it several times since.

    I have two children. I have since lent the book to them. I read it to my daughter several years ago (she’s since reread it on her own), and it is on my son’s reading list this summer. The school they attend takes its 8th graders to Monroeville, Alabama (Harper Lee’s hometown and not very far from us) every year to see the play based on the book. It is performed outside the courthouse that was used in the film (you should go see it if you’re a fan of the book).The same courthouse where Harper Lee’s real Daddy practiced Law. Her sister was also a lawyer in town until her death (which precipitated the discovery of GSAW). My own Daddy used to spend summers in Monroeville- about the same time Harper Lee would have been growing up there.

    I mention this because, no offense to non-southerners, I think it’s difficult for people who did not grow up in the South somewhere around this time period to really appreciate all the nuances of this book. Though I was among the first generation of Alabama schoolchildren to attend desegregated schools, I read the book a bit differently than my parents, and my children see it differently than I. I’m so glad I was able to discuss it in depth with my Mother before she died because I don’t believe I would have had as rich an understanding of the book. More on that in a moment.

    It is difficult for me to pick a favorite passage. All the ones mentioned are worthy and are among my favorites as well, so I’ll point out a few that weren’t discussed. I love the passage at the beginning of the book describing Maycomb. In particular, “Ladies bathed before noon, after their three-o’clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum.” We had air-conditioning in our house growing up, but I still knew some old folks who did not, and our schools didn’t have air conditioning until I was in Junior High. That description so captures summertime in the South in those days before air conditioning! I knew ladies who smelled of talcum powder and never missed their afternoon nap!

    I also love the passage near the end of the book when Scout tells Boo, “You can pet him, Mr. Arthur, he’s asleep. You couldn’t if he was awake, though, he wouldn’t let you…” Doesn’t that line capture all three personalities perfectly? Boo’s shyness, but longing for human interaction? Scout’s role as intermediary, and we all knew Jem so well by this time that we knew, not only was Scout exactly right, but how mad he was going to be at missing all the excitement!

    I, too, had hesitations about reading GSAW, but in the end I couldn’t help myself. For me, initially, it did take away a bit from the magic of TKAM, however I have been thinking about it ever since, so it must have a power of its own.

    I like to think GSAW was Harper Lee’s initial, gut reaction to coming back home to Alabama and seeing it through different eyes for the first time after becoming more “worldly”. Through her conversations with Atticus and her Uncle in GSAW we, the reader, imagine she was able to resolve her feelings, but with more than 50 decades of different perspectives between us – we (or at least I) didn’t exactly get it. In TKAM Lee’s rewrites must have forced her to immerse herself and, as a result her readers, into the lives of her characters. We became the characters, which gave us clearer understanding. We understood things from the point of view of Atticus, Miss Maude, Boo, the children, Sheriff Tate, Tom Robinson and even Mayella and Bob Ewell. This is, what I believe, makes TKAM a masterpiece.

    That’s why I say I’m not sure people who didn’t grow up in the South during this time period will ever fully appreciate the delicate balance so richly portrayed in the book.Harper Lee managed to balance all that was right with small town Southern life with all that was wrong about racism. We Southerners lived through that time period (or are just slightly removed from it), and because of that we have a slightly different perspective than those who didn’t. We had black nannies and maids we loved and felt were part of the family, but we also knew people, good people, who thought desegregation would ruin us all. We had to learn how to balance that somehow. It hasn’t been easy, and it’s not been fully accomplished yet, but TKAM helps us understand that the possibility exists – if we put ourselves in one another’s shoes. Every side can have some right and truth to it. TKAM isn’t simply a commentary about racism, it’s about understanding EVERYONE’S point of view. Discrimination in the South was, and remains, a very complicated issue and Harper Lee did a masterful job helping us understand that.

  168. Flo says:

    Thanks for this post! I pretty much did what you did. It was suggested to me (after I took a Facebook poll on whether I should even read it) that I should read it as separate characters so as not to taint my view of Mockingbird. I honestly don’t remember much from Mockingbird, having read it only once in school. So that happened a little by default. Granted, by the time I got to it, I had already seen some reviews, so it was hard to completely keep the two separate. But I checked out the audiobook from the library and listened to it. Here is my review:

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