I recently organised a display in libraryland to introduce all of our readers to the library staff. I did a nice little blurb about everyone and then I set the ultimate challenge: pick your top 5 books of all time. For some people, this caused almost as much angst as the idea of having a photo on the info sheet so that people would be able to recognise us. Not so much of a problem for me, as somewhat geekily, I always have this top 5 running in my head...just in case anyone ever asks me (sidenote: they never do).
Featuring in my top 5 is probably my most favourite book ever: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. The first time I read it I was 16 and in my final year of big school. I remember absolutely loving it and since then, almost every year, I have read it over and over again. As I have aged, along with my very battered copy, I seem to get something different out of it each time I read it, but no matter how many times it remains my all time favourite. Which is why I was kind of nervous about picking up Go Set a Watchman. What if it was so awful that my favourite character of Scout would be ruined forever?!
Well it turns out it wasn't that awful...but it also wasn't that great. My overwhelming reaction was a kind of lazy shrug. I loved revisiting all my favourite characters and it was interesting to see how they might be as they aged, but other than that nothing really happened. Nothing of any great consequence anyway, which is a real shame as there was obviously a massive amount of hype about this when it was published.
I think the key with this book is to just read it as any other book. Don't look upon it as a sequel or even a companion to the original, it's just another book in the pile by the bed. That way you won't be disappointed or frustrated at how different it is; at most you might join me in a lazy shrug and an oh well, I've finished that book now. I can however say with absolute certainty that it won't be making it into my Top 5 list anytime soon...