“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies.”
GEORGE R. R. MARTIN
Harper Lee: To Kill a Mockingbird
‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ was on my reading list for so long, mainly because I love American literature. So when I stumbled upon a copy of the book at the ‘Shakespeare & Company’ bookstore in Paris, I had to buy it. Then Corona came and gave me (besides some anxiety) plenty of time to read. The book was such a pleasant experience and I’m even considering to read it again as I’m writing these lines.
Published in 1960 as a first novel written by Harper Lee, the book became an immediate success. ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize (among other awards) and until today, it has sold more than 30 millions copies, being translated into over 40 different languages. The novel quickly claimed its place among the classics of modern American literature. After the huge success of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, Harper Lee wrote other books but never published any of them, as she wasn’t satisfied with how they turned out. In 2015, one year before her death, the novel ‘Go Set a Watchmen’ was published. This book is more or less the original version of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ including additional details.
Told from the perspective of the 6 years old ‘Jean Louise (Scout) Finch’, the story is set in the fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama, during the Great Depression in the 1930s. Scout lives with her brother ‘Jeremy (Jem) Finch’ and their father, ‘Atticus Finch’ and mostly spends her days around the house playing. Together with her brother and their friend ‘Dill’ (character inspired by Harper Lee’s childhood friend and another great American writer Truman Capote), the children are hoping for a sight of a mysterious neighbour, ‘Arthur ‘Boo’ Radley’, a man living in reclusion in his home. Scout’s careless life ends when ‘Atticus Finch’, an attorney-at- law by profession, gets assigned with the defence of Tom Robinson, a black man falsely accused of raping a white women. The main theme of the book, social injustice and racial issues, quickly unfolds while Scout is learning important lessons of life.
Captivating from the first page on I binge read the book in few days only. Written in a realistic and straightforward style, it turned out to be one of the most captivating, heartwarming, sad and yet humorous stories I ever read.
“Someone rare has written this very fine novel, a writer with the liveliest sense of life and the warmest, most authentic humour. A touching book; and so funny, so likeable.”
Giulia Enders: GUT
The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ
‘GUT: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ’ (original title ‘Darm mit Charme’) was recommended to me by a friend. While I hardly ever put my hands on a non-fictional book, I’m glad I made an exception for this one.
Giulia Enders was only 24 years old and still a medical student when she published her book in 2014. Quickly it became a bestseller in her native Germany and soon after it was translated into many other languages. The reason for the popularity of Ender’s book becomes obvious after reading the first few pages. Illustrated in a funny yet explanatory way by her sister, Jill Enders, the writer presents scientific facts about our digestive system in a language that is easily understandable. Hence she is achieving the objective to provide information to the general public, instead of only a small group of professionals.
‘GUT: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ’ takes the reader on a tour through the human body, leaving him in an awe for the body’s capabilities. The book is packed with facts I wasn’t aware of and gladly learned. Did you know that when your stomach is growling, it isn’t a sign of hungriness? Me neither. This book makes a great, educative and funny read that I definitely can recommend.
Rion Amilcar Scott: The World Doesn’t Require You
Another book I came across at the ‘Shakespeare & Company’ bookstore in Paris. My purchase was a proof that marketing works: first the cover of the book caught my eye, then I saw the writer is American. Usually I find it very hard to pick a contemporary book and most of the time it’s on a recommendation. Rion Amilcar Scott’s book was a blessing indeed.
‘The World Doesn’t Require You’ is a collection of stories set in a fictive town of Cross River, Maryland. The town isn’t the only fiction in Rion A. Scott’s second work (his first work, Insurrections, won the PEN prize for debut short story collection in 2016). The writer created a mythical universe peopled by some of the most memorable characters in contemporary American fiction. The grand finale of this wild, restless and deeply intelligent collection of stories is the fully realised novel ‘Special Topics in Loneliness Studies’, my personal favorite. ‘The World Doesn’t Require You’ isn’t like anything I read before and I can say that the world definitely requires more of Rion Amilcar Scott’s magical yet utterly real world – at least I do for sure!