Until last year, it wasn’t publicly known that Pulitzer-winning author Harper Lee had written another book before her iconic 1960 novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
However, on Tuesday, 55 years after her first and only book was published, a second novel, “Go Set a Watchman,” hit the shelves of bookstores nationwide.
“It is selling very well,” Rebecca Parchman, manager of Books-A-Million at Arbor Place Mall, said Friday. “It’s a big deal.”
The store, which began pre-ordering for the book in October, received 100 first-edition copies of Lee’s novel Tuesday and Parchman said shelves have been restocked multiple times.
Though she hasn’t read either of Lee’s two novels, Parchman said she’s heard both positive and negative remarks about “Go Set a Watchman.”
“The buzz has been mixed, but it has not stopped people from coming in to buy it,” Parchman said. “Usually our best seller, depending on what it is, (will continue to be the best-selling book) between one and three weeks and then it gets knocked down. But the pre-order (of ‘Go Set a Watchman’) has been up there for months. So, it’s going to be our number one for a while.”
Genie Patterson, 64, of Eatonton browsed a book stand devoted to Harper Lee’s works Friday afternoon. Patterson, who said she grew up in the 1960s and witnessed racial injustice first-hand, had only recently read “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
“I enjoyed that book so much,” said Patterson, who prefers listening to books on tape since she’s in the car a lot. “As soon as I finished with it, this one (came) out. That’s the reason I’m so fascinated with this new book.”
Patterson said she planned to buy the CD of “Go Set a Watchman,” which is read by 39-year-old actress Reese Witherspoon, known for her roles in the movies “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Legally Blonde.”
Mollie Smith, 15, of Sharpsburg thumbed through a copy of Lee’s newly published novel, which features an up close tree with a distant train barreling down the tracks on its blue hardcover.
Smith, who was out shopping with her mother and grandmother Friday, said she’d read “To Kill a Mockingbird” this year at Trinity Christian School and liked it a lot.
“I’m definitely going to read it,” Smith said of Lee’s latest book. “No one I know has read it yet. … I heard it’s about (the same protagonist, Scout) when she’s older, so I don’t know if it will be almost harder to read than the first one, because the first one was when they were kids.”
Smith said she wasn’t sure what to expect of “Go Set a Watchman.”
“I hear this one is not as good,” Smith said. “But I guess if it was as good then (Lee) would have released it when she wrote it, you know?”
Currently, “Go Set a Watchman” is only available in hard-copy and has a sticker price of about $30; Smith said she would likely wait and buy the book in paperback.
Those hoping to check out Lee’s latest novel from Douglas County's three public libraries will have to wait indefinitely due to high demand, Douglas County Librarian Lindy Moore said Friday.
“We have gotten our copies, but they’re all checked out,” said Moore, adding she’ll likely have to purchase the book elsewhere to read herself. “There’s a hold list for it … Statewide, there’s 400 holds on 200 copies.”
Dog River Public Library and Douglas County Library currently have only one copy each while Lithia Springs Public Library has two. The checkout period is two weeks.
“We were going to see what the demand was first,” Moore said. “We typically only order one copy per item because, after a few months, when the newness has worn off, they just sit on the shelves. We probably will order more copies.”