Perfect Bookends

I have always felt that literature and music go together; almost contingent on one another. In whatever action I perform, there is usually music accompanying me. Want me to do the dishes? You are going to have to deal with me listening to whatever song or band that I am currently into. I don’t like the thought of sitting on the train during my morning commute without my ear buds blasting something into my brain. It is the very same with reading. I usually have music playing while I am reading, it helps transport me into the moment. It was no different when I read and finished my first two books of 2018.

The music that I listened to when reading both books used their melodies to break me and their crescendos to help pick me back up, along with every sentence strung together. I’ll list some of the music I listened to throughout this entry.

My first endeavor of the new year was Hide by Matthew Griffin. The second, Call Me by Your Name by Andre Aciman. Some would try to paint the similarities between these two novels but for me, it was in the ways that they were different that made them a perfect pair. Reading them back to back was truly a pleasure.

matthew griffin book story for web

First, their similarities. Both are tales of Gay Male characters. From there, it is their differences that make them shine. Hide is Griffin’s debut, published in 2016 and is the tale of Wendell and Frank, who meet after WWII when Frank returns home from overseas. The story is fragmented, my favorite technique of a novelist who wants to show the whole picture. Snippets of their growing friendship and realization of their feelings for one another are intertwined with snapshots of their lives together as old men.

As Frank stoically suffers from complications with his health, Wendell frets over him in the only way that he knows, nagging and reprimanding him for his lifestyle choices, his eating habits and his need to always be working on his garden, when he should be resting in bed. Cooking for him constantly even though Frank doesn’t want any of it. They speak to each other in the way you would expect any old couple to speak, biting wit and judgement. The glimpse of their lives in their twenties makes their situation more painful because you know what is coming in the end. You are watching along with Wendell as Frank begins to deteriorate.

The first song that stuck out to me when reading this novel was The Village by Wrabel. The words and feeling of the song weaved themselves perfectly into the emotion of the book. Being the time that the book is set in, both men decide that if they want to be together they are going to have to leave town. They move into a house, don’t give their families their new address, cut out everyone. They don’t go anywhere together in all their years. They drive separately to the grocery store and when they speak in the aisles, it’s only the kind of pleasantries you would offer to a stranger. That in of itself is one of the most heartbreaking aspects of the whole story, they lived and loved together; but apart. Constantly worried about how their behaviors looked to people on the outside, scared of giving anything away.

I also listened to A LOT of the National while reading this book, because most of their music tends to elevate any scene that it goes along with. Songs like About Today and Slow Show. I was nervous, reading the last twenty pages or so because I felt that I knew how it was going to end. I knew it was going to hurt, I was pleasantly surprised but it still hurt so good. I am definitely going to need more to read from Matthew Griffin, the understated ease in which he paints the picture of real love…I couldn’t get enough of it.

Fair warning for anyone who decides to pick it up and give it a try: there is some unexpected graphic scenes of animal violence that truly caught me off guard when I read it. I had to put the book down and try not to cry on public transportation. It didn’t change my opinions on the book but god damn…I didn’t see it coming. I’m not usually one for trigger warnings but I have a lot of friends who like dogs.

hide

In 2013, I picked up a book called Harvard Square by Andre Aciman. I liked it, enjoyed his prose and the way he interweaves two very different lives into one friendship. I put it back on my shelf and didn’t think too much of it. Flash forward to now, 2018. I keep hearing ‘Call Me by Your Name…best movie ever…so beautiful. Better than the book!’ Sorry lady on the train, but that is a challenge waiting to be explored. I rarely find a film that is better than its source material. I googled the book and realized that it was by Andre Aciman, written years before Harvard Square. How had I missed it? So, I bought the book and awaited its arrival.

I don’t think I could have read the book any faster than I did when it arrived on my doorstep. I practically absorbed it into my skin.

