If you love Harper Lee, don’t read ‘Go Set a Watchman’

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If Harper Lee wanted to destroy everything good she did in To Kill a Mockingbird, I’d say Go Set a Watchman was a massive success. But I’m afraid it may be an even greater tragedy than an author self-destructing.

I wish I could un-read this novel, and it’s not because it was a terrible sequel, it’s because it caused me to doubt every character that was great in one of the best novels of all time.

Had Go Set a Watchman been a genuine sequel I could have dismissed it, but it allegedly wasn’t. Apparently it was Harper Lee’s first novel. After being rejected by publishers, Lee went away to write the prequel, To Kill a Mockingbird. In doing so she created one of the most heroic, moral characters ever written.

Go Set a Watchman gives us an insight into the ‘original’ Atticus, and he turns out to be a disappointing shadow of the man we thought we knew. Reading through Scout’s eyes, once again, we find ourselves wondering whether, like her, we had seen Atticus incorrectly all along.

There is only one way in which Lee is redeemed in my eyes and therein lies an even greater tragedy. She never wanted this book published.

Harper Lee, the unassuming, silent, reclusive, now elderly author, has possibly been manipulated and betrayed by money-hungry publishers.

As one writer put it, tragically “Our Boo Radley [has been] dragged into the light.”

Don’t read this book.

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I buy books like they read themselves…

booksThere are two things that I find almost impossible to resist at the shops: Shoes and books.

I’ve had to be stern with myself about the shoe thing. I’ve learnt (I think) to stop buying shoes that are so uncomfortable that I can’t walk in them (even if they are, oh-so-pretty) and I’ve learnt that there are only so many pairs of shoes that you can wear in one year.

The book thing, though, I still struggle with. When I was young I read a lot about children at the turn of the century who saw books as rare treasures, and I think that contributed to my love of them. There is something so precious and alive about a good book. A childhood book can stay with you forever like nothing else can. (I am of course talking about real books here. Don’t even get me started on E-books!)

Suffice to say, I have a large book collection and recently I had to pause and take stock. How many books have I bought on a passionate whim and never read? As I counted them up, I realized there are quite a few. Many of them, still on my ‘to be read’ list are pictured above.

So I’m going to try to stop buying for a while, until I’ve actually read what I have!

Do you have a stack of books that you ‘just had to have’ at the time, but that you haven’t read yet? What are they?

Swimming to the Surface – Kristin Billerbeck

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I think I like Kristin Billerbeck – but I’m not sure. She’s one of those authors I find difficult to pigeon hole. This is the 4th book of hers that I’ve read.

I really enjoyed What a Girl Wants. I found it refreshingly down to earth and honest, and I’ve re-read it a couple of times. I then bought the two sequels to it, and they didn’t impress me so much.

What I love about Billerbeck is that she writes about real-life issues in a down to earth, honest and often humorous way. What I find difficult, is that she manages to combine that with something superficial and cliché, almost reminiscent of a television drama. These things are somewhat paradoxical, which is why I find her hard to pin down.

This novel, Swimming to the Surface, deals with a real and somewhat confronting issue: A woman who has become disillusioned with the Church because of the way in which they dealt with her in the breakdown of her marriage to her legalistic, mentally unstable, and, as it turns out, homosexual husband. These are heavy topics that do make for a fascinating story. But, somehow, Billerbeck still manages to give the plot a sense of story-book perfection, with many scenes that, to me, seemed unrealistic and cliché.

From what I’ve seen, this book has had quite good reviews, but to be honest, I’m not a fan.

Oh, and it’s the first book I read as an e-book. Probably didn’t help!

The Case for Christ – Lee Strobel

Photo Credit: Book depository

Having completed a self-imposed challenge to read 52 books last year, I’ve slowed down a lot this year and hardly read any. I have, however, finally got around to reading this one.

As a high school teacher in a Christian school I often get teenagers asking me questions about faith – and they’re not stupid either. Some of the deepest questions I ever hear come from students amidst the flurry of essays, lessons and lunch-breaks.

While I may ‘know whom I have believed,’ these kids have genuine questions that need genuine answers. And I believe that this book gives them. From the historical and scientific accuracy of the Bible, to the legitimacy of the claims of Christ, to the medical, historic and circumstantial evidence of the resurrection, legal journalist Lee Strobel takes us on the journey that he took as an atheist attempting to discover if there was any legitimacy to this man who has changed the world.

It’s easy to read, academically and scientifically thorough, and builds an indisputable case that not only did the man Jesus live, but that He was exactly who He claimed to be, and that He still lives today.

Definitely worth a read, no matter what your faith-stance is.

Among other places, this book can be purchased at http://www.bookdepository.com