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5 Fantastic Books

The amount of books in existence is mindboggling.  And out of all of the books in existence, how many there must be which focus on ideas which transcend the bounds of everyday human existence , i.e. the fantastic.  I want to briefly put the spotlight on an arbitrary number of fantastic books because, well, this IS the season for such things.  Truly though, there’s no reason to imprison these books in an artificial, temporal box; they can and should be read whenever and wherever.  Still, this is a month to celebrate the extraordinary, so what better time to take a look at a few particularly delectable  paragons…

On Monsters, Stephen T. Asma

I encountered On Monsters entirely by chance.  Back when Borders was still around, I used to love to walk around their storefronts, not looking for anything in particular, though I would gravitate toward the sections of interest to me.  I was looking through the mythology section and I found this book.  I thought that it would be a great counterpoint to another book I was considering buying (Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With a Thousand Faces), so I picked it up.  As it turned out, Asma provided a wonderfully readable and even-handed account of monsters throughout the ages.  Various monsters, from Biblical, classical, and modern epochs, are examined from psychological, social, and biological perspectives.  In my opinion, good non-fiction is hard to find; it often veers too much toward sensationalism on one hand, or dry academic prose, on the other.  Asma here strikes a great balance and this book ought not be missed by anyone fascinated by the monstrous. Continue reading


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