Catholic • B.A. in English Literature • MLS in progress
Sharing a love of literature through short, humorous reviews.
When it comes to social media, I've used different kinds, both personally and professionally. While there are tons of different social media platform, the ones that I've found I've had the most success with are Twitter and Instagram.
Based on my tendency to chit-chat (which you've all probably noticed in my posts), you'd think that personally and professionally I would prefer to steer away from microblogging. But in my experience I've found that microblogging--which, for those of you who might be new to the social media world, is blogging with a very limited amount of space--is the best route to go if you want to have any kind of professional presence, and it certainly helps those of us who are long-winded to maintain a manageable personal presence.
For example: as an English major, a MLS student, and a part-time Material Support Specialist, books play a very central part in my life: in my personal and professional world, I do a lot of sharing about books, about quotes, about authors, etc. When it comes to reviews and lengthy conversations, places like this Booklikes page are fantastic. But when I'm snapshotting a picture of my favorite book or an intriguing quote, or when I'm highlighting a particular author, I don't need an entire blog post...and that is where social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram come in.
NOTE TO READERS: As you may know from my blog description/bio, I am currently in the process of studying for my MLS (Master's in Library Science); part of that involves writing some blog posts about various aspects of my education/experience/etc. In the hope that you all might get to know me a little better, I've opted to keep these posts on my blog along with reviews and other more public-minded posts; please feel free to reach out to me in the comments: I would love to know how your experiences compare and contrast with mine, and I hope to be able to get to know my readers better through some of this sharing.
"I've always remembered my roots"--The Magician, p.324
Raise your hand if you've ever heard of Minecraft. (*raises hand*); now raise your hand if you've ever played Minecraft (*raises hand*).
Good. We've got some audience participation going on here.
Minecraft is definitely one of the more popular multi-user virtual environment games--also known as a MUVE--around: for example, I consider myself a video game fan, yet when I studied MUVEs in my library science course, Minecraft was the only one that I had even remotely heard about. The idea behind a MUVE, as I learned it in my course, is that a group of users (thus the multi-user, or MU, part of it) can come together and interact/play in a simulated world (also known as a virtual environment, or VE). Minecraft is, in my opinion, one of the better illustrations of a MUVE because it allows for the MUVE experience even in its most limited forms.
Want an example? No problem.
"Are you a victim too?" -The Alchemyst, p.338
I grew up Roman Catholic, in a Roman Catholic household, under the influence of Roman Catholic parents who had both converted from different branches of Christianity. My father has two Ph.Ds, at least one of which is in Theology; I grew up going to Church, hearing my father discuss the Roman Catholic faith. I was homeschooled, and used a conservative Catholic program for high school, and I later went to a Catholic university for my undergraduate education: from age 14 onward I was introduced to thick theology textbooks, apologists like Augustine and Aquinas, and to varying religious/sociological/philosophical worldviews. That stuff is hard.
That's why I love C.S. Lewis. That's why I loved Mere Christianity. C.S. Lewis is, I believe, one of the great Christian apologists. (Wait: if I grew up specifically Roman Catholic, why am I interested in just a Christian apologist?!). What makes C.S. Lewis such a fantastic apologist--what makes Mere Christianity such an amazing book--is the man's ability to take the complex aspects of Christianity and boil them down to the simplest sentences.
I spent four years with Theology textbooks: I loved them, and I learned a lot about them. I spent around five years discerning a religious vocation with Poor Clares in rural Indiana: I loved it, and I learned a lot from those selfless, religious women. C.S. Lewis spent the last chapters of his book talking Christian Theology...and suddenly things that have been a part of my life, of my spirituality since I was thirteen years old and writing to a young Poor Clare, or since I was fourteen years old and working my way through my introductory Theology textbook, suddenly clicked and made sense in a way that they hadn't yet.
Why am I going on and on about a Christian apologist and a book called Mere Christianity when I grew up with such a thorough religious background?
Because I'm probably not the average Christian. (No offense to anybody!). Not every Christian is Roman Catholic, and not every Christian has some of the advantages of learning their religion from converts. Most definitely not every Christian has a Theology professor as a parent, and many Christians have--for some reason or other--not had an education offered through a Christian standpoint. I did have all those things, and C.S. Lewis has helped me to understand my faith.
Imagine how much he can help people who are new to this! Imagine how much more sense he can make to people who aren't carrying four years of Theology textbooks, eight years of Christian education, and a lifetime of religious influences with them!
And I think the fact that C.S. Lewis is NOT Catholic, but merely Christian, is an important fact. He was of the Church of England...but he didn't call his book Merely Anglican or Merely Protestant...he called it Mere Christianity. C.S. Lewis, while having his own affiliation, has an amazing ability to step outside of his own religious denomination and affiliation in a way that a lot of people can't; the fact that C.S Lewis is not Catholic is a bonus point for him in a world that is still full of denomination and affiliations.
NOTE: Don't get me wrong--I am a staunch Catholic, and I firmly believe in my faith as it has been handed down to me; I'm not Catholic because I'm just too lazy to explore any other denomination, but because I truly believe I'm in the right place.
