A humble little blog about books, information, and other things that are good to know.

Posts tagged ‘J.R.R. Tolkien’

Reading With Mom

Two children reading with their mother.

Image via About.com.

Today Twitter gave us a hashtag librarians can hardly help but love: #readingwithmom. Who doesn’t have a sweet memory of shared hours spent with the grown-up who lovingly brought them into contact with the beautiful, imaginative, and somehow extra-grown-up world of books? Or of the classic stories that came to life in those treasured moments?

For me, it was about reading The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings with my dad before bed. It created a Tolkien addiction that I still can’t quite get over, even to this day. I even have an Eowyn costume stored away in my closet. (Nerd!) What did you and your parents – or maybe you and your children – read together? Is it still staying with you even to this day?

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Scary Library: Banned Books from Hell

There are plenty of reasons for books to get censored, many of them political (it espouses an opinion considered objectionable by the powers that be) or moral (it advocates some sort of action or behaviour believed to be wrong, very often sexual). But since Hallowe’en is just around the corner, I figured it’s a good time to create a booklist of books that have been banned, challenged, or censored because they contain content that’s scary, violent, macabre, and horrifying. In other words, if they were made into movies, they’d probably get a pretty restrictive rating.

Ghoulish reader

Image via All Yearbooks Blog.

Interestingly, it’s actually better for the sensitive soul to read a scary book than to watch a scary movie. The reason? When you’re reading, you conjure the images in your mind. It’s still possible to get scared while you’re reading something spooky, but at least you control how frightening the projected images will be. If you don’t want to see anything too graphic, you can tone down your mental imagery and make it a gentler experience just by tweaking what’s in your brain. But in a movie, the images appear onscreen as-is, with no possibility for changing or toning down. However much blood and gore the killer splashes around, however  many corners and closets he jumps out from behind, and however terrifying the demon-possessed child looks during that exorcism, you’re going to see it in all its exquisitely terrifying detail.

With that in mind, you might decide you’re interested to read some of the stories I’m offering here. But keep in mind, too, that not all of them are as terrifying as their censored-book status might lead you to believe. After all, terror is in the mind of the beholder . . .

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Fifteen Books That Stuck

One of my friends from high school posted this fun little note, and I thought I’d respond to it here because, well, it’s a library blog. The point is simple: list the first fifteen books you can think of that you know you’ll always remember. Here’s what the initial meme said:

Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you’ve read that will always stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes. Tag 15 friends, including me because I’m interested in seeing what books my friends choose.

Wow, what an idea. Normally it would take a lot of thought to choose fifteen books that would always stick with me, but what would I pick if I were going to go with the first fifteen really meaningful books that came to mind? How about if I give it a try and see what I come  up with?

  1. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  2. Breaking Faith by John Cornwall
  3. The Church That Forgot Christ by Jimmy Breslin
  4. The Shining by Stephen King
  5. Byzantium by Stephen Lawhead
  6. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  7. The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson
  8. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  9. Rose Madder by Stephen King
  10. Full-Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn
  11. How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish
  12. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer-Bradley
  13. His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman
  14. Silent Night by Mary Higgins Clark
  15. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

BONUS BOOK: I really felt very tempted to put The Story of Tibet by Thomas Laird on the list, but I don’t suppose I can say it stuck with me to any great degree since I only read it yesterday. It hasn’t had the opportunity to stand the test of time. Still, I identified with it enough to give it honourable mention.

What do these selections say about me? I think they paint a picture of someone to whom relationships are important, slightly haunted by the complicated spirituality that sometimes develops when you come of age in a fairly conservative Catholic parish. Especially when you’re also interested in demons and the dark side. Most of the stories deal with spiritual conflicts or themes in some way, whether metaphorically, historically, or overtly (as in the books about Catholicism’s dark side, which were both highly influential even though I read them at least a decade apart).

Many of the themes in these stories (The Handmaid’s Tale or Fahrenheit 451) are about a fear of being silenced or fighting against an inability to speak up and tell one’s story. No big surprise, when you’re talking to a devoted librarian and would-be novelist! The Mists of Avalon is of particular importance to me because I’ve worked on (and hopefully will one day publish) a novel about the Arthurian legend, an imaginative retelling like Zimmer Bradley’s, but with a dark streak and a good deal more sympathy for Guinevere.

But ultimately I think the selection of books shows a shred of hope in me. After all, Silent Night is about family and Christmas. Books like How to Talk and Full-Catastrophe Living are about how to create positive change in your life and family. And the major theme in Byzantium is growth and self-discovery, the only path to a mature faith for the young monk who is the tale’s protagonist. I’m somebody who wants to make things better.

Yes, that sounds like me.

What fifteen books have you read in the past that really stayed with you, affected you, maybe even changed your life? What do they say about the kind of person you are?

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