Five literary Halloween costumes to get your party (or work) conversations going!

Are you dressing up for Halloween to take your kids out or answer the door? Heading to a party? Does your workplace encourage costumes? Although there’s no pressure at my library job to dress up on Halloween, people do dress up. I will be working that weekend and I’m thinking of something low-key to wear. I’ve dug up this post from a few years ago to inspire me.

There is plenty of time to plan, so if you’re looking for costume ideas for work or play, consider these literary ones:


Ernest Hemingway

Since bushy beards are the rage right now, guys with facial hair, grab a big turtleneck and you’re almost there! A large personality and fishing pole as a prop would finish the look!


Ayn Rand

Even if you haven’t read The Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged, you can always look like this controversial literary figure. Comb your hair to the side. No makeup required. I couldn’t find a better free image on the internet, but you can watch this YouTube video to get into characgter.


Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote

Although Truman Capote wanted Marilyn Monroe, not Audrey Hepburn, to play Holly in the movie, Hepburn made that movie memorable. Pull out your classic black dress, put your hair up high under a fabulous hat and you’re on your way.


Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Atticus is one of my favorite literary characters and I don’t believe Harper Lee meant him to be anything but great, despite the traits she sketched out in Go Set a Watchman. Put on a searsucker three-piece suit, add a tie and some horn-rimmed glasses, and look serious, like Gregory Peck.


Daisy Buchanan from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Find a gauzy tea dress, some pearls and an elaborate floppy hat and you’re almost there. This picture of Mia Farrow as Daisy will help you practice your doe-eyed expression.

What are you wearing for trick or treat? Would you have the courage to dress up in a costume for work? Leave a comment!

Note – for those who are virtuosos with the block editor, I tried to have the image captions appear on the display, but you can only see them if you click on the individual image. Anyone know a way around this? Also, does anyone know how to change the way the dividers look? Am I stuck with the double line because of my page design? Thanks!

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Five literary Halloween costumes to get your party conversations going!

Are you dressing up for Halloween? Does your workplace encourage costumes? Halloween is just a few days away and if you’re still looking for costume ideas for work or play, consider these literary ones:


Image: Wikipedia

Ernest Hemingway

Since bushy beards are the rage right now, guys with facial hair, grab a big turtleneck and you’re almost there! A large personality and fishing pole as a prop would finish the look!


Image: nymag.com

Ayn Rand

Even if you haven’t read The Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged, you can always look like this controversial literary figure. Grab a Shriner’s hat, cover it in black, find a long cigarette holder and comb your hair to the side. No makeup required.


Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote

Although Truman Capote wanted Marilyn Monroe, not Audrey Hepburn, to play Holly in the movie, Hepburn made that movie memorable. Pull out your classic black dress, put your hair up high, add some bling and dark glasses and you’re on your way.


Image: Wikipedia

Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Atticus is one of my favorite literary characters and I don’t believe Harper Lee meant him to be anything but great, despite the traits she sketched out in Go Set a Watchman. Put on a light-colored three-piece suit, add a tie and some horn-rimmed glasses, and look serious, like Gregory Peck.


Image: Pinterest

Daisy Buchanan from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Find a gauzy tea dress, some pearls and an elaborate floppy hat and you’re almost there. This picture of Mia Farrow as Daisy will help you practice your doe-eyed expression.


What are you wearing for trick or treat?

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Book Review: Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Go Set a Watchman
by
Harper Lee

Rating: 3 out of 5.

There are big questions about Go Set a Watchman and every reader will have a different opinion. Here’s mine:

  • Is Go Set a Watchman a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird?
    Most certainly not. Go Set a Watchman is an early draft of To Kill a Mockingbird in which Lee began to develop characters, plot lines and the small town of Macomb, Alabama. It’s described more accurately as a companion piece, but that implies it is polished, which it is not.
  • Did Atticus Finch become a racist in Go Set a Watchman? No, he did not become anything in this second book because it was written before To Kill a Mockingbird. I think Lee and her editor developed his character using pieces of the Atticus in Go Set a Watchman.
  • Did Harper Lee really approve of Go Set a Watchman’s publication? I doubt it. She has always said she did not want to publish another book. I don’t think this was a long-lost manuscript. If Harper Lee had wanted to publish Go Set a Watchman, she would have done so.
  • Should Harper Collins have published Go Set a Watchman? I don’t think so. The book reads as a draft. It includes jumps, inconsistencies, long, boring arguments between Jean Louise and her Uncle Jack, and an abrupt, unlikely finish. I’m not criticizing Harper Lee here, I’m pointing out that Go Set a Watchman went unpublished all these years for a reason, it wasn’t a final manuscript.
  • Is Go Set a Watchman worth reading? Yes, with the right expectations. If you’re curious about how Lee developed her characters and ideas, the book is interesting. If you’re expecting a book like To Kill a Mockingbird, you’re setting yourself for disappointment, and I think some readers will still feel betrayed by the new Atticus, even though it was an early characterization. In addition, it’s hard to miss that this book was fattened up by wider margins, more space between lines and blank pages between sections, all for $27.99.

I did enjoy parts of Go Set a Watchman, however. Lee uses humor to describe her characters, particularly Aunt Alexandra and her “formidable” Sunday corset. The church scene is also amusing, when Herbert Jemson, music director of Macomb Methodist Church, changes the rhythm of the Doxology, a shock to the congregation, but unnoticed by the hard-of-hearing Minister Stone.

