August in Review

Smileys For BlogThis has been a very different reading month from the ones preceding it. Most of the books and essays I read were by one author: J.R.R. Tolkien. Although I read The Lord of the Rings a few years ago, I have only just discovered his genius. I love how Tolkien wove medieval myths and legends into his fantasy works. His research as a professor appeals to me because my research interest as an undergraduate was medieval French hagiography, particularly miracle and passion plays. I also did an internship with a couple professors who were studying the lives of Saints Barlaam and Josaphat. The story of Saint Josaphat was a Christian version of the story of the Buddha. I became fascinated by the proliferation of certain parables and myths during the Middle Ages. For example, there is a parable in the Barlaam and Josaphat stories that was well-known throughout the 13th and 14th centuries and was included in plenty of different stories. I often hear people say that Tolkien’s fantasy works were completely original, and later fantasy writers just copied him. They say this because they are ignorant of the older myths that influenced The Lord of the Rings. I don’t think good fantasy is ever completely original. That, I believe, is it’s strength. In the coming week I will explain further what I mean. Suffice it to say that Tolkien’s writing has captured my intellect and imagination. He was a myth-maker, and I won’t quit until I have read everything he wrote about Middle-Earth and the history of the Númenóreans. There may be quite a few posts about J.R.R. Tolkien’s essays and stories in the coming months.

Here is a list of the books I read in August.

On Fairy Stories by J.R.R. Tolkien – 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis (A rating of this book is not appropriate.)

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie – 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

A Man for All Seasons by Robert Bolt  – 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics by J.R.R. Tolkien – 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien (LOTR Vol. 2)  – 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien (LOTR Vol. 3) – 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 (I didn’t want The Lord of the Rings to end)

Note: I will review The Lord of the Rings in one post but I may also make smaller reflection posts about the characters and themes in the trilogy, so stay tuned…

 

Books I Plan to Read in September

La Fortune des Rougon by Emile Zola (I gave up on Five Weeks in a Balloon by Jules Verne because it was boring and way too racist for my liking.)

The Silmarillion by J.R.R Tolkien (I’ve been told that this book is super dense, so I will have to read it very carefully.)

Trinity by Leon Uris (Not a classic. I borrowed this book from my father, and I’ve wanted to read it for the last few years.)

The Epic of Gilgamesh 

 

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8 thoughts on “August in Review

  1. There is this Greek expression – “there’s no parthenogenesis” (lit. “there’s no virgin birth”) – referring to the fact that nothing comes out of thin air. Thanks for reminding us of a few of the many influences in Tolkien’s work! 🙂

  2. My husband just read The Lord of the Rings for the first time…I was reading The Hobbit to my son and he got sucked in. I’ve bought him The Silmarillion for his birthday and hope he enjoys it! (It’s a very different kind of narrative, but if you are interested in the mythology underlying Tolkien’s world I think you will love it.)

  3. I recently completed a Lord of the Rings reread as well (although not as quickly as you–I started the first book last year!), and saw completely different things this time around than when I last read it. For one, I was a bit more familiar with some of Tolkien’s references and had read both “On Fairy Stories” and The Silmarillion in the interim. I really didn’t have a concept of how truly deep Tolkien’s world-building was, and how much it permeated The Lord of the Rings until this last rereading. The Silmarillion IS dense, and I found it a bit slow to start, but it really took off for me at about the 100 page mark. And it was so worth it in the end. Good luck with the September reading plans!

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