A few years ago my daughter said she wanted to read a book called Coraline because she saw it in the book tent at the National Book Festival. I didn’t buy it there, but asked about it the next time we were in a bookstore. The book was not available for purchase at the store, but the sales person wrote down the name of the author: Neil Gaiman.
I found an audio version of Coraline at the library and picked it up so we could listen to it on our long drive from Maryland to Illinois for either Christmas or a summer vacation, I don’t recall which. We all loved the story as well as the voice of the narrator, none other than the author himself. There was even some fun-creepy music on the CDs by the Gothic Archies.
As soon as I had internet access again I looked up Neil Gaiman and found that he had an online journal. I subscribed to the blog feed and Mr Gaiman became a part of my daily routine. I bought several of his books, saw him speak twice (once at the National Book Festival and once at a bookstore in Northern Virginia) and marveled at his accessibility.
He’s done it again. In honor of the anniversary of his online journal he asked readers of the blog to vote on what book he would put online for free for a month. He cautioned readers to not vote for their favorite book of his, but for the one they would recommend for a first time Gaiman reader. I voted for Smoke and Mirrors. It is a collection of several short stories and covers the spectrum of his talent. It also is a testament to his accessibility and candor – he explains where each of the the stories came from, where he got the idea.
While you’re going to have to either buy Smoke and Mirrors or borrow it from the library, Neil Gaiman did put a book online for free: American Gods. But only for the month of March. So hurry and read it if you want to.
But don’t read it in the bathtub. You may get electrocuted.