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url 2018-04-26 19:51
The Great American Read: America’s 100 most-loved books
Anne of Green Gables Novels #1 - L M Montgomery
I, Alex Cross - James Patterson
A Separate Peace - John Knowles
The Eye of the World - Robert Jordan
Charlotte's Web - E.B. White,Garth Williams,Rosemary Wells
Moby Dick - Herman Melville,Frank Muller
The Martian - Andy Weir
The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien
The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
The Sun Also Rises - Ernest Hemingway

Voting starts May 22 and ends October 2018.  See link for more of the 100 nominees.

 

I'm about this but do wish they had done it by categories or even time periods (I.e., published before 1900, before 1950, before 2000, type of splits).  I agree that those are 100 of the most read, most popular and even most influential books.

 

I just mean it's weird seeing beloved childhood books like Charlotte's Web and Anne of Green Gables up against Carch 22, Then There Were None, and long running contemporary series like Alex Cross and Wheel of Time?

 

Then the hordes of fans for Twilight, Fifty Shades of Gray, Pride and Prejudice, Harry Potter  ...

 

(I am not at all disrespecting Harry Potter; frankly I think those books are responsible for an entire generation of readers.  It's just weird to see it up against the other nominees.)

 

How would you vote -- a childhood favorite that made you a reader or your favorite recent read?

Source: www.pbs.org/the-great-american-read/books/#
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review 2018-04-20 02:03
I left my heart in Middle Earth.
The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien

The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy are my go-to books when I want a comforting, lovely adventure. While the epic fantasy genre has certainly evolved since Tolkien's time, there's something to be said for the classics and these books are absolutely classics. 

 

Tolkien's world-building abilities were legendary and his characters - while, admittedly, less developed than I usually prefer - are memorable and compelling. The journey that starts in The Hobbit and continues all the way to The Return of the King is enjoyable, full of wonder, and - as the genre suggests - truly epic. I've lost count of the the number of times I've read these books, and it's only a matter of time before I go back to them. 

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text 2017-05-26 21:46
Personal Canon - Hobbit and LOTR
The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien,Michael Hague
The Fellowship of the Ring - J.R.R. Tolkien
The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien

Author: JRR Tolkien

First Read: 6 or 7 years old.

 

                I can’t remember when I first read the Hobbit.  I do know when I first read LOTR.  It was when I went with my mom to the eye doctor.  She started reading it to me, and when she couldn’t continue because of the eye drops, I started reading it on my own.  About four years later, I received my own illustrated copy of the Hobbit (with Hague illustrations, so he is my first LOTR artist), and then a few years after that, I brought my own copies of Fellowship, Towers, and King.  When the movies came out, I caved and brought hardcover editions of the trilogy.  Additionally, it is one of the few books where I own multiple versions – not only physical books, but kindle version, audio cassette versions, and Audible files. 

 

                And that’s not counting the movies.

 

                But let’s not count those because I will keep bitching about the lack of a thrush.

 

                I have read the books so many times, that I got a little po’ed when I reviewed the kindle version of LOTR and somebody thought it was the first time I read the books. 

 

                When I first read the books, I found everything before the Council of Elrond boring and after the first two times I read the story, skipped it for a bit.  I liked the bit at the Ford, but the Council of Elrond was where it was at because it had Elves.  I loved Elves because they had bows like Robin Hood.  Flynn’s Robin Hood was the first movie I saw, the Pyle version of Robin Hood was one of the first books I owned.  Bard was my favorite character in the Hobbit because he had a bow.  You see how it goes.  I also couldn’t figure out why Arwen married Strider because she didn’t do anything but sew.

 

 

                While I agree with Pratchett -that if you think LOTR is the greatest book every, you haven’t read it enough, I love this book.  It isn’t perfect, but it holds up well.  And yes, there are parts that don’t quite fit – Tom Bombadil for instance, but their friendship and bonds that run though the novel are the joy of the novel.

 

                As I got older, I grew to love the Arwen story at the same time I got angry with how it set such a standard of elven maiden giving up immortality to marry a human man, something in reverse that you tend not to see too often.  I realized that there are aspects of the Prof in many characters, perhaps mostly in Eowyn when she complains of being left to burn in the hall when men have more use for it.

 

                What the Prof did was not only give Britain a saga, a story that Milton wished to do.  He didn’t just simply set the standard for world building or create a template that writers like Terry Brooks would “borrow” (or steal) for years to come.

 

                It’s humanity.  Really. 

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-11-26 00:36
The Fellowship of the Ring - J.R.R. Tolkien

So finally getting around to reading the LOTR series. I've also booked tickets to go and see all extended editions back to back at the cinema in London in a week. 12 and a half hours in total. I hope I have the stamina to make it through, it's been interesting as someone who was a huge fan of the films to finally read the books and see the similarities/differences. I expected it to be wildly different, but I thought as far as book to film usually goes, Jackson and co stayed quite true to the books with slight alterations here and there. I'd wager it's probably to enhance the drama as the ideas moved to screen.

 

But anyway, back to the books. My favourite section of the whole book is the council of Elrond. I am for better or worse a political animal and I think the discussions over the ring and strategy most likely engaged that part of me. I thought it was the most tastefully written section of dramatic consequence in the book. The back and forth between Aragorn and Boromir and the stern nature of Elrond blend quite nicely to make the dialogue riveting. 

