I haven’t yet told you about book club -support group I had earlier this autumn. The support group already ended in the first period but because I hadn’t been able to read the book as much as a should have been, I decided to keep reading and tell you about it little later. Now that this ALMS course is coming to an end, I still haven’t finished that book. I only managed to read it slightly more than half. Although, I think it is enough so that I can tell you a little about my reading experience and how did I like the book.
To refresh your memory, I’ll first remind you that the book we chose in the beginning, during our first support group session, was “To Kill a Mockingbird”. As I started reading, I decided that this time I was going to focus on making the reading experience pleasant for myself. I hadn’t really read an English book before. I had tried, but gave up every time. The problem that I have had is that I tend to attach too much on single words, searching every single unfamiliar word from the dictionary. That has made the reading really unfluent and sluggish. Eventually I became so frustrated and unable to understand any of what I’m reading that I just gave up. That has truly irritated me because I would want to read books that are written in English, I just didn’t know how.
So, this time I dumped all wordlists and unnecessary stress and just kept going. And I think it really worked. Even though the book had a lot of unfamiliar words, I only checked the ones I thought to be the most crucial for understanding. Although, there were some sentences here and there that I didn’t quite understand, I just moved on. At some point I started to realize, it does not actually matter even if there is something you are not sure about. The text doesn’t depend on those single sentences, so the story can still remain perfectly understandable. With that comprehension I managed to reach my goal, which was simply to enjoy the reading experience and encourage myself to read more English also in the future.
I also liked our weekly book club -sessions. It was nice to have a little conversation with others, to hear what kind of thoughts and emotions the book has waken in them. It became clear pretty quickly that we all had kind of like our own opinions about the themes and how they are represented. But I guess that it is just something that makes the book good. That everyone can identify themselves to things that they think matters, and fit the message to their own lives and values. And those differences about where people stand are always interesting to discuss.
But now about how did I like the book “To Kill a Mockingbird”. Here is my review.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is an impressing description about its own time when the society struggled with very important matters. To Kill a Mockingbird is a story about moral nature of human beings – are people essentially good or evil, can you really make such a compartmentalization. One of the themes is the status of colored people at that time. The book was published is 1960 and it appears in both the language and the story. The main character of the book is a little girl, Scout, who tells the story from her own point of view. That is actually the aspect that makes this book interesting. These kinds of themes are usually discussed with adults so the child perspective really adds another layer to it. You can really see the influence of the environment in her mind. How she struggles with society’s expectations and preconceptions. How she is unable to understand the evilness of the world and scrutinizes it from behind her child’s eyes. But at the same time, the moral voice of the story, father Atticus, tries to guide Scout and her brother Jem to fit in the society, not accepting the evil but still being kind and caring. With that in my mind, I think what this book is trying to say is that nobody is essentially good or evil. We all act and think from our own perspectives and have our own stories. The world is not that black and white, so we should always aim to understand one another.
As previously mentioned, you could really see from the language that the book is quite old. While reading you can notice countless amount of unusual and old words that even all of the dictionaries does not recognize. In addition, the writing style includes quite extreme spoken language, which shortens some words nearly unrecognizable. Even though these facts make the text a little more difficult to read at times, especially for a non-native-speaker, I still think that the story needs it. However, the way I see it, this book would not be as expressive and disclose the message as well as is does now, if it didn’t use that kind of a natural language of that time. As well as the words really corresponds to the worldview then. The words used during a particular era really describes well people’s thoughts and the world situation at that time.
As a reading experience, To Kill a Mockingbird was really interesting and emotional. The themes are truly serious and, sadly, still visible in societies of present-day. A lot has happened since then but yet not nearly enough. More or less, the modern society still faces those same questions, such as the status of women, colored people and other minorities. We just seem to never learn. But even if the book represents this ugly truth, it also shows that we still have hope. From the child’s perspective and through Scout’s eyes you can still see the goodness in people. In her own bubble, Scout studies the world making observations we adults could never even think of. Although, the book tells about unpleasant matters, it still has a lot of moments of joy and happiness, which I think is kind of beautiful.
ALMS hours spent:
Writing this post: 2h
ALMS hours remaining: 3,5h