A Cursed Novel: To Kill A Mockingbird.

Hi, Nerdies!

I don’t often enjoy classics very much, but To Kill A Mockingbird is such an exemplary piece. Thereby I am hoping to persuade another person to enjoy this heart-breaking narrative through this post.  

So, no spoiler ahead.

Synopsis

The theme is racism, and the story takes place in Alabama in 1930s. The story teller is a six-year-old girl named Scout Finch. Scout lives with her brother Jem and their lawyer father, Atticus. 1930s is a period when people are still in many ways deeply affected by cotton days, hence there is an apparent schism between white and black population in their neighbourhood.

One day, a girl from a white riff-raff family reports to the town sheriff that a black man rapes her. The only witness is the girl’s father. Predictably enough, prevalent predilection in the neighbourhood is to believe the white statement despite the other conflicting facts. Meanwhile, Atticus is appointed to be the defendant’s attorney. And he begs to differ from the victim’s report.

Subject-wise

There’s nothing new in both slavery and post-slavery inequity to be weaved in a narrative. But as much as slavery is such a common subject, this novel however is nowhere near common.

Also common is that through the subject of injustice, an author hopes to let people feel a glimpse of the rage, to break people’s hearts, to shift people’s perspectives and perhaps even to inspire people to do something consequently.  

What’s uncommon is that these wishes are impeccably materialized in To Kill A Mockingbird.

The Curse

If I were to pick one word to describe the novel, the word would be perfect. And I don’t use that word loosely. It’s the kind of perfection which will send you right into a reading slump after finishing the book.  

And the crazy thing is, I don’t think the readers would be the only party affected, I honestly think the perfection of the book cursed the author herself. In fact, To Kill A Mockingbird is the only novel the late Harper Lee ever published to this day. Go Set A Watchman was published in 2015, but later was admitted as the first draft of To Kill A Mockingbird. Lee worked on several different drafts in between 1960 ( the year To Kill A Mockingbird was published in ) and 2015, but ended up discarding the drafts as not satisfying enough.

It’s like the first book was so great, she felt people would expect more from her. Which was probably felt overwhelming to her. She was so worried of not being able to create another quite the same perfection that she kept trying while doubting herself too much along the way that she ended up failing to finish any new book. Doesn’t that seem like a curse to you?  

That probably wasn’t what happened with Lee at all, but well, it seems like a plausible scenario to me. #smilingsheephisly

Anyway, this book is that intense.

Quotes

Among all the great things in the book, I love, I adore, and I dream to be Atticus.

Because.

Atticus Finch is a father.

“Atticus had said it was the polite thing to talk to people about what they were interested in, not about what you were interested in.”

Scout Finch

He is simple and honest.

Atticus Finch is a wise father.

“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.”

Atticus Finch

He is sensible and intelligent.

And the most important thing is, he is kind.

“An’ they chased him ‘n’ never could catch him ‘cause they didn’t know what he looked like, an’ Atticus, when they finally saw him, why he hadn’t done any of those things … Atticus, he was real nice….”

Scout Finch

“Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them.”

Atticus Finch

The final message is that to simply be kind to others requires courage. But still, it’s important to be kind anyway.

Thank you for reading.  

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2018 Reads: Exceptional Books

Hi, Nerdies! And Happy New Year!

Before I say anything, there is one thing that you should know about me. It is that I am a complete control freak, thus I categorize, categorize and categorize. Categorizing is basically what I do for living. So beware of highly incessant categorizing ahead! #lol

I read 39 books last year, 12 of them were exceptional, 10 of them were less exceptional, and the rest of them (17, to be precise) were downright fun. And for obvious reasons, I wanted to blog about the 12 exceptional books first.

For the fun reads you can go here: (Still from) 2018 Reads: Fun Reads

And one more thing,  please pardon me for this interminable commentary.

I divided my recommendation into three sections: Must-read which is pretty much self-explanatory; Recommended books which are the books that I think will provide meaningful reads; and Personal Favorites which are my own favorites from 2018 reads.

I intentionally added Classics as the fourth category only because I had this one classic book that I think absolutely deserved a shout out to the world. Which one, you say? Keep on reading and you’ll find out. #winkwink

In lieu of me rambling on and on, let’s just jump right in!

Must Read

These are the books which either have changed the trajectory of my life completely, or the books that hold invaluable information – the kind of books that are so important they might as well be textbooks (in my opinion). 

