North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL


January 3, 2013

Melanie Patterson: Reading with friends makes books better

COMMENTARY — Every three or four years I re-read what I think is one of the finest pieces of American literature ever written.

Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” is a classic for a reason, as they all are.

I just finished it — again — last week.

Every time I read the book, new dynamics emerge. Perhaps it’s me: Every few years, I have had different life experiences, not to mention having had considerably more of them.

As a kid, reading the book for the first time in sixth grade, I identified more with Scout and Jem and Dill.

Now, sneaking up on 40 years of age, I feel more in tune with the ideals of Miss Maudie and Atticus and Calpurnia and some of the other extremely intelligent and wise characters. (OK, that last was part was just for my own ego.)

Reading the book at my age and for probably the eighth or ninth time made the experience different this time around — as it is with each reading. But another thing that breathed more life into the tale was the fact that I was reading it with a friend who lives 800 miles away.

When I learned that she had seen the movie but never read the book, I took it upon myself to remedy what seemed like a heinous crime.

The progress was much slower than if I had been reading it alone. We kept pace with each other so we could talk about the events of the book and give our lofty opinions about the writing style and other matters. We sort of had our own mini book club.

But I discovered that reading the book more slowly, and discussing it, made the experience so much richer. There was no skimming. Not a sentence was skipped.

The result was, for me, a more profound and meaningful interpretation of the book than ever before.

And one thing less academic did make me smile. My friend said I talk like Scout from the movie version. Coming from someone born and bred in Kansas, I suppose that is true to her midwestern ears.

Before I go on, I do realize I’m revealing quite a bit of my inner nerd with all of this talk about reading books with my friends. But it just can’t be helped. I do love reading for recreation, and I especially love “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Next, we are going to tackle John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath,” which my friend will identify with more than I will since she lives very near the area that was devastated during the Dust Bowl. Her family members recall it and have their own stories.

Have you seen how thick that book is? This could take awhile. But I can’t wait.

Text Only
  • Danielle Cater: Bass fishing is just in my blood

    I was born the daughter of a fisherman. My dad was the pastor of a local church and the manager at various Jefferson County Waste Water Treatment plants, but anyone who knows him, knows he is a fisherman at heart.

    July 21, 2014

  • Danielle Cater: Making memories not that hard

    Do you spoil your kids? Do you spend enough on them? What really matters when it comes to the well-being of your children? These questions are real doozies and I think the answers vary according to the family.

    July 9, 2014

  • Danielle Cater: Graduation leads to hard decisions

    The caps and gowns are ordered, the invitations have been mailed. Checks are being written all across the country, it must be graduation time.

    May 29, 2014

  • Danielle Cater: Longevity in marriage still possible

    I have officially seen it with my own eyes. I have witnessed it with my own life. Yes, I have seen a couple who has been married 60 years and still love each other. Even more than that, they still respect each other and still genuinely love to be around each other.

    May 27, 2014

  • Danielle Cater: ‘Girl in the front’ loves her job

    I’m 33 years old. Yes, I just admitted that. The reason I throw this fact out there so freely is that I have now, officially, been working for the North Jefferson News for over 10 years. That’s right, almost 1/3 of my life has been spent behind this desk. (And yes, I’ve had the same desk all 10 years.)

    May 27, 2014

  • Danielle Cater: What memories are you leaving?

    Death hurts. It hurts when it hits close to home and it hurts when it hits the people who are closest to you.

    May 27, 2014

  • Danielle Cater: Life is precious from the beginning

    The media is all abuzz this week over the story of a woman who apparently gave birth to seven babies in the last 10 years without anyone’s knowledge, then killed her babies and stored them in boxes in her garage.

    April 24, 2014

  • Danielle Cater: Be strong in moments of weakness

    A sad scene took place on Sunday at a church in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The founding pastor of Calvary Chapel stepped down from his position of head pastor due to “moral failing which disqualifies him from continuing his leadership role at the church.” This church is home to over 20,000 members who worship together in 10 locations across Florida.

    April 15, 2014

  • Danielle Cater: Old dogs can learn new tricks

    You’re never too old to learn something new. I’m of the opinion that you can, indeed, teach an old dog new tricks.
    So as an old dog, I’ve been trying to pick up a new trick.

    April 7, 2014

  • Commentary: Bad vacation attitudes won't last forever

    In these photos, everyone else in the family is smiling as if this were their favorite vacation of all times, but I am huffing with my arms crossed and a literal frown on my face.

    March 26, 2014