Welcome to Week 2 of the Summer Book Club! In case you haven't been following along, we are doing a virtual reading of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and we are currently on Book 1 (The Fellowship of the Ring). It's not too late to join in if you haven't yet! Even if you can't follow our schedule exactly, don't worry--you're still invited to our weekly "meetings." 😉
Well, we'll start with a little update on my progress, and then I want to hear about yours! I'm a little over halfway through the novel at this point. I'll be honest, it was a slight trudge getting through some of the in-between passages, as it were. It can be a little hard to follow the "they turned west, then north, then got back on the Road, then got off it" after a while. Some eloquent prose adds a little spice to these sections, but there's only so much you can do to make that exciting to read.
That's not to say, of course, that I don't appreciate what Tolkien was doing. The long descriptions really add a level of depth that many stories lack today. It gives you a sense that the hobbits are traveling in a real world. In actuality, that's one of the most endearing qualities of Tolkien's writing: his lifelong commitment to crafting a rich world with deep history is nearly unmatched.
I also love how he breaks up some of these passages with excellent poems and songs. You really get a sense of how important tales and ballads are to the cultures of Middle-earth, which makes me sad in a lot of ways. It feels like it's a bit of a lost art in the real world! One of my favorite passages was from the story of Beren and Luthien, which I've written about on my blog before:
And in the glade a light was seen
Of stars in shadow shimmering.
Tinuviel was dancing there
To music of a pipe unseen,
And light of stars was in her hair,
And in her raiment glittering.
I'm just now getting into the Council of Elrond, and just like in the movie, I love the little hint of nostalgia that Tolkien sneaks in with the reunion of some of our beloved dwarf-friends from The Hobbit. This is one of my favorite scenes in the movie, so I'm excited to read this!
All right, I'm ready to hear from you! Where are you at? Do you have a favorite song or tale so far? Let me know in the comments here or on the socials!
Hey everybody! Week 1 of the Summer Book Club is wrapping up! I am really enjoying getting back into The Lord of the Rings book series, and if you're following along, I hope you are too. I remember trying to read The Fellowship of the Rings when I was about 13 or 14 and kind of thinking it was boring.
I don't know what I was thinking. The pacing is definitely different than a modern fantasy book, but the rich descriptions and excellent world-building from Tolkien make up for it. Right from the outset, the world feels fully fleshed out, from the little peculiarities of the hobbits to the languages and locations.
Before I get into some of my more specific thoughts, I'll go ahead and let you know that I am about to start Chapter 8, so if you're reading through the first time and don't want any spoilers, stop here!
Ok, if you're reading this, you want to be spoiled (or you're more cultured than I am and have already read the books). In any case, any discussion of The Lord of the Rings books would not be complete without comparing them to the movies. I kind of already do this with other books anyway, but it's obviously especially appropriate here. One of the things that stood out to me most was some of the major changes the movies made right out of the gate.
Of course, some important dialogue is preserved, whether it's my favorite, "I feel like butter scraped over too much bread," or Gandalf's cryptic warning, "Keep it secret, keep it safe!" Some important scenes from the movie are almost ripped straight out of the book as well, like Bilbo's birthday party and even the Black Rider stopping to "sniff out" the hobbits on the side of the road. I loved these parts because I have such a clear mental picture of these scenes due to the movie.
However, there are a couple of changes that took me aback a little bit. No, it's not that they took out Tom Bombadil (even though I think he and the River-daughter might have made for some cool on-screen moments). First, that seventeen years (!) passed between Bilbo's birthday party and Frodo leaving Hobbiton with the Ring, and second, that Farmer Maggot's actually a pretty nice guy.
That second one may sound lame, but we'll get to it in a minute. I'll preface the first point by saying that I recognize that putting seventeen years between the "Long-Expected Party" and Frodo's departure probably wouldn't have made for good cinema. It probably would have killed the suspense just a little bit. However, in the book, I think it makes sense. Obviously, Gandalf would have needed to have been thorough in his investigation into the Ring, for one thing. I mean, do we really think he would have gone to Minas Tirith for a couple of weeks just to conclude that this little trinket Bilbo had was THE Ring? Plus, at this point, the reader isn't really sure what the significance of the Ring is, even though they get a sense of it in the opening scenes. In the context of a book, there is space to create a sort of slow build that culminates with Gandalf's terrible revelation.
As for the second surprise, I just feel that the movies did injustice to Farmer Maggot's character (not to mention Pippin and Merry's just a little bit). In the movies, as you remember, Merry and Pippin are chased out of Farmer Maggot's fields after stealing some of his crops. I was surprised to find in the book that Farmer Maggot actually invites them in for dinner and vows to protect their whereabouts from the Black Riders! I feel like starting a petition to clear the farmer's name after he was smeared in the movie as this cranky old man. (#SupportFarmerMaggot, anyone?)
Eh, I don't get the sense that it will catch on.
What surprised you about reading LOTR so far? If you're rereading it, did you find out something new? Let me know here in the comments or on social media!
It's been a while! In the last year, I've started an internship and school has only gotten harder, leaving me with little time to keep up with blogging. A few months ago, I finished my first true novel and am currently getting feedback from some friends and family on the manuscript. Hopefully I'll have some news to share on that front pretty soon!
But summer is finally here, and with it, some much appreciated free time. I recently received a really nice set of The Lord of the Rings as a birthday gift (pictured above), and it gave me a cool idea to start a digital book club! It is to my great shame that I admit that I have never read the LOTR books all the way through, despite the fact that I have been a huge fan of the movies for years. I want to change that this summer!
To participate in the digital book club, there's no signup required! Just pick up that copy lying around your house, order it, get a Kindle copy, listen to the audiobook--whatever works for you--and follow along with me! My plan is to read roughly one book each month, with me posting updates on my progress each week. I know that might seem a little long for some, but for the slow readers (like me!) and those with busy schedules, I think this will work out well. So here's the official timeline:
May 13-June 13: The Fellowship of the Ring
June 14-July 13: The Two Towers
July 14th-August 13: The Return of the King
I'm looking forward to reading along with you guys! If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to leave a comment!
I'm a sci-fi/fantasy lover & writer who especially likes talking about Star Wars and futuristic tech. I like finding new things & finding the beauty in old things, especially in my "Everyday Snippets" series. I hope you'll join me on my blog and unleash your imagination!