Tolkien holds a special place in my book-heart, and in my more desiccated heart-heart. It does not go too far, I think, to say that I wouldn’t be doing any of this but for Tolkien. And by any of this, I’m not sure that I only mean the blogging. It was Tolkien who turned a spark of a love for reading into a roaring conflagration. A poor kid from the southern Appalachian Mountains, it was largely a facility with the written word that got me from there to here.
It almost didn’t happen. And then I wouldn’t be giving you an entire summer of posts on Tolkien (you will be able to find every post linked here). I will be posting on Tolkien every Thursday through the end of August. This is no truncated summer session. Read on for more about my history with Tolkien and more about what you can expect from Summer School: Tolkien 101.
Novik’s Uprooted was the best novel I had read in a long time. I’m thrilled that she is returning to the sub-genre with Spinning Silver. Spinning Silver isn’t a sequel, per my understanding, but I gather it is the same sort of book as Uprooted (and they are certainly playing up the similarities with the covers). I love this sort of story, a fairy tale fleshed out (not a deconstruction). I am very excited about this one.
Can’t-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Wishful Endings.
Deadpool 2 is now out in theaters! Sadly, with a baby at home I’m not sure when I will get to see it. I didn’t read any Deadpool back when I read comics, but I was a big X-Men fan. All those X-Men comics from back in the day included a little Cable so I am very excited to see Josh Brolin’s take on Cable when I do get around to seeing Deadpool 2.
I recently rewatched all ten previous X-Men movies. Ranking them is a tough proposition. The overall quality isn’t as high as the MCU, but there are no truly bad X-Men movies and only one great one. I tend to think the most highly thought of movies are overrated, and the least highly thought of movies underrated.
I buck the conventional wisdom the most on X-Men: Days of Future Past, the first Deadpool, The Wolverine, and X-2.
My ranking of the first ten X-Men movies, from worst to first:
Tolkien always saw The Lord of the Rings as a single, cohesive story. It was only published in three volumes due to wartime paper shortages. But, then again, it was never feasible as a single volume. At 500k+ words, The Lord of the Rings is longer than any individual book from The Wheel of Time, A Song of Ice and Fire, or The Stormlight Archive. So it was going to be split, one way or another. On reread, though, it occurs to me that a better split might have been into two books, not three. And I’m not about to keep my discussion of The Lord of the Rings to just one post. Today’s post will cover The Fellowship of the Ring and book I of The Two Towers. Next week’s post will cover book II of The Two Towers and The Return of the King.
It’s been a long time since I’ve read The Lord of the Rings. A long time. Since I last reread it, Peter Jackson has turned the three volumes of The Lord of the Rings into three good movies and the one volume of The Hobbit into three awful movies. But now I have this nice shiny one volume edition and I really, really need to wash the taste of the last Hobbit movie out of my mouth, so the time has come for a reread. But, at this point, Jackson’s movies loom large in my mental construction of The Lord of the Rings, so I hope you will excuse me if I refer to them overmuch.
One of many leather-bound books in a study that smells of rich mahogany.
One of my more delightful discoveries last year was the Steeplejack series by A.J. Hartley. A “steeplejack” is a craftsman who repairs chimneys, church steeples, and the like. In a 19th-century milieu like that of the Steeplejack series, it is an extraordinarily dangerous occupation. Hartley’s Steeplejack series follows Ang, a Steeplejack-turned-private detective of sorts, whose skills get put to plenty of use in racing across the South Africa-inspired Bar-Selehm. I don’t read much YA these days, but I really loved the first two books in the series. You can find my reviews of Steeplejack and Firebrand here and here, respectively.
Can’t Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme coordinated by Wishful Endings.
Bennis wrote one of my favorite books last year with The Guns Above. By Fire Above may not quite reach those same lofty heights, but it is one hell of a sequel. As before, By Fire Above is one equal part terrific action set pieces, pure hilarity, and deep military SF that is no more leery of meditating on duty and honor than it is of a little blood and thunder.
I’ve been trying to keep my paper library to a manageable size, but I’m afraid of the quality of the kindle versions for old books. So I’ve been buying even more physical books. At least the books back then, like the people, were a lot thinner.
I need to be careful about my library management though. I briefly panicked that I had tossed my original copy of The Hobbit. It has a horrid, horrid cover, probably the worst The Hobbit cover ever, and I bought a nice, leatherbound copy several months ago (both are pictured below). But it was that ugly old paperback copy that my mom originally pressed on me that ignited my love of reading permanently, a love that has played no small part in all of this, as I alluded to in my announcement post.
This is my first time rereading The Hobbit in a long time. I am also reading it out loud for the first time (as a bonding experience with our newborn daughter).