 

The lore in particular is important. That is what the films struggled with at times, I never felt that the rings of power and their significance was properly fleshed out, although I'm aware the beginning sequence of the fellowship is dedicated to the rings of power and their story. With the books you see Celebrimbor brought into the fold, albeit briefly, as the forger of the Elven rings which he deceived Sauron with, thus hiding them from the rings pull and protecting the Elven elites from becoming wraiths like the kings of men. Then there is this interesting section I think in Lothlorien with Galadriel where she explains that if the one ring is destroyed, the power of the Elven rings will either be freed or wilt with the one ring. Should it be the latter the Elves culture will regress and so they must leave middle earth. It may have been Elrond thinking about it who details this properly, but I'm sure the lady of the wood has her piece on it.

 

This all goes some way to explaining why the powerful, elegant race of Elves who seem so wise and able are in fact declining and not in a better position to help the others defend middle Earth from the shadow.

 

One of the other things I noticed in the fellowship was the observations on human character portrayed through the different races. When the company is being led to Lothlorien by the Elves and they insist on blindfolding Gimli because he's a dwarf, at a time when there is an evil lord with the upper hand seeking dominion over all peoples creeping closer to all places of goodness. I just thought that was typical of the short sighted, tribal instincts that we tend to see in our own characters. People willing to forsake the easy, rational choice and the greater good for their own pride and political point scoring. Relishing in petty squabbling and stubborn, blatantly biased view points. 

 

It's a good lesson on the dangers of division of good people in the face of encroaching danger and the folly of allowing petty, selfish grievances to get in the way of bonds. Further to this never admitting fault or blame, only seeking to look outwards when something goes wrong and point the finger and the division and resentment this causes. All based in a lack of wisdom, reason, empathy and humility.

 

I think the great strength of this book is its recurring theme. This idea that no matter how bleak things look and how marginalised the purity of the world is there are always things to cling to that can help change the tide. There is always hope no matter how unbelievable the odds seem to be. It doesn’t matter if you’re a minuscule hobbit constantly overlooked and underestimated. There are strengths that aren’t always considered or apparent that can tip the scales in a big way.

 

This also then leads on to the touching of philosophy and how Tolkien sort of alludes several times to the idea that very slight variations of action or chance would throw the entire fate of middle earth one way. Gandalf says that Frodo was meant to have the ring and that bodes well for the fate of middle earth, suggesting there's a pulling of the strings behind the scenes, but then there are times when it is suggested that if the person's character does not stand up to the test and they do not act the appropriate way to a challenge that will change the outcome of the war between good and evil. There are some spiritual ideas in play. I think as well this is what attracts me to LOTR ahead of A song of Ice and Fire. I find Martin's analysis of humanity to just be profoundly depressing and cynical and I have enough cynicism about the real world to want my fantasy escapism to be filled with the same. 

 

 

I have thoroughly enjoyed the fellowship and I look forward to the two towers. Enjoy your weekend my tragically estranged (because I barely use BL anymore like a fool) BL companions.

 

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review 2016-11-09 17:35
Reread for whatever time
The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien

This might be sacrilege but The Lord of the Rings is not the best book in the world. Highly influential, yes. Important, yes. Groundbreaking, sure. But Pratchett was correct when he said that if you still think it is the best book in the world than you haven’t been reading enough.

Yet, despite its flaws, and there are many, people keep returning to the book (or books).

Despite the fact that with the possible exception of Sam, the males seem to be neutered and live a world where women are suitably quiet and seem to be little involved in the producing of children. Everyone, for instance, is a son of some guy. And if the evil is so big why doesn’t Elrond recruit the Eagles?

Yes, I know the answer to most of these questions, that Tolkien was drawing on the tradition of sagas and medieval writers. It explains the at times almost overly formal language and the heroic descriptions. But that doesn’t explain the popularity outside of literary circles.

In part, the popularity is the hobbits – not so much Frodo, but Sam, Merry, and Pippin. The trio succeeds because it that sense of brotherhood. Sam, at least, shows some interest outside of the four brothers, but he appears to be the only one. In part, the popularity is because in some ways Tolkien does break tradition – the character of Eowyn, in particular her comments to Argorn about being left in the hall to be burned when there is no more use for her stand out. There is also Sam’s daughter, and Galadriel, whose roles are minor but important. Despite the few female roles, and those largely traditional, the women also don’t spend time crying on male shoulders. Even when Faramir woos Eowyn, he presents understanding which is somewhat different than comfort – Gandalf is the only other one who presents understanding. So, there is that.

There is also a surprising amount of emotion in the book for such formal language. So, there is not too. And unlike Lewis’ heavy handed Narnia, Middle Earth is more about story than about religion. The lessons and themes are regardless of religion, even if Tom seems totally out place.

Reading the series in one volume, in one digital volume was different. And it wasn’t just the easy links to the material in the appendix. In some ways, the digital version was less kind to the appendix, making it harder to skim or dip in and out of them. Still, it is LOTR, and it is like pulling on a pair of worn and happy slippers, holes and all.

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