Where It’s At ... Reading and feeding your head

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 11:00am

What books are stacked on your bedside table now during National Reading Month? And, yes, that includes both the Kindle stored and those checked out of your local library.

I’ve just started reading “American Gods” by Neil Gaiman. Yes, I’ve heard it’s a Starz series, but I’m not a member. I was attracted to this novel for many of the same reasons I liked the TV series “Grimm”: mythological or fairy tale characters woven into modern day life. “American Gods” features gods like Odin – known as Mr. Wednesday, Easter is the Germanic goddess of spring and fertility (Ostara or Ēostre), and Vulcan is the Roman god of war (Mars) ... Gaiman pits these old gods against the new gods like technology and the Internet.  What’s not to like about any of that? 

So far I’ve met Mr. Wednesday and Shadow Moon (love this name)– a 30-something guy just out of the slammer after serving three years who’s released two days earlier than planned. His adored wife Laura has died in a car crash. The plans they’d made for their lives after his return home are just dreams now. No chance of them becoming reality. Shadow Moon is bereft and dazed when he meets Mr. Wednesday on a plane ride back home and is offered a job. Moon has no idea he is about to embark on the trip of his life - one hell of a  dream - and I cannot wait.

There’s been one reference to Mr. Wednesday’s old god identity Odin by a leprechaun, Mad Sweeney. Sweeney is from Ireland where for 3,000 years he was guardian of standing stone. He was brought to the U.S. by a girl from Bantry Bay ... anyway ... Sweeney is quite the drinker and during his first meeting with Shadow Moon challenges the newly sprung ex con to a fist fight.  Wednesday dismissively tells Sweeney his new bodyguard (Shadow) doesn’t want to fight him. Sweeney calls Wednesday a “doomed old creature. A cold-blooded, heartless old tree-hanger.”  Odin had an insatiable need for knowledge - including the wisdom of the Fates, or Norns that decided the destiny of all using various methods - including symbols known as runes. He pays a demanded price, however, one of his eyes and then for nine days and nights Odin hangs upside down from a branch of the World Tree, known as Yggdrasil and the Tree of Knowledge. Yggsdrasil  grows in the Well of Urd  and holds the nine worlds in its branches – all nourished by its roots (as above, so below) … anyway, Odin learns spells - and more - that can heal or hurt. What a weapon. Knowledge is power. Kind of a long explanation for the “tree hanger” reference, I know. But you can see how such references can really grab a reader familiar with the lore …

Gaiman’s writing is so engaging and the plot fast-paced and intriguing. It’s already a hard book to put down so I expect to finish reading it over this coming weekend. Can’t wait. Check out the Kirkus Review: “A magical mystery tour through the mythologies of all cultures, a unique and moving love story—and another winner for the phenomenally gifted, consummately reader-friendly Gaiman.”

What books are other people reading? Meg Donaldson over at the Boothbay Harbor Memorial Library (BHML) says two books released two months ago, Louise Penny’s “Kingdom of the Blind” and Barbara Kingsolver’s “Unsheltered” have had huge waiting lists.

Been wanting to read one or both of those? There’s good news on the latter novel: “The Kingsolver novel is slowing down now, it had several hundred on the list, now that’s down to just 42.”

Helen Klein Ross’ review of the novel in the Wall Street Journal hints at its popularity. Wrote Ross, “I felt almost bereft closing the cover on this book… With a spellbinding narrative and its exquisitely accurate evocation of two eras, Barbara Kingsolver’s novel is itself a shelter of sorts. One doesn’t want to leave it.”

Other popular reads at the Harbor library are “Wolf Pack” by C.J. Box, The 18th Abduction” by James Patterson & Maxine Pietro. “American Agent” by Jacqueline Winspear, “Educated: A Memoir” by Tara Westove, “Becoming” by Michelle Obama, and “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens. For more info on BHML visit https://bbhlibrary.org or stop by 4 Oak St. and find your next read.

Over at the Southport Public Library, Librarian Nora Lally shared this list of the new and currently popular reads: fiction titles are “The Clock Maker's Daughter” by Kate Morton,  “The Lost Girls of Paris” by Pam Jenoff, “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens,  “The Widows” by Jess Montgomery,  “The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter” by Hazel Gaynor, and  “The 7 sister's series” by Lucinda Riley -(seven books in total non-fiction titles: “Lab Girl” by Hope Jahren,  “The Library Book”  by Susan Orleans, “Educated” by Tara Westover,  “The Billion Dollar Spy” by David Hoffman, and “Death of a Nation” by Dinesh D'Souza.

For more info about this island library, visit its Facebook page, Southport Public Library or stop by - it’s a popular place with the islanders - at 1032 Hendricks Hill Road.

The Wiscasset Public Library features 40 new titles on its website http://wiscasset.lib.me.us or stop in and peruse at 21 High St.

Designating a month every year as National Reading Month is great and all … but reading should be something we do every day. Reading takes us on adventures to new places, introduces us to interesting characters, stimulates our brains, inspires and educates us ... reading is our passport to, well, everything and everywhere.