Mythos

MythosI am a big fan of all kinds of mythology. I finally got around to reading Mythos which is Stephen Fry’s retelling of the Greek myths. Yes, Stephen Fry the comedian and actor. He even read/performs the audiobook, roughly 15 hours in length, which is how I made my way through this book. Though the overall story tells of a history of the world, it is a collection of smaller stories which makes it is easy to find stopping points or pick up without getting lost even when many stories build upon or reference earlier ones. I really enjoyed listening to Fry tell these stories and recommend the audiobook version though any version will prove entertaining and enlightening.

One thing I really enjoyed about Fry’s retellings was his method of showing how each story influenced the world we live in. He does so primarily by telling how certain words derived from or retain connections to the myths. You can certainly tell that he, perhaps with some assistance, conducted thorough research into these myths and enjoyed not only telling the stories but showing how they continue on.

It is commonly known that many of the Greek myths, or rather the problems at their center, stem from Zeus’s inability to keep it in his pants. This is of course true, but there is a lot more to the myths and there was much from this volume that was new to me. There were several stories I had not heard before and many characters I had known about but did not fully know their backgrounds or origins. For example, I knew the standard interpretation or general reference to Sisyphus, but I knew practically nothing else about him. Now I do and I feel much better about it for some reason. The same goes for many others including those who came before the more common Greek gods. I knew of Chronos and his relation to Zeus but I did not know his origin or those who existed before him. I did not recall how humans came to be via Greek myth but now I know that too. Thank you Prometheus.

There is so much depth and richness (both fascinating and horrifying) to the Greek myths and they greatly influenced, and continue to influence, much of the world. They are arguably the most well-known of the world mythologies and many stories today are influenced or reference them. There are of course those that directly relate to or incorporate the Greek gods such as the Percy Jackson series (that I have yet to look into), but there are many that are more subtly influenced by these myths. Fry has published additional myth-related books and I may eventually read, or listen, to them.

If you are a fan of mythology, history, or just interesting stories, then this is a book for you.

Happy Reading.

Fall Reading Lineup

Fall is here and I am wrapping up my final few classes which means I (should) have more time for some reading. My last post showing my intended upcoming reads was August and I am still working through one of them, the Sandman comic series, which I took a hiatus on reading once my current classes began. I am roughly halfway through the 3 volume omnibus set and will certainly finish the series by the end of the year. That being said, here are a few others I hope to read in the next few months.

The Foundation Trilogy Book CoverI am current reading The Foundation trilogy by Isaac Asimov. I just finished the first book and hope to finish up the next two in the next few weeks. I was prompted to start this series due to the premiere of the television adaptation though it may be some time before I actual watch the series. I am definitely intrigued by the story and look forward to seeing how it all wraps up. The structure is a bit lacking and characters are short-lived/lack depth but this is likely due to the story spanning 1,000 years.

Coraline Book CoverA smaller book I’ve been meaning to read is Coraline by Neil Gaiman. Since we are now entering spooky season, it is prime time I finally read it. I’ll likely read this one after I finish The Foundation. I may watch the film as well once I read the book. I always hear good things about this story.

The Graveyard Book CoverAnother Neil Gaiman book I might finally read, since it was bought alongside Coraline and corresponds to the spooky season, is The Graveyard Book which I also hear great things about. These two came in a three-pack of Gaiman’s books as illustrated by Chris Riddell. The third is Unfortunately, The Milk which I may read because it is short and came alongside these other two. We will see.

Cloud Cuckoo Land book coverThough I may wait until after the books above, I am a bit excited to read Anthony Doerr’s new book Cloud Cuckoo Land which I picked up recently because my book purchasing habits way outperform my reading habits due to time constraints. Regardless, I loved Doerr’s previous novel All The Light We Cannot See which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. It was my first, and so far only, work by Doerr I’ve read so I’m looking forward to this one. I will likely look for his other works as well.

These may occupy my reading for the remainder of the year since I still have one more class after the two I will wrap up after next week. I may find room for more, and of course I will be writing recommendations for each book if I like them and think you should check them out. Of course, I’m always interested to hear what you may be reading or looking forward to read. Feel free to send me a cover or a message either here or on Twitter at @YarberWrites.

Happy Reading.

A Note on Book Recommendations

I wanted to briefly talk about the book recommendations that I make on this blog. Believe it or not, I don’t recommend every book I read. I only recommend books that I really like, or books that I find do something really well, or I think there is value in reading them for whatever reason (I usually specify what it is in the recommendation of course). However, I understand that enjoying a book is typically very subjective.

