Category Archives: Literature

The Year I Almost Missed the Tolkien Birthday Toast

Every January 3rd, I spend more of the day than I should staring at the clock. School isn’t back in yet, which means I’m normally at home. Though there’s plenty of work to do, it’s easy to watch the clock and think about 9:00pm. What will I drink this year? How many minutes does it take to prepare? I have to ready right on time.

Since it fell on a Wednesday this year, we would be at church beforehand, but the timing would be perfect. We would be home in plenty of time, I would make my husband and myself a cup of tea (or maybe hot chocolate for him), and we would have the toast at home. It would be great.

Then reality hit. We got into the car and realized that everything had gone later than usual. We wouldn’t make it home in time. I would miss 9:00.

Though it’s a kind of silly tradition, my husband knows it’s important to me, so he had already thought of a plan B. There’s a Starbucks right on the way home. We swung in, ordered some hot chocolate, and were back in the car in time for the birthday toast.

26232543_10154957263451945_1497241425140664599_o

It didn’t have the same sense of ceremony that Tolkien’s birthday toast normally does, but it still happened. And that’s what really matters.

Advertisements

Happy Birthday, Tolkien!

It’s that time again! Today is Tolkien’s 126th birthday!

I always like to pay homage to the author who influenced me the most (and who I enjoy the most). Fortunately, I’m working from home, which means it’s the perfect day for movie soundtracks and lots of tea. Decaffeinated, of course.

This evening is always my favorite part. At 9pm local time, fans around the world will participate in this year’s Birthday Toast “To the Professor.” I’ll be joining with some decaffeinated tea instead of the usual Darjeeling. It’s a great start to the New Year.

WP_20151226_20_54_43_Pro

Are you planning on participating tonight? If so, what’s your drink of choice?


The Great Mystery Book: The Voynich Manuscript

I have a thing for gathering random facts and information. I think it’s partly nature and partly nurture. My mom has always been a collector of facts, to the point that she could easily win Jeopardy if she ever applied to be a contestant.

As I grew up, I realized just how handy knowing so many random things can be for writing, which has only fed my need to create a personal menagerie of random facts. My husband always laughs when our evening conversations start with me saying, “So I was watching this documentary on poisonous potatoes in the Andes today…” (And if you’re interested, it’s “Food: Delicious Science” on Netflix.)

Needless to say, when I happened across a TED-Ed about a book written in a seemingly real language no one knows and filled with unusual paintings, I had to watch it. We live in a time when so many mysteries can be answered with history and science, but this is one that has remained an enigma. It’s enough to get the imagination going, whether it’s to figure out the truth behind the book or find inspiration to write a story in which there’s a similarly mysterious book.

Have you ever heard of the Voynich Manuscript? Do you have any similar mysteries in your stories?


How to Make Me Hate a Book in Five Words or Less

Even though my husband and I are adults, we still enjoy bedtime stories. Usually, he picks the book and I read it aloud… though this was the sneaky way that I finally introduced him to The Lord of the Rings in its original form.

Over the years, we’ve read quite a few books. Right now, we’re working on the Myst series, which are all based on the video game world of the same name. He played the part puzzle, part exploration games when he was a kid, and he told me enough about the world while we were growing up that I was familiar with it too.

So far, we’ve finished the first book (The Book of Ti’Anna) and now we’re on to the second (The Book of Atrus). While they’re not the next classics, they have been fun.

That is, until a few nights ago.

Continue reading


Happy (Belated) Hobbit Day!

WP_20150922_08_12_00_Pro

Friday came and went faster than expected. While I didn’t get to my annual Hobbit Day post, that doesn’t mean that we didn’t celebrate!

Most years, Hobbit Day (Bilbo and Frodo’s birthday) is filled with everything Hobbit-related that you can imagine. This year was more subdued, thanks to the hurricane. In some ways, though, it felt very much like a typical Hobbit’s day.

I’m currently on a Hobbit’s eating schedule… and sometimes I feel like I have the appetite of one too. I understand why they prefer to spread their calorie intake out over six meals, though. It allows for plenty of variety throughout the day. The only downside: I think I need a bigger lunchbox to take on campus. Oh, and it confuses the cat when I’m home. Sorry, little guy, but you don’t get lunch at 9:30…

I added to my vegetable garden. Since it’s time for fall planting, could there be a more perfect day to spend some time in patches of freshly tilled earth?

Did you celebrate Hobbit Day? If so, what did you do?


Reading the Inklings: Dorothy Sayers

Well, it took the whole summer, but I’m one step closer to my goal of reading something by all of the Inklings.

Robert Harvard, a medical doctor, was first on the list. The only entry I would really appreciate was in CS Lewis’ The Problem of Pain, so that’s what I read. As interesting as medical journals might be, I think that some of it may have been lost on me.

Fortunately, Dorothy Sayers writes fiction so there were plenty of options to choose from. Since I opted to borrow a book digitally from the library, I picked Lord Peter Views the Body.

It’s just one part of the Lord Peter Wimsey series, and it shows. While the stories are all vignettes, some do make clear references to prior stories. Nothing that makes it difficult to keep up with because she does give enough context for me to appreciate the characters and situations, but I still know that I’m missing something.

The stories make me think of Sherlock Holmes as far as their length and style go. Sometimes, there’s a possibility that I could have figured out the mystery. Other times, relevant information just isn’t presented, so the ending comes as a surprise. In any case, though, I enjoyed them and again admired the complexities of writing mysteries.

Much like Holmes, Lord Peter Wimsey (who is much younger than I originally imagined with such a grandiose name) has a sidekick: Bunter. Unlike Watson, he’s not in every story and he doesn’t always narrate, but he fulfills a similar function in the story.

Overall, it was definitely a fun read, and I’ll likely go back and check out some of her other works.

For now, though, it’s time to move on to new things. There’s a short story I promised a friend I would read, and then it’s time to pick the next Inkling!

Have you ever read anything by Dorothy Sayers? Do you like mysteries? If so, who are your favorite mystery authors?


Reading the Inklings: Getting Back on Track

Earlier this year, I decided to read something by as many of the Inklings as I could. It started off well (with Robert Harvard’s appendix in CS Lewis’ The Problem of Pain.) Then things derailed a little bit.

The end of the school year is always busy, especially when there’s curriculum to review for next year. Unfortunately, that put me off track on the book I had started: Lord Peter Views the Body by Dorothy Sayers.

According to the Kindle, I’m 11% in and was having a good time. Dorothy Sayers writes mysteries — a genre that has always intrigued me, but that I’m not particularly good at.

Clearly, all of the stories about Lord Peter (a detective of sorts) tie together, and I can tell that I’ve come in partway through a series. However, there’s still enough that I know what’s going on — even though I don’t have a full appreciation for the relationships between some of the reoccurring characters.

Now that I’m back to reading what I want to read, I’ll have an update on this book hopefully sooner rather than later.

What are you reading right now? Have you ever heard of Dorothy Sayers or read anything by her?