Dill was off again. Beautiful things floated around in his dreamy head. He could read two books to my one, but he preferred the magic of his own inventions. He could add and subtract faster than lightning, but he preferred his own twilight world, a world where babies slept, waiting to be gathered like morning lilies. He was slowly taking himself to sleep and taking me with him, but in the quietness of his foggy island there rose the faded image of a gray house with sad brown doors.

This book is a true classic. It far exceeded my expectations. It’s the kind of book that your teachers make you read in school and you’re not really sure you totally understand. Luckily for me, I was never made to read it in school, but I decided not long ago that I should give it a try, since everybody else has read it and it was apparently amazing. And I have to admit, it IS pretty darn amazing.

When I started reading, I expected it to be boring, because I knew it was written a long time ago and a lot of old books are written in a way that us younger people can’t connect to very easily. But this book was engaging from the start. I read about half of it in the first night before I finally decided I should probably sleep eventually. Every time I opened it up to read again, I found it difficult to stop. This is an interesting book through and through, and I had no trouble relating to it. Though I’m not a Southerner, I don’t know everybody in my town, my father is not a lawyer, and I’m no longer eight, I found myself slipping into Scout’s world more than easily ~ almost as if it was natural. (And I have to say, I’m jealous of her nickname. I’ve never had a good nickname myself because my name is short. It has always annoyed me. Nicknames are one of my favorite things.) I thought it was odd that they called their father by his name. I wonder why they did that?

I loved the way this book was written. It was like someone was telling a story ~ and Scout was. But it wasn’t how your typical first-person books are written. It started by saying that Jem had broken his arm, and it explained everything leading up to that moment. It was only one story in her life, but it took years before it was finished. That’s true, isn’t it? Things happen and events lead to circumstances and other events, and then years later you find out that it was all a chain leading to something that never would have happened to you if that first thing never happened or you hadn’t made the decisions you’d made. Life is fun that way.

So much can be learned from this book that I’m excited to get started on the quotes! Dill was my favorite character, and the quote I put at the beginning of this post explains all the reasons why. He has depth and imagination, and as a lover of cleverness, that kind of thing tickles my fancy. Now, let’s get going!

“Simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try to win,” Atticus said.

Atticus is full of good advice. He’s very wise, which is good because he’s a lawyer. Here, he’s saying, from a certain point of view, “Never tell me the odds,” though I highly doubt he said it in the same way Han Solo said it. What he’s saying is that just because you think you have no way of succeeding doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try anyway. You’ll learn a lot, guaranteed, regardless of whether you succeed or fail, and the experience is always worth it.

“People in their right minds never take pride in their talents,” said Miss Maudie.-

Miss Maudie has got some wisdom too. Here, she’s saying that you shouldn’t take pride in your talents, and she’s right, in a way. That’s something I’ve thought about. God gave you your talents; everything you do with them should be for His glory. You kind of don’t have the right to take pride in something that isn’t really yours. You didn’t achieve your talents by your own strength of will ~ you may have worked to improve them, but if you get down to the root of them, they’re all God.

-“They’re certainly entitled to think that, and they’re entitled to full respect for their opinions,” said Atticus, “but before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”-

It annoys me when people knock other people’s opinions or preferences or whatever. I hate it when they just generally hate on each other for things they like. Everyone’s their own person and they’ve got the right to like what they like and think what they think. God made us all unique, with our own mind to make up. Quit hating on His creation!

Your conscience is gonna say what your conscience is gonna say. It doesn’t matter what other people’s consciences are telling them ~ yours is yours, and it’s not going to say something just because everyone else’s consciences are saying that. What you’ve got to do is train your conscience to make sure it tells you the right things.

-“I wanted you to see something about her—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. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.”

I knew this quote long before I read the book because I used to collect quotes, and courage was one of my top topics. I had this almost memorized, and I was looking for it when I read the book. I have to admit that it wasn’t in the context I was expecting ~ but then, the whole book was different from what I expected. Instead of a fight scene, this was said directly after the death of a cranky old woman. The woman had Jem and Scout over to read to her, day after day, as she was unable to get out of bed and could hardly do anything but take her medication. And Atticus thought that she had courage. Isn’t that beautiful?

Miss Maudie’s hand closed tightly on mine, and I said nothing. Its warmth was enough.

Miss Maudie wasn’t the same age as Scout, but they were still friends. She wasn’t really a mentor figure either ~ she was just a friend. And she was a good one, too. Her years added wisdom and experience to her that she could share with Scout. And here, she knew enough to not have to speak in order to comfort Scout. She knew that touch ~ that small murmur of “I’m with you” ~ was enough.

Having been so accustomed to his absence, I found it incredible that he had been sitting beside me all this time, present.

This is the kind of thing you feel when you meet someone and you instantly click. You don’t find it odd to add another presence to your life. They just sort of fit, like they’re filling a hole you didn’t know you had. You won’t know how much they mean to you until they’re not with you and you feel the emptiness. But when you’re together, everything feels right, and it’s the best feeling in the world.

Neighbors bring food with death and flowers with sickness and little things in between. Boo was our neighbor. He gave us two soap dolls, a broken watch and chain, a pair of good-luck pennies, and our lives. But neighbors give in return. We never put back into the tree what we took out of it: we had given him nothing, and it made me sad.