100 Books in a Year: Postcards from an American God on the Edge of Mars

100 books in a year reading challenge summer marathon books novels september 2015 2016

So, I was talking to my English teacher a while ago (read: she was talking to the class, and I was there) and she mentioned that every year she tries to read one hundred books. This started because of a competition with another girl a few years ago. (The girl won.) I, in my infinite arrogance, decided that I could probably make a decent stab at that if I put my mind to it.

And thus, I shall. From the 12th September 2015 to the 12th September 2016, I intend to read 100 books. Just to make it a little harder on myself, though, they have to be books I’ve never read before.

#8 – American Gods – Neil Gaiman – 5/5

This was the book where I really started to understand the acclaim that Neil Gaiman gets. Obviously, he’s an author who was on my radar; he’s written one brilliant Doctor Who episode, and one reasonable one, and I quite enjoyed Stardust (but I preferred the movie, admittedly), however I’d never quite seen where the bulk of his reputation came from.

And now I do. I totally get it – Neil Gaiman is a fantastic author. American Gods is a very well written book; it’s got a whole host of interesting and compelling characters, and it’s written in such a way that we really get to take the time to get to know the different characters. I’d almost describe it as a meandering style, actually; it’s a fairly slowly paced book, but it uses that pace remarkably well.

I mean, it’s one of those books that’s difficult to talk about in short form; I sort of want to just bullet point stand out moments, but that would very quickly turn into a transcript of the book itself. (Even more so considering I was reading an expanded tenth anniversary edition!) Certainly, something that stood out to me was the twist ending, which I shan’t ruin, but I think it can be considered amongst the more effective twists of this nature, ever. (Yes, it’s hyperbole, but making exaggerated statements is part of the fun of running a blog. Plus, it really is that good.)

#9 – The Martian – Andy Weir – 5/5

Next up was Andy Weir’s The Martian, which I was drawn to because the film looked good, but I never got around to seeing it. Since finishing the book, though, I found out that Andy Weir writes Doctor Who fanfiction, and also wrote rather wonderful short story called The Egg, which you’ll probably have read before, even if you don’t recognise the title. So, you know, definitely an author I’m likely to be interested in.

The Martian has a really excellent, distinct voice to it; large swaths of the book are in a first person perspective, written as log entries by Mark Watney, the astronaut stuck on Mars. Andy Weir infused the character with a certain sarcastic, irreverent wit, which makes the book really enjoyable to read. Often there’s a lot of technical jargon – which I respect a lot, because it draws a veneer of realism over the plot, and really adds to the tone of the novel, but it’d be a lot less interesting if it wasn’t being relayed by such a well drawn protagonist. So, that’s handled very well, in essence.

It’s actually quite tense in places, which is accentuated by the switches between Mark Watney’s log entries, and the third person descriptions of events on Earth with NASA trying to save him. Ultimately, though, what I was most fond of was the closing paragraph, which put forward a really hopeful view of humanity. It felt fitting, and I liked it a lot. (Matt Damon narrates it over the trailer for the movie, as it happens.)

 #10 – Postcards from the Edge – Carrie Fisher – 4/5

I found out recently that Carrie Fisher had OD’d on cocaine while they were filming the Hoth scenes for The Empire Strikes Back. Then I found out she wrote a semi autobiographical book about her experiences, called Postcards from the Edge. So I figured I’d give it a read. (They also made a film of the book starring Meryl Streep, but that’s not exactly pertinent to the matter at hand.)

I’m glad I read this book in the end. It’s very good, and it’s also very honest; there’s a clear sense that Carrie Fisher isn’t holding anything back here, not at all. Throughout the book, there’s a series of different perspectives and stylistic presentations – it’s divided into four sections, and each one is different from the last. It’s all very cleverly done, and you come away from it with a much greater understanding of addiction and recovery (or, at least, of how that process went for Carrie Fisher.)

Certainly, I’d recommend it – it’s a cleverly presented, well-told story, that has some genuinely impactful themes and ideas within it.

Books Read: 10
Days since start: 98
Days until finish: 266
Currently reading: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams

Click here to see my progress reports and updates on this whole reading malarkey. Have any suggestions for books I should read? Get in touch!

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