Lee also describes Jean Louise’s understanding of her place in Macomb with this simple explanation:

It was not because this was where your life began. It was because this was where people were born and born and born until finally the result was you, drinking a Coke in the Jitney Jungle.

I also thought Henry Clinton’s answer to Jean Louise, when she accuses him of being racist, shows insight into a person’s character and motives:

A man can appear to be a part of something not-so-good on its face, but don’t take it upon yourself to judge him unless you know his motives as well. A man can be boiling inside, but he knows a mild answer works better than showing his rage. A man can condemn his enemies, but it’s wiser to know them.

That kind of a “know your enemy” approach is also Atticus Finch’s strategy, however, Atticus still believes in whites’ superiority, wrong even if it’s written in a draft.

Click here to read my review of To Kill a Mockingbird.

You may be interested in these reviews of Go Set a Watchman:

“Sweet Home Alabama” review by Adam Gopnik from The New Yorker magazine

“The Harper Lee ‘Go Set a Watchman’ Fraud” review by Joe Nocera – from The New York Times

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Harper Lee has a new book – Go Set a Watchman!

Harper Lee (whnt.com)
Harper Lee (whnt.com)

So if you didn’t see this in the news yesterday, there’s a sequel to Harper Lee’s wonderful book, To Kill a Mockingbird! According to an ABC News report, Lee’s second book is called Go Set a Watchman. It’s been over fifty years since she published To Kill a Mockingbird. Publisher Harper-Collins announced that the 304 page book will be available in print on July 14. And it’s already No. 1 on Amazon’s bestsellers list.

Go Set a Watchman actual cover

So what’s it about?

The book is set in Macomb during the 1950s and it’s about Scout as a young woman. Here’s what Harper-Colllins has to say:

Scout (Jean Louise Finch) has returned to Maycomb from New York to visit her father, Atticus. She is forced to grapple with issues both personal and political as she tries to understand her father’s attitude toward society, and her own feelings about the place where she was born and spent her childhood.

How did this happen?

The manuscript was discovered by Harper Lee’s good friend and lawyer, Tonja Carter. It was attached to a draft of To Kill a Mockingbird and had not been noticed until then. Lee actually wrote Go Set a Watchman before To Kill a Mockingbird. Harper-Collins issued this statement with some of Lee’s comments about the book:

In the mid-1950s, I completed a novel called ‘Go Set a Watchman. It features the character known as Scout as an adult woman, and I thought it a pretty decent effort. My editor, who was taken by the flashbacks to Scout’s childhood, persuaded me to write a novel (what became ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’) from the point of view of the young Scout.

I was a first-time writer, so I did as I was told. I hadn’t realized it (the original book) had survived, so was surprised and delighted when my dear friend and lawyer Tonja Carter discovered it. After much thought and hesitation, I shared it with a handful of people I trust and was pleased to hear that they considered it worthy of publication. I am humbled and amazed that this will now be published after all these years.

Harper Lee is 88-years-old and lives in an assisted living facility in her home town, Monroeville, Alabama. Although she keeps a low profile, she is still in tune with modern technology. To Kill a Mockingbird is already available in e-book form, an approval that came directly from Lee, and her new book will be too!

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Book Review: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird
by
Harper Lee

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This is just a brief review of a beloved classic, mostly because I doubt I can add anything new to previous reviews. Today I’m just sharing my personal reaction to a book I loved, and offering encouragement to young readers who are reading it for the first time, probably for school.

I can’t even guess how many people have reviewed and praised this book, but I will tell you that this is another one of the best books ever written. If you have never read To Kill a Mockingbird, go ahead and crack it open. Set in 1935, in the fictional town of Macomb, Alabama, Harper Lee writes of people and family, of prejudice against blacks, of judgment and justice, of lost innocence, and of heroes.

Harper Lee uses the voice of young Scout Finch to tell this story and Scout’s observations, which are sometimes naïve and always smart, to give us an insider’s view into the complicated relationships that exist between blacks and whites, between the poor and the poorer, and between the educated, the illiterate and the ignorant.

Like many other readers, I love Atticus Finch’s character. He’s wise and humble and kind and hides nothing from Scout and her older brother Jem. He treats them as adults and they have a maturity beyond their years because of it.

Besides Atticus, Scout and Jem, there are many characters to like for their wisdom and kindness – Calpurnia, Boo Radley, Miss Maudie Atkinson, for example. There are many to dislike because they are prejudiced or ignorant – Mr. Avery, Mrs. Merriweather, Miss Stephanie Crawford, Aunt Alexandra.  And there is one to hate, Bob Ewell, who accuses a young black man, Tom Robinson, of raping his daughter and whose own hatred towards blacks and most of the town of Macomb takes this story into the courtroom.

Here’s my advice if you’re in high school and you’re reading this for the first time. Take the time to know what’s going on. Use a guide to keep track of the characters. Go back and re-read what you didn’t get the first time. Why? Because once you get the frame of the story in your head, you will start to understand the meaning of Harper Lee’s words and you will discover how invested you’ve become in these characters. Once you reach that point, you will find yourself reacting to them as if they were real people, and you will discover that the events and their actions in this book cross over from fiction to reality. That’s great writing!

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