Monday 21 March 2016

Rereadathon the Third: Part One - Monday 21st - Friday 25th March

It's here! I always enjoy taking time out to reread and rediscover some of my old favourite books, but I also have piles and piles of NEW books I'm always trying to keep on top of. So last year the fabulous Bex came up with the Rereadathon: a week or two for us to focus on just enjoying the company of these old friends, guilt-free.

The Pile:

Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
The Charioteer by Mary Renault
Is It Just Me? by Miranda Hart
Through the Woods by Emily Carroll


I've been trying to get into a steady routine on my days off, to start the day with an hour and a half writing session straight after breakfast. I'd been finding that I'd intend to read a little when I woke, and then "just one more chapter" would kick in and I'd get nothing productive done at all, being so caught up in the book world that I'd struggle to switch over to my own story. Today, in fact, a designated readathon day, the opposite happened; it's been a pretty good writing session, but I didn't want to stop. But stop I must, as my best friend is coming over this evening for our The Stand book club (which really needs a proper book club name, and maybe badges too!) and I had to tidy up, make the place presentable, and of course buy wine. I've got American Gods lined up to kick off the rereadathon; the news that's been trickling out onto the internet about the casting for the TV adaptation has made me really keen to rediscover Shadow's story, and all the little stories that make up Gaiman's masterpiece.

9.15: Judith came over for our two-person book group to discuss the first part of The Stand (our thoughts will no doubt go up here later in the week.) Much wine and ice cream were consumed, as is often the way with book clubs. I debated the wisdom of reading a Neil Gaiman and a Stephen King at the same time, as they are quite similar in tone and genre. But I wasn't going to pass over this long-awaited reread, and I'll just hope I don't get them too muddled in my mind over the next few days!

American Gods is one of those books where I discover new things on every reread, and this time I was struck by a deeper level of meaning to one of Mr Wednesday's comments early on than the meaning Shadow takes from it. (Spoilerish speculation.) When Wednesday says somewhat sadly, of Laura's death, "If it could have but have been any other way," is he speaking about how Laura died, or that she had to die at all. How much of the plot is Wednesday responsible for? What lengths did he have to go to in order to get Shadow on that plane, at that time, and free of all ties, so that he could travel with Wednesday?

Monday Stats: 

Pages read: 162
Books read from: American Gods
Books finished: 0
Favourite reread so far: American Gods
On the menu: Hot cross buns, Graze nut snack, bit of accidentally broken Easter egg.

Tuesday and Wednesday

I've been at work the last two days, so not so much time for rereading, and yesterday when I came home I spent a lot of time clicking through websites and social media, just wasting time. So it was mid-evening before I really got settled back into American Gods, which might explain why I got so very emotional about the cover design. These are the editions of Neil's books which I've got (at least, his first four novels for adults and two story collections) and the black covers, with the scratchy lettering and the slightly grungy sort of style, seem to me to give a better representation of the contents.

In the last few years, Headline brought out a new set of covers, in different colours, and they're very nice, but I don't like them half as much. They seem too polished and mass-market. Where is the edginess, the cult appeal? Sure, everyone has opinions on cover redesigns, and usually you like the ones you read first. Oddly, I seem to have formed such a strong attachment to the black covers that it stretches back in time to years before I even read Neil Gaiman! I must have looked at those books dozens of times over the years; they were always there in the sci-fi and fantasy sections of the bookshops; I knew of Neil because of co-writing Good Omens with Terry Pratchett, but although different university friends recommended Neverwhere and Sandman and Stardust, I didn't read any of them for years. And yet I still see these books on my shelves and am taken back to my student days, because - had I but known it - these were the books I was searching for, with their odd mixture of the gothic, and myth, and dark fairytale, and a cracking great yarn. They remind me of finding my place for the first time, among the arts students and the misfits, finding the dividing line between the cool misfits and the nerds was not this great chasm after all, but just a tiny scratch, and that I felt at home among my own people. And when I read Neverwhere for the first time, five years after it was first recommended to me, it reinforced that feeling that I was coming home. The impact of reading Neil's books reverberated backwards through time, to leave an impression on my memories even from a time before I'd read them.

So yes, a cover is a cover, and you can't judge a book by it. But the old style means a lot to me.

But anyway, about the story. I'm at about the midway point, where Shadow spends some time living at a lovely little town called Lakeside. It's a good town. Shadow can be sure of this, because everyone he meets tells him so. (If only it weren't for the good town's dark secret.) And this is one of my favourite parts of the book. The main plot is on hold for a while - or would be if Mr Wednesday didn't keep whisking Shadow off to meet different associates - and we spend a bit of quiet time with friendly neighbours, good food, an oasis in the middle of the chaos surrounding the old gods and the new. It won't last long, though...

