DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!

Neil Gaiman

Oct 28 2011

All Hallows Read

by Jimmy L

This Halloween, consider giving someone a scary book. That’s the whole idea behind All Hallows Read, a fun project that writer Neil Gaiman wishes will start a new yearly tradition. Watch Neil himself  as he explains the idea :

 

{ 0 comments }

Jul 22 2011

ShareReads: Stretching the Boundaries

by Dea Anne M

ShareReads appears on the DCPLive blog on Fridays. Each week, a different person will share a little about what they’re currently reading, and why they like or don’t like it. The heart of ShareReads will be responses from blog readers, and the window of opportunity here is wide. Feel free to respond and discuss the book or author being mentioned, ask or answer a question, or even take the conversation in a different direction: mention what you are currently reading, and how you feel about it. The point of ShareReads is to have an ongoing discussion about books and reading. Remember: posting a response also counts as an activity for the Summer Reading for Adults program.

One of my favorite literary characters is Maisie Dobbs, the entrancing sleuth/heroine of the eponymous series by Jacqueline Winspear. I recently finished the eighth book in the series A Lesson in Secrets and found it nearly impossible to put down. This has been my experience with every book in this wonderful series and part of the reason is that the books transcend their “genre niche.” A reader can experience the Maisie Dobbs books as satisfying mysteries, of course, but these books also work on a more “literary” level. Winspear’s depth of characterization along with her evocation of place and a subtly nuanced emotional tone elevate these books (in my opinion) to a different category of writing.

Are you interested in reading some “genre busting” fiction? Many readers regard China Miéville as an author whose writing provides a consistently high level of quality as well as a unique approach to a variety of genres. In particular, check out The City & the City, Mieville’s take on the hard-boiled detective story, and Perdido Street Station, an urban fantasy (although that capsule description doesn’t do this intricate book justice).

Another genre stretching novel that I have enjoyed and highly recommend is Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke, which skillfully blends the traditions of the British social comedy with folklore and fairy tales. I also found Michael Chabon’s interpretation of the noir detective novel, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, very interesting although maybe a bit over the top with the tough guy flourishes.

Some other authors widely considered genre-stretchers:

Do you like exploring fiction that stretches genre? What books have you particularly enjoyed?

{ 4 comments }

Dec 11 2009

Neil Gaiman on Audiobooks

by Jesse M

Coraline on audiobookRecently, award winning author Neil Gaiman hosted a segment on the National Public Radio program Morning Edition during which he talked about the past and future of the audiobook format. Among the subjects he addressed were whether authors should narrate their own audiobooks (appropriate for some, while others “should never be allowed in front of a microphone”), the various challenges of the recording process (including audiobook performers whose “loud stomach noises” are equal in volume to their voices), and the difference between audiobooks and traditional books.

The segment also includes brief interviews with author David Sedaris and audiobook performer Martin Jarvis. If you are interested in hearing more than the excerpts included in the piece, you can head over to Neil’s blog to listen to the full length interviews.

Of the four audiobooks authored by Gaiman available in the DCPL catalog, he has acted as his own narrator half of the time; both were books produced for younger readers (Coraline and The Graveyard Book). If you, like Neil, enjoy the sound of your own voice, you might enjoy doing some volunteer work for LibriVox, a website which provides free audiobooks from the public domain. Volunteers simply record themselves reading chapters of eligible books and then those recordings are uploaded and released online as free audiobooks (you can search their catalog of available titles here).

One final note: Gaiman will be in town speaking and then signing books at Agnes Scott College’s Presser Hall on December 14th. As the tickets were free, and of limited quantity, it is unlikely there are any available at this point, but I felt it worth mentioning nonetheless. Click here for more info.

