Fall is here! It’s finally here! And we have the weather to match the season! Seriously, though, all this week I wondered if the weather was really going to shift to something more autumnal. For most of the week, the highs were in the 90°s with plenty of humidity. Around 3:00pm on Thursday afternoon it was 93°. Then a cold front came through with rain and wind and while the temperature didn’t quite drop off a cliff, the low yesterday morning was 43°. It was fantastic!
No pictures this week. Sunset is noticeably earlier these days, and it’s getting harder and harder to finish the closing paperwork and get out of the door at work before it’s too dark to do anything. I’ll have to start getting up right when the alarm goes off so I can take a walk in the mornings. These cool mornings are too good to pass up!
And speaking of going for walks, I’m finally taking a couple of days off from work this week! I’m heading out to a couple of state parks. I went to one earlier this year with my sister, but I had the wrong lens to properly photograph the little waterful we found so I want to give it another shot with a better lens. The other park is one I haven’t been to yet, in spite of having lived in the area for almost twenty years. It’s about a ninety-minute drive from here, along the banks of the Missouri River in a hilly, wooded part of the state. The weather is supposed to be sunny and in the 70°s so I couldn’t have timed it much better!
What I Read This Week:
- A Passion for Books edited by Harold Rabinowitz and Rob Kaplan
- What to Read and Why by Francine Prose
- Beren and Luthien by J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Christopher Tolkien
- Blood is Blood by Will Thomas (NetGalley ARC)
- I’d Rather be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life by Anne Bogel
- Smith of Wootton Major by J.R.R. Tolkien
I ended up being pretty lukewarm on A Passion for Books. Many of the essays were long-winded, and there were some short stories about bibliophiles that I simply wasn’t interested in. What to Read and Why almost ended up being the same way, as Prose included many essays about authors whose work I’ve never read and still have no interest in reading. I’d bought this book because it included chapters about Jane Austen among other interesting things, but they ended up being rather short. Alas and alack. Anne Bogel’s I’d Rather be Reading turned out to be the book about books I was looking for. Bogel writes about her own experiences with books, libraries, and reading in general. It was warm and charming, and it wasn’t trying to convince me that one type of book was superior to another, which it felt like the other two were trying to do.
Beren and Luthien is not a full-fledged narrative, which I wasn’t expecting. It is a compilation of the various drafts of the poems and stories devoted to the tale of Beren and Luthien, which Tolkien wrote between the 1920s until soon before his death in 1973. Thanks to The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion, I know the story, but seeing how it evolved through the years is both interesting and enlightening. I am glad Tolkien did not use his first versions of the tale, as Sauron is a far better Dark Lord than Tevildo the King of Cats.
I was so excited to discover that NetGalley had an ARC available for Blood is Blood, the next book in my favorite mystery series, the Barker and Llewellyn novels by Will Thomas, and even more so when I was approved! Seriously. I was giddy. My coworkers must have thought I’d had way too much coffee when I got the email. But anyway. I read it in a couple of days, loved it, and will probably read it again just so I can see how all the pieces fit together. I’ll have a review closer to the release date, which is November 13.
Smith of Wootton Major was one of Tolkien’s minor works published in his lifetime. It’s a novella about a boy who receives a fairy star that grants him gifts of music and craft, as well as allowing him to journey through the realms of fairy. He learns a great many things about himself and people in general. The benefits of courtesy and generosity are played up in the story, as well. It’s a lovely (and short) tale, and I will be tracking down a copy very soon, I’m sure.
I also tried to read Modern Interpretations of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, which is a collection of critical essays about The Lord of the Rings edited by Harold Bloom. I should have guessed from Bloom’s introduction that the scholarship might be a little weird and/or condescending, given that Bloom is a stick in the mud when it comes to anything fantastical (he hates The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, among other things). But I soldiered on, thinking that reading a ‘scholarly’ critique of my favorite work would be no bad thing. The first essay was some psycho-sexual reading of the work where the Ring was a symbol of female sexuality. The writer’s arguments were a little out there and weren’t helped by the fact that he couldn’t spell character- or placenames correctly. The second essay argued that, while Tolkien’s writing is very good, The Lord of the Rings is not literature because the prose is not concise and is full of descriptions. But I don’t recall Henry James’s writing being all that concise, and Anna Karenina’s many descriptions of the land and its farmers stick in my mind more than Anna’s relationship with Vronsky, so I don’t find that writer’s view of The Lord of the Rings to be well-argued, either. After that, I got fed up the book and put it down.
I’m still working on the same audiobooks as last week. I’m still enjoying them, but I just haven’t had as much time for audiobooks as I usually do.
- The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien, narrated by Rob Inglis
- Emma by Jane Austen, narrated by Donada Peters
There are two long books I am in the midst of that will be current reads for some time:
- Scandinavian Folk and Fairy Tales
- The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
I’m trying to read a few of the Scandinavian Folk and Fairy Tales every night before I go to bed, but there are a lot of them, and I’ve been reading other things before bed this week.
As for The Lord of the Rings, I began the main body of my reread project this week with a look at the first two chapters of the story! That post was fun to write, and I’m looking forward to the rest of it, which will go on until March 2019, if everything goes to plan. I’m reading the chapters during the week, and the posts will go up on Saturday mornings.
Last week’s post covered ‘A Long-Expected Party’ and ‘The Shadow of the Past’:
I’m not sure what else I will read. J.R.R. Tolkien’s translation of Beowulf is high on the list, as is The Best American Essays 2013 edited by Cheryl Strayed, which has been on my shelf for quite some time, or Confusion by Stefan Zweig. I suppose I’ll let my mood guide my reading this week. I have a lot of driving ahead of me so there might not be a lot of reading going on.
What I Watched:
I decided to start getting caught up on some of the shows I’m way behind on Netflix. The second season of Jessica Jones was the first on the list. I’d gotten about halfway through it before I stopped last time, but I went right through the remainder of the season in a few days. I tried to start on the second season of Iron Fist, but I’m lukewarm on it so far. I’ll give it another episode or two before I decide whether or not to continue.
I finally went to see a movie at the theater! It’s been months since I did so. My choice was The Bookshop starring Emily Mortimer, Bill Nighy, and Patricia Clarkson. Florence Green (Mortimer) is a widow chasing her dream of opening a bookshop in a seaside town in England, 1959. Though she has a firm supporter in the reclusive Mr. Brundish (Nighy), Florence faces stiff resistance from the town’s conservative residents, and would-be arts doyenne played by Clarkson. It’s a lovely, quiet film about the power of books to open hearts and challenge minds, and the ending was not what I expected it to be. It made me want to go back to England, in spite of the rainy weather showcased by the film’s cinematography.
And with that, I’d better get moving. I need to get ready for my first state park visit! Have a great week!