The Sunday Salon – Sharing is Fun

While browsing the internets this week, I came across a few things that made me want to share.  My mom is probably bursting with pride to know I’m using my sharing skills.  🙂

The first is an article that appeared in The Washington Post earlier this week – ‘Tolkien Professor’ Corey Olsen Brings Middle-Earth to iTunes Via Podcast.  His website, The Tolkien Professor, is even more interesting and I’ve already found a few books on Tolkien criticism that will be added to my list.  I haven’t downloaded any of the lectures from iTunes, only because I’m hopeless when it comes to that and somehow always mess something up that confuzzles my husband, so I’m holding off but it will happen at some point.

This I found on BBC News – Divided Attention Disorder? Log off and read a book.  I laughed while reading it (it’s written by a comedian so it was intended) because this is something I do.  Feel overwhelmed?  Read.  The part about googling the plot though is something I’ve done, but I won’t hang my head in shame.  I like to know the end.

I had a good week of reading too.  I finished Spook by Mary Roach, Autumn: The City by David Moody, and started A Conspiracy of Kings by Meghan Whalen Turner.  I even managed to sneak in the writing of a few reviews this week too so I’m feeling very accomplished on the book front.

I’m planning to make a four course meal tonight for Valentine’s Day.  We’re celebrating a day early thanks to crazy Monday schedules so I’m off to start cooking.  Happy Sunday.

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Lord of the Rings Read-Along – Re-Visiting the Adventure

The Lord of the Rings Read-Along is continuing this month with The Hobbit. Eva from A Striped Armchair is hosting the discussion for this book and has posted a second set of questions and discussion points for all of us participating.

Where are you in the story? So far, has the book lived up to your expectations (for first-timers)/memories (for rereaders)? What’s surprising or familiar?

Have you been bogged down anywhere in the book?

Let’s talk about the songs…are you skipping over them to get back to the prose? Why or why not?

What do you think of the narrator’s voice?

Does your edition have illustrations or maps? Have you been ignoring them or referring back to them?

Now it’s time to play favourites! Who’s your favourite main character? Who’s your favourite minor character (i.e.: villains, random helpers, etc.)? What’s your favourite scene? Do you have a favourite quote to share?

Off we go…

I finished the book earlier this month. I tried to take it slow but once I got into it, I couldn’t stop. And, yes, it once again lived up to my expectations — it’s funny, full of wonderful characters, and it’s an adventure! Having read the book several times, I don’t know if I can say I found anything surprising, but I did find it comforting. Reading The Hobbit brought back a lot of good childhood memories and I love when a book does that.

Having finished the book already, I can’t say I was bogged down anywhere. I raced through it. 🙂

The songs, oh, the songs. I have to admit that I usually skip them, but this time around I did read them. This may in fact be the first time I ever read the songs and I feel odd admitting that because I’m sure at some point I must have read them but I found all the songs new to me this time around — so maybe that was my surprise on this re-reading. I’m not a music person, in fact I have no musical talent whatsoever (my parents who had to listen, painfully, to my failed attempts to play the clarinet as a child can attest to this) and when I read the songs, I read them as poetry. My brain is so musically disinclined that I don’t even know where to start with a melody. My husband would attest to this as well since I can barely name my supposed favorite song when I hear it! Any wonder I skipped them before? I think not but I am glad I read the songs this time.

I always thought the narrator’s voice sounded sort of fatherly and, after this re-reading, it still sounds that way to me. I don’t find it intrusive in anyway, it’s just there.

My edition does have maps in the front and back of the book. I do look at them but don’t reference them too much. I have an odd map in my head of what Middle Earth looks like and I like to keep it that way. 🙂 My book also has illustrations but I don’t spend too much time looking at them with the exception of one — the illustration of Bilbo’s hobbit hole at the end. It looks like a most magical place to live.

Favorites! How to choose? Well, if I must…it is Bilbo and running a very close second, Bombur. I always feel so bad for him and sort of cheer the chubby dwarf on. I won’t say anymore for fear of spoiling it for others but let’s just say I have a soft spot for him. Beorn is another wonderful character, the food alone at his house just sounds so tasty.

My favorite chapter is Riddles in the Dark. I find Gollum so creepy and it marks a turning point for me — the story takes on a slightly darker tone from this point on. More troubles, the adventure is not so much fun anymore, reality sets in, and death becomes a distinct possibility. I love the game played between Bilbo and Gollum and the way that Bilbo gets out of the situation. The little burglar indeed!

My favorite quote also comes from this chapter. In my edition, page 65.

