Betsy Robinson, author of funny literary stories about flawed people, is a perpetual seeker of truth.

From books to music to theater and fine art, from online TV to DVDs, this blog takes a look at current culture through a spiritual perspective ó with a touch of humor.

Materials under the "review" tag are a mix of free review copies (books, DVDs, etc.) in exchange for a review, to library copies, to materials and tickets I've paid for.


A Really Bad Hair Day (Feb. 13 blog)

The Art of Collapsing (Feb. 6 blog)

Life is only temporary says Evan Handler (Jan. 28 blog)

The New World of Finance (Jan. 28 blog)

All about growing up in a cult (April 16 blog)

Fierce Giving (Jan. 8 blog)

(Copyright © 2008-2014 Betsy Robinson. All rights reserved)

Notes from a Crusty Seeker

Why I Prefer an $8 Paperback to a First Edition of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

April 8, 2012

Tags: compassionate wisdom, fun, review

After watching the wonderful PBS American Masters documentary Harper Lee: Hey Boo, I pulled down my old copy of To Kill a Mockingbird with the intention of rereading it. I believed Iíd read it in high school. I knew the story, and I thought the book had just faded from memory.

Perhaps I was certain Iíd read it because itís been sitting on my shelf for so many decades since I rescued it from my motherís damp garage. Sheíd loved it and had written her name and declaration of possession in careful script on the front endpaper. Wondering what the value of such a book might be, I searched the Internet and was floored to see less battered versions of my ďtrue first editionĒ selling for anywhere from twelve to twenty-five thousand dollars. Torn between my desire to read and preserve, I decided to buy the cheapest paperback I could find. And as I sank into it and under Ms. Leeís spell, I instantly realized I was reading this book for the first time and had created a memory of reading it due to the bookís physical presence on my shelf as well as its place in our collective consciousness.

When I was young, the determining factor for which books Iíd read was the amount of quotation marks. I liked books with talking, and probably put this one down after the opening pages of historical narrative. Iím embarrassed but Iím also glad. Iím glad I waited until I was this old and therefore experienced enough to appreciate what Ms. Lee did in a way that would have been impossible when I was young. Iím also glad I invested eight dollars in my paperback edition with an exquisite illustration by Sarah Jane Coleman that I could easily spread flat in order to appreciate the three-panel design of front cover-spine-back cover.

Reading a great story is a visceral experience for me and requires interacting with a book as object. When a passage floods my heart, I splay the book over my chest and moan and rock. My tears become part of the story as they are absorbed by paper pages. I caress, dog-ear, and spread the tome over my face with my nose burrowing into the spine, smelling it like an open, welcoming heart. You can do none of these things with a $25,000 first edition or an e-reader.

Iím happy to own a first edition; I appreciate its value, I love my motherís signature, but if somebody wants to buy it, Iíll sell. Donít worry, itís safeóin a bag, carefully protected from the elements and my tendency to make love to books who make love to me.

Selected Works

Big Moose Prize-winning novel
a funny, sometimes sad, story of negotiating life without a clue

New on Kindle--a funny book for foodies who are committed to self-change through self-awareness
an epistolary memoir ... sort of
A funny and moving little book for anyone who's had a mother or struggled with being human.
anthology of stories and plays
includes Darleen Dances and stories below

1-act play

short story
the problem with worrying about the future

true story
Why I don't believe in death.

Editing Services

Quick Links