Norse Mythology

norse mythologyTitle: Norse Mythology

Author: Neil Gaiman

Read harder Challenge: No

Star Review: ♥♥♥♥♥ /5

Why: First of all, I love Neil Gaiman.  I picked up this book because I love Neil Gaiman.  This is a slim book containing Norse mythology (as the title may suggest).  It is not new information and the stories contained within are not Gaiman’s stories.  So why did I read this, and why is it worthy of 5 stars?

First, Gaiman is uniquely positioned to write this story.  His extremely well-reviewed novel American Gods borrows heavily from Norse mythology.  I knew that he would treat the topic with respect, as he has shown a deep interest in it.  Additionally, Gaiman is in my opinion one of the best story tellers in the 21st century.  From adult novels like American Gods to children’s tales like Fortunately, the Milk, Gaiman has shown himself to be singularly adept at weaving a tale.  Norse myths deserve such tales to be told.  And finally, I love Norse mythology – my father, who I adore, has a tattoo of Odin on his bicep.  So, what else was to be done than devour this quick read?

This collection of short stories is peak Gaiman, with beautiful turns of phrase, simple syntax, and clever bits to smile at if you’re paying attention to what you’re reading.  I can’t recommend it enough for that reason, since any book of mythology has a penchant toward being dry as it is shoved full of details (sorry, Edith Hamilton’s Mythology, but it’s true), and Norse mythology itself has a tendency to end of a little bloody and violent, so some dry humor helps the medicine go down.

I will recommend this book to anyone and everyone.  I recommend it to you, without hesitation.

I’ll leave you with some Thoughts of Thor: “I’m not happy about any of this,” said Thor. “I’m going to kill somebody soon, just to relieve the tension. You’ll see.”

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Norse Mythology

The Princess Diarist

"The Princess Diarist" by Carrie Fisher.
“The Princess Diarist” by Carrie Fisher. philly.com

Title: The Princess Diarist

Author: Carrie Fisher

Read Harder Challenge: No

Star Review: ♥♥♥ /5

Why: I read this book before Carrie Fisher’s unfortunate passing, but during a Renaissance of excitement for her as Star Wars regained some of its popularity in recent years.  I am a Star Wars fan but not a fanatic, so I was interested in this book but with not a lot of real information about the period of time Fisher would be discussing.

Fisher describes the time she spent filming Star Wars, with lots of appearances and descriptions of people known well in the world – her mother, Harrison Ford, you know, just a few names we know.  She gives a run-down of her acting career before Star Wars.

I sought out this book having hear Carrie Fisher speak on podcasts like The Nerdist, but haven’t read anything from her.  I was glad to have listened to the audiobook, narrated by the author, and I thought the content was mildly interesting.  I gave it fewer stars than perhaps would be expected for two (interconnected) reasons: first, I was just not that interested in this time in her life (being a fan and not a fanatic), and two, I found her self-deprecating tone too much by the end.  Of course, I prefer self-deprecation over ego or over-confidence!  But I find the tone for a well-to-do white person can be hard to balance, and it wasn’t working for me by the end.

I am glad for the experience of this book but will probably only find myself recommending this one to folks who show interest Carrie Fisher’s life in detail, rather than as a moment in a cultural landscape.

The Princess Diarist