But the above note doesn't change the fact that sometimes we Catholics--or Protestants, or Anglicans, or Lutherans, or non-denominationals--oftentimes get so wrapped up in talking about our specific dogmas, etc., that we forget to delve down and show the world the basics. We're so focused on public declarations about Mere Catholicism or Mere Lutheranism or any other form of Mere [insert denomination/affiliation] that we forget to tell the world about Mere Christianity.
Luckily for us, C.S. Lewis has done it for us. So when someone says 'I don't want to hear about your specific stuff, I just want to know the down and dirty, the basics, the 101 of Christianity'...feel free to explain it, to share your experiences and your viewpoints. But offer a disclaimer before you do so, and make sure to point them to C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity at the end of it.
The Allen County Public Library shares book recommendations, staff picks, and other fantastic information: today they shared a post written by yours truly. So take a peek!
Indeed a generation later one might hear an old gaffer in an inn, after a good pint of well-earned ale, put down his mug with a sigh: 'Ah! that was a proper fourteen-twenty, that was!' -The Return of the King, p.1001
So far Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings has been a tad exclusive: open largely to connoisseurs of fine wines...or at least to those who happen to have a taste for the finer alcohols of life. Reading The Return of the King, however, is more like visiting the open bar--pick a drink, any drink, whatever you like.
The Fellowship of the Ring came in at 4 1/2 stars, but mostly appealing to a reader willing to stick through some boring sections. The Two Towers ranked a little lower, and most definitely narrowed its field to connoisseurs. The Return of the King ties with The Fellowship of the Ring, but for an entirely different reason.
For those alcohol drinkers of the world who, for whatever reason, don't happen to like the taste of wine, or champagne, or whatever high-falutin' alcohols are on a typical connoisseur's table, The Return of the King is our book. It's the book for the Miller Corona drinkers, the Mike's Hard Lemonade guzzlers, the Sprecher gulpers of Tolkien's readers--it doesn't appeal to any particular taste, so long as the love of the basic concept is there.
The Return of the King is an action-packed, addictive rush of a novel.
[spoiler] Not terribly surprising, based on the fact that it picks up with Gandalf hurrying Pippin away to Gondor in a race against winged Nazguls, and Sam rushing into Mordor to save a definitely-not-dead-but-captured Frodo. [/spoiler] If you like stories about good guy versus bad guy, bigger than life armies, [spoiler] ladies in disguise in the thick of the action,[/spoiler] and all the hoopla that comes with it all...The Return of the King is the book to read.
[spoiler] That being said, if you're a sucker for happy endings, you might want prepare yourself for bittersweet instead...[/spoiler]
Long story short, if you're like an old gaffer in Hobbiton, looking for good old 1420 to down at the end of a long day, consider The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers as your long day, and The Return of the King as your 1420 reward.
NOTE: This review is simply for the novel; nearly every edition of The Return of the King that I have read/picked up/coveted includes the Annals and a large amount of appendices, which--since the typical reader doesn't read those, just as the typical alcohol drinker doesn't read brewery house manual--I have chosen to exclude from this review. If anyone desperately wants thoughts on the mini-novel of material after the actual novel, let me know.
Remember the scene in The Parent Trap, where Lindsay Lohan's character surprises a table of adults by knowing how to drink wine like a connoisseur?
That's what reading The Two Towers is like.
If The Fellowship of the Ring was like fine wine, it was a fine wine that simply needed to age before it could be drunk by newbies and wine aficionados alike. The Two Towers, however, is like a fine wine that only aficionados really appreciate. If a newbie tries to take a sip, they're either going to love it or hate out, and they'll either swallow it or spit it back out into the cup.
While Tolkien's work in The Two Towers maintains the quality that was found in The Fellowship of the Ring, the difference between these two wines--pardon me, between these two books--is that The Fellowship of the Ring is, for the most part, a fast-paced adventure story ([spoiler] minus the ever long enemy of even the most dedicated Tolkien aficionados, "The Council of Elrond" [/spoiler])...and The Two Towers is not.
The Two Towers is a struggle for any character biased readers.
[spoiler] Frodo and Sam lovers, you have to wait until you're over half-way through this book before your beloved characters shine. [/spoiler] Tolkien branched away from traditional storytelling--or storytelling has branched away from tradition, whichever you prefer--by dividing this book into two parts, and only dealing with certain sets of characters in each part. [spoiler] You spend a fast-paced few chapters with Aragorn and Legolas and Gimli, and then suddenly you're reading "The Council of Elrond" all over again in the form of an enormous chapter called "Treebeard," and then you have some more fast-paced action, and then suddenly you're off with Frodo and Sam for the rest of the book... [/spoiler]
For readers who are accustomed to healthy doses of all characters throughout the course of a book, or for readers who have unhealthily particular fondnesses for certain characters, this makes The Two Towers a bit more of a slog.
So if you're not bothered by the two book, character separating, alternating style of Tolkien's writing, you should be good. Right?
