book review: The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction

The View from the Cheap Seats is a collection of speeches, book introductions, etc., by Neil Gaiman.  As you may already know, I have pretty much read everything I can get my hands on by Neil Gaiman, even some of his Sandman graphic novels and children’s books, all of which I have yet to review (Odd and the Frost Giants was a good one, but I wasn’t too thrilled with Fortunately the Milk).

I have a confession to make.  I usually skip the introductions to books – mostly because they’re boring, but also because I would like to form my own opinions and ideas about a book before reading what others have to say about it.  If I really enjoyed the book, sometimes I go back to read the introduction, but most of the time, I never read them.  I wasn’t expecting to like this book when I found out that it included many book introductions, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Neil Gaiman has some pretty interesting things to say about books, reading, authors, music, people, and life in general.  The parts that I found most interesting were his views on reading (he believes there is no such thing as a “good” type of book to read – a good book is pretty much any book that you enjoy or get something out of) and his personal stories of his interactions with different authors.  He’s had quite a life.  His narratives are well written, but they have a casual style to them as well.  You can imagine having a cup of coffee or tea with him and chatting about the things he’s written about.  You can see the bits of sarcasm, some outright fantastic tales, and his passion for storytelling come out in his works of nonfiction.  It’s a personal style of writing that I find appealing.

Be warned that if you read this book, you’re going to end up having a list of probably 30+ books that you will want to read.  He talks about books that have influenced his writing (he is a voracious reader) and is so sincere in his praise that it is hard not to be caught up in his enthusiasm.  There are some that many readers will have heard such as books by Stephen King and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams, but there were many I had never heard of.  (FYI, I bought Votan and Other Novels and am reading it now.)

If you ever need a book recommendation, this is the book to consult.

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