Skip to main content

To Kill a Mockingbird and Why the Past Can Stay There

I met a girl over the weekend who was reading To Kill a Mockingbird for the first time.

My cousin was in a high school play in the Chicago suburbs, so I took a train out there, arrived ridiculously early, because that's how I do, and ended up sitting on a bench outside the high school theater with The Fault in Our Stars and a short attention span, leading me to spend a decent amount of time looking around. The girl sitting next to me was not only a huge fan of the book I was reading, but had to read TKAM for school. She was about 100 pages past the required reading for Monday, because she "liked it so much." And damn. If there's gonna be one book it's hard to ruin through school assignment, it's TKAM.

I rarely experience the jealousy of seeing someone have a first-time reading experience, but how can you not have a twinge of that for TKAM? Fortunately, it was more delight than jealousy, as I got to ask what part she was on (the trial) and then excitedly tell her I'd leave her alone to read more, as when I was 14, the last thing I wanted was a bunch of nosy adults forcing me to be polite and answer their silly questions about my book.

Being an aforementioned Adult with Responsibilities (and a crippling addiction to the internet), I rarely get to the point with a book where I'll stay up all night reading it, or forsake practical matters in favor of it ("practical matters" here include watching Doctor Who), but I used to. And seeing that girl so stuck in her book reminded me of times that happened, most of them years in the past.

Ethan Frome elicits a rather mixed reaction from its readers, but it was one of my read-until-1-a.m.-and-cry books. And I specifically remember a few years ago, yelling at myself as time went on and it got closer and closer to when I had get up for work, but Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers was SO GOOD AND I COULD NOT STOP.

I'm sure most people have a Harry Potter story, because if you were reading that series as it was released, how could you not? And on the even less exalted front, there were a few in the Thoroughbred series that'd keep me up. Because horses are great, people.

I'd be sad about these experiences all being over, but something I realized in my teens prevents me. I think it was after I had suddenly read an older book or watched a movie from the '40s, and I said 'This has been here all this time. This amazing thing has existed for all these decades, and I have just discovered it. How many other things like this are out there?' Not to mention the new amazing things being created. 

So while I do have that twinge of jealousy when I see people experiencing beloved things for the first time, it's tempered and then overshadowed by the knowledge that there is a practically inexhaustible supply of things that will be newly beloved throughout life. The future is exciting, so let's not yearn for the past.

Comments

  1. When did we become adults?! This is upsetting news.

    I can't remember the last book that kept me up all night. Probably something by Roald Dahl. *sigh* The good old days.

    ReplyDelete
  2. How optimistic :) You know I'm excited for all of the great books that I haven't yet found and read... but then I start to have a slight panic attack b/c I'm afraid I'll die before I get to read all the awesome books....

    Oh, and I'm a bratty adult - I still hate it when people try to talk to be about the book I'm very clearly trying to read.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Now I'm a responsible adult with a responsible job I don't stay up all night reading any more, even for the most amazing books. It's sad now I think of it...

    I remember reading Anne of Green Gables by the light of only a streetlamp when I was about 8 and my Mum had told me to go to sleep already!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I was totally the kid with the book under her pillow. Reading in the dark for so many nights probably explains my gargantuan glasses....sigh. It was totally worth it.

    ReplyDelete
  5. @Megs I am immensely bummed that Blogger has for some reason reverted to this comment form. But ROALD DAHL ALL THE TIME. ALL THE TIME.

    ReplyDelete
  6. The future IS exciting. And also, I don't like horses.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm currently reading To Kill a Mockingbird for the first time. I can definitely see it as a stay-up-all-nighter. :)3

    I agree! So many other things are out there for us to experience for the first time. I love that "this has been out there forever and I'm just discovering it" feeling. :D

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Harry Potter 2013 Readalong Signup Post of Amazingness and Jollity

Okay, people. Here it is. Where you sign up to read the entire Harry Potter series (or to reminisce fondly), starting January 2013, assuming we all survive the Mayan apocalypse. I don't think I'm even going to get to Tina and Bette's reunion on The L Word until after Christmas, so here's hopin'.


You guys know how this works. Sign up if you want to. If you're new to the blog, know that we are mostly not going to take this seriously. And when we do take it seriously, it's going to be all Monty Python quotes when we disagree on something like the other person's opinion on Draco Malfoy. So be prepared for your parents being likened to hamsters.

If you want to write lengthy, heartfelt essays, that is SWELL. But this is maybe not the readalong for you. It's gonna be more posts with this sort of thing:


We're starting Sorceror's/Philosopher's Stone January 4th. Posts will be on Fridays. The first post will be some sort of hilarious/awesome que…

How to Build a Girl Introductory Post, which is full of wonderful things you probably want to read

Acclaimed (in England mostly) lady Caitlin Moran has a novel coming out. A NOVEL. Where before she has primarily stuck to essays. Curious as we obviously were about this, I and a group of bloggers are having a READALONG of said novel, probably rife with spoilers (maybe they don't really matter for this book, though, so you should totally still read my posts). This is all hosted/cared for/lovingly nursed to health by Emily at As the Crowe Flies (and Reads) because she has a lovely fancy job at an actual bookshop (Odyssey Books, where you can in fact pre-order this book and then feel delightful about yourself for helping an independent store). Emily and I have negotiated the wonders of Sri Lankan cuisine and wandered the Javits Center together. Would that I could drink with her more often than I have.


INTRODUCTION-wise (I might've tipped back a little something this evening, thus the constant asides), I am Alice. I enjoy the Pleistocene era of megafauna and drinking Shirley Templ…

A synonym for 'Neanderthal' is 'boorish,' which just isn't very nice

So this article came out, which isn't really groundbreaking at all, but it happens to have been published the day after I watched part of the NOVA special "Becoming Human," so it's been on my brain anyway.

I was checking out a book a while ago called Cro-Magnon: How the Ice Age Gave Birth to the First Modern Humans, and it was all "Oh dude, our ancestors probably didn't even LOOK at Neanderthals. No way. 'Cause they would've been like, RIDICULOUSLY ugly."

This book was published in 2010. And what came out this year? DNA Shows Humans Found Non-Humans Irresistible

That's right. Your lady ancestor, at some point, sidled up to a Neanderthal gentleman and said "Hey. How's it goin'?


Because all non-Africans ('cause the Africans stayed put instead of traipsing around becoming the Don Juans of prehistoric Europe) have 1-4% Neanderthal DNA. So the above scenario DEFINITELY happened. Which is disheartening NOT because of my huge Neanderth…