Tuesday stats:

Books read from: American Gods - Neil Gaiman
Pages read: 120
Books finished this week: 0
Favourite reread so far: American Gods
On the menu: bits of Easter egg, apple

Wednesday stats:

Books read from: American Gods - Neil Gaiman
Pages read: 109 so far
Books finished this week: 0
Favourite reread so far: American Gods
On the menu: Peach and passionfruit cheesecake Graze snack, orange, easter egg, gingerbread biscuit

Thursday and Friday

Thursday was another working day for me, and then afterwards I met up with my sister, who is on the Island for the bank holiday weekend, and went in search of the many weird and wonderful flavours of hot cross buns on offer at Marks and Spencer. I watched a bit of Life on Mars with her in the evening, and spent ages chatting, so only read a small amount of American Gods that day. Today (Good Friday) really felt like a spring bank holiday - the only day of this weekend, I understand, in which we'll be having decent weather, so I took my book out and read it in the park, enjoying the sunshine. Although it's expected to rain from tomorrow, I must remember that today, it felt like spring.

I've read American Gods three or four times now, and the first half I remember quite vividly, but I only had a vague recollection of the final showdown, the grand denouement, so I got to piece together all over again what was really going on in Wednesday's plans. I think it makes a little bit more sense with every reading. (My speculation from the other day was referred to later on in the text, and yet I'd never picked up on its significance before.)

This post is getting a bit long, now, so I'll start a new one for my next rereads. I'm off to a fiftieth birthday party this evening, so I doubt I'll get very much reading done. Anne of Green Gables next, I think, or perhaps I'll whizz through Through the Woods tonight (a quick read) and start Anne tomorrow.

Thursday stats:

Books read from: American Gods - Neil Gaiman
Pages read: 48
Books finished this week: 0
Favourite reread so far: American Gods
On the menu: Galaxy Caramel egg, caramel shortbread, the aroma of fresh-baked hot cross buns

Friday stats:

Books read from: American Gods - Neil Gaiman
Through the Woods - Emily Carroll
Pages read: 265
Books finished this week: 1
Favourite reread so far: American Gods
On the menu: steak and cheese sandwich from Subway, Graze herby bread basket snack, bits of Easter egg.


  1. Ohhhh, I should have put some Terry Pratchett on my list! They're always good for a reread!

    Having said that, I do tend to reread two or three every year, so maybe they're not much of a priority after all :)

    I've never read American Gods, but I keep meaning to. Maybe I'll finally get round to it this year!

    1. Terry Pratchett is one of my go-to comfort reads, and I think there are only two or three of the Discworld series I've never read (but I kind of don't want to read the last couple because they ARE the last couple, and also because I don't think I've left the best to last.) Was talking with my dad about favourites and least favourites, and we had quite a strong difference of opinion on Monstrous Regiment. He had it as his least favourite but it's quite high up for me, and so back onto the pile it went!

      American Gods is quite a divisive book, I think. I like it, but it took me a couple of readings to really appreciate it. Some people say it's Gaiman's epic, while others who like his work generally didn't get on with it at all. Still, I'll be interested to see what you make of it when you get around to it.

  2. 'Guilt-free' is the perfect way of describing the appeal of a re-readathon, I think. It's so nice just to browse through my favourites shelf without the kind of mental noise of the rest of 'em clamouring in my head, haha. Ten days of glorious nostalgia and comforting familiarity. :)

    Hope you enjoyed the book clubbing and the wine - and the reading, obviously - and I will NATURALLY be stalking you for the rest of the rereadathon!

    1. Ten days is a good length for a readathon, I think - enough time to read a few books at a leisurely pace, not having to try to read a book a day, or whatever, which usually starts well but ends with me feeling a bit burnt out, especially if I'm working as well. Planning to put my laptop away shortly and spend the rest of the night reading.

    2. So, I juuuust realised that you've been updating here since Monday, oops. I was wondering where you'd gone! :)

      I really liked those original Gaiman covers as well, though I quite like the redesigns too. Neverwhere's particularly nice, I think because of the gold colour, but some of the other new ones are a bit bland. I don't have as much invested in him yet though, so maybe I'll start to veer strongly one way or the other as I read more of his books! (That does tend to be my way...)

      I've been busier than expected so far this week - but hopefully once Mum's home and my grandmother's birthday meal is over on Saturday I'll be able to have a couple of really good relaxing nose-in-book days before the rereadathon is over! I still haven't hit my stride I don't think, and it's annoying me. >:(

    3. Yes, although I'll start a new post from tomorrow. This one's getting rather long.

      The redesigns are fine, but I definitely think the black covers represent Gaiman better. You never see him wearing colours! I'm off to a birthday party now too. Working tomorrow but got the rest of the long weekend off, woohoo!

    4. Haha, that's true - black is most definitely his colour! I wish I'd seen the weather forecast earlier, I didn't realise today was IT for the good weather. I did have an hour out with Leo and my book, but I'd have made an effort to get outside earlier if I'd known the rain was arriving tomorrow. Oh well! Grandparental birthday dinner tomorrow, my mum gets home in the afternoon, and then it's Easter Sunday - which means reading time and OPENING MY EASTER EGG YESSSS! :)

  3. Given the time in which the rereadathon is being held, I predict a lot of easter eggs beings consumed here and there!!

    I hope you're enjoying re-reading!!


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