October Book Reviews
"Stoner", by John Williams –
This quiet, profound and beautifully written novel isn't new and isn't a NY Times best seller. Written in 1965, it deserves much wider recognition and readership, I think.
William Stoner is the son, and only child, of a poor and taciturn Missouri farm family. A county agent suggests he leave the farm to attend college; his parents expect him to return to the farm and put his new knowledge to practical use. But a required survey course in English literature suddenly and irrevocably changes his life.
In deceptively simple sentences, his story unfolds to reveal a deeply complicated, strong and perceptive man. His friendships are few but lifelong; his successes are rare, but are small moments of triumph in a difficult life; and his disappointments and humiliations are endured with courage and abiding grace.
Stoner, like its subject, is an underappreciated jewel; once encountered, it will be remembered. Judy Nardacci, Vice-president, Board of Directors.
"The Graveyard Book", by Neil Gaiman –
"There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife." And with that opening begins the story of a toddler who crawls out of his home one night escaping his family’s killer and finds refuge in a nearby ancient graveyard where he is adopted by the dead “residents” who name him Nobody (Bod).
The ghosts and supernatural spirits of the cemetery (who now also include his dead parents’ spirits) take care of him and protect him from the grisly killer who relentlessly searches for him over the years, still furious that he escaped.
As he grows older, Bod thrives in the cemetery learns reading, writing, history with various graveyard adventures and supernatural skills thrown for equal measure. Bod loves his graveyard family and the dead in turn have grown to love and cherish him. Yet they also responsibly but tenderly prepare him to face the real world that he must return to when he turns 16.
This book is creepy, fun, suspenseful, surprisingly heartwarming but above all, highly readable. It was the 2009 Newbery Medal winner, the highest annual award presented for children’s literature. While it was written for a middle school audience, there are many appealing aspects for high school students and adults as well.
The Lee Library has this book in its j/YA collection. After a very long wait, it was finally released in paperback edition this week for those who would like to own it. Rosemarie Borsody, Public Services Librarian.
There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library, this republic of letters, where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the slightest consideration.