Maybe. That's where the wine part comes in. If you're a wine aficionado, maybe you can just take a swig and still enjoy the wine. It's not going to taste as good as if you'd let it soak into your palate (or whatever wine aficionados do before drinking their beverage). But if you're new to fine wine and you just chug it down, you're faced with the two already named options: you'll love it and drink it...or you'll hate it, and you'll spit it out.
The Two Towers should be read like wine is drunk: with a refined palate, the way Lindsay Lohan does it in The Parent Trap. Except that this book will, in all likelihood, not leave you inclined to even pretend to be tipsy.
Just kidding. [spoiler] But he does wake up in an empty lot..in 2011 Berlin [/spoiler]. But Timur Vermes Look Who's Back reads like the world's longest, most hilarious scenario joke you've ever run across. Except that Timur Vermes isn't joking...[spoiler] and neither is his Hitler[/spoiler].
Time travel doesn't phase Hitler the way it phases most people. Sure, it takes him a little bit to figure out where/when he is and what's going on, but then he's--as the title announces--back [spoiler] (and taking German media by storm in a misunderstood attempt to resurrect the Nazi movement) [/spoiler]. And Timur Vermes hasn't placed the Fuhrer [spoiler] and his unwavering faith in his movement [/spoiler] in the present day for nothing.
Look Who's Back will make you laugh out loud as you follow Hitler's journey through modern-day Germanic culture [spoiler] (and try to make people understand that he's actually Adolf Hitler: easier said than done) [/spoiler]. But it will also leave you just a little worried...[spoiler] after all, at the end of the day Hitler does rather a spectacular job of convincing the German media to help him out without their even realizing the scope of what they're doing [/spoiler].
Look Who's Back is a 5 star read: hilarious, satirical, light-hearted, with a depth of cultural analysis. Worth a read, and worth taking the time to understand what Vermes is saying.
[spoiler] Because Hitler in the 21st century isn't actually a punch line: it's serious.[/spoiler]
Wine gets better as it gets older; even Hobbits--who exhibit a decided preference, in my humble opinion, for ales/beers/etc--know that. [spoiler] Remember that wine Bilbo gave as a present after his birthday party? The old one that his father laid down? [/spoiler] J.R.R Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring is no different.
I first delved into Tolkien's writing when I was nine: I had seen Peter Jackson's adaptations of The Fellowship and The Two Towers, and had decided to whet my anticipation of The Return of the King by reading the books. I was a voracious reader, and I sped through them at a record speed (for a nine-year-old at least). Then I put them down, and spent the next 11 years of my life praising them as some of the best books written, while avoiding picking them up again.
The truth of the matter is that The Lord of the Rings, which is the trilogy of which The Fellowship is the first part, is infinitely more boring when you're not a nine-year-old girl obsessed with learning every drop of knowledge about the universe that you've fallen in love with. [spoiler] Also, the endless chapters about leaving the Shire, sitting in councils, and loitering about in Lorien really get to you when you're older and less impulsive yourself.[/spoiler] Unfortunately for hordes of readers who didn't get the chance to read Tolkien when they were younger, and now want to pick it up at a riper age. Luckily, there's a bright side to the situation...
...The Fellowship of the Ring, at least, has much more depth when you are older. As a professed YA literature nut, who has spent plenty of time reading popular YA fiction, I can attest that Tolkien is infinitely better, simply on a language level. But even if depth of language isn't your thing (it isn't everyone's bottle of wine), The Fellowship of the Ring offers other depths of analysis that make reading--or rereading--it at a later age a good idea, especially if your primary associations are with Peter Jackson's films.
NOT that I'm dissing any films: I grew up on Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings the way that some people grew up on Lawrence Welk and Jack Benny, and I have an immense affection for every Lord of the Rings material that PJ turns out. But some things in the films--[spoiler] the fact that PJ's Frodo tends to be an emotional sap, whereas Tolkien's Frodo is a pleasurable mix of Carla from Scrubs and Bernadette from The Big Bang Theory [/spoiler]--lack the depth of the books.
All of The Lord of the Rings deserves a read, but The Fellowship of the Ring now has a special place in my heart: I grew up thinking that PJ's film trumped the book in every possible way, and a reread has shown me that Tolkien didn't churn out book one of a trilogy for nothing...it hooked readers for a reason, and it's lasted as long as it has for a reason. My recommendation for reading/rereading?
If you're under 16...wait. Wait until you're older, until you can fully appreciate the entire thing, even the boring parts. [spoiler] Like "The Council of Elrond," which my Kindle Fire told me would take over an hour to read. [/spoiler]
If you read The Fellowship of the Ring when you were younger...reread it now. Read it as slowly or as quickly as you'd like, but savor every part, even if you remember it from before and know that there are parts you won't be able to stand.
[spoiler] Once again, "The Council of Elrond," which has been my stumbling block for Tolkien for the 11 years in which I haven't read the books. [/spoiler]
Reading Tolkien is like drinking wine. It gets better with age.