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5 Books to Read if You Loved Watching ‘American Gods’

By / May 7, 2017 / no comments

Mythology is a rich place to draw on as a writer of fantasy, especially those of the ancient world, where there are not nearly as many living worshipers to offend.

These stories are already larger than live and inside their own mythos, to take them and add them to the melodrama that is real life and the modern world is a risky endeavor to be sure, but award-winning and bestselling author Neil Gaiman is not afraid of taking risks. Or, anyway, if he is, he doesn’t let it stop him.

Recently, one of his more famous works, that of a man who takes is caught in the middle of a battle between the very real gods of the old world with the young gods of modern things such as the internet and television has been adapted for the premium network Starz.

While the series goes on, here are five books that have that similar feel to read between episodes. This, of course, doesn’t count reading the source material, American Gods and the connected, though not a sequel, novel Anansi Boys, which I can’t not mention.

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Recently published, this tome of collected stories of the gods of the people we call the Vikings, Thor, Odin, Loki, and all the rest, taken and told in the voice of the author of the source material.

Not a lot of these stories survive to this day, but what has, makes for amazing reading for all ages. The only nonfiction on this list, it may become a definitive telling of these stories in years to come.

 

The Wicked + The Divine by Kieron Gillen (Author), Jamie Mckelvie (Artist)

What if, every ninety years, twelve gods are reborn into the bodies of youths, who will be treated as rock stars, with all the fame and love that comes with all that. Which gods that are reborn, and which people they will be reborn into are random.

They will be worshiped, and loved, and two years later, they will be dead. This is the premise of this ongoing and critically acclaimed Image comic series.

Preacher by Garth ennis & Steve Dillon

Also a new television show, on cable station AMC, Preacher follows Jesse Custer, a priest given the power of ‘the Word of God’ after a supernatural being called Genesis fused with his soul.

When he uses this ability, anyone who can hear and understand him must obey, be they human or angel.

Dealing with a heavenly assassin, a super secret cabal, and a derelict capital-G God to name a few, Custer, his ex, a vampire, and their disfigured and horribly named buddy travel around America, in this infamous comic that has ended in 2000 and has been collected into six hardcover or trade paperback editions.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan

All of these fifteen children’s books, over four series, have the same basic premise at their hearts, one that it shares American Gods, that the gods of ancient civilizations are real and still exist. Moreover, they move with the center of western society, wherever that may be. Poseidon, Loki, Horus, or Isis, they interact with and bestow powers and abilities onto the children who are the main characters of their series. But that isn’t the only reason why these books are on the list.

These are some of the most diverse books that I have read in my entire life. Percy Jackson himself is dyslectic, the siblings at the center of The Kane Chronicles are multiracial; and Magnus Chase includes a formerly homeless protagonist, a Muslim valkyrie, a deaf elf, and a genderfluid demigod(des) to name a few.

Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut

The very nature of reality is something that American Gods plays with often, what is real, and what isn’t, and what is real because enough people believe or once believed that it is real. This is something that Breakfast of Champions brings to the center of the novel.

A mentally unstable man receives a novel from an unknown science fiction pulp novelist, and believes it to be the word of god, and goes on a rampage. Vonnegut himself appears as the narrator and creator of the novel, often explaining why things are as they are and giving the story as sort of meta Russian nesting doll story within a story feel.

American Gods premiered on Starz on Sunday, April 30th, 2017.

Do you agree with my list, or did I leave off your favorite novel? What would your list be? Tell me what it is, and why, in the comments below.

About the author

David Castro

David Castro is co-editor and co-founder of Babbling of the Irrational, a submission based literary blog. Writer, Nerd, other single word descriptions. Flushing, New York

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