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Podcasts > Neil Gaiman Starter Book

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message 1: by Kristina (new)

Kristina | 579 comments So I'm embarrassed to say I have yet to read anything by Neil Gaiman. Tom's reaction to the new novel has convinced me I need to fix this. Would love a suggestion of which one to start with. I do have the one that came in the humble bundle, so I could do that-but being that it's my first-I'd like to know which everyone considers best.


message 2: by Rob, Roberator (new)

Rob (robzak) | 4727 comments Mod
I'm not well read in Gaiman. I read/liked American Gods though, which was a club pick at one point.


message 3: by D. Hunter (new)

D. Hunter Phillips (DigitalCulture) | 5 comments I know this might not help, but I prefer the Sandman graphic novels to any of his other work. The stories are fresh, quick, and amazing.


message 4: by terpkristin (new)

terpkristin | 3508 comments I guess it depends on your bent. If you like graphic novels (I'm not into them), I hear the Sandman books, starting with The Sandman, Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes, is a good place to start.

If you are familiar with and like Terry Pratchett's work, you might want to try Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, a book they co-wrote.

My first Gaiman book was Stardust, which was made into a movie (the details were changed up a bit for the movie..I like both for different reasons). I loved the book.

American Gods is also a great book. I listened to the 10-year anniversary edition read by a few different narrators. Some people strongly preferred the original reading by Guidall. But if you read that, you might feel compelled to read Anansi Boys. Oddly, I read Anansi Boys before American Gods. It still worked. :)

If you prefer something YA, you might start with Coraline. It's a little creepy but fun. And quick.


message 5: by Neil (new)

Neil | 165 comments I got started with Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch as I transitioned to Gaiman via Discworld.

I love American Gods which I have the extended 10 year anniversary version of. Other than that Neverwhere or Stardust would be my picks for shorter reads to get you going with Gaiman.


message 6: by Tim (last edited Oct 18, 2012 01:15PM) (new)

Tim | 1 comments How about

The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish? A fine fine book.

I like Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, but when I reread it, it felt very dated -- transported me straight back to the late '80s. And it was very clever, which is something my wife holds against Pratchett novels in general -- too self conscious in their cleverness.


message 7: by Michael (new)

Michael Penrow (MichaelPenrow) | 18 comments I recently decided the same thing. I am going with American Gods since it was a sword and laser pick. Also amazon has the 10th anniversary edition for $4 with enhanced audio and video for the Kindle (whatever that means).

http://www.amazon.com/American-Gods-A...


message 8: by Adriel (new)

Adriel (godsfairy) | 4 comments I agree with the others Gaiman is great, but his works are very different. I'm surprised no one has mentioned Neverwhere which is by far my favorite of his. It's not as heavy as American Gods or Good Omens, but heavier then Stardust.


message 9: by Leesa (new)

Leesa (leesalogic) | 472 comments I love his books. He's a very good short story teller so I collect his short story collections as he tends to read them himself.

I also liked Neverwhere, Stardust, American Gods, and I like his comics. Even his stories geared toward children are very entertaining.


message 10: by Andrew (new)

Andrew (andrewlinke) | 110 comments Neverwhere was my gateway into the world of Gaiman. It's so delightfully strange.

Anansi Boys is, yes, technically a sequel to or spinoff from American Gods, but it can be read independently and I also read it first.

I don't actually recommend starting with American Gods unless you like really long stories with lots of odd bits. Very odd bits. I really like the book, but it is strange.

Good Omens is hilarious.

My all time favorite Neil Gaiman story is, however, the introduction to his collection called Fragile Things. I can't describe the story here, because to describe it would be to tell it, which is the point of the story as well.


message 11: by Joseph (new)

Joseph I would also highly recommend The Graveyard Book, although its a "children's" book it is very very dark and hilarious to boot.

As others have said, depends what sort of thing you're going for really.

Good Omens might be a better primer perhaps, which is also one of the funniest books I've ever read. :)


message 12: by Nixi (new)

Nixi (competine) | 28 comments It's so hard to recommend with which Gaiman book to start since there are so many great ones. But I would say, start with American Gods. I think it's the best book to get to know Gaiman's world. It has all the elements he often uses in his other work. If you like this one, you will probably like all the others, if you don't, you probably won't.
I started with Sandman which left me mindblown, but if you're not a big fan of graphic novels, then rather don't start with it. You might get bored and give up, and it would be a shame..


message 13: by Matthew (new)

Matthew | 60 comments If you've never read anything by Neil Gaiman, definitely start with The Sandman. It's the finest example of a comic book in existence.


message 14: by John (Nevets) (new)

John (Nevets) Nevets (Nevets) | 829 comments With Halloween fast approaching I was surprised it took so long to mention The Graveyard Book. It may not be my favorite of his, but I do think it is a good starter book. Although a bit of a homage to The Jungle Book, it is written in Neil's voice, and has both his sense of dry(and a bit dark)humor, and his great character development. It also is relatively short compared to his "adult" novels.

