To celebrate our 10th anniversary, my book club, the aptly named Wine, Women & Words, recently held our first-ever retreat at a lovely inn about an hour east of Nashville. Eight of us gathered for an overnight stay and enjoyed the beautiful Tennessee scenery, a slippery hike to a nearby waterfall, delicious food, several bottles of wine and of course an illuminating book discussion. Here we are with a book-loving frog on the inn grounds:
For this special occasion, we chose to read and discuss a book celebrating an anniversary of its own: To Kill a Mockingbird. As you’ve probably heard, this summer marks the 50th anniversary of the novel’s original publication on July 11, 1960. To Kill a Mockingbird won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961, was made into an Oscar-winning film in 1962 and has since sold more than 30 million copies.
Harper Lee is now 84 and hasn’t granted an interview about the book in decades. But a recent article in Smithsonian magazine cited this quote from the author in a 1962 interview with the Birmingham Post-Herald: “My book had a universal theme,” Lee said. “It’s not a ‘racial’ novel. It portrays an aspect of civilization, not necessarily Southern civilization.”
Every member of my book club deeply enjoyed the experience of reading the novel again and felt that it stood the test of time, still connecting with readers and drawing us into its powerful story 50 years later. Though the book’s racial themes certainly heightened its relevance in the 1960s, in many ways this is a timeless story and one likely to be appreciated 100 or 200 years from now.
To mark the anniversary, HarperCollins is publishing several new editions of To Kill a Mockingbird, including a hardcover with a reproduction of the original jacket. Also just published is Scout, Atticus & Boo: A Celebration of Fifty Years of To Kill a Mockingbird, in which writer Mary McDonagh Murphy offers a brief history of the book and interviews many notable figures about its impact and significance. One of my favorite sections is an interview with Mary Badham, who played Scout in the film. “[Gregory Peck] was my Atticus. He will always be Atticus. He was so wonderful,” says Badham, who was only nine when the film was made, but kept in touch with Peck for the rest of his life.
Courtesy of HarperCollins, we have copies of Scout, Atticus & Boo and the beautiful 50th anniversary hardcover edition of To Kill a Mockingbird to give to two lucky readers. These are wonderful additions to any home library:
To be entered for a chance to win, leave a comment and tell us what book you would choose as a contemporary classic. What work that is highly regarded today will still be read and acclaimed 100 years from now? If you’re at all hesitant about sharing your thoughts, here’s a comforting reminder: none of us will be around a century hence to find out who’s right and who’s wrong.
THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED. Thanks to all participants for your thoughtful and interesting comments.