Narrated by the 17-year old Elio, the book takes places in 1987 in Northern Italy. Each summer his parents host a doctoral student to help with his father’s work and to revise their own thesis. Oliver, the bright and confident 24-year old Jewish American is this summer’s guest. The book follows Elio’s ever evolving feelings towards the man who now resides in his bedroom. Whether Elio is showing Oliver around the nearby town or it’s just a lazy summer morning, lounging beside the water, the picture is painted so beautifully. As each day floats past, Elio and Oliver’s friendship shape shifts into something more and you begin to feel the pangs of a romance that you know is going to have to end when Oliver is due to go back to the United States.

Anyone who has been 17 before will understand the incredible pull of desire for someone new; an intense crush for someone who seems inaccessible. Also, has felt the confusion and pain of trying to make sense of your own feelings and wants and needs. While Elio grapples with his budding sexual desires he also comes to an understanding about himself. He likes his girlfriend, Marzia but finds himself wishing to be in Oliver’s company. He doesn’t want to hurt anyone but, like he states while with Oliver for the first time, he feels like he’s come home. Being with Oliver is like being home; it feels right.

cmbyn

Throughout the story, the two spend more and more time together until the summer ends. They spend a whirlwind three final days in Rome, just the two of the them and when they part, it’s just as heart breaking as you expect it to be. Since Elio is the narrator of the story, you know and understand everything that he feels. With Oliver, you only know as much as he’s willing to share with Elio – you don’t even know his last name. It makes you as a reader feel just as intimately towards Oliver as Elio does. You see in him what Elio sees. You long for him as Elio longs and pines and fantasizes. Trust me, you’ll never look at a peach the same again once you see it through Elio’s young, imaginative eyes.

I imagined that the novel would end where the film does; the parting at the end of summer. I am so glad I was wrong. You see Oliver again the next winter. Then again fifteen years later. Again, twenty years later. Short snap shots of who Oliver is in his forties and how much Elio still feels for him. Older, married with a family but still his Oliver. While I read the final few pages, taking in every detail of this stunning book; feeling chills running down my arms, a song came on my Spotify: This Is Us Colliding by Talos. Its chorus echoed the words, “Our love bore the wildest sea, this is us colliding.” A passage broke me in two:

“Did I have a spot?”, he asked with a half grin.

“You’ll always have a spot”.

I wanted to tell him that the pool, the garden, the house, the orle of paradise, the whole place, would always be his ghost spot. Instead, I pointed upstairs to the French windows of his room. Your eyes are forever there, I wanted to say, trapped in the sheer curtains, staring out from my bedroom upstairs where no one sleeps these days. When there’s a breeze and they swell and I look up from down here or stand outside on the balcony, I’ll catch myself thinking that you’re in there, staring out from your world to my world, saying, as you did on that one night when I found you on the rock, I’ve been happy here. You’re thousands of miles away but no sooner do I look at this window than I’ll think of a bathing suit, a shirt thrown on on the fly, arms resting on the banister, and you’re suddenly there, lighting up your first cigarette of the day —  twenty years ago today. For as long as the house stands, this will be your ghost spot — and mine too, I wanted to say.

I was so glad that I was reading alone in my living room at that point.

This was it, a book I had always dreamed of reading. The kind of book that I had been hoping to write myself and here it was in my lap. Music washing over me and bringing me into Elio’s moments of bliss and sadness. I would be alright never reading another book again for the rest of my life. I know that I will read another but if I didn’t, I would be okay.

So, no, Train Lady, the book is still better. The cosmic rule of the book always being better still stands. The film was epic and beautiful and perfect and sensual and melancholic but the book moves on past what the movie goer sees. You can relish in the fact that their love and affection for one another doesn’t last only a summer.

elio and oliver

Other musical suggestions for CMBYN:

Brother by Kodaline

Cinnamon by Jome

These two books were perfect bookends to an otherwise stale and ordinary January. A story about growing old and reflecting on all the actions of your life; how deteriorating health can force you to rethink the choices that you have made throughout your life. A story of love and sexual awakening in the most unexpected place. I found literature that tugged at my heartstrings and a story that I will carry with me for the rest of my days. I can’t wait to see what I read in February.

