Tolkien, Round 2: The Two Towers (and a few notes on Allegiant)

I started The Two Towers a couple of days ago after finishing Allegiant. I have to admit, even though I wrote in my last post that I would be able to finish Allegiant within a week’s time, I didn’t actually believe that I would.  And then I did! Awesome. I credit two things to the accomplishment of this goal:

1) telling myself (sternly) to buckle down and read
2) shaming myself into reading more to balance the insane number of hours I’ve recently spent watching back to back episodes of Raising Hope on Netflix.

SIDE BAR: Please note that Raising Hope is awesome and hilarious. Here is the trailer:

In the end, I decided not to write a post for Allegiant and instead jump right into The Two Towers. Before moving on, however, I do want to acknowledge that Veronica Roth managed to end that series in a way that I was not anticipating at all. In fact when the “Big Denouement” did occur, I thought she was twisting my arm. I kept reading because I was so convinced that in a few more pages or chapters, something would happen to the effect of a Literary Gotcha* but the Gotcha never came. I was bewildered, dazed, and, I’m not ashamed to admit, I cried. I soldiered on and read through my tears, and now I can put that pain behind me and move on to some good old fashioned fantasy lit.

When I last left the gang, Boromir had tried (and failed) to get the ring from Frodo, which didn’t work out too well for him as I recall. Then Frodo and Sam had stowed away on a boat together to face the rest of their journey alone. Such brave lil’ hobbits, aren’t they?

My goal now is to finish The Lord of the Rings series before the end of the month, which means I need step up my game. Wish me luck!

*Literary Gotcha: 1 to be led to believe one thing and to later discover that the opposite is true; 2 a term I just made up (dibs on copyright!); 3 a literary device

LOTR: one down!

As it turns out, the wisdom of “the longest tasks to complete are the ones you never start” (did I say that right?) applies to reading as well — well, duh. That’s a little bit of an obvious reflection now isn’t it? The point I think I’m trying to make is that Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring was really only long to read when I was dragging my feet through it. I did it to myself, really. Of course a story is going seem dull when you take it in five to ten pages at a time. Once I really got in to it and started making some significant progress, that increased to 30, 50, even 100 pages at a time, and then lo and behold the book got interesting.

What I learned is this: some books completely engross you and make it impossible for you to put them down. It’s like they have some hold over you to keep turning the page. You just HAVE to know what happens next; “I’m just going to read until I find out what happens to X with Y” or “just one more chapter, then I’ll go do the laundry.” All of a sudden you’re 8 chapters past what happened to X with Y and you have no clean underwear left.

Some books, like all great relationships, take a little bit more work. There are ups and downs in the denouement, and maybe the author has a penchant for tangents about lore for this realm he’s created. But you’ve committed to the book, dammit, so you sit your ass down and you read it! You owe it to yourself to finish what you started (unless it’s really bad – who amongst us hasn’t walked away from a terrible book before? Let them cast the first stone!). Also, once you finish the book, you feel proud and accomplished.

An observation: When I finish reading an engrossing book (like the kind I first described above), I feel spent and often left wanting. It’s not enough! This thing has just completely swept me away, taken over my thoughts, and now it’s just over? Just like that? I think the only one night stands I’ve ever had have been with books. Yup, that says something about me, doesn’t it? But I’m getting married now, so shush.

ANYWAYS – what I’ve found is that when I finish reading books that take work to get through (the ‘you gotta work, bitch’ books – shout out to Britney Spears and Ru Paul) I feel proud and accomplished, like I’ve passed some milestone. In my case, it might be more significant because in many instances it puts me one step closer to completing The List. I think that this theory has wider applications, though. If you work harder to finish something, you feel more accomplished when you finish.

Maybe? I feel like I’m taking crazy pills, people!

Moving on. Back to the point. Finished Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring. Yes. As you all know (if you read my last few posts) this really happened because The Republic of Thieves finally arrived and I want to read that like an insecure girl on a diet wants cake.

The first 300 pages or so of Fellowship took me a long time to read through. J.R.R. Tolkien sure does love his lore and fantasy! There are more foreign names in that book than in a (insert clever joke here). Thank God that they aren’t relevant to the plot because I don’t think I ever had a chance of remembering them all. Well, I guess I could have tried, but then it would have been more like studying than reading. If I wanted to do that I could just go to one of those colleges that offer classes on The Lord of the Rings. I could take the Harry Potter classes too – man that would be one freaking awesome semester.

Who would win in a fight: Gandalf vs. Dumbledore? Sauron vs. Voldemort? Harry vs. Frodo?

