One of the nerdier things I’ve gifted myself recently is a “Top 100 Books” poster, where you scratch off the books listed as you read them, or if you’ve read them already. Being the self proclaimed bookworm that I am, I really thought I would have at least 50 of the top books read, and would be able to impress everyone with this cool filled in poster on my wall. But to my deepest shame and embarrassment, I think I scratched off less than 15. I’ve definitely been lacking in my reading lately, and it really is hard when you genuinely love doing something but can’t seem to find the time to do it. So one of my resolutions for this year was to read the books in order and have the poster scratched in and finished by the end of 2020.
First up – American Gods by Neil Gaiman. The reason why I love this idea, and making myself read all one hundred books in order, is finding books that I never, in a million years, would have picked up in a store or a library. I’ve never been one for the fantasy or science fiction genre, which is ultimately what this book is. The book touches on the idea of good and bad gods, mythology, and war – three things that I would pass on in any other book. I don’t want to summarize – you can google these books and find those out in less than two seconds. That, and I really, really encourage everyone to read this fantastic book. Picture an acid trip. Now, picture that acid trip in book form as that is truly what this book felt like. This could be due to the fact that I smoked consistently throughout reading it, but honestly I believe wholeheartedly that this book was made to be read when you’re stoned, which after hearing what it’s all about, you’ll see exactly what I mean.
Shadow, an ex convict, gets released from prison early, due to his wife dying in a car accident in the middle of having an affair with Shadow’s best friend. A guy named Wednesday (the names in this book make no sense, and I won’t even bother trying to explain them, mostly because I don’t understand them myself yet), known as Odin, or the all-father, and asks Shadow to work for him, basically as an errand boy or a bodyguard. The two men travel across the world meeting Wednesday’s acquaintances, mostly gods. I’m telling you all, when minor scenes would end, I would get genuinely upset that that scene in particular, which might have lasted maybe ten or fifteen pages – the characters, setting, whatever had been talked about, was over. Gaiman has a way of painting a picture so detailed that you truly find yourself within the book and among the characters. You physically feel like you’re there, taking a part in the scene.
The main plot of the book is that the new gods and the old gods are arguing and about to go to war. The old gods have seen a decrease in their powers, due to people not believing in them as much as the new gods, which are representing newer technology, and modern life. On top of all of this, Shadow’s dead wife Laura keeps showing up to talk to him – a lot for any normal ex-convict to have on his plate. Shadow ends up being hidden by Wednesday in a small, sleepy town called Lakeside. Gaiman made it so that the picture of Lakeside he envisioned within the book made me nostalgic about my own hometown – it was the quintessential small town where everybody knew everybody. I never wanted to leave the world of Lakeside, and could have gone on reading about the town and the people residing there, forever. Wednesday keeps showing up and taking Shadow on missions, but we get to meet a few Lakeside characters, like the sole Irish cop and Mabel, who sells the best pasties in the world. Like I said, I could have read a whole book just on the town of Lakeside itself, but we really didn’t get to see Shadow there a lot, as he was busy running around stopping a war between gods. But don’t worry – Shadow returns to solve the murder of a young girl and finds a killer within the small town that has been sacrificing children to Odin for years. And who doesn’t love a little murder mystery tied with mythology, con men and a dead wife who won’t go away?
I’m so excited to read the rest of these books on the list – I’ve never been one for the “classics” and haven’t really read any of the books that English majors worship over like others worship the bible. I encourage everyone to go out and pick up a book that you would never otherwise normally read, as I never would have picked out this book and enjoyed it as much as I did. As cliche as the “don’t judge a book by a cover” saying is, it really rings true here.
side note – I have a hundred books to go, and probably a ton of thoughts about each and every one of them. Please let me know if this was interesting in ANY way and if I should continue talking about the books on this list as I finish them 🙂