For me what is most impressive about NG is not just his skill as a novelist, but that he has been able to tackle so many different writing tasks successfully. He has one awards from screenplays, to, comics, to poetry( not sure he has one awards for this, but he is good at it), to non-fiction, as well as novels. Even though I'm not a writer, hearing him speak on the craft of writing in it's various forms is also quite enjoyable.


message 15: by Paul (new)

Paul I would say Neverwhere. It was the first Neil Gaiman book i read and is still my favourite. I am not as much of a fan of American Gods as some are and probably wouldn't recommend that as a start.


message 16: by Celine (new)

Celine | 36 comments The Graveyard Book was my first Gaiman book, and it's still pretty high up on my list. American Gods, as others have said, is very very good, but I don't think it's really one to start with. It's really heavy, and it can be difficult to get through sometimes. I usually recommend Good Omens to Discworld fans because it's Pratchett-like more than it is Gaiman-like, I find. The Sandman is also a good starting point, although brace yourself for major grossness in the first volume.


message 17: by Mike (new)

Mike (mikespencer) | 60 comments I would say American Gods. It's one of my favorite novels.


message 18: by Sheldon (last edited Oct 26, 2012 12:44PM) (new)

Sheldon | 7 comments Oddly, I'm not a fan of "Good Omens." For some reason the Terry Pratchett glib punny-ness and Gaiman's undercurrent for irony didn't mesh well for me.

"Neverwhere" is a good read, too. Nevertheless, I would suggest you jump right in with "American Gods." I think for Gaiman this book gelled much of his past graphic novel and other writings into a very cohesive, well-crafted read.


message 19: by Derek (new)

Derek Knox (snokat) | 274 comments Start with Stardust. It's a beautifully written, traditional fantasy. Then move on to Neverwhere, Coraline, etc. Gaiman is one of those authors that always write a different book from his previous ones. You need to work your way through his back catalog before tackling something like American Gods.


message 20: by Anne (new)

Anne Schüßler (anneschuessler) | 705 comments As has been said his books are very different, so it's hard to decide on one.

I started with Coraline and I think it makes a quick and easy first Gaiman read. But it might be a bit too short, actually and of course it's YA.

My favorite Gaiman book still is "Neverwhere", which I would recommend as a starter book. It's a bit more easily accessible than American Gods and Anansi Boys but still has a lot of depth.

You could also choose his short stories.

In the end, about every Neil Gaiman book is a good one to start it, so what I would recommend most of all is not putting it off any longer and just jumping right in.


message 21: by Joey (new)

Joey Cruz (NeverWanderer) | 63 comments Add my voice to the Neverwhere chorus. It was the first thing I ever read from him and remains my favorite book of all time to this day. Not as heady or ambitious as American Gods, but its cleverness and endearing characters win out.


message 22: by Derek (new)

Derek Knox (snokat) | 274 comments Joey wrote: "Add my voice to the Neverwhere chorus. It was the first thing I ever read from him and remains my favorite book of all time to this day. Not as heady or ambitious as American Gods, but its cleverne..."

The BBC miniseries was a good adaptation too.


message 23: by Philip (new)

Philip (heard03) | 381 comments Just saw this morning his free short(very short-12 min) story on Audible. Won't take much to listen to it today at work.

http://bit.ly/VD3hjU


message 24: by terpkristin (new)

terpkristin | 3508 comments There are separate links for the UK and Germany. Each download donates $1 to DonorsChoose.org in the US. 50p in the UK is donated to Booktrust.

Germany link http://j.mp/Rseoxx
US link http://j.mp/Rsenda
UK link http://j.mp/UcYdl9

Links come from Neil Gaiman's Twitter posts.


message 25: by Meghan (new)

Meghan (Bobette) | 30 comments Snokat wrote: "The BBC miniseries was a good adaptation too"

I believe he actually wrote the miniseries first then adapted it to a novel http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neverwhere


message 26: by Rasnac (new)

Rasnac | 336 comments He first wrote Neverwhere as the TV miniseries, then adapted into a graphic novel, then adapted into a novel. I read all, and I think BBC miniseries is the best version of the story; especially the archnemesis (which I will not spoil here) is very very very creepy.

