Friday, July 9, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mockingbird!

Sunday marks 50 years since the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird. If you're reading this blog, then you likely know me, and you likely know (and love, if you're inclined to love books) the book, having read it time and time again as required reading. You've named your children after its characters (I personally know a Scout, two Harpers, and an Atticus). I hope to give it a re-read this year.

To celebrate, HarperCollins is issuing a 50th anniversary edition of the book (above), but the big party is taking place in Monroeville, home to recluse Harper Lee. The county courthouse is hosting a 4-day party, including a "marathon reading" and showing of a new state-funded documentary. SIGN ME UP!

My old stomping grounds, The Alabama Booksmith in Homewood, is having a birthday party as well.  Alabama historian and author Kathryn Tucker Windham will be reading stories, and ole Jake (the store's owner who unknowingly named this blog) has somehow finagled two bookplates signed by Harper Lee herself... one going to the highest bidder and one to the luckiest person whose name is drawn. Yall may remember my gushing about the day I met KTW last year.

I've always wanted to read Mockingbird, Charles Shield's (very unauthorized) biography of Harper Lee. I find her incredibly intriguing. The whole friendship with Truman Capote thing. And then her subsequent seclusion after her darling book garnered such a massively overwhelming response. My curiosity meter flies high with this one.

Regardless, after 50 years, To Kill a Mockingbird remains on the bestsellers list with 1 million copies sold last year, and 30 million in print. Check out this article for lots of interesting info about what some call "The Great American Novel," including the following (written by Maria Puente):

How Valuable is To Kill a Mockingbird?

One gauge: A rare signed and inscribed first edition of the book, in the original dust jacket, will cost you $35,000 at Baumann's, a major book dealer.

Another gauge: Mockingbird remains one of the most frequently challenged books, repeatedly banned from schools and libraries since it was published, though the reasons have changed.
 Indeed. Happy Birthday to you!

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