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How do I love Tolkien? Let me count the ways

Today is the birthday of my favorite author JRR Tolkien. Non-readers and non-fantasy book readers are more familiar of course with Peter Jackson’s adaptation of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit (3 movies out of 1 short book still confounds and amazes me). And while I love those movies to death of course (the LOTR trilogy is my all-time favorite movie. Yes, I consider them just one) I have a different kind of love affair with his books, his works that were put together by his son Christopher after his death, and just the world he created in general. So why do I love him and his work so much?

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I got my non-Bible life verse from Fellowship of the Ring

From the moment I read this passage from the first Tolkien book I read, I fell in love with it, and since then “not all who wander are lost” has been my “tag line.” While of course the poem pertains to Aragorn (who of course happens to be one of my favorite characters), that doesn’t mean we can’t relate to it. Being an emotional nomad, my heart is prone to wander here and there and so the line really speaks to me.

Not all who wander are lost

He tells the stories of Middle Earth like it was a real world

When it comes to world-building, I haven’t read anything yet that can compare to Tolkien’s Middle Earth. Each race (and sub-race) has its own detailed language, culture, history, characteristics, story, etc. I’ve probably read The Silmarillion, which talks about the whole history of Middle Earth, from its creation up to the time when the events of The Lord of the Rings transpired and even beyond. If your only exposure of Tolkien is LOTR, believe me, it is just one part of a very large picture. Too bad Peter Jackson can’t touch Tolkien’s other works, it would have been awesome to see some of the stories in the Silmarillion and the Histories of Middle Earth and The Lost Tales come to life on the screen. I will not trust any other filmmaker to touch that, but alas, the Tolkien estate will not let him. So until then, these stories will have to stay in our heads, and you will not hear me complaining.

Not my collection, but i wish it was!

Not my collection, but i wish it was!

He created some of my favorite fantasy characters

Varda. Lorien. Tulkas, Nienna. Arien and Tilion. Fingolfin. Galadriel. Gil-galad. Earendil. Melian. Beren and Luthien. Turin Turambar. Thorin Oakenshield. Aragorn. Eowyn. Faramir. Theoden. Pippin. Samwise. Whether their characters’ stories were short or epic, I will forever treasure having been privy to their journey, their pain, their triumph, their tragedy. I feel like I went through everything with them, and when their respective chapters came to a close, i felt like I lost a friend. And yes, I’ve named a few toys or gadgets after some of these characters.

Trivia – their joint tombstone refers to Tolkien and his wife, Edith Mary as Beren and Luthien, which is probably the best “love story” in his Middle Earth. Altogether now…”Aaawwwww”. If you don’t know the story of the ill-fated (somewhat) and star-crossed lovers, that is one incentive for you to read Silmarillion.

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The women are few but memorable

Tolkien has often been accused of “hating” female characters as most of the stories, especially in The Hobbit and the LOTR trilogy are testosterone-filled escapades. But the few women he was able to flesh out were memorable indeed. Melian used her power to protect those she loved. Galadriel is one of the oldest and most powerful elves still in Middle Earth. Luthien is no damsel in distress and she dared to go against the greatest evil. Eowyn uttered the classic line, “I am no man!” Arwen was….well she was pretty. Haha. Yeah, he could have written her better, but hey, Aragorn saw something in her, so maybe she wasn’t all that bad.

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Evil is not ambiguous and good triumphs in the end

While I do love modern stories, sometimes there is just too much ambiguity when it comes to the nature of evil. The rise of the anti-hero is exciting for storytelling, but disturbing for my peace of mind. In Tolkien’s world, the villains (Morgoth/Melkor, Sauron, the orcs) were not mistreated or abused that’s why they rebelled and became evil (okay, maybe the orcs had no choice but you don’t hear of an orc who suddenly chose to become good). They just were full of hatred and malice and lust and greed. They say he wrote the LOTR trilogy as an allegory for his experiences in World War I and obviously, his view is that there is no justification for war. It is just evil. But in the end, goodness will always triumph. And in a real world that sometimes doesn’t always reflect that, his stories and his own world are a comfort and a reminder that at the end of it all, it is not the most powerful or the proudest or the strongest that will win the battle.

And of course the quotes, the wonderful, beautiful quotes (not my art, click here for source)

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2014 in Books

 

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Can Read Over and Over and Over

Since The Perks of Being A Wallflower’s  (one of those books that I’ve read more than 5 times) movie adaptation is coming to the theaters tomorrow, I thought of listing down the 10 books that I could read over and over again. Some books that I love, I can’t repeatedly read coz they’re either too heavy or too long, but these ones are those that I can randomly pick up and choose random pages to read and I can still immerse myself in their world. (Oh and I didn’t put the Bible in here because obviously it’s something I should be reading everyday)

1. The Lord of the Rings trilogy and Silmarillion by J.R.R Tolkien

Okay, I know it’s cheating because they’re four books already, but hey, they’re in the same universe right? All in all, I’ve read them more than twenty times and I can still vividly picture scenes in my head (even those not covered by the movies). And I name 3/4 of my stuff (gadgets, trinkets, stuffed creatures) after characters from that world so that goes to show how much I love Tolkien’s work.

