The Adventures of Tom Bombadil

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By J.R.R. Tolkien, with illustrations by Pauline Baynes, edited by Christian Scull and Wayne G. Hammond, first published in 1962.

Written in verse, this beautiful little book has many stories from The Red Book. It focuses on the character ‘Tom Bombadil’ from the Lord of the Rings, who is particularly mysterious. He is perhaps the oldest being in Arda, and has complete power over his chosen domain, where he lives with his wife Goldberry.

Most (I have not read the whole book) of the poems are rather nonsensical as Tom is known to be. It is a fun, light read that helps shed some light on some of Tom’s history and activities.

Beren And Lúthien

100 years after being written, Beren and Lúthien is being published as its own story after being edited by Christopher Tolkien. I’m so excited to get my copy (the book is released June 1st) and I pre-ordered it yesterday.

I already know how the story goes from reading the Silmarillion but I’m hoping there are some differences. I am especially looking forward to the illustrations which have been done by Alan Lee, one of the conceptual artists who worked on the Lord of the Rings trilogy and whose work I have loved for years.

Beren and Lúthien is the tale of an elf maiden who falls in love with a man and is based on Tolkien’s relationship with his wife. They even have the names engraved on their tombstones.

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The Dictionary of Imaginary Places

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The Dictionary of Imaginary Places, by Alberto Manguel and Gianni Guadalupi, Illustrated by Graham Greenfield, Maps and Charts by James Cook, published in  1980. I’m not entirely sure, but I think I might have picked this book up a few years ago at The Book Gallery (see previous post – https://livefree0seizetheday.wordpress.com/2017/02/14/the-book-gallery/).

This book is seriously the coolest. It is literally a dictionary of imaginary places (that existed before 1980). That doesn’t just mean it has ‘Middle Earth,’ it has every location in Middle Earth, complete with a description of the location, and the people who inhabit it, where it is located and a reference to the literary work in which it is from. Some entries even have maps, sketches and charts. I have found entries that are from literature from the 14th century, right up until 1980.

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One thing I think is really cool is that if the imaginary place is on Earth, there is a map showing where it would be in relation to the real world. In addition, the book shows more than just cities, it has individual buildings or landmarks and often includes floor plans of buildings as well.

I only recognize a fraction of the places listed in this book and most of the ones I do are from Tolkien’s mythology. But it’s cool to flip through and find Emerald City, and Narnia. I would love to see an updated version of this book published just so I could see some of my favourite books/places included (Kingkiller chronicles, Harry Potter & Inheritance Cycle, the Maze Runner) that were published after 1980.

I have some books that are similar to this – two dictionaries of Tolkien’s mythology and a Tolkien Bestiary. The former being a dictionary of every person place or thing that exists in the Tolkien universe and the later focusing on the beasts (which includes people, elves, etc.). I find them all fascinating and the one’s that focus on Tolkien are essential if you are going to take on the Silmarillion or other background texts.

Awesome!

awesome“The Book of Awesome” by Neil Pasricha, published 2010. I have read this book a couple of times and every time it reminds me to look on the bright side of life.

Each chapter of the book is about an everyday occurrence that most people take for granted. The author emphasizes all the good stuff about it and argues that if we pay attention to these awesome things, our day will be a little bit better.

Some of the things he talks about are popping bubble wrap, picking the perfect nacho off someone else’s plate and fixing electronics by smacking them.

The Professor

biography.jpg“J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography,” by Humphrey Carpenter, published June 2000. I’m not usually one to read non-fiction for pleasure, but I’m in the process of reading this for the third time. Mainly because it is about Tolkien and I’m fascinated with him and his work, but it helps that the book is very well written. It also probably helps that I have a rather extensive knowledge of Tolkien’s work (everything from the Silmarillion to Roverandom), which are mentioned throughout the book.

Carpenter begins with a history of Tolkien’s family and his early childhood and provides a basic analysis of how the events of his childhood influenced the rest of his life. He then chronicles Tolkien’s teenage years, his time at Oxford, his role during the First World War and marriage. Once the war is over, Tolkien finishes his education and begins his career as an academic. We get a glimpse into what a typically day was like for the professor and his family and are introduced to Tolkien’s friends, such as C.S. Lewis. Much of the book is dedicated to understand Tolkien’s work – specifically, the mythology of the Silmarillion, the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings.

I can’t even begin to describe how fascinated I am with Tolkien and his work. I think it is the depth of his stories and the meaning in them. He began to create a mythical language when he was a teenage, which eventually evolved into the Lord of the Rings, about 50 years later. It really was his life’s work. I think I have also been heavily influenced by him – his love of nature, hatred of industrialization and his love of stories.

In 1973, Professor Tolkien sailed into the west to join his beloved Luthian, never to return.

“It simply isn’t and adventure worth telling if there aren’t any dragons.”

The Book Gallery

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The Book Gallery (http://thebookgallery.ca/Home) is Canada’s largest second hand book store and is located outside of Ottawa, in Carleton Place. The store has about 200,000 books in stock and in storage and carries every type of book you could imagine.

This is one of my favourite places and one that I have spent many hours in. I grew up going here with my family. Usually on the way home from visiting my grandparents in Ottawa. We would stop here and spend an hour or so browsing our favourite sections. At first, it was hard to find your way around, but now I know exactly where I’m going and I usually know where to find my family members too.

This place is every book lovers dream. Its a HUGE house (maybe even two combined). It has more rooms than I can count, two stair cases and a garage and EVERYTHING is lined with books. There are shelves everywhere that create a maze in each of the rooms and down the hallways. Every shelf has a double layer of books and is stacked from floor to ceiling. In addition, there are stacks of books covering a good portion of the floor. They are all labeled – usually by genre and then by author, making it fairly easy to find what you’re looking for. And of course the smell: as soon as you open the door, that old book smell is impossible to evade. There are a few chairs around the store and a fireplace in one corner and sometimes there has been a dog or cat hanging out. The staff are nice and very helpful and the books are reasonably priced.

If you don’t like books (I’m not sure why you’re on this page) it’s still a really cool place to visit (or maybe it’s just because I love books…). I think it’s a really cool place to explore and beautiful. It really has something for everyone.

Alice

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“The Annotated Alice: The Definitive Edition,” by Lewis Carroll, Introduction and Notes by Martin Gardner, original illustrations by John Tenniel. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was originally published in 1865 and is still a very popular story and has three movie adaptations (1951, 2010 & 2016).

This beautiful version contains the original story “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” which the 1951 movie is based off of. It also has “Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There,” which is where the newest movie adaptation comes from. Both of these stories are accompanied by annotations that delve into Carroll’s influences and experiences as well as the psychology behind the story.

I got this book for Christmas (2015) so I’ve had some time to work through it. I found it difficult to read the story and the annotations at the same time. Instead I read the story and then skimmed through the notes. I’ve always loved this story and it was one of my favourite movies (1951) as a kid (it still is) so I found it interesting to read an analysis of the story. The story appears to be a lot of nonsense, but the analysis is so in depth that it makes all of the nonsense seem perfectly justified. For example, one note reads “Both Carroll and Tenniel apparently forget that a milk jug was on the table. We know this because later on in the tea party the Dormouse upsets it.” The annotations also make references to works by Plato in regards to dreaming and madness, as well as many other writings by Carroll.

Aside from the analysis, this is a great story which I think every kid should read. It also has really great pictures, which I’m sure the movie (1951) referenced as they share a strong resemblance. Would definitely recommend this book (or at least some version of it).