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review 2016-05-05 04:27
Tolkien: How an Obscure Oxford Professor Wrote the Hobbit and Became the Most Beloved Author of the Century
Tolkien: How an Obscure Oxford Professor Wrote The Hobbit and Became the Most Beloved Author of the Century - Devin Brown

ok, spoiler alert, on the title.


When this book was offered on NetGalley, I requested it, because I live in a house of Tolkien lovers. On the scale of fans in my house, I am probably the least enthusiastic, having read only The Hobbit, and some of The Lord of the Rings. (Shhh, don’t tell them. In my house, you are required to read the book, if there is one, before seeing the movie, and I’ve seen all of the movies.) I read a good bit of it, anyway, and I did love The Hobbit, but truthfully, I got it for my husband to read. Sadly, he hasn’t gotten around to it yet, and, because I waited for him, it has been a long time since I got this copy.


Last weekend had one of those perfect, reading days — a confluence of unusual circumstances including no carpooling activities, a rainy, damp day, and plenty of time to disappear on the couch with a book. I was hardly expecting to be so engrossed in this, but I truly enjoyed it. Tolkien’s story is an amazing collection of “what ifs”, and serendipitous meetings, so many opportunities that could have been missed, so many reasons for it not to have gone the way it did. Brown tells Tolkien’s story with wit and intelligence, and gives the backstory for a man who went from complete obscurity into the author of the most beloved books of the century. Seriously, with such a tempting title, I should have known Devin Brown would deliver. I especially loved that even though Brown is also a C.S. Lewis scholar, and Tolkien and Lewis’ lives overlapped in friendship, Brown kept this story wholly about Tolkien. To be honest, if you were not familiar with Lewis’ work (I guess it’s possible, right, snob that I am) you might not even know he was a writer by this work — everything about their friendship in this is in support of Tolkien’s talent. Honestly, I loved everything about this book. I recommend this to Tolkien fans, and I recommended it to my daughter, who needed a biography for her eighth grade English class. She is a reader herself, and, as I said before, a fan, but this was even more compelling — a good story, well-told, and also, did I mention, not very long. Perfect for a Saturday afternoon on the couch right before an afternoon nap.

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review 2014-11-21 21:12
Tolkien by Devin Brown
Tolkien: How an Obscure Oxford Professor Wrote The Hobbit and Became the Most Beloved Author of the Century - Devin Brown

I was 13 when I first read The Lord of the Rings. Over the years I would re-read the entire series, as well as all other books on Middle-Earth that I could find. When I saw that they were making a movie based on The Fellowship of the Ring, I was ecstatic. I re-watched the entire trilogy many, many times. So, perhaps more than any other writer, J.R.R. Tolkien and his creations have been a constant companion in my life, helping shape me into the person I am today.

So I was happy to read this book, which is a short biography of Tolkien, following his life from his birth in South Africa, to the English countryside, to Oxford university and his love for languages (and how it nearly ruined his academic career before it even started), to the Inklings, religion, war, friendship and love, and how it all inspired the creation of Middle-Earth.

This is a fascinating story of creation, and a good introduction to the life of one of the most inspirational and influential writers in the world.


Note: I got this book for review purposes through NetGalley.

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review 2014-09-20 22:07
Tolkien: How an Obscure Oxford Professor Wrote The Hobbit and Became the Most Beloved Author of the Century - Devin Brown

Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley.


                It’s hardly surprising that the success of the Lord of Rings movie trilogy and the first two Hobbit films (though why you need more than one boggles my mind) has lead to an increase in the amount of work about the great J.R. R. Tolkien.


                So why read this one?


                To be honest, if you have read Carpenter's work or Shippey’s, you really won’t find much new here. In fairness, that is true of must biographies. The famous story about the Hobbit review is here as is the process of writing the Rings.


                But that is also the book’s strong point.


                Brown focuses primary on the process of the story being written. In other words, the events and seeming coincidences are what the book is concerned with. It is not a detailed biography; it doesn’t pretend to be. It’s true that there is emphasis on Tolkien’s religious beliefs, but this wouldn’t be the first book to do so. Considering how religious Tolkien was, it isn’t surprise. The focus on the process is actually more detailed than many other looks at his work and is retold in a later enjoyable way. More detail is offered than the story of the Hobbit book review, for instance.


                This book is a nice introduction to Tolkien’s life. It is more in depth then quick half an hour reads, and it does offer up quite a bit in terms of relating that life to the master’s work. If you have a young adult or someone who is new to Tolkien who wants to read a biography, this is a good one to give them. For a long time and knowledgeable Tolkien reader, while there isn’t much new, it does serve as a quickly read refresher.

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review 2013-09-01 00:00
Christian World of the Hobbit
Christian World of the Hobbit - Devin Brown A wonderful book detailing the presence of God in Bilbo's world. Recommended!
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