Perfect Bookends

In A Sea of City Lights

Do you remember the book that made you fall in love with reading?

For me, it is something that is constantly changing. I had a wonderful and burgeoning relationship with reading but Perks of Being a Wallflower made me fall in love with reading. I read it at the perfect time of my life, a time when I needed to read something like it. High School.

Do you remember where you were when you realized that reading was your favorite hobby?

I do, once again I was in high school. It was in P.E. class, my teacher had told us that it was running day. My least favorite kind of activity, running a mile for absolutely no reason. My teacher, I can’t remember their name now because I don’t care to remember. Unless they were a teacher that let me read, I don’t much recall their names. I decided that I didn’t want to run the mile that day, I wanted to sit in the shade of a tree and read. I was well into the Lord of the Rings trilogy and didn’t want to put it down. I failed that class.

Do you remember when a bookstore became more than just a bookstore? It became more like a saving grace?

I remember mine. City Lights bookstore in San Francisco, California. The first time I peaked in from the street outside, I knew it was somewhere that would always welcome me and keep me warm. I was fourteen years old.

If you’ve never been to City Lights, that is okay. Let me paint a quick picture for you. A bright picture full of dark wood and squeaking floors, staircases and bookcases filled to the brim. Best sellers alongside zines alongside Poetry. When I first stepped foot inside I knew that it was special – I also didn’t know anything yet about the history for which I had just stepped my foot into.

City_Lights_Bookstore

The majesty of City Lights truly started when Peter D. Martin sold his shares of their “Pocket Book Shop” to Poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti.  The Poet launched the printing press shortly thereafter, garnering attention after publishing Howl by Allen Ginsberg. Some people would say that Howl “made” City Lights and while I have no doubt that something else could have come along and eventually pave the way for City Lights to be successful; still Howl and Ginsberg came around at just the right time for the printing press. The national notoriety of a obscenity trial led to incredible sales for the book of Poetry. Also, the verdict for the trial was unprecedented for the time, the judge settled that the contents of the book were not obscene and protected by the first Amendment. It truly paved the way for more and more ground breaking works to eventually be published, through City Lights and other publishers.

You can’t talk about the history of City Lights without talking about the Beats, the Bohemian Hedonists who liberated literature post WWII. With their jazz cigarettes and rejection of materialism. When I first walked into City Lights I had no idea what the Beat Generation was or who it consisted of. When I got home from my first whirlwind visit to San Francisco I began to read and learn. I realized that I recognized one of the names, Jack Kerouac. I don’t even know how I knew it, I hadn’t read any of his books or poems yet but I already knew him. I will always regard this time in my life important in the very formation of certain core beliefs that I still definitely hold in my personal life. Leftist themes, sexual/racial liberation, opposition to militarization of government, rejection of cultural norms.

High school was a very confusing time for me, being told what to do at all times while simultaneously trying to become your own person. I came back in Sophomore year not wanting to be there one bit. I wanted to hit the road, I wanted to work shit jobs for little money and write. Of course I carried that youthful stubbornness everywhere that I went without much logical thinking. I could have connected the dots but instead I ignored them. Even the Beats, revered by all manor of hippies met at Columbia University. The Inkings at Oxford. Do you see a theme?

City-Lights-Bookstore-1950s

I didn’t care about any of that, all I wanted to do was absorb everything. I read On the Road. I read Naked Lunch. I read The Dharma Bums and yes, I read a lot of Ginsberg because I didn’t know a lot of what I know now back then. The 2000’s were a simpler time when all I wanted to do was breathe in every piece of influential literature I could.

I left that trip to San Francisco with one very clear goal: I was going to move to San Francisco when I got older. I wrote those words in a journal of mine that I was keeping at the time. I’ve never been great at keeping goals but I am glad to say that I kept that one.

