23. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee (100 book challenge)

I remember having to read this book in high school as part of English class. I checked the book out from the library and struggled through the first few pages. In preparation for the exam I read the Sparknotes Study Guide and watched the movie  from start to finish (the image of the rabid dog is clear in my mind).

I passed the exam without reading more than 10 pages max.


If only I could go back in time and tell my 14-year-old self to persevere! I’d tell her to fall into the narrative, to let herself get carried away by one of the greatest stories ever written.

But even if she’d read the book from cover to cover I don’t think she would have appreciated it. In my case, I needed a more life experience to understand both the subtle and not-so-subtle themes throughout the book. I needed to enjoy the writing without fighting it, without finding every page a struggle (as I certainly would have with the competing attentions of friends and boys).

Now as an adult, I loved every page of this book. There was no struggle. In fact, I was disappointed as the chapters progressed and I could see the end of the book was near.

Harper  Lee’s writing was just as I like it: condensed, action-packed, honest and raw. Young Scout’s perspective is captured perfectly. I didn’t just see her viewpoint, I became an 8-year-old girl. The dialogue was succinct, and conversations were summarised by the author rather than spelled out word for word. This kept the book moving and my attention fully captivated throughout.

Maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t waste my time reading in high school and the years that followed. I guess I ‘wasted’ my time experiencing life instead, so now I can go back and read these classics with a new perspective, and truly appreciate what Harper Lee was trying to show.


In July 2014 I set myself the challenge to finish 100 must-read books before I die. For my ongoing tally click here.


Filed under 100 book challenge, Uncategorized

7 responses to “23. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee (100 book challenge)

  1. Pingback: 100 book challenge – my running tally | Jessie Ansons

  2. margaret jackson

    I’m so glad you’ve found this book and immersed yourself in it Jess. It is a great book. It’s always sad when we come to the end of such a book as this.

  3. Ah, Jessie – what a wonderful experience! I read To Kill A Mockingbird for the first time mere months ago. And ditto, ditto, ditto to every word of your review of this superb classic. Absolutely one of my favourites.

  4. There are so many books forced on young readers before they’re ready for them, and the shame is it puts many of them off reading. I lapped the books up because they offered me an expanded view of the world and also a peep into intimate lives that were very different from my own in the protected small town community I grew up in. I didn’t understand many of the subthemes, especially not those underlying Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers, but I loved reading it. Not Chaucer, though. I wish someone had made a movie of The Canterbury Tales.

  5. Pingback: 24. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland -Lewis Carroll (100 book challenge) | Jessie Ansons

  6. Pingback: Top ten books loved by my 3 year old | Jessie Ansons

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