Sunday Salon: Devouring books and a few mini-reviews

Good morning! It’s been so long since I’ve participated in Sunday Salon, that  I knew it was time for me to start again. July started off as a month where I couldn’t read as much as I wanted to since I was taking two classes that occupied a lot of my time. After dropping my math class (yay!), I have more time to read and my reading life is back! I’m pretty behind in reviewing books, so I’ll just tell you about a few of the books I’ve read lately instead of trying to review them all.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan. I read this book back in June but I still wanted to write something about it. Will Grayson, Will Grayson is the story of two teens with the same name who meet unexpectedly one day and who are changed by the meeting. Told from the viewpoints of both boys, readers learn the characters’ flaws and also what makes them so special. I really liked some of the diversity of the characters like Tiny, best friend to the first Will and a very talented teenager who puts on a school play about his life. Tiny is gay and there’s no bits about coming out or struggling with his sexuality. Tiny is who he is and he’s not afraid to be emotionally vulnerable. He’s a very caring guy who puts his neck out too much for other people. Some of the secondary characters were just as interesting as the main characters. This book is filled with humor and also had a few scenes that brought tears to my eyes. If you haven’t read it already, you should.

Ghost World by Daniel Clowes. This summer like every summer, I participate in my library’s summer reading program for adults. When you review three books, you can pick a free book to take home and Ghost World was my pick. Enid and Rebecca are teenage girls with a complex friendship. Like most teenagers, both girls are trying to figure out who they are while planning their futures. Enid walks around in these ridiculous costumes while Rebecca plays the role of Enid’s sidekick. It’s not until almost the end of the book that the roles are reversed and we get to see the characters for who they really are.

This is definitely a book that once you finish reading, you have to reread it for all the subtle things you miss.  This was my first time reading a book by Clowes but I don’t think it’ll be my last.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Maree from Just Add Books decided to host a read-along for American Gods and since I’ve already read several of Gaiman’s books, I  joined in.

Shadow is an ordinary man, counting down to the end of his 3-year prison sentence, so he can finally be with his wife Laura. When Laura is killed in a car accident Shadow is released early to find the mysterious Wednesday, ready to pay Shadow a decent amount of money to take a job as his “helper”. Shadow soon learns that this isn’t an ordinary job. Both men travel across America, finding the Gods of Old: Anansi, Kali, Czernobog, Eostre, and others who are willing to go to battle with the Gods of New like technology, media, and tv for the soul of America.

I love this book! Love love love! Gaiman uses American Gods as a way to ask and answer the question: what happens to the gods of certain cultures when its followers die off or assimilate into a different culture? The gods are personified and you see how they have suffered from the loss of belief. The gods can be obnoxious, funny, or dangerous. They come from a variety of cultures and lands. In the book they are like everyday people: fortune-tellers, cab drivers, even addicts. One of my favorite things about the book was reading the lives of different believers and how their beliefs are incorporated into their everyday lives.  The book is funny but tragic and also beautiful. I listened to the audio book while also reading a print copy and enjoyed the dual way of reading. Out of the many books I’ve read by Gaiman, American Gods is probably my favorite.

A passage from the book:

People believe, thought Shadow. It’s what people do. They believe. And then they do not take responsibility for their beliefs; they conjure things, and do not trust the conjurations. People populate the darkness; with ghosts, with gods, with electrons, with tales. People imagine, and people believe: and it is that belief, that rock-solid belief, that makes things happen.

So that’s only a tiny bit of the books I’ve read lately. What are you reading today?

39 thoughts on “Sunday Salon: Devouring books and a few mini-reviews

  1. I love Ghost World to bits and pieces, book and movie alike. Yet for some bizarre reason, I’ve yet to read any more Daniel Clowes. I need to change that!

    WGWG and American Gods are of course awesome too :D

    • Ana, did you know that Clowes has published a new book earlier this year? I’m thinking about getting my hands on it soon. I haven’t watched Ghost World the movie but it is on my list of things to do soon.

  2. I read American Gods, but wasn’t as enamored of it as you were. I did think it was good, though, but not as good as Neverwhere, and my wife really liked Anansi Boys, which she thought was funnier than American Gods. Maybe we’re into the lighter Gaiman, although I wasn’t thrilled by Stardust. I thought the movie actually was better than the book, because of the addition of Robert DeNiro’s character.

    • I wasn’t too thrilled with Stardust too. I did enjoy the movie version a lot though. Love Robert DeNiro’s character. I haven’t read Neverwhere yet and I have Anansi Boys on my list to read sometime in August. Is Neverwhere your favorite book by Gaiman?

  3. I STILL haven’t read any Gaiman and am now getting awfully close to “loser” status if I don’t hurry up!

    • No, you’re not getting close to “loser” status! :-) I’m sure you’ll get around to reading Gaiman one day. You just have to be in the mood and every book of his is almost like a different mood.

  4. I’ve got Will Grayson, Will Grayson on hold at the library but will have to wait for many other readers in line before me. And now, thanks to your review, I have to read American Gods again! Have a wonderful week, Vasilly.

