Staff Recommendation: American Gods

Book cover of Neil Gaiman's "American Gods"

One of Neil Gaiman’s best-known pieces of fiction, a topic of fascination and discussion for his sizeable fanbase, is the novel American Gods. It’s a high-concept doorstopper of a book, with both a universe-shattering frame story, and a series of thematically similar but otherwise unconnected vignettes. The frame story follows protagonist Shadow Moon as he accompanies the mysterious Mr. Wednesday (a barely disguised Odin from Norse tradition) as he rallies other half-forgotten deities from various mythologies and cultures. The focal antagonists are new “gods” based in the worlds of modern technology, like television and the Internet, and all are hard at work trying to capture Shadow to get him to fight for their side. The vignette stories mostly show us who the other gods are in this fictional universe, to flesh out the mythology and show us how these ancient beings might navigate a modern setting.

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

With the newest entry in the Harry Potter universe, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, J. K. Rowling has once again proven herself a master of imagination. However, it’s important to remember that there are now two books bearing this same title: the screenplay which is the basis for the movie starring Eddie Redmayne, and the Hogwarts Library edition that serves as a facsimile of Harry Potter’s text book. Both are available through the Chesapeake Library, and both are quick, entertaining reads, but make sure you know which version you’re looking for. (Click on the book covers to go to that item’s catalog page!)

fantastic-beasts-screenplay       fantastic-beasts-text

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Staff Recommendation: Save Me, Kurt Cobain

The year is 2006. Nicola, aka “Nico,” is coming up on her fifteenth birthday. Thanks to a cumulative set of circumstances involving a Ouija board, a ferry ride, and the discovery of her mother’s stash of vintage CDs, Nico comes to believe that former Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain is A) still alive, and B) her real father.

When I read the premise for Save Me, Kurt Cobain, my first thought was, “Wait, what?” My second was, “I need to read that immediately.” Because, having grown up in the 90s myself, with a stash of CDs I’m starting to realize might be considered “vintage” now, this story is both outlandish and familiar in ways I did not expect.

 

 

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Staff Recommendation: Modern Romance

 

 

 

Actor and stand-up comedian Aziz Ansari was approached to write a “funny” book a few years ago. Somehow, what he wound up doing was an extensively researched, fascinating, and enlightening years-long project studying the evolution of how people form–and keep–relationships. Covering everything from the 1950s style of formal courtship where people often wound up coupling with someone in their own neighborhood, to the seemingly limitless choices offered by chatrooms and online dating apps today, Modern Romance is a mixture of social anthropology, humor, fascinating anecdotes and optimistic insights that never gets boring. In fact, it’s one of only a handful of nonfiction books I’ve read cover to cover.

 

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Star Wars Read-A-Thon: The Force Awakens

 

Hey gang! It’s me again, returning from what I had expected to be the final installment of my Star Wars Read-A-Thon to talk about the brand new novelization for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. I had the opportunity to see the new movie twice in theaters, and had an absolute blast both times–it exceeded my expectations entirely, and that’s saying something.

However, as much as I love repeat viewings and analyzing every scene while waiting for the next installment (2017 is so far away!!), I can only afford so many in-theater experiences, and Alan Dean Foster’s contribution to the new Star Wars literary canon will do in a pinch.

Released this January, the new novelization follows pretty much the same path as the movie, so if you haven’t seen it yet, this is where the SPOILERS begin. . .

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