Friday, November 27, 2009

Book 12: The Stranger.

Making the list of books to put on my list was hard. I wanted to make sure I picked enough to get a broad scope of the classics, but narrow enough that it wasn’t going to become a never-ending task. The result was 250 books, of which there were only 70 or so that I had previously read.

Obviously there were some essentials on the list—Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Dickens, Austen, etc, but there were also quite a few books and authors that were added that I had never heard of in my life.

One of these is Albert Camus. There are two books by him that I am reading: The Fall and The Stranger. Neither one of them have I even heard of. So when I went to my library’s quarterly book sale back in September, I armed myself with a list of books I was having a hard time finding and set out.

When I got there, the library was packed. It was the first day open to the public (this first day is always reserved for friends and family of workers at the library), so I was kind of expecting it. I ended up plopping down on the floor in the middle of a crowded aisle to first go through the books in the mass of boxes on the floor. I ended up buying 23 books that day for only $11.

Of these, my copy of The Stranger by Albert Camus, was one of my favorite finds. I like owning old editions, or editions with fun covers. I also loved to find vintage editions in good condition. My copy of this book met those criteria. You can see the cover of my edition above. I think finding these fun old editions makes your ownership of the book a little more personal.

I also love that someone who owned the book before me left his mark. On the inside cover is his name, along with the date of September 27, 1968. I love knowing that people have read things decades before me. It is a kind of kinship between book readers.

And since this edition was first published back in 1948, I hope that he got the book from someone else, and it was passed on after him to others, so I am not just the second person to open its cover.

Anyway, I also decided to do a little research on Camus before reading his work, because I literally know nothing about him. This is what I found:

~This book is cited as a prime example of existentialism, which is the belief that the individual has total control over giving their life meaning.

~Another early author to be labeled as an existentialist is Fyodor Dostoevsky. Interesting…

~The novel was first published in 1942—right in the middle of World War II.

So, at least I know something about the author and the book, which always helps me set in place in my mind the context in which it was written. I’m finding that learning this always helps me as I tackle these texts.

Anyway, I leave you with the blurb on the back as a teaser,

The Stranger by Albert Camus is a short novel about an ordinary little man living quietly in Algiers. Life begins to stalk him quietly and slowly, but inexorably. The pace quickens until the little man commits a pointless murder—and reaches its climax after his trial. The Stranger presents an indelible picture of a human being helpless in life’s grip.”


  1. I've never heard of this book, but it looks pretty interesting! I hope you enjoy it. I love the library book sales. Awesome books for cheap.

  2. I've never heard of this either, actually, but it DOES sound like it's worth reading.
    Good luck :)