6 Degrees of Separation: From To Kill a Mockingbird to The Aeneid

1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – I figured I’d start with one of my favorite (also new-to-me) reads of the year. It’s been on my mind so much lately.

2. Native Son by Richard Wright –  To Kill a Mockingbird got me thinking about race relations, right and wrong, and the difficult decisions we make. That reminded me of Native Son, which I read in high school. As far as I can remember, it was also the first novel I read that tackled race issues in such a uncomfortably powerful way.

3. Swimming to Elba by Silvia Avallone (review) – Another major theme in Native Son was the differences between the lives of the rich vs. the lives of the poor. That reminded me of Swimming to Elba, which is a suffocating portrayal of poverty in an industrial Italian town.

4. At Least You’re in Tuscany by Jennifer Criswell (review) – But…Italy! I just love Italy! So does Jennifer Criswell, who packed up all her belongings and her dog and moved to Tuscany, and wrote this honest memoir about the struggles and joy of her first year there.

5. The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri – Criswell talks about having trouble understanding the older Italians in her new home, because they would speak the Tuscan dialect. That dialect became the basis for Standard Italian thanks to Dante Alighieri. What comes to mind when you hear Dante? The Divine Comedy, of course!

6. The Aeneid by VirgilThe Divine Comedy is an epic poem, which makes me think fondly of a famous Latin epic poem, The Aeneid by Virgil. People here in the States often correct me on my pronunciation of Aeneid (I pronounce the “ei” like the “ey” in “hey”). It tends to come up in conversation because C’s name comes from this work. But I continue to trust the way my Italian teacher taught us, especially since we were living (and she was from) here and it is the correct an accepted pronunciation. 😉

So there you have it, my first shot at a bookish six degrees of separation, from To Kill a Mockingbird to The Aeneid. My brain is a constant rabbit trail, so this came pretty easily and was a lot of fun. (I’m not sure if that’s necessarily a good thing, though…)