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  • What if I told you that

  • To Kill A Mockingbird is overrated?

  • Can you, uh...can you read and write?”

  • Wait, Atticus, let me explain, let me explain.

  • What I'm saying is it's weird how

  • this book is so, so famous.

  • Let me tell you a story.

  • I read this book for fun in fourth grade.

  • I lived in Tennessee, thought it was amazing,

  • even though I probably didn't understand it.

  • Moved.

  • Read it in sixth grade class.

  • Moved.

  • Read it ninth grade.

  • Moved.

  • Read it again.

  • By the end of school,

  • I had read this book six times. Six times.

  • I personally never read any

  • of these books for school.

  • So was To Kill A Mockingbird really 600%

  • better than all of these other books?

  • I think there's a surprising reason it's so famous.

  • Beyond Atticus Finch being great.

  • “I don't care what the reasons are.”

  • Please.

  • Give me a chance.

  • To understand why this book was a school staple,

  • you need to understand other books.

  • Like the illicit love in The Hangman's Whip.

  • When Harper Lee got To Kill A Mockingbird

  • published in 1960, she never expected it

  • to be a massive hit.

  • As she said in her only radio interview:

  • My reaction to it was not one of surprise,

  • it was one of sheer numbness.”

  • It got a good review in the New York Times

  • (though it earned less coverage thanCeremony

  • in Lone Treeby Wright Morris).

  • But let's be clear: it sold millions of copies in hardback.

  • It won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1961.

  • The hit movie came out in 1962.

  • Here's Gregory Peck, AKA Atticus,

  • and Harper Lee, posing as...

  • well, I don't know why they're posing like that,

  • but I like it.

  • The movie poster had a big picture

  • of the book on it.

  • So this book was a big critical and popular hit.

  • But it didn't win all of the awards.

  • And it wasn't the best selling book of the year.

  • So what took it from hit to legend?

  • The most important thing to notice about

  • that 1961 Pulitzer Prize isn't the prize.

  • It's the year.

  • You probably recognize this logo.

  • It's from Penguin Books, and it's familiar

  • because the company has been around,

  • with pretty much the same waddling logo,

  • since 1935.

  • When Allen Lane founded the UK company,

  • paperback books were revolutionary.

  • The idea was to print good books, in paperback,

  • so they'd be cheaper than hardbacks.

  • That revolution quickly spread to America

  • with Pocket Books and other competitors.

  • But it wasn't just about cheap paper

  • and tiny, mass market size books.

  • Distribution was key.

  • Suddenly, cheap books flooded dime stores,

  • newsstands, and gas stations.

  • Crime writers like Mickey Spillane

  • became huge stars.

  • Just look at this guy.

  • He's an author.

  • The books started out seedy.

  • Popular Library published stuff like

  • Silence in Court!

  • and Devil Take Her.

  • But respectable stuff trickled in too,

  • occasionally with sexy covers,

  • like this shirtless Great Gatsby.

  • *whistle*

  • Paperbacks became mainstream quickly.

  • By 1961, the New York Times was calling it

  • The Paperback Revolution.”

  • They said paperbacks weren't just for

  • sex, sadism and the smoking gun.”

  • The books were actually being used...in schools.

  • That's where To Kill A Mockingbird comes in.

  • Remember that book, The Hangman's Whip?

  • Popular Library published that, and in 1962

  • they also put out the mass market paperback

  • for To Kill A Mockingbird.

  • Paperbacks were finally coming into their own.

  • And To Kill A Mockingbird had perfect timing.

  • Teachers had a cheap, popular,

  • respectable book.

  • And throughout the 60s, paperback

  • publishers thought of education as El Dorado.

  • El Dorado's a mythical city of gold,

  • in case you forgot.

  • Margins on mass-market paperbacks

  • were small, so publishers made money

  • by selling huge numbers.

  • Paperbacks sold a lot of copies worldwide.

  • 5 million.

  • 11 million.

  • And on and on and on.

  • That's why To Kill A Mockingbird is so famous.

  • And you get the sense Harper knew it, too.

  • When Lee died, her estate almost immediately

  • said they would discontinue the mass market

  • version of the book.

  • Even if you think the paperback revolution

  • made the book overrated,

  • it's still kind of sad.

  • These books, these cheap paperback,

  • kinda hard to read mass-market books

  • they're worth more than their price.

  • Maybe they shouldn't be killed.

  • Mockingbirds don't do anything but

  • make music for us to enjoy.

  • They don't eat people's gardens,

  • don't nest in the corncribs.

  • They don't do one thing but just

  • sing their hearts out for us.”

  • This video is actually the first

  • in a series we're doing

  • about Overrated icons.

  • You can look down below for

  • our Facebook page where we have more videos

  • and articles and

  • all sorts of other stuff about things that

  • might be just a little overrated.

What if I told you that

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B1 US Vox mockingbird overrated read atticus harper

The real reason To Kill A Mockingbird became so famous

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    Samuel posted on 2018/05/23
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