Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tolkien: A Look Behind the Lord of the Rings

I'm forever drawn to Tolkien related things, either for myself or any of the guys in my family, I have a bunch of the old paperbacks and this one was a recent addition to the shelf. My father read all of the Lord of the Rings (LOTR) and the Hobbit out loud to my brothers and I when we were small kids. Also fewer kids. So these characters have been with me pretty much as long as I can remember. Which means that my level of being weird over them is pretty high, and I can understand that not everyone cares that much about whether the LOTR is allegorical.1

Tolkien: A Look Behind the Lord of the Rings by Lin Carter reads like an academic essay from the days where you couldn't write an essay on Twilight for college.2 It is a delightful piece of nerd nostalgia that I really enjoyed, even if a great deal of it doesn't seem to be about LOTR.

Some history of Tolkien's writing years are given, but mostly the focus here is the LOTR. The book covers several chapters of summary of the trilogy, and it actually makes for interesting reading, if only to see what Carter chooses to leave out or talk about too much. Also you can cringe when he says that Eowyn is Theoden's daughter and not his niece.3 There is also a lot of speculation about the Simarillion and what that would further explain, since the book had not been published yet.

The later half of the book seems to be a history of the Epic Tale.4 There are many descriptions of ancient epic heroes fighting the gods to save the world that Carter puts forward as the stories that made possible LOTR. While I enjoyed learning about many of them, I'm not certain that Carter is putting forward anything too radical. It mostly seems like he is just giddy over finding so many things that seemed to inspire Tolkien. And I admit that seeing a list of names that includes my favorite dwarves is from a copy of the Poetic Edda is pretty damn cool.

I say read this if you both really like Tolkien and reading about writer inspiration. A good read, but not a must read.

Another reason why I read this book is because my husband, brothers, and my father are all rereading the LOTR together and meeting up after each book to talk about them. I'll be sure to let you know how it goes!5

1. No.
2. Don't look at me, I wrote about Harry Potter.
3. I guess Carter probably didn't have LOTRwiki to help him out. But come on!
4. Eurocentric Epic Tale.
5. Who else is excited that I learned how to make footnotes?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Yoga Bitch

During the past few months I have been doing a lot of yoga. By myself, using a book from the library that has series of sequences to go through. One of my big goals this year is to actually go to a yoga class regularly. I grabbed Yoga Bitch by Suzanne Morrison because it seemed like a fun memoir written by someone who wasn't too caught up in the spiritual aspects of yoga.

I really enjoyed this book. Morrison is easily relatable to me, a little confused about what to do with love and life and a bit too attached to her family. She goes to yoga and is won over by her quest for spiritualistic rituals and awe of her teacher. Morrison travels to India on a yoga retreat to learn to teach yoga as well.

What I love most about Morrison's journey is that she is never completely sold into everything she's being sold. Especially when they start off by strongly suggesting drinking your own urine as a cure-all for everything.

"My awakening of my kundalini shakti, I mean, my God, is there anything more embarrassing than saying, "I've awakened by kundalini shakti?" It sounds like next I'm going to invite you to join me in a wheatgrass enema."

Yoga Bitch really worked for me much more than I expect Eat, Pray, Love would. If you like yoga or just good memoirs about looking for meaning in your 20's. 

Friday, February 1, 2013


Part of my reading goal for this year is to read more non-fiction books. I have a feeling most of them will have to do with feminism so be prepared. Grassroots, a Field Guide for Feminist Activism by Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards was mentioned in a few magazines and other books I have read in the past few months so I thought I better check it out.

I have felt a little stuck with my personal activism lately and thought that Grassroots might kick me in the pants a little bit. It can be overwhelming to see problems in the world and have no idea how to do anything about them.  While not providing a clear one-two-three to-do list for activism, Grassroots does give a plethora of examples for the different ways women around America bring feminism to the world. Baumbardner and Richards end the book with a sum up of what their activism looks like and provide a 46-page appendix that points out great ways to get involved or just get more information.

Reading this book I found comfort in the fact that little acts are given almost more importance that big huge actions. It is really important to just do what you can as often as you can, weather that is going door-to-door for a cause you care about, sharing a good book with a friend, watching a movie with your mom, or any number of things. Grassroots did a great job of reminding me that the little actions I do mean something. And it gave me a huge list of people, organizations, and books to look up.

I really wish that I had had this book in high school and should I ever get a niece, she better expect to receive Grassroots (or some updated version of it) from me.

In other news, happy February! Is everyone ready for Galentine's Day?