I’m afraid I would be doing a disservice to these books if I were to disclose too much of my opinion regarding them, thus I only provided a glimpse of what the books are about. Therefore you can decide whether you want to read them or not based on the topic. But I say you should read them, because!, these are must read books after all!

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

This book is about general history of Homo Sapiens, or if you prefer the generic word, Humankind. Looking back to history, human as a species should have been merely one of various animals existing on the earth. But rather, we currently hold overwhelming power on the earth and its inhabitants, the power that we should not have had let alone used. In short, Harari brilliantly summarizes how human race gets from the middle of the food chain to the very top of it.

Grit by Angela Duckworth

In her book, Duckworth asserts that Grit is the one thing that successful people have in common.  Ensuring the accountability of the conclusion, her argument is built on a basis of endless psychological researches.

A little tip: This is my life-changing book.  Now I know that Grit is not merely hard work. It is hard work and MUCH MORE. 

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

This one is a memoir of a young man from Appalachian Mountain area. He is a part of so called hillbilly society. If you already decided that memoirs bore you, all I can say is if you give this one a chance, you’re not going to regret it. This book is such an exemplary memoir.   

And,

Muhammad: The Prophet for Our Time by Karen Armstrong

I highly suggest everyone who loathe or outright hate Islam in any way to read this book. As we all know, all this hate-for-Islam runs from the tragedy of 9/11 in 2001 as the outset to the fact that now we all are jumbled in the danger of ISIS threats wherever we live. Armstrong however, never ceased to refute some of the most distorted opinion about Islam.

Even the term for a criminal suspect in a court is defendant. And it’s requisite that a defendant is accompanied by a defendant attorney during a litigation process. Because all people including the bad ones deserve to defend for themselves.

There is a little bit of truth in every lie, and there is a little bit of lie in every truth.

So I entreat you to hear out the side of Islam written by a person who genuinely intends to defend for Islam’s unfairly judged disposition. Cause you know, you can always go on and hold your opinion of hating it after reading the book. Eventually, it’s entirely your decision to hate or love anything in the world.

And for what it’s worth, Armstrong herself is not a Muslim.

Recommended Books

Three recommendations: two memoirs broaching the subject of inequity and one worthwhile self-help book.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

You have to be twice as good as them to get half of what they have.


said by every black person in USA

This very sentiment is affirmed that it is (still) real and deeply instilled in black society vulnerable daily lives through such a poetic memoir written by Ta-Nehisi Coates. 

In Order To Live by Yeon-Mi Park

A North Korean girl telling her story of how she managed to escape the renowned tyrannical North Korea passing its impervious borders and to elude extremely suffocating poverty In Order To Live.

Btw, the way the title perfectly sums up the gist of the book in one sentence is simply impressive.

Lastly,

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson

I think all people might have read this book as of today because this one is such a popular book. But if you haven’t, better read it asap.

Favorites

This section will come across as highly biased because it’ll totally look like I dedicate this section to Michael Meyer.

Michael Meyer is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh who spent his young adulthood in China volunteering with the Peace Corps. He spent time teaching there, and he recorded some of what he perceived as China’s condition after Mao’s government in his books.

I am not gonna smooth-talk you into reading his books, because I admit that his books are a bit dragging reads if you’re not so into architectural stuff. In his books, Meyer pivots his narration on historical buildings, ruins and landmarks.

But I still love Meyer anyway, because he is such a funny  writer and his writing feels very personal. He is that kind of writer which makes you feel like you’ve known him personally for a long time.

Also: I even emailed him to ask a silly question. And yes, I like him that much. #lol

And these are two of his books that I read in 2018: In Manchuria and Last Days of Old Beijing.

Classics

I finished perusing three classics last year: Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

I am particularly far from thrilled to discuss any classic, because I feel like I am only going to give a distorted opinion of them. The thing is, I always think that classic stories are old as in its complexity is obviously nothing compared to contemporaries’, and the English is very very old in some of them. And to be frank, I think you need to at least have interest in linguistic history in order to completely appreciate classic materials. And as for now, I am not that kind of person. Yet. (I hope)

But I still put this section out because one classic struck me as beyond an astounding piece, and even if you are not a huge fan of classics like me, I assure you that you still will absolutely love To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

If you want to know why I deem very high of To Kill A Mockingbird, see you in my next post! h

But I need to mention this.

To Harper Lee: Thank you for writing this masterpiece.  

And to you Nerdies, Thank You for reading.