Friday, March 25, 2011

Read Alike: Jean M Auel

Jean M. Auel's Earth's Children series started with The Clan of the Cave Bear in 1980. The last book of Ayla's adventures in the last ice age, The Land of the Painted Caves, will be released on March 29th. For those readers not familiar with the popular series, Ayla is an orphaned Cro-Magnon who was adopted by a group of Neanderthals, but her differences mean that she never quit fits in. Ms. Auel makes extensive use of archaeological and anthropological research to develop the peoples, cultures, and their technological advancements. Though the past thirty years have included some large changes in our understanding of this time period, her books remain a fascinating exploration of the possibilities of Europe's prehistory. The books are detail-rich, character-driven, and do not shy away from sex or violence.

Fans of Jean M Auel's Earth's Children series may also enjoy these books about prehistorical peoples:

Kathleen O'Neal Gear and her husband, W. Michael Gear, have written a number of stand alone books about the various Native American cultures of pre-Columbian North America. They both have backgrounds in archaeology, which translates into richly detailed narratives. Local readers may enjoy People of the Weeping Eye, which is an exploration of the mound building Mississippian cultures. Their most recent series, which starts with Coming of the Storm, covers the arrival of the conquistadors in Florida.

Judith Tarr's White Mare's Daughter is set in the more recent Neolithic Europe of 4500 BC, but readers may enjoy reading about the adventurous Sarama and the clashes between her warlike tribe, and the matriarchal society she strives to protect.

Elizabeth Marshall Thomas used her experiences as an anthropologist amongst the peoples of Namibia to help her create the world of The Animal Wife. The story is a variation on a common folktale found in Asia, where a man falls in love with an animal disguised as a woman, and is narrated by Kori, a young hunter in the Siberian steppes of 20,000 years ago.

Dawn Land also features a male protagonist, Young Hunter, but the setting is built from the mythology of North America. Joseph Bruchac is primarily known as a children's author, and this book would likely appeal to teens.

The Reindeer Hunters has a more romantic plot and is set among the Cro-Magnons of the Pyrenees at the end of the Ice Age. While this is the third book in Joan Wolf's trilogy of prehistoric romances, it stands well on its own.

The Last Matriarch, written by Sharman Apt Russell, is set in what is today the desert of the American Southwest, but 11,000 years ago was the prairie home of a group of mammoth hunters. Their story is told by Willow, a woman who lives to see great changes for her people as the landscape changes at the end of the Ice Age.

You may also enjoy these non-fiction titles about the lives of early humans:

The amazing paintings of Chauvet Cave in France were discovered in 1994, and are quite possibly the earliest existing examples of painting in existence. Dawn of Art: The Chauvet Cave: the oldest known paintings in the world was written by the discoverers of the art, and includes a number of photographs of the paintings.

Ayla's many and varied achievements and innovations were a challenge to the traditional view of women's role in prehistory. The Invisible Sex: Uncovering the true roles of women in prehistory explains our changing understanding of what the lives of women in Ayla's world may have been like.

Archaeologist Timothy Taylor's recent book on early humans, The Artificial Ape: How technology changed the course of human evolution, provides an entertaining overview of the latest theories about our earliest ancestors.

Origins: Human evolution revealed written by Douglas Palmer is another recent book on early humans, notable for the use of facial reconstruction and other interesting images of what life may have looked like thousands of years ago.

Please stop by the Recommendations Desk on the first floor, check out NoveList Plus on the library's website, or visit W. 11th & Bluff next week for more reading suggestions. Or submit a Personal Recommendations request, and we'll create a reading list just for you!

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