I'm doing my weekly book review on Thursday this week...
I have a new book to add to my recommended reading for new heathens: Heathen Gods by Mark Ludwig Stinson. This book is a great way for anyone to get a feel for what heathenry is and not only learn the basics of it but get some good advice about starting out as a new heathen, starting a group, and living as a heathen.
The book itself is a collection of short essays, each of which has a different topic. It is broken into roughly 7 sections: Essays for new heathens, Building a kindred or tribe, Maintaining a kindred or tribe, Living a heathen life, Personal and miscellaneous essays, Iceland trip journal, and Poetry by the author. It also includes a good recommended reading list at the back. Each of the first 4 sections contains around a dozen individual essays that fall under the larger section topic, such as "What is a Heathen?", "Differing Views within the Heathen Community", "Why Start a Kindred", and "Wyrd and Worth", to name but a few. The final three sections are much more personal to the author's life and experiences, including personal anecdotes and reflections as well as his journal about a trip to Iceland and provide a look at one person's journey living as a heathen.
One of the main strengths of this book for me was the way that it touches lightly on many important topics without overwhelming the reader or getting bogged down in details or history. The writing style is engaging and interesting while still being informative and the author tackles difficult topics in a way that encourages the reader to think about the issues. It manages to present a workable modern heathenry in a way that is both understandable and often unflinching to the realities that people in community-based faith face, such as jump-starting spiritual practice and dealing with bad experiences in the community.
Another thing that I really like about the book is the essay-based format. I admit initially I was unsure about it because I wasn't sure how all the short essays would flow together, but I found that it was perfect for reading a few a day, or skipping around to whatever essay seemed most appropriate each day. It made referencing specific ideas much easier and having the material organized the way it is actually does flow very well.
All in all a good addition to any heathen's library and definitely a good starting place for a new heathen looking for a better understanding of what modern heathen practice is.