2. A Song Of Ice and Fire by George R.R Martin

Truth be told, I haven’t finished A Dance with Dragons because the book after that hasn’t been published yet. And so I keep going back to certain parts of the other four books, especially whenever I watch the TV adaptations. Skip the gratuitous sex and the boring parts describing food and I’m all set. And the other 1/4 of my stuff get named after characters from here.

3. Mythology by Edith Hamilton

So technically, it’s not really a book per se, but all the stories of gods and goddesses and the puny humans and heroic demi gods have given birth to the archetypes we know now and so it’s nice to constantly go back to the original stories

4. The Story Of My Life by Helen Keller

Next to my mom and grandmother, she truly is the woman I admired the most since childhood. Since there was no internet yet when I was growing up, I grabbed everything I could find in the library about her. But reading her own actual words just gave her story more power and beauty for me. I still go back to her life whenever I feel like my life sucks

5. Coraline by Neil Gaiman

I could put in a couple of other Gaiman books here, but Coraline takes the cake. Even if it still scares me (for reasons other than the Other Mother) I still read it over and over because I can somehow relate to the titular character’s need to be in a different place but ultimately realizing that where I am right now is where I’m supposed to be. Kinda like The Wizard of Oz but scarier.

6. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

The subject of the book is sad and sobering, but it was written in a way that it can make you laugh and cry at the same time. Oskar might just be my favorite little boy character ever. But don’t get me started on the awful movie adaptation that made me cry, but for vastly different reasons (anger and frustration)

7. The Princess Bride by William Goldman

It’s not enough that the movie is one of my all-time favorites. I had to discover the book it was based on and found to my delight that it was every bit as funny and memorable as the movie. The book and movie will always be my favorite love story (so far)

8. The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

The book that started this blog post is my favorite YA novel. No matter how old I get, I will always be able to relate to “Charlie” and how he just quietly (although of course I am rarely quiet) watches life pass him by and lives vicariously through his friends, until he starts feeling “infinite”. So many great quotable lines here too.

9. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

This book is devastating, and yet I cannot fully step away from the world of Kathy, Ruth and Tommy. And the big reveal still has the power to kick me in the gut and make me gasp, even though I obviously know about it by that time. The movie adaptation isn’t bad too.

10. What’s So Amazing About Grace by Philip Yancey

This is the book that brought me to a deeper understanding of the devastating beauty of God’s grace. And because I constantly lose sight of how undeserving I am of this grace, I have to go back to this and the Bible to remind myself that He is the only reason why I’m still breathing right now.

 

Runners-Up

Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Chronicle of A Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Mills and Boons books by Charlotte Lamb

Blue Like Jazz by Don Miller

Stuff Christians Like by Jon Acuff

 

So, what are your books?

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2012 in Books, Top 10 Tuesday

 

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10 Reasons Why I Loved/Hated The Half Blood Prince

5 Reasons Why I Loved It
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1. The cinematographer was Bruno Delbonnel, who was also the Director of Photography for Amelie and Across the Universe

2. The script had a good mixture of humor, romance, action, magic and melodrama. I found myself reacting to all elements, unlike with Transformers, which had all the elements above but failed miserably

3. Gandalf, ah, I mean Dumbledore, was becoming more and more like Gandalf. Which is always a good thing in my book

4. Luna. Bellatrix. Snape. Caricature-ish characters, yes, but I found them fascinating. Only Luna can pull off wearing a lion’s head in a Quidditch match. Only Helena Bonham Carter can give justice to the insanity of Bellatrix. And I adore Alan Rickman in whatever role he inhabits. And yes, Snape is my favorite Potter-verse character.
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5. For all her faults and her “borrowing” elements from Tolkien, CS Lewis and all other fantasy writers before her, JK Rowling is a pretty good storyteller

5 Reasons Why I Disliked It

1. No Bill/Fleur. Barely a Remus/Tonks sighting. If you’re gonna put in romance and the likes, why not include the two stories, even briefly. Yeah, I know you have to trim down the book to make it fit into 2 1/2 hours, but I would have loved to have seen the annoying Fleur stand by her man after Fenrir ripped Bill’s face. Or seen Tonks’ new Patronus and hear her declare her love for Remus Lupin, werewolf and all. Oh, and where was the fight scene in Hogwarts? An Order of the Phoenix and Death Eaters showdown is always very much welcome

2. Why didn’t they show the funeral? The merpeople, the centaurs, the giants, even Dolores Umbridge paying tribute to….the one who died (yes, there are still some people who dont know the one who died), that would have been an awesome ending to the movie

3. The Inferi were much scarier in the book and in my head. Here they were just…meh. Oh yeah, the Inferi were the undead who tried to drown Harry in the caves. Which is too similar to the Dead Marshes scene in Two Towers. Which leads to…

4. Is it just me, or does every fantasy movie now “borrow” (steal) scenes from The Lord of the Rings trilogy? Being a Tolkien purist (fanatic), it’s becoming annoying. Except for the Dumbledore/Gandalf comparison, I found myself scoffing (snorting) everytime I notice an LOTR reference (copycat)

5. Too long. Could’ve done with less Lavander. Less Slughorn. And that chase scene in the cornfields and the burning of the Weasley house? Pointless and unecessary

But I’m probably just nitpicking. I liked it more than I disliked it, and I wouldn’t mind watching it again. So yeah, go and watch. Otherwise, you will have no contribution to the watercooler conversation

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2009 in Critique

 

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