{ 0 comments }

Sep 18 2009

Neil Gaiman’s Bookshelves

by Jesse M

dcpl-blog-image-neil-gaimanWhatever your taste in books, if you’ve spent much time in a library or bookstore over the past 20 years it’s likely you’ve at least heard of Neil Gaiman. A successful author in a variety of different genres (including science fiction, fantasy, and horror, as well as graphic novels, books for children, and screenplays for television and film), he has been the recipient of numerous awards, most notably the Nebula, Bram Stoker, and World Fantasy Awards, as well as the 2009 Newbery Medal for The Graveyard Book (which also won the Hugo for best book and Locus award for best YA novel). He is listed in the Dictionary of Literary Biography as one of the top ten living post-modern writers, and two of his books (Stardust and Coraline) have been adapted into major motion pictures (we carry both adaptations in the DCPL catalog, and they can be located here, and here, respectively).

The website Shelfari (a literary oriented social networking site which allows members to build a virtual bookshelf to display books they’ve read) recently posted an article on Neil Gaiman and his personal library. The idea was, as stated by the author of the piece, “you can learn a lot about someone by seeing what’s on his or her bookshelf…[so] we thought it would be fun to take a look at what’s on the bookshelves of some of our favorite authors.”

Mr. Gaiman’s home library is impressive, both in terms of quantity and quality. A perusal of his bookshelves reveals a man with an eclectic and varied taste, exactly what one would expect from such a talented and wide-ranging author.

If you are interested in learning more about Neil Gaiman, his website offers a wealth of information about his life, work, and current activities. You can also check out his author profile on Shelfari or follow him on Twitter. And for those who have never read anything by him but are looking for a good place to start, allow me to recommend a couple of my favorites:

dcpl-blog-image-sandman-thumbnailThe Sandman graphic novel series is, in a word, brilliant. It has been critically acclaimed, being one of very few comics to ever make it onto the NY Times bestseller list as well as have been selected as one of Entertainment Weekly’s “100 best reads from 1983 to 2008“.  Although DCPL doesn’t carry the entire series, we do carry the first collection of issues I read, entitled The Doll’s House, which is a fine place to start exploring the series, as well as its  follow up installments: Dream Country and Season of Mists.

dcpl-blog-image-american-gods-thumbnailAmerican Gods was awarded the Hugo and Nebula awards (among others) and tells the story of Shadow, an ex-con who learns upon his release from prison that both his wife and best friend died the previous day in a car accident, leaving him with no one to come home to. Offered a job as a bodyguard by a mysterious man named Wednesday, Shadow travels with him around the country, slowly learning of a weird and dangerous world he never knew existed, and the Gods, old and new, that inhabit it.

Check them both out. You won’t be disappointed.

{ 1 comment }

On Monday, the American Library Association gave the John Newbery Award for the most distinguished contribution to children’s literature to Neil Gaiman for The Graveyard Book.

I was pleasantly surprised by this year’s choice because the Newbery doesn’t often go to fantasies and because of the frequent tendency for Newbery books to be ‘good’ books, as in good-for-you. Even Mr. Gaiman seemed surprised, saying that “there are books that are best sellers and books that are winners.” Popularity is not a consideration for the Newbery award (and rightly so), but there’s been a lot of debate in the library world recently about the obscurity of the most recent winners.

As a child I resisted reading ‘good’ books, preferring escapism to character-building.  As an adult, I know that I missed out on some excellent stories the child-me would have loved. As a librarian,  I’m trying to get those excellent stories to children who are just as reluctant as I was to read a ‘good’ book.  So I’m happy that this year’s Newbery choice means the good and the popular are on the same page.

I always love looking at the Caldecott books and this year the award for the most distinguished picture book for children goes to The House in the Night, illustrated by Beth Krommes and written by Susan Marie Swanson.

The ALA makes lots of other awards as well, including the Odyssey Award for audiobooks.  One of this year’s Odyssey Honor nominees is Martina the Beautiful Cockroach: A Cuban Folktale, written and narrated by local author and DCPL favorite Carmen Agra Deedy. Congratulations to Ms. Deedy, Mr. Gaiman, Ms. Krommes and all the other winners and nominees!

{ 2 comments }