Nothing to be Frightened of by Julian Barnes is one of the best books I’ve read this year. I have many Post It darts marking passages that are incredible. I’d like to type them all out here as evidence of how great this book is, but I believe the many treasures in this book must be better when you come across them through your own reading.
As the title suggests, this book is about the fear of death. I think everyone is afraid of death to some degree, and some people think about it much more than others. Julian Barnes is one of those people. The book is full of personal stories, opinions, and the opinions/thoughts about death by famous figures in history (mostly other writers).
I finished this book three weeks ago, but I still think about it frequently. I also have Julian Barnes to thank for exposing me to Jules Renard. (I previously posted about The Journal of Jules Renard.)
Julian Barnes is a celebrated novelist as well. I haven’t read anything else by him yet. At Strand I found a used copy of Something to Declare, which is a collection of essays on France. I also really want to read Flaubert’s Parrot.
Nothing to be Frightened of is the featured review on the cover of The New York Times Book Review. Garrison Keillor wrote the review, and it’s very good. At the end he wonders whether the book will be popular with Americans (it was published earlier this year in the UK), and I understand his concern. Americans might shy away from it, on the grounds of its subject matter being too morbid. I hope that’s not the case.
The first chapter of Nothing to be Frightened of is posted on NYTimes.com.
One note: If you are easily offended by religious views that are different that your own (specifically Agnosticism), you might want to avoid this book.
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