I openly admit that I primarily enjoy science fiction and fantasy genres, but my interests are wide-ranging and my hope is that you discover something new through my recommendations that may become a favorite of yours. I’m sure I never adequately talk up a book or convey my own enthusiasm for it, but I hope my recommendations give enough about the story to intrigue you. I always provide a spoiler warning if I think I may be at risk of spoiling an important part of the story, and I try to avoid spoilers altogether as much as I can.

The primary reason I write book recommendations is simply to share my love of books. Perhaps I may also help broaden reading interests or expose someone to their new favorite author. That is something that can change a person’s life. I believe books, and the act of reading, are healthy. Books can be enjoyed by people of all ages and have profound affects on individual lives. I’ll admit that I was able to get myself out of a dark place by reading a book. I’ve read books that have made me rediscover the joys of life, and I’ve read books that have shown me the darker sides of humanity. Books have power. After all, they are filled with words.

This being said, I don’t write book recommendations to sway or promote or advertise. I write them for me, and perhaps for upcoming generations, or older ones, or maybe I wrote one specifically for you. All I can say is that I genuinely appreciate you taking the time to read them, or peruse the titles on my list, or even just scroll past a post. Regardless, I’ll be here continuing what I love to do, and I hope you do the same.

Happy Reading.

Upcoming Adaptations

There are several books with upcoming film or television adaptations that I am extremely excited about, so I figured I’d share my enthusiasm here and spread the word. You won’t have to wait long as these are all coming out in the next few months.

The first to release is actually a book series I have yet to read; Foundation by Isaac Asimov. It is being adapted into a series for Apple TV. I don’t have Apple TV so I’m not sure how/if/when I will watch this series, but my lack of access just gives me ample time to read the books first.

It is set to premiere on September 24th, which is a week from today. I’ve posted the trailer below. I must admit I do really want to watch it. I’m a fan of Jared Harris and Lee Pace but the overall  premise is enticing. I will be reading this series very soon so I can jump the chance to watch it whenever I can easily do so.

The next to release is the long awaited film adaptation of Dune which was meant to release last year but was delayed (almost a full year) due to Covid. This movie releases on October 22nd. The trailer looks phenomenal, early reviews are saying it is great, the soundtrack seems amazing and probably is since Hans Zimmer, one of my favorite composers, worked on it. Also, look at this cast.

Dune
And of course, here is the trailer to peak your interest or hype it up for you. If you have not read the book, it is definitely worth checking out. You may have time to read it before this comes out next month.

Next, which I am extremely hopeful about and have already shared, is the The Wheel of Time set to release as a television series on Amazon starting November 19th. The first three episodes will release on the 19th and then there will be new episodes released weekly. The first season will cover most of book one, some of book two, and parts of book three. From what I have gathered via interviews/questions answered by the showrunner and a few actors, this 15 book series isn’t going to strictly follow the books as far as sequence of events, which may work well considering many events happen simultaneously and different characters are followed in different books. The trailer was released earlier this month and it looks like it will live up to many expectations. 

Shadows of the New Sun

Shadows of the New Sun book coverShadows of the New Sun: Stories in Honor of Gene Wolfe is a collection of short stories by various authors who have been influenced, professionally or personally, by the literary master that is Gene Wolfe. The collection also includes two short stories not previously published by Gene Wolfe himself. This collection was released in 2013 and several of those who contributed are authors I really enjoy, and there were many I had never read before but will likely look into their work after reading their stories in this collection.

What I really enjoyed about this collection, ironically enough, were the unintended stories. Each author who contributed a short story also provided a short commentary about Gene himself, which really gave this collection its intended purpose. Yes, each story was inspired by or related to Gene’s work with several even taking place within a world Gene created or included characters he imagined, but it was amazing to see how Gene influenced each storyteller. Many knew Gene personally and had fun stories to tell about him or something he did whereas a few had never met him in person but had an anecdote to share nonetheless.

To my knowledge, there currently are no biographies about Gene Wolfe, though I hope one does come out as I would love to know more about him. Gene passed away in 2019 at the age of 87. I wish I had discovered his work before his passing, but that is the great thing about books. You can discover and be greatly influenced by works written years, decades, or even centuries before. Some say history has a way of filtering the mass amounts of art and only allow the best to persist through the ages. I would not be surprised if Gene Wolfe is read for centuries to come. His work has found me and will persist at least throughout my lifetime as I will continue to read everything of his I can find. I chanced upon this collection at my local library’s annual book sale. Some of the best books are those you find by chance. In fact, many authors in this collection found Gene’s work by chance, and they recognized it as uniquely masterful upon discovery. I had the same experience and his books quickly became treasured tomes on my shelf.

If you have yet to find Gene’s work, perhaps this can be your reason to give it a chance. I hope you like it if you do.

Happy Reading.