“Go back?” he thought. “No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!” So up he got, and trotted along with his little sword held in front of him and one hand feeling the wall, and his heart all of a patter and a pitter.

I always wondered how one would go sideways but that’s another topic. I just love that he gives himself a little pep talk and trots off as if this was all part of a normal day. Can’t you just picture Bilbo holding out the sword in the dark shuffling slowly along the wall?

There will be one more post about The Hobbit at the end of the month and then we move on to The Fellowship of the Rings. If you’re curious, here’s more info about the read-along.

Got any memories to share of The Hobbit?

The Lord of the Rings Read-Along Begins! – Thoughts on The Hobbit

I’m participating in the Lord of the Rings Read-Along this year and the first book on the agenda is The Hobbit. Eva from A Striped Armchair is hosting the discussion for this book and to help us along, she’s posted some great questions:

When did you first hear of The Hobbit? What made you decide to join the read-a-long?

Have you read it before? If so tell us about that experience.

If you’re new to The Hobbit, do you have any preconceptions going into it?

J.R.R. Tolkien pretty much founded the modern fantasy genre. So let’s take a moment to think about the genre as a whole; have you always loved fantasy? Or perhaps you still feel rather skeptical towards the whole idea of wizards and dwarfs and magic? What was your introduction to the genre?

Do you have a certain plan for reading it? A few pages a day, spacing it out over the month? Or are you just going to race through it? Let whimsy decide?

Since many are still reading, I’m going to answer a few of the questions instead of doing a traditional review. I’ve tried my best to keep out spoilers but there maybe a few references that might give something away. Don’t say you haven’t been warned. 🙂 Onward!

We’re also sharing pictures of our book covers. Here’s mine.

The first time I read The Hobbit was the summer before I started 5th grade. The idea of a quest, treasure, magic, and elves was fascinating and stuck with me for a long time. I was in love with fantasy then, still am now, and I credit this book with my love of the genre.

In the fall of my 5th grade year, a few teachers put together a production of The Hobbit. Having already read the book, needless to say, I was very excited. A bunch of us tried out and made it! Okay, so the pickings were slim — an actor I am not! 🙂 I couldn’t wait to see what it would look like as a play though. This was, of course, my first experience with liking a book more than the movie/play. Not that we all weren’t fabulous but…I never pictured Gollum looking like a mermaid and still don’t to this day. But I guess when you’re putting on a play in a school cafeteria with a bunch of 5th graders, you go with what you got. I have very fond memories of the experience even if I personally found the book much more thrilling than our little play.

I, if anyone is curious, was the lead goblin in the play. A rather boring part with only three lines. The goblins played a very small role in our production. There were only three of us and after we finished our sparse lines, we mostly grunted and chased everyone whenever we were required on stage.

From that summer on, I have always loved this book. No matter how many times I re-read it, I fall in love with it all over again. Bilbo is so lovable, loyal, and truly just wants everyone to get along. Most of all, he wants to be home in his warm hobbit hole, which I imagine to be the most wonderful and magical of places. The beginning of the adventure is fantastic when he gets all flustered and then excited at the prospect of an adventure. It’s so amusing and shows his true character. He’s so proper (To leave home without pocket-handkerchiefs, the horror!) and not really fit for a long trip but you also see the excitement and wonder that make Bilbo such an enduring character.

The idea of magic, elves, hobbits, dwarfs, goblins, orcs (I know, getting ahead of myself!) just makes me all giddy. It’s the incredible sense of friendship, loyalty, adventure, danger, and a touch of magic that draws me in. I laugh when Bilbo gets all Tookish, feel creeped out when Gollum first appears, and more importantly, the first time he refers to himself as My Precious. His voice is a creepy echo in my head that I don’t shake until Bilbo finally leaves him behind.

I started The Hobbit over Christmas and stopped again. I was so excited I couldn’t help myself. I let myself savor one chapter, then another a few days later. I held off almost a week before I finally gave in, curled up on the couch, and joined the fearless travelers. I think because I’ve read this book before and have good and wonderful memories associated with it, that once I get back into the story and see everyone off, I can’t abandon the little travelers until they find their way home again.

The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings sits prominently on our bookshelf. Each day I see the books and I’ve been thinking about re-reading them but with so many other books waiting to be read, I’ve put them off. When I saw the read-along, I knew it was time! And once again, I’ve enjoyed every moment of the journey. It’s so beautifully told, how can you not.

If you’re joining us on the journey, feel free to leave your impressions and memories here and also with Eva at A Striped Armchair who is hosting The Hobbit portion of the read-along. Enjoy the adventure! If you want more information about the read-along, click here. Not too late to sign up…