Thursday, September 16, 2010

Harper Lee for President!

On the advice of my mother, I just finished re-reading To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. I had read it in high school of course, and I remembered enjoying it then, but at the time I wasn't really sure what all the hype was about.

Anyway- It is an incredible book, an important book. It was written by a woman, but yet there is no hidden feminist agenda, proving that women can write books without constantly referring to the bitterness of our gender. It's a commentary on society, a love story, a coming of age story- so many things all rolled into one. I enjoyed it greatly. I laughed, I cried- I could hardly put it down. I definitely understand why we consider this book to be a great example of American Literature.

It got me to thinking- in forty years, which books will we be forcing our high schoolers to read from this era? I am well-read when it comes to the classics, but I am practically illiterate when it comes to anything written in the past ten years (except for Harry Potter of course- who didn't read those?) A teacher friend of mine had me read Lovely Bones, but I found it depressing and unredeeming. I once picked up a copy of Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk. I only got about a third of the way through- but it made me want to vomit, it was so disgusting and horrifying. Some of today's fantasy is good- but too much of it seems to rely on sexy woodnymphs, or sexy elves, or sexy vampires.

So what truly great novels are being written right now? Novels that don't have to rely on sex or shocking violence to sell books- Novels that deal with the difficult concepts in today's society without losing their hope and vibrance.

I really don't know- do you?


  1. Good question Sandy, I am so glad you liked it. It is one I have reread about three times in the last ten years. Beauty is eternal. Mamasita

  2. There are many beautiful novels being written now, Sandra Rose,novels that will be timeless, some with a luminous quality. As an Englander, I find some of mine on the New York Times best selling list, and when in Europe look for local writers, (found one amazing Portuguese writer), who have won the Nobel prize for literature. That source never fails me. Hugs...

  3. I wonder in what format novels will be released in, in 40 years time?
    At the moment I'm reading Ilustrado by new author Miguel Syjuco, it was recommended to me by my old school friend, check it out.

  4. Paulo Coelho writes some beautiful stories that are both simple and profound. His most notable work is The Alchemist, but he has several others that are wonderful as well.

  5. You know a book is great when you can teach it several years in a row and each year find something new to love about it; something fresh a student will discover that you did not see before. At the last school where I taught, I was happy to teach TKMB four years in a row. I feel like Scout and Harper Lee are a part of me.

    Another great book (that I did not like that much in HS) is Fahrenheit 451. It's surreal how much it relates to today. My students always enjoyed that one too.

  6. The Book Thief is a WONDERFUL book! I loved it. :-)

  7. Paulo Coelho is not considered a writer here in Brazil. It´s a real shame pronounce his name here. People think that you don´t understand anything about literature. We have many goods writers, but definitely he is not one of them. Our Acadamy of Writers is not the same anymore. Machado de Assis is a great writer, and others. By the way, I LOVE HARPER LEE and ANNE TYLER.