Fast forward to October 2009, I packed up most of my possessions (which weren’t much to speak of) into my best friends’s Mom’s car and she drove me up to San Francisco to live with my best friend, Chelsea. I owe so many things to Chelsea, like a bed for one thing. I moved up to my dream city with no job, no bed, no bookcase, no dresser to keep my clothes in; she gave me most of those things. I didn’t care that I didn’t have anything, I was finally in San Francisco. The apartment was everything that I could have ever dreamed of, and the bookstore that inspired me to move to the bustling city was just a bus ride away.

san francisco

The five years that I lived and worked in San Francisco were some of the most difficult of my life. While I worked for a company that I love and still work for but I was working on commission only and most people know and understand now that San Francisco is the most expensive city in the United States to live in. Often times I would have entire paychecks go towards rent. What little money I had left over went right back to Ferlinghetti and his bookstore.

I cherished my days off when I would get on the 38 Geary towards Downtown, get off at Powell and walk the rest of the way. Weave through Chinatown, grab some fresh lychee and walk down Jack Kerouac Alley to spend the next few hours sitting in Poetry room, reading the first thing my eyes landed on.

john steinbeck

In my last few days living in California, I took the Bart into the City (I was in living in Oakland at the time) and just spent a few hours wandering around the city. I wanted to hear everything, see everything that I could before I left. I didn’t know when I would be back. I took the snapshot above in Jack Kerouac Alley before going inside City Lights. I stepped in, smiled at the clerk and turned to my right, looking into the main room of the shop. I remember pausing for a moment, looking through the main core of the store; the black and white tiled floor, the curved archway – all the way back to the staircase that lead to the Poetry room. I remember feeling incredibly proud of myself for the things I had accomplished in this city. I felt overwhelmed with love for the people I met and for the bookstore I was standing in. City Lights helped me realize that I wanted more than what I had grown up with. I wanted busy, stressful, insane city life and that was exactly what I got. No matter how crazy or maddening life got however, City Lights was always a constant.

One bookstore in a city full of amazing bookstores. That little corner of the city was an oasis that I hope to get back to sometime soon.

black and white tiles

In A Sea of City Lights

Treading Water

At first, I thought that Into the Water was just going to be a run of the mill True Crime novel, moving along from scene to scene until the motive and killer are revealed. There was a moment honestly where I thought about putting the book down altogether. I’m glad I didn’t.

FullSizeRender (2)

As most people know, I spend most of my days working in a fast-paced retail environment for a major department store chain. While I do love my job, my favorite part about it is when I get to clock out, go home and relax. One of my favorite ways of relaxing is watching True Crime television with my fiancé. Because we are both weirdos, we fall asleep at night to the soothing sound of Peter Thomas’ voice; who narrates Forensic Files. We watch every available episode of Unsolved Mysteries. We’ve watched Making a Murderer, The Jinx and most of what Netflix has to offer.

Because of this I was surprised when I realized that I didn’t really spend much of my reading time, enjoying True Crime novels. I decided then and there to change that. I was familiar with author Paula Hawkins as most people were, with her 2015 novel The Girl on the Train, which later was turned into a feature length film. I had heard a lot of good things about the book, slightly less good things about the movie but instead, I went with her follow up, Into the Water.

image2

There is a central cast of characters: Nel Abbott, an outsider in the rural English town of Beckford. Living her whole life obsessed with the local watering hole called the Drowning Pool. People having been drowning in this spot for as long as history could tell; women in particular. Nel is fascinated by the women and their various reasons for going into the water. When she turns up dead in that very spot it sparks an investigation that drags the towns history out of the wood work.

Nel’s estranged sister comes to the town, to settle Nel’s debts and to find out exactly what happened to her sister. Nel’s daughter Lena doesn’t make things very easy for her. The local detective Sean Townshend tries his best to get to the bottom of the mystery of who killed Nel Abbott, teamed up with Erin Morgan, a police officer from London who is eager to prover herself to this close-knit town.