So, in conclusion, Fellowship wasn’t that bad. I’m actually looking forward to the next installment of that series. For the time being, however, I fully intend on ignoring everyone and everything (as much as I can while still maintain positive relationships in my life and not getting fired from my job) to read The Republic of Thieves.

Back in the saddle

After a very long absence from my blog, I’ve finally returned. The need to write a post and update my legions of followers on my progress on The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring has been growing over the past couple of months. I have had a pretty consistent nagging inner monologue reminding me that I had been neglecting my blog and the book and needed to get on that!

I had the greatest excuse not to write a blog post: “It’s been so long now, the best thing to do at this point is to wait until I’m finished reading LOTR and then write one post about it, and then move on to the next.” Perfect, right? Except I started saying that two and half months ago, and here we are and I am only about 60 pages further into the book, despite carrying it with me literally everywhere I go. My fiance’s brother was reading it as well this past summer – I noticed that we both had it with us as our beach reads. I’m sure he has long since finished, putting my snail’s pace reading to shame.

In my (albeit brittle) defence, the past couple of months have been eventful and busy for me, both with work and personally. It seems that I could benefit from a few more lessons in prioritization and time management. Of course, I could benefit just as much from not being a procrastinator…

So bugger to waiting until I’m done to update my blog! My update is this: I’ve picked up the book again and I’m forging on! Frodo & Co have now made it to Bree-land, have hooked up with Strider, and are about to leave for Rivendell. That is where I am in the book, which is just shy of half-way through. I seem to recall this part of the story being at the very beginning of the movie, which can only mean that I’m about to get into the really good stuff! Speaking of the movie, interesting that they didn’t include the character of Tom Bombadil as he was so critical to the gang making it through the Forest (or was he in the movie and I just don’t remember him?). Strider certainly has added an element of intrigue to the story.

Stay tuned! The next chapter is called “A Knife in the Dark” so that should be good.

LOTR = NSFD*

*translation: The Lord of The Rings = Not Suitable For Driving

Some of you may have noticed (ha!) that I was considering reading The Poisonwood Bible or Sherlock Holmes next. Well, when it turned out that The Poisonwood Bible was on one of my other lists and not  The List I basically threw it out as an option, and then I got intimidated by the length of the complete works of Mr. Holmes. So naturally I decided to pick up the TLOR series instead – much less intimidating. After all, there are movies!

Also, I already had the audiobook downloaded, so it seemed like the clear choice.

Sometimes audiobooks can be riveting. They can be extremely entertaining and keep you going and interested on a long drive. What I am discovering is that there are really two different kinds of audiobooks: ones which are suitable for driving, and ones which are not. As you may recall, the audiobook for Catch 22, for example, was not suitable for driving. Neither is LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring, it would seem.

The audiobook that I have for it is narrated by this lovely British man whose name escapes me right now (I will update later with this information) who likes to sing the songs in the book, and apparently there are a lot of songs in this book. I didn’t know this. Nobody told me. Were all these songs in the movie? I don’t think they were. The thing is, he sings the songs like lullabies, and the rest of his reading is also like this lyrical trance just lulling you off into a safe slumber. Except it’s not safe BECAUSE I’M DRIVING ON THE 401. So of the 16 hours of driving I have done since last Friday, only about 4 of those (combined, not consecutive) have been spent listening to LOTR.

The rest of the time I’ve been filling my car with very sophisticated and high society music such as Justin Timberlake, Drake, Lady Gaga, P!nk, and basically whatever the radio stations in the cities I have been driving through feel like playing. I went through a country music phase that lasted about an hour when I was driving through Napanee and Tweed this weekend, that was fun.

Something else I have to mention about this book. I have seen the movies, not recently, but I have seen them. The popular belief is that if you see a movie and then read the book after, your imagination will take its cues from what you saw on the screen to help guide the story as you see it in your mind. Assisted Imagination. Scripted Imagery. One would then naturally assume that I have Elijah Wood running through the Shire (aka New Zealand) in my head.

That theory does not account for the fact that my parents have two beautiful Old English Sheep dogs which they named Pippin and Gimly. Gimly hasn’t come into the story yet, but Pippin has. So do I picture a hobbit when I think of Pippin? No! I think of the adorable, bouncy, playful Pippin we have at home. So in my mind, Frodo is being accompanied by Merry (a hobbit), and Pippin (an Old English sheep dog who can talk). This is making the story much more fun for me 🙂

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this isn’t Pippin and Gimly. These are Google dogs, but you get the idea.

Work beckons, more updates to come!