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BOOK LIST:

Clumsy, Haphazard Reader

Updated: December 12, 2012

This LAPL staff member claims to stumble upon the great variety of books that they read which are mostly old and modern classics.


by McCarthy, Cormac, 1933-
Call Number: Ed.b
This is historical fiction based on the exploits of the real Glanton Gang. They were a band of mercenaries hired by the Mexican government to exterminate Indians in the Texas-Mexico borderlands. This is arguably the most violent work of fiction out there. One does not have to wait long to be plunged into something like Dante's violent Inferno. However, the violence is not the sort of violence you find in a horror movie where everyone is dreadfully mutilated because the movie is trying to be as violent as possible. It is not gratuitous and/or redundant in the least, but feels more like something out of a war movie. IT IS horrible and can be off-putting, but definitely serves the purpose of the narrative. That said, there are other less disturbing wonders in this book. The West is vividly portrayed, as both magnificently grand and a wasteland like no other, and the prose is among the most beautiful and epic in all of American literature. It can be easy to overlook these virtues amidst the carnage, but once you become aware of them, the book congeals into a true masterpiece.

by Boccaccio, Giovanni, 1313-1375.
Call Number: 853 B664 1995
Seven Florentine women and three men flee to the countryside to escape the Black Death that was rampaging through Europe during the fourteenth century. In ten days they each tell a story a day, totaling a staggering one hundred tales. Like The Arabian Nights before it and The Canterbury Tales after, the tales are as diverse as can be. By turns brief, drawn out, tragic, comedic, insightful, crude, moralistic, inappropriate, exciting, uneventful, pious, or sacrilegious. There's something here for everyone and everything for one.

by Bloom, Harold.
Call Number: 809 B6547-1
Depending on whom you talk to, Harold Bloom is either the greatest of modern critics, or a tired old relic of criticism. Apart from whatever one may think of him, his great love of literature is undeniable. Nowhere is that more evident than in this book where he lists a hundred of the greatest writers and simply speaks his mind about what makes each person a genius of literature. That love is infectious and if you share that love, I guarantee a good read.

by Dostoyevsky, Fyodor, 1821-1881.
Call Number: Ed.c
Horrors and sadness abound in this semi-autobiographical story as a man recounts his time in a Siberian prison. This has some similarity to the Dostoyevsky of the later great novels, but the narrator of this story is uncharacteristically detached. Philosophical, social and political questions, which are the core of his other novels, are conspicuously unimportant here, plus the episodic nature of the story reads more like a documentary than a work of fiction. This is not the usual Dostoyevsky, but it is still great Dostoyevsky.

by Dunsany, Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, Baron, 1878-1957.
Call Number: Ed.a
This book is part love story, part sword and sorcery, with a little bit of hunting tossed in, but always pure fantasy. The love is between a human prince, Alveric, and an Elf princess, Lizarel. They escape Elfland with Alveric carrying a sword of lightning that was forged by a witch. The two lovers have a son, Orion, who is raised by the witch. The young prince grows up to love hunting with his greatest prey being the unicorn. It is all tied together nicely in beautiful, dreamy prose that flows very much like poetry.

by Grayling, A. C.
Call Number: 171 G783 2002
Grayling discusses everything from morality to trifles. The book is divided into 3 parts: Virtues and Attributes, ideas that usually help humanity; Foes and Fallacies, that which is often detrimental to us; and Amenities and Goods, which include more tangible ideas and less controversial discussions. No one will agree with Grayling one hundred percent of the time, and I doubt he would be happy if anyone did.

by Bunyan, John, 1628-1688.
Call Number: 823 B942 1981a
This book is one of the best allegories ever written. The first part is the story of Christian leaving his home and family (they decide to stay behind) in the City of Destruction to reach the Celestial City or "Heaven". On his way, he battles Apollyon and crosses the Valley of the Shadow of Death as well as other physical manifestations of the obstacles Christians face in life. The second part deals with Christian's family making a similar journey, although they have to conquer their own obstacles on the way to the Celestial City, such as the four giants and the Ill-favored Ones. Though obviously written for a Christian audience, anyone willing to give it a chance will find that like other "Christian works", Paradise Lost and The Divine Comedy, this is much more approachable. The Pilgrim's Progress can be enjoyed by anyone, and it is a fantastic tale of good overcoming evil and the striving that ultimately saves man's soul.

by Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von, 1749-1832.
Call Number: Ed.f
This is the novel that first brought Goethe literary fame, and it reportedly influenced many lovelorn youth to commit suicide. The book was often found in their pockets when their bodies were pulled out of the river. The story unfolds through letters that Werther sends to his friend Wilhelm. In the letters he tells how he has fallen madly in love with a girl name Lotte, who is engaged to a much older man. This may sound like your typical tale of tragic star-crossed lovers who can't be together, but it's not. Lotte does not feel for Werther, at least not to the same extent he does for her. The tragedy here is of the kind that may only be understood by those who have experienced desperate and passionate love.

by Mishima, Yukio, 1925-1970.
Call Number: Ed.a
This is a tale of first-time love. The setting is a remote island village in Japan where the young couple must overcome the usual obstacles of social status and town gossip. This is a rather conventional tale, but it is Mishima's telling of it with simple honesty that never over-dramatizes the tribulations of the young couple. This book is for those in search of an old fashioned tale of first love conquering all odds, written with just the right mixture of realism and romance.

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