Stoner by John Williams is an absolutely beautiful novel. Perhaps the best novel I’ve read this year. I’ve tried to share it with several people, but I think the appeal is lost in
Your heart will split for William Stoner as he quietly goes about his day, taking life’s blows like a reed bends to the wind. He’s not a strong-willed guy, not heroic or wise. He just tries to do what he loves and makes little effort to change the world.
As his life slowly becomes more difficult due to his family relationships, he approaches his work as a literature professor with more vigor and love. This passion brings him a brief time of fame within his university but results in a confrontation with a student that sends his professional life into a downward spiral as well.
He does rally from time to time both in his personal and professional life. The moments of accomplishment and happiness feel all the more powerful for the quiet sadness that envelopes most of the pages.
And the ending… This was the first book in some time that made me shed literal tears. I cried for the final two chapters. They are beautiful and devastating.
You should definitely read this book. As I stated in the opening, Stoner is a difficult book to sell because a lot of its value is the depth of emotion you’ll feel for this simple man. But give it a chance and you’ll absolutely fall in love with perhaps the best book I’ve read about the life of a simple man.
Recommended Reads after Stoner by John Williams
If you read and enjoy Stoner by John Williams, then I recommend reading Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger which was recently featured in a recent blog post on nine books that changed my life. John Williams has also written a western called Butcher’s Crossing which I intend to read in the near future.