It’s been a quiet week. Apologies for my absence! I’ve been doing a lot of background maintenance on the blog this week. I’d been putting it off because it was tedious and time consuming, but it needed doing so I finally sat down and did it. I don’t have everything quite how I want it, but it’s getting there!
Otherwise, I haven’t been up to much. Work has been quiet, the weather is slowly starting to cool down, and I’m getting a sense of the reading I want to do this fall and winter– a lot of old, old stories: Icelandic sagas, Grimm’s fairy tales, Celtic legends, Anglo Saxon poetry, and of course, the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. And all the other reading I’ll be doing aside from that, such as my upcoming ARCs from NetGalley.
I went out to the park a couple of times this week, too, to take some photos:
My favorite bookstore downtown has traditionally had two cats on the premises. They draw attention to the store and cozy up to the patrons, who (almost universally) love them. A little over a month ago, one of the cats died unexpectedly. It was terribly sad, and the community mourned the loss. The shop’s owner decided to adopt another cat earlier this month, and so introduced us to four-month old Charlie last week:
He is soft, cuddly, owns the loudest purr in the History of Cats, and has big feet (and so will probably be a very big cat when he grows up). Right now, the community is trying to keep him from eating everything that falls on the floor and training him to not run outside whenever the door opens. And after some initial growls and foul temper, his new big brother is starting to accept him.
Now onto the books!
What I read this week:
- The Sandman, vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman, art by Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg, and Malcolm Jones III
- The Sandman, vol. 2: The Doll’s House by Neil Gaiman, art by Steve Parkhouse, Chris Bachalo, Michael Zulli, and Malcolm Jones III
- The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien by J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Humphrey Carpenter and Christopher Tolkien
- The Sandman, vol. 3: The Dream Country by Neil Gaiman, art by Charles Vess, Kelley Jones, Colleen Doran, Malcolm Jones III
- Binti: The Night Masquerade (Binti #3) by Nnedi Okorafor
The first volume of The Sandman series, Preludes and Nocturnes, is a little strange. Gaiman had meant to incorporate existing DC comic book characters into the overarching plot, but it didn’t seem to work with the story of Morpheus, the King of Dreams, AKA Dream. As the stories progress, you can see Gaiman is searching for Dream’s essence, and it’s not until the final story that he finds it. It is only when Dream’s sister Death shows up that the heart of Dream’s story appears. In an interesting twist on representations of Death, Gaiman’s version is not some frightening, cloaked figure. She is a punk rock girl with a sly sense of humor and a depth of understanding of humanity that none of her siblings can match. Quirky Death is the perfect foil to the morose Dream, who is of course the central figure in the entirety of the Sandman series.
Volume two, The Doll’s House, is easily the most disturbing of the series. It deals with a young boy trapped in a horrendously abusive situation, the sister who is searching for him, and her stay in a hotel unwittingly playing host to a convention of serial killers. In this volume we see that, while Dream is sympathetic to the plights of mortals, he’s still an immortal being whose goals exist on the scale of the universe and infinity.
Volume three, The Dream Country, features the tale of the dream of a cat who seeks a revolution and a return to a primal world where cats were kings, and human were their tiny servants. In another episode, we see a story of where Shakespeare’s brilliance came from and what it cost him in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, in which Dream invites the fae court to watch one of the first productions of Shakespeare’s famous play of the same name.
The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien provide a brilliant, often humorous, and sometimes bittersweet view into Tolkien’s life and his work, and the thought that went into his most famous stories, as well as his lesser-known tales like Farmer Giles of Ham or Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Unless you are a fan of Tolkien or appreciate records of correspondence, though, you probably won’t find this collection of letters terribly interesting.
I saw Binti: The Night Masquerade on the ‘New Releases’ shelf at the library, so I picked it up and read it in a couple of sittings. I’m not sure about it as an ending to Binti’s story. I might have to read it a time or two to really absorb it.
In addition to the five titles I finished this week, I had one DNF. Though I enjoyed the first two books of Kiersten White’s Conqueror’s Saga, I could not get into the finale, Bright We Burn. Because I know the history of Vlad Dracula, I knew how this story was going to end, and my interest in Radu bled away once I found out what happened to Nazira after the events of Now I Rise. The chapters are short, which makes the narrative feel terribly jumpy, and Lada was quickly becoming a one-note character growing paranoid about everyone around her. I made it about halfway through the book when I realized I just didn’t care what happened after that. So I took it back to the library.
I had actually forgotten I’d had it until I sat down to write this…
- Splintered Light: Logos and Language in Tolkien’s World by Verlyn Flieger
- The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Stories by Washington Irving
- The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien, audiobook narrated by Rob Inglis
I have never listened to the audiobooks of The Lord of the Rings, so I was happy to find that my local library has all three in audiobook format. They’re on CD, so I’ve been listening to The Fellowship of the Ring in my car during my commute to work and while running errands. I’ve found myself wishing that I had a long road trip ahead of me so I can listen to it in extended stretches.
I hadn’t read The Legend of Sleepy Hollow since I was in junior high school, so I decided it deserved a re-read before I start on my NetGalley ARC of The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel, which is a retelling of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, but from Katrina’s point of view and with more magic.
What I plan to read this week:
- Beren and Luthien by J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Christopher Tolkien
- The Sandman, vol. 4: Season of Mists by Neil Gaiman, art by Kelley Jones, Mike Dringenberg, Malcolm Jones III, Matt Wagner, Dick Giordano, George Pratt, P. Craig Russell, introduction by Harlan Ellison
- The Sandman vol. 5: A Game of You by Neil Gaiman, art by Shawn McManus, Colleen Doran, Bryan Talbot, Geoge Pratt, Stan Woch, Dick Giordano
I’m still listening to back episodes of The Prancing Pony Podcast. I’m about halfway through their discussion of The Hobbit after their lengthy episodes covering The Silmarillion. Their third season, where they’ll begin their discussion of The Lord of the Rings, begins soon, so I’m hoping to be done with The Hobbit before it starts. Their website is currently down for maintenance, so I’m looking forward to its return so I can read the essays the hosts have posted about various points of Tolkien’s legendarium.
It’s funny. The more I read up on The Lord of the Rings, the more I realize that I have so much more to learn about Tolkien’s works. I’ve been a fan for most of my life, but there are so many details and stories that I had no idea existed! It’s a case of ‘the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know’.