I enjoy books with a lot of characters, trust me. I enjoy fully fleshed out character development and watching several different story lines finally converge into a wonderful climax that leaves the reader in awe of what they just read. The main issue that I had with Into the Water was that there almost seemed to be too many characters. So many so that it often took me out of the story and taking a minute to remember who the person was and what their deal was. I have noticed by reading a few online reviews that this is the problem that most people seem to have with this book. The characters aren’t as fleshed out as most people would like. It leads to not feeling so emotionally attached to any of the characters honestly. Nel’s sister Jules trying to get to the bottom of what happened, how did her sister die? You want her to know sure, but you aren’t invested in finding out as much as I believe the author wanted.

This book has however, one amazing saving grace: the last page. The last page of this book makes reading the entire thing worth it. It made me wish that Paula Hawkins was in the room with me so I could give her a big old high five. The payoff made it worth it for me. It was enough to make me want to read her debut novel and to compare the two in terms of character development and how captivating the plot is.

I would definitely suggest this author and book to anyone who is looking to delve into the world of True Crime and Mystery novels. It is all still very new and exciting to me. My next adventure will be exploring Tara French’s True Crime novels, set in modern day Ireland – so right up my alley!

image1 (1)

Treading Water

Comedian’s Debut

image3[59]

The Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep…is not your typical Perks of Being a Wallflower high school story. I love Perks but honestly I wish I had this book in high school instead. High school angst, the trials of being a social outcast, finding a friend just like you and just a hint of science fiction thrown in.

If you are fan or follower of comedy than you are probably already familiar with DC Pierson, member of Derrick Comedy and appeared with them on sketches for CollegeHumor. Watch anything even remotely funny and there is a chance that DC is in it somewhere. When his first book was released in 2010, I was pretty surprised. I figured at first that it would be a book about his career in Comedy, anecdotes about writing skits and being featured in an improv group. Nope, it’s fiction. Once I heard that, I was ready to give it a try.

Once I picked up this book however, I realized that I didn’t have to try. I almost completed it in one sitting. The story is simple and intriguing at the same time.

image2[58]

Darren Bennett is that run of the mill High School nerd, likes to draw and definitely doesn’t have anything to do with girls. He spends his time in class drawing up elaborate characters and putting pen to paper. We all knew someone like Darren in High School so it’s easy to drudge up an image of the character in your mind. When he meets Eric Lederer, there is an instant connection between the two of them. They spend more and more time together, coming up with their own epic SciFi Fantasy comic series and spending little time apart.

From the very beginning it almost seems like it’s just your run of the mill teen story about friendship – which it can be but then the book takes a wonderful turn. Eric confides in Darren and tells him his deepest secret; as the title of the book suggests, he had never slept and doesn’t have to. Why? How? Darren wants answers and doesn’t know how to get them. He is curious as to whether that is as far as Eric’s abilities go or is it just a precursor to something more.

The farther you go in the book; the hairier things get for both main characters. You have “The Man” trying to get to Eric and you have their friendship being pulled in multiple different directions. The struggle of emotion you experience with Darren the entire book is something incredibly relatable. Especially if you were that kind of kid in Middle School or High School. It shows the cruelty of other kids of that age group towards Nerds, Weird Kids or Art Geeks. Reading such an open interpretation of male friendships during that time of their lives is also kind of refreshing. At first there is nothing openly macho about their friendship – just two boys who enjoy Fantasy and comic books and drawing; coming up with epic tales and putting them to paper. No judgement, just enjoyment.

When I finished the book, I wanted more. What happened to them? It is such an open-ended finish, which I love. I can come up with my own happy ending and no one can tell me not to, or tell me that that isn’t how it ended. You don’t know what happens to the both of them, you can only imagine.

There had always been a soft spot in my heart for Young Adult novels. I tried too hard and too young to read books that were much more ahead of my level. When I was in fifth grade I read A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway. Did I like it? Sure. Did I get it? Absolutely not. So when I started to actually read books that were written for people my age, I was hooked. I related to these characters, we were going through the same things. Even though this book came out well after I was out of high school, I still remember those feelings and those conflicts and it makes me feel closer to the characters. No matter how much older I get, I will always read and support YA novels. Except Twilight, because – come on.