I started reading Gaiman with The Sandman series; I still think it is his masterpiece. For me, Gaiman will always be first and foremost a comic book writer. His unique style can best be realized in the comic book medium, because thast is where he first perfected his craft. I would recommend a beginner to read all of his comics work first, then move to his novels, short stories, poems etc.


message 27: by David (new)

David Merrill | 38 comments I would definitely start with the first Sandman graphic novel. I started reading Sandman pretty early on when it was only in comic book form, so I've been a Gaiman fan nearly from the beginning. I've read most of his novels. In my opinion none have ever measured up to my expectations after reading all 75 issues of Sandman. Sandman was groundbreaking work in comic books and Gaiman won a controversial World Fantasy award for short story with one of the Sandman story arcs. People were upset about this since technically, it's a graphic novel, not a short story, so they changed the rules for the short story award so it can't happen again. Even if you aren't into comic books, I would try it.

That said, I liked Neverwhere, Coraline and The Graveyard Book. American Gods and Anansi Boys were OK. Stardust I liked better than those two, but not as much as the first 3 I named.


message 28: by Nik (new)

Nik Osmancevic | 3 comments I love Neil Gaiman. My favorite book of his is deffinetly The Graveyard Book and I'm surised nobody else mentioned it.


message 29: by Rob, Roberator (new)

Rob (robzak) | 4727 comments Mod
Rasnac wrote: "He first wrote Neverwhere as the TV miniseries, then adapted into a graphic novel, then adapted into a novel. I read all, and I think BBC miniseries is the best version of the story; especially the archnemesis (which I will not spoil here) is very very very creepy."

I decided to get it from Netflix based on your comments. It's 2 discs, so I've only seen the first 3 episodes so far. It looks VERY dated, but it's interesting so far (I haven't read the book/graphic novel).

I'll be curious to see how it ends up. I stopped with them (view spoiler)


message 30: by Rick (new)

Rick | 1866 comments Presuming you don't want to start with the graphic novels, I'll echo the recommendations above for Neverwhere as a starting place. Neil has several excellent books out (understatement of the day...) so another book might be best for any particular person, but Neverwhere is the one of his that I've read about which I can say "If you really don't like this, you're unlikely to like his other works."

American Gods is great as is Anansi Boys but they're odd and you need to like the mythological landscape in them. Good Omens is hilarious, but it's also partly Pratchett and so a little different that Gaiman's other stuff.


message 31: by Carter (new)

Carter McNeese (cm1165) | 30 comments I started with American Gods and loved it.

But then I like that sort of thing. In fact I was more interested in reading American Gods than I was in reading Gaiman. It got me to read other stuff.


message 32: by Joey (new)

Joey Cruz (NeverWanderer) | 63 comments Rasnac wrote: "He first wrote Neverwhere as the TV miniseries, then adapted into a graphic novel, then adapted into a novel. I read all, and I think BBC miniseries is the best version of the story; especially the archnemesis (which I will not spoil here) is very very very creepy. "

Actually, the novel (1996) came before the graphic novel (2005), but yeah, I really enjoyed the TV series. It's very BBC looking, but a lot of fun. Plus, it was a total surprise to receive the box set as a x-mas gift when I didn't even know it existed!

I've stayed away from the comic just because the character designs are so drastically different from what I imagined (and know from the BBC series), and are just kind of unappealing to me. I'm sure it's well done, I just kind of treasure the images in my head.


message 33: by Joshua (new)

Joshua | 31 comments Neverwhere is a great read but I would suggest Stardust as a entry. It is different from the movie and lots of fun. I would definitely save American Gods for a second or third book.


message 34: by Hunter_rose (new)

Hunter_rose | 6 comments But if you read that, you might feel compelled to read Anansi Boys. Oddly, I read Anansi Boys before American Gods. It still worked. :)

"Anansi Boys" works fine as a stand alone book. Granted Mr. Nancy is a character in "American Gods" but in no way does the story in "American Gods" impact on the story in "Anansi Boys".


message 35: by Hunter_rose (last edited Nov 11, 2012 11:53PM) (new)

Hunter_rose | 6 comments I would second the recommendation to read one of his short story collections first (either "Smoke and Mirrors" or "Fragile Things"). Both collections give you a good sense of Gaiman's talent and ability and showcase his ability to tell an interesting and engaging story. Plus the short stories will make you crave more of his work.

In regards to "American Gods" I would however recommend either reading some or all of the Sandman Graphic Novels. There are themes introduced in the Sandman Graphic Novels that make "American Gods" much more enjoyable on multiple levels.


message 36: by Caedy (new)

Caedy  Eries (karida) | 21 comments I need to read more Gaiman, seriously.

I've read The Graveyard Book already (read it with my roommate's daughter some time ago) love it. I've also Coraline and I loved it as well. The movie adaptation was pretty spot on from the book.

I've got American Gods on my TBR list and may track it down from the library (after I get through the rest of NaNoWriMo and my current stack of books).

