Archive for American Gods

2008 Reading Project

Posted in Reading List with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 23, 2017 by jaclemens

I joined Goodreads in April 2008 and began adding titles right away to my to-read shelf. These titles were the books I most wanted to read, foremost on my list, and yet some of them can still be found lingering in to-read limbo today. I realized that if I did not rectify this situation in 2017, I will be lamenting – not celebrating – my 10 year anniversary next spring!

Looking back on that first year, I read 44 books, many of them formative for my development as a book buyer. Three books by Michael Chabon (not my first, but it cemented his place as one of my favorite authors); three by Brandon Sanderson (ibid); The Book Thief; American Gods; Wicked; Reinhold Niebuhr and Isaac Bashevis Singer; and The Stress of Her Regard (one of my top ten favorite books), among other great reads. It was a tremendous year of reading for me, so it’s no slight on the books I didn’t get to in 2008.

Since then I have read plenty of books and added plenty more to my to-read list. From 2009 to 2011, I managed to move 20 more of my 2008 books from to-read to read (past tense), so it isn’t as if I forgot about the books that had earlier caught my eye. However, I have made no progress on that subset of books since re-reading The Stress of Her Regard in 2011. I wouldn’t say that I lost interest after three years – or that more appealing books intervened – but, for one reason or another, those books did not fit into my immediate reading plan.

In 2017, I will be reading 1-2 books each month from my 2008 list in order to finish the remaining 18 that have gone neglected for the last six years. I started my project in February with a pair of timely titles: 1984 by George Orwell and The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis. I plan to read a larger amount of new releases combined with other books that haven’t languished as long on my to-read list, but the 2008 books will provide the basis for my reading this year. I don’t anticipate writing a review for every book I read in 2017, but hopefully working through the books I wanted to read back then will help recapture some of the magic of buying and reading books in 2008!

American Gods review

Posted in Fiction, Recommendations with tags , on November 19, 2008 by jaclemens

american-godsGiven my preference for dark and twisted fiction and just about anything involving Norse gods, it comes as a bit of a shock that I have come so late to American Gods by Neil Gaiman.  I loved the premise that the plethora of immigrants to this land brought their gods and superstitions with them, and that even after their belief had faded the incarnated gods and folk tale characters remained, albeit in obscurity.  New gods take their places in the hearts of the people, but the carousel continues to turn and they lose their 15 minutes of devotion, too.  America has no native gods, and the infinite influx of immigrants has overpopulated the American pantheon.  The approaching storm that is foreshadowed throughout the book is an American Ragnarok, as the old guard assembled by Wednesday and his emissary Shadow contend against Mr. World’s new regime for supremacy.  Gaiman takes this premise as broad as the continent itself and runs rampant with it, introducing a panoply of gods and minor deities that sent even this mythology lover looking up references.  A wild romp of travel up and down the country that visits every tourist attraction and roadside motel along the way, proving that not even the quaint, All-American town of Lakeside is not what it seems on the surface.  Like the coin tricks that the ex-con Shadow employs to keep his hands busy, Gaiman displays some impressive sleight-of-hand with this tall tale!