Whether you’re familiar with his comedy or with his writing, I definitely suggest checking out this quick and interesting read. I know it’s not like any other teen novel that you have ever read before. John Green, eat your heart out.

image1[57]

Comedian’s Debut

A Series Unlike

I definitely wouldn’t claim to be a perfect resource on all things literary. I’ve read a lot of beloved books and disliked them. I’ve read some book series out of spite, just so I felt I could be well informed when I told people what I didn’t like about them. I have gone through phases in life where I got more enjoyment out of reading fan-fiction than anything that was being published. I feel like a lot of avid readers behave in much the same way, just not everyone talks about it. I’ve met people who dismiss novels or series’ just on the fact that everyone else likes them so much. I do try to challenge those people, pick up the book – try it. There may be a reason it’s so popular; emphasis on the ‘may’ because I’ve read all of the Twilight books, so I know for a fact that they are garbage.

One series that I do like to suggest to people first, whether they enjoy fantasy or not is Lord of the Rings. It felt only fitting that my true first book suggestion would be one of the first books I was ever introduced to. Long before Harry Potter ever hit my bookshelf, Lord of the Rings stood, as it does today, on the top shelf at home.

tolkien

My love of books I know, was inherited by my Grandmother, who loved the written word almost as much as she did her Grandchildren and a lover of Fantasy above all other genres. She believed wholeheartedly in ghosts, supernatural forces and she believed especially in MAGIC. Something I inherited as well. However, as much as she instilled in me a love of books, my love of reading and imagination can be attributed to my Grandfather on my Mom’s side, Verne.

I must have been at around the age of 10 or 11 when I first heard the words of J.R.R. Tolkien. Yes, heard them, because my Grandpa read them out loud to his Grand-kids. In all honesty, I don’t think I understood too much of the story at the time, it was so detailed and so long and I was so entranced by my Grandpa reading in these voices that he created. Voices for Gandalf, Frodo and even Saruman; and in-between all the dialogue he would set up the scenes playing out in his own gentle, raspy voice. I loved that summer in Phoenix and went back home to my parents with a new goal:

To read read read read read. Absorb all the Fantasy that I could get my hands on. I already knew that I enjoyed things like Knights, Dragons and Wizards but I never knew that their storybook worlds could be so FULL. That there could be so much detail to the worlds, the languages, the distinct cultures and the drama. I needed it all – thankfully my parents responded by buying for me the series collection that you can see in the photo above.

noice

I have to admit that I am sometimes a bit shocked when people that I know to read Fantasy tell me that they have never read Lord of the Rings (LotR). J.R.R. Tolkien, being regarded as the Father of Modern Fantasy, I always just assume that the series would be their go-to. Maybe they’ve seen the movies…watched that old Hobbit cartoon? Everyone knows that old “…not all those who wander are lost…” quote that gets overused on Instagram (do people even realize that that’s from Fellowship of the Ring?) It could be a combination of all these things that made them decide that it wasn’t for them, for whatever reason they’ve left it off their reading list. If you have, I would like to try and change your mind.

The Road goes ever on and on, down from the door where it began.

Now far ahead the Road has gone, And I must follow if I can, 

Pursuing it with eager feet, until it joins some larger way

Where many paths and errands meet. And whither then? I cannot say.

The Lord of the Rings takes place in fantastical Middle Earth, which is home to many races of Man, Dwarf, Elf and Hobbit. Some ruling in power and some ruling in peace. The main protagonist of the story is the Hobbit, Frodo Baggins, who is gifted a ring by his uncle. The secrets and history of the ring are far-reaching and Frodo comes to learn that many evil Men and beyond would love to get their hands on this ring. The One Ring, the Ring of Power. With aid of his mentor, Gandalf and his Hobbit companions, Pippin, Merry and Samwise, he leaves on a quest to seek advise of the Elves. In the Elvish city of Rivendell it is decided that the ring must be destroyed so that no evil can get a hold of its power. There, a Fellowship is assembled, much like the Medieval equivalent of the Avengers, to destroy the One Ring. The epic continues throughout the years of the Fellowship traversing Middle-Earth, encountering aid from others, doing battle with Orcs or other agents of Sauron.