There are so many good ones by him that I need to delve into more. I am saddened that I missed getting his short story that he'd released for Halloween.


message 37: by Victor Hugo (new)

Victor Hugo Kebbe (vhkebbe) | 33 comments Well, as almost everyone is saying, Gaiman is so versatile in his works that is really tough to suggest one or two books that show his best qualities as writer... But I think that despite being a huge comic book series, you should try Sandman first... if you don't want to read all issues, you can read Doll's House or Worlds' End (in this one you don't have to know all the lore).


message 38: by Celine (new)

Celine | 36 comments The tricky thing about Sandman is that the first volume can get pretty gory and horror-y, which can turn people off, but it's difficult to skip the first volume because it kind of sets the stage and everything.


message 39: by Victor Hugo (new)

Victor Hugo Kebbe (vhkebbe) | 33 comments Yeah, I totally agree with you, Celine. In my opinion, Preludes & Nocturnes isn't the best Sandman "arch", because it works as the first season of any tv series: everyone is knowing the main characters, there are lots of loose ends and plots not explored in the future episodes, etc... This first novel was created to convince Vertigo that Gaiman was creating something awesome and somehow connected with previous Vertigo publications such as Hellblazer, etc... but... to be honest, it wasn't his best.


message 40: by Celine (new)

Celine | 36 comments I remember that my school book club read the first volume a couple years ago (I had already read the series by then), and the "24 Hours" bit in the diner really creeped everyone out. I had to work hard to convince them to read the rest of the series.


message 41: by Robert (new)

Robert Nasuti (rlnasuti) | 31 comments I love "American Gods", but it's a heavy one for a first. I also wouldn't recommend "Sandman" because the entire series is ~200 bucks if you want the full story and acquire it legally...

Personally, Good Omens is my favorite and I've read it 4 or 5 times. It has me laughing out loud to the point of tearing up every time I read it. I'd also recommend "Stardust" as a Neil Gaiman starter book - it's shorter but demonstrates really well what he's capable of in terms of creativity. Forget the movie if you've seen it because it has about as much in common with the book as the "Hitchhiker's Guide" books & movie.


message 42: by Mitch (new)

Mitch | 16 comments Stardust is a great first Gaiman book. It's short and oh-so-sweet.

Good Omens is decent, but is only about 40% Gaiman; Pratchett really took the reins on that one. American Gods is fantastic, but like others have noted, it's really heavy for a first book (and should be read before Anansi Boys). And Neverwhere is an adaptation of a television show. 'nuff said, it think.


message 43: by Scott (new)

Scott Allen | 25 comments I would recommend Neverwhere it is my favorite Gaiman.


message 44: by Kamil (new)

Kamil | 372 comments As many said stardust is a good starter that shows gaiman's style in all it's class. (view spoiler)


message 45: by Nick (new)

Nick Gilbert | 6 comments I would strongly recommend Neverwhere. It has an easy to follow plot and a simple premise, but there are surprising layers of depth and complexity upon a second reading. It gives a relatively good idea of what you're in for with Gaiman: quirky, interesting, and uncanny characters and places, and the occasional deeply creepy and disturbing moments.


message 46: by Matthew (new)

Matthew | 3 comments I would definitely read the Sandman Graphic Novels. The first two volumes he is still looking for his voice. It tends to read more like a traditional comic book. In the third volume is where it all came together for me when he wrote a story called "A Dream of a Thousand Cats", and then followed with a story about Shakespeare and his son called "A Midnight Summers Dream". Those 2 stories really pulled me into the universe and the latter won a World Fantasy Award. I could keep going on it's merits, but I guess my point is if not today then read it sometime soon.


message 47: by Rick (new)

Rick | 1866 comments As the above shows, there are many ways to approach Gaiman's body of work. I'd break it down like this:

INto graphic novels? Sandman.
Urban/contemporary fantasy fan? American Gods or Anansi Boys
Pure fantasy with a touch of whimsy and fairy tale? Stardust or Coraline.
Person slips into a world fantasy? Neverwhere.

Those are some ways to approach him. Not every way will work for every reader.


message 48: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn Handel | 126 comments Adriel wrote: "I agree with the others Gaiman is great, but his works are very different. I'm surprised no one has mentioned Neverwhere which is by far my favorite of his. It's not as heavy as American Gods or Go..."

Neverwhere is one of my favorite books of all time. :)

As a side note though I did visit the House on the Rock because of American Gods. And it was AWESOME.


message 49: by Timothy (new)

Timothy Pecoraro | 226 comments Most of you listed some great stuff. I would have probably said Neverwhere as that was the book I started on. But hey I can definitely see American Gods as a good starting point as well.


message 50: by Kristina (new)

Kristina | 579 comments Went ahead and decided to give American Gods a try. About half way now. Enjoying it, but not loving it. Right now it's about 3 stars for me, though with half the book to go-I'm not committing to that yet!


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Books mentioned in this topic

American Gods (other topics)
Preludes & Nocturnes (other topics)
Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (other topics)
Stardust (other topics)
Anansi Boys (other topics)
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