  5. I loved WGWG but sadly did not enjoy American Gods. From the people I’ve talked to about this, I think loving or hating AG has a lot to do with whether or not you love Shadow. I didn’t, so I didn’t like the book.

    • Too bad you didn’t enjoy American Gods. I liked Shadow but I loved everything else more. I don’t know but I love how Gaiman brought everything to life.

  6. I’ve heard lots of good things about Will Greyson, Will Greyson and want to read it soon. I’ve always been meaning to read more by Gaiman so I’ll have to check this book out as well. Looks like you’ve been reading some good books!

  7. I loved American Gods absolutely wildly when I first read it–I was in high school reading it under my desk when I was supposed to be taking exams–and my rereads have never been quite as satisfying. But I want to give it another reread…maybe this time it’ll be the same.

    (I think the fact that I was reading it when I should have been doing work the first time may have something to do with it: the thrill of the illicit.)

    • LOL! I was reading American Gods under the same condition: should have been doing homework but instead was listening to the book. Too bad the rereading haven’t been that satisfying. :-(

  8. You know…Will Grayson Will Grayson is an example of a book that I would overlook due to the title and cover art — but I am very interested in reading because of your fabulous review! It is going on the TBR list :)

    • Yay! Glad to see you’re putting Will Grayson on your TBR list. If it wasn’t for all the positive reviews it was receiving in the blogisphere, I probably would have skipped it. Glad I didn’t.

  9. I’ve heard so many mixed reviews about American Gods. I’ve read it myself and was quite in the middle about it– loving it because it was such a cool concept but not loving it because the execution wasn’t quite there for me. I’m glad to see such a glowing review of it though! Neil Gaiman rocks.

    Also, who was your favorite god? I thought Mr. Nancy was pretty great myself…

    • That’s a great question! I don’t think I can pick just one but I love Mr. Nancy (the “monkey ate my balls” story was hilarious!), Czernobog, Kali, Ifrit (the cab driver), and Eostre. I really liked the midnight, noon, and morning sisters that lived with Czernobog. Let’s just say I probably liked most of the gods though a certain kobold gave me the creeps and also made me a little sad. :-(

  10. Some awesome reading here!!! I am SO SO SO SO SO SO SO happy that you loved American Gods :D It’s my favorite book ever. Words cannot express my love of that book. Just pure genius on paper. And I loved Will Grayson Will Grayson too!

    I STILL have not read Ghost World! I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I absolutely loved the movie though.

    And, this is silly, but I also loved that you dropped your math class :p It made me miss college! Isn’t it just the best feeling when you can just breathe a huge sigh of relief after dropping a class, lol.

    • Chris, American Gods is such a great book that I’m thinking about reading it over again! Love!

      I can’t believe that I haven’t watched the movie version of Ghost World! I didn’t even know there was a movie version.

      I’m so happy I dropped my math class too! There’s nothing worse than spending the summer learning math!:-)

  11. I had no idea that was what Will Grayson Will Grayson was about, now I want to read it! I’ve seen Ghost World but it sounds like the book is a little different.

  12. I never read Ghostworld, but I have seen the movie. I’m not sure if I could say I loved it, it mostly made me feel weird.

    I’ll have to add Will Grayson, Will Grayson to my wishlist and I’m sure I’ll read American Gods someday..

  13. I loved American Gods when I read it a few years ago. I am also really interested in reading Ghost World. I know they made a movie, but I haven’t yet seen it. I am glad that you are finding that you have more time to read now!

  14. So glad you liked Ghost World! I took a class over film adaptations and we had to pick a short story and film to “teach” to the grad students. A chapter from Ghost World was included in our textbook so I taught it alongside the film. The class really enjoyed it, though some were resistant to the comics format in the beginning. In the end, though, I won them over with the little subtle symbols and visual clues Clowes drops throughout the text. I’ve enjoyed all of his stuff that I’ve read.

  15. I think it’s awesome that your library has a reading program for adults! I had so much fun with my own library’s programs when I was a kid, but they have a cut-off age of twelve. :(

  16. Squee! so fun to read these mini-reviews when I am familiar with the titles. I haven’t read Ghost World but the movie was COOL. (I have this strange crush on Steve Buscemi.) I loved Am Gods – which reminds me… Have I missed the discussion post? And WGWG was good; I’ve got a crush on John Green, too. and probably Neil Gaiman now. Can’t wait to read Neverwhere AND Anansi Boys.

  17. Didn’t realise WGWG was a book where two boys meet, thought it was a Sliding Doors kind of deal with alternate lives and two Tiny’s. Actually much more interested in it now :)

  18. I’m so happy to hear you loved Will Grayson, Will Grayson and American Gods, as they are both pretty high on my wishlist! I had heard some negative things on American Gods, so it’s good to read some love for it.

  19. I have adored all of John Green’s other books, so Will Grayson is high on my list of must-reads. And I love Nail Gaiman and just got a copy of American Gods for 99 cents last month – must get to it soon.

  20. I was really pulled in when you mentioned “what happens to the gods of certain cultures when its followers die off or assimilate into a different culture?” I have the book in my personal library and that makes me want to read it now.

  21. Pingback: Audiobook Week: My Audiobook Year « 1330v

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