As the story moves on, members of the Fellowship become separated, so there are several story lines going on at once, which only give the story more depth. Although they are separated from Frodo and Sam and their quest with the ring, you see how each grouping is still working towards the common goal; to destroy the ring. You meet new characters along the way, learn more and more about the history of Middle Earth and it’s inhabitants. You learn about who and how the Ring was made, what it’s original purpose was. It really is masterful storytelling, the story is so detailed that no stone is left upturned. Tolkien had an answer for everything.

To truly appreciate the books is to appreciate the man. There has been decades of speculation about the origin of the ideas that birthed LotR. A lot of critics say it’s an allegory for Tolkien’s experiences during World War I, some say it’s an allegory for his aversion towards the industrialization of rural England. Tolkien himself never came out and said it was a retelling of anything, he told press and readers alike that it was open for their creative interpretation. Tolkien claimed that mythology was ‘the divine echo of the truth’, which I believe can be seen throughout LotR. The morality tales that one usually find in myths and legends are usually reflective of the authors own morals and a lot of these tales live within the story of the One Ring. Tolkien was a devout Catholic, you can see overall themes of this within the story; though he isn’t as heavy handed as his friend and counter-part C.S. Lewis. He was a true purveyor of an old literary style of writing, which is what I believe puts most people off. People don’t write like this anymore, people don’t write like they are philologists. Oftentimes there are long winded chapters about people, celebrations or adventures that seem to have nothing to do with the story, but it does. If you could get past that, you could truly begin appreciating this series for what it is. Magical.

return of the king

I re-read the series in High School, hoping that I could get something new out of it. I did. I failed P.E. but I found a new appreciation for the books. For the man who wrote them. Learning about the era in which he wrote them. About the Inklings, which were a way cooler and more sophisticated version of the Beat Generation. I immersed myself in the lore, the community. I spent time in class sketching elves and wishing I was reading instead of my sterile classroom. I wore tweed and elbow patches for God’s sake! I started reading his other works, stories within the same world that Christopher Tolkien has published after his father’s death. My Dad gave me a book that my Grandmother had left me, a tiny book with a Dragon on the front: Farmer Giles of Ham. Published around the time of the Hobbit, just a fun little story of a tubby farmer who unwittingly became the hero of his town. Suddenly having the book instantly made me feel close to my Grandma, who at this point had passed away years before I held the book in my hands.

tattoo giles

I felt close to her. Reminded me that a lot of her interests and her beliefs were instilled in me, her favorite Granddaughter. Books can invoke these kinds of feelings. In this series I feel DeeAnn and I hear Verne. Obviously not every book or book series that I talk about on this blog is going to be that intense. I don’t have those kinds of feelings with every single book that I read but it felt it important that I start with one that does. If you like High-Fantasy, Fantasy, Science Fiction or even if you only spend your days reading Buzzfeed – I suggest highly that you read The Lord of the Rings.

tolkien2

Not a lot of things deserve attention like Tolkien does.

Shan

A Series Unlike

Classic introduction.

FullSizeRender

As long as I can remember I have always had a love for books. Everyone knew it, understood my love before I did. My Grandmother DeeAnn, who died when I was still very young – left me books to inherit when I got older. Somehow seeing my love for books even before I did. I love sharing books with people, love hearing their opinions on my favorite books – even if we disagree.

In that same vein I’m not a huge fan of lending my books out to people, because I never seem to get them back. I thought this would be an interesting way to suggest books, review them and hopefully get reading suggestions from others. Let’s enjoy some books together…

The stories we love best do live in us forever. – JK Rowling

Classic introduction.