My daughter read To Kill a Mockingbird last month, and immediately told me, "Dad, you have to read this." Since her last recommended book was The Giver, I knew I had to listen to her.
It was my first time ever reading this American classic. I'm glad. I don't think I could have appreciated it as much as I did had I read it 10 years ago. And much, much more than if I read it 20 years ago.
Atticus Finch taught me a lot of things:
On justice: "This case, Tom Robinson's case, is something that goes to the essence of a man's conscience -- Scout, I couldn't go to church and worship God if I didn't try to help that man."
On persecution: "It's never an insult to be called what somebody thinks is a bad name. It just shows you how poor that person is, it doesn't hurt you."
On sin: "This is a truth that applies to the human race and to no particular race of men. There is not a person in this courtroom who has never told a lie, who has never done an immoral thing, . . . ."
On protecting others: "If spitting in my face and threatening me saved Mayella Ewell one extra beating, that's something I'll gladly take. He had to take it out on somebody and I'd rather it be me than that houseful of children out there."
Of course, other characters had just as much wisdom. Miss Maudie explains Atticus's protective love for mockingbirds.
"Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. . . . They don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."
Have you read this book recently? If not, maybe you should pick it back up again soon.
Warning: Your local library probably has a waiting list. You can buy the e-book here.
Double Warning: Don't even try to get on the waiting list to borrow Harper Lee's follow up novel, Go Set a Watchman, which arrives in stores next week.