100 Books for America: To Kill a Mockingbird

With 85 days until the election, let us continue looking at the 100 books every American should read. These write-ups will be short and not incredibly comprehensive looks at some books and novels that will help you become a better citizen. Check out all of the books that have been picked.

If there’s one book in this series that I hope you read, it’s “To Kill a Mockinbird.”

In fact, you haven’t read it, stop what you’re doing and grab a copy. You can thank me later. Just don’t forget to come back and finish this series when you’re done.

Harper Lee’s cherished tale might not have the nonfiction gravitas of many other books in this series, but it is the most American of books.

First of all, narratively it deals with the timeless American issues of race, criminal justice, economic justice, the family, and community.

Also, there’s a fascinating connection between the the book’s narrator looks at the past and the way most Americans look at our country’s past.

But most importantly, the main message of the book is one that America needed when it was written in 1960 and when it is read today.

“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.”

Scout Finch

I’m not going to summarize the book, but John Green does a great job breaking it down here and here.

The thing about “Mockinbird” is that it’s easily accessible. The reader can relate to about four different characters. And the messages, though often challenging and complex, don’t browbeat you.

The book isn’t without it’s issues. But one thing that is worthwhile is considering how far we have moved as a country since it was printed. It’s with realizing that some of the things that might make a modern reader grimace, are great insights into what was considered just at that time.

Oh, and one other reason the book really fits in with this country. It was written masterfully by a woman, Harper Lee. However, rumors have abounded since it was published that it was really the work of her childhood friend, Truman Capote.

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Previously, we looked at the heroes of the Space Race. Up next, we look at the life of an American Prophet, Frederick Douglass.

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