Stocking Reading Pt. 1: Confessions of a Shopaholic & To Kill a Mockingbird

In recent years, my family has had a tradition of themed stockings.

A few years ago we used cable channels. My stocking was the Travel Channel. I got a travel pillow, for example.

Last year, my mother came up with this insanity of Harry Potter spells. Each stocking had a number of spells, and you bought things pertinent to those spells. For example, if the spell was Alohomora, you might get a key or a lock. Some of the stockings overlapped, so it was really more complicated than it was worth.

This year we picked our favorite books. I picked John Connolly's The Book of Lost Things. It is one of my favorite books, and it's the one that I figured everyone in my family could read without being bored out of their minds (I speak specifically of my father, here.) My mother picked Scarlett, a sequel to Gone With the Wind. My sister picked Confessions of a Shopaholic and my father picked To Kill a Mockingbird.

I had never read any of these other books (including Gone With the Wind...also I don't think I've ever actually sat through that movie...ever. at all. I think I've seen maybe half of it consecutively. That's it.)

I figured Confessions of a Shopaholic would be easiest, so that's where I started. I had seen the movie with my mother and sister - it was cute...we had a good time...Hugh Dancy was pretty, but it wasn't what I would necessarily call my cup of tea. My sister has read all of the Shopaholic book series and is for all intents and purposes in love with it. She and I don't always see eye-to-eye, but having now read the first of this series, I can appreciate her love for it. It didn't make me want to pick up any more of them, but I did get sucked in. I think I finished it in like a day and a half. But when I say sucked in, I don't only mean that it was a page-turner. I mean it got into my head.

I started Christmas shopping after I finished this book, and I kept going back to little things - the main character (Rebecca)'s insane excuses, her little quirks and ploys and mantras. For example, she goes into a store to buy a small gift and walks out with bags full of stuff for myself, including stationary because "everyone needs stationary, right?". I've never been that kind of shopper. But right after this book, I was. I walked into Papyrus and, after I walked out, I called my sister because I'd had a total Rebecca Bloomwood moment. I'd walked in thinking I would browse, maybe get a small gift or two. I'd already purchased my holiday cards (I won't tell you where, since just thinking about all the christmas cards at Papyrus make me weep a little) for pretty cheap, so I wasn't card shopping.

By the time I walked out, I'd purchased a gift for one person and a bag for it, a gift for another person and a bag for that, a candle for me, stationary cards for me, tissue paper for the bags...$70. Everyone needs stationary, right? I did the same thing at two other stores over the course of the next week and a half. In the end, the stuff that I bought myself is beautiful, but I probably could have used some of that for, say, these stocking gifts I'm going to have to get. *sigh*

My father's not much of a reader. He works very hard to provide for his family, he always has, and so I can't discredit him for not being a reader. But I'll confess when he picked To Kill a Mockingbird I was a little confused. I had never read the book (somehow it got skipped in my education...I'm not sure whose fault it was, but I'm assuming it was the Orange County Public Schools system's). But what I understood was that it was not....not an adult book necessarily. I had also never actually seen the film. I know, I know. Iconic book, iconic movie, how have I avoided it all for 26 years? With talent, my friends, a talent for ignorance. Or just with the help of OCPS. Anyway.

First of all I should point out - my father is an attorney. Not a criminal lawyer like Atticus, but with the same stoic drive...more animated, maybe, but very similar. Halfway through the book it occurred to me that maybe my father had, consciously or not, modeled himself after Atticus. And that was kind of a startling moment for me. By the end of the book, I was weepy. I was angry that, in a way, this book had been kept from me. Maybe it was a censorship issue. But then I also think - maybe - I wasn't quite ready for it until now.


  1. I am only about thirty pages into Mockingbird right now.

    PS: Scarlett has too T's. If you do not spell it correctly, you may read the wrong book and that would be a shame. I just learned the author, Alexandra Ripley, died in 2004. That makes me sad because I have been waiting 20 years to ask her a question about the book and now I cannot because she died and I put it off too long.


  2. PS: And please correct MY spelling of TOO Ts to Two Ts.


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