In curating your ideal bookshelf, you are constructing an expression of yourself in that specific moment: what’s important to you right now? The contributors to My Ideal Bookshelf have different ideas of import. Some focus on reference, others on beloved texts, others on texts they haven’t read yet but want to or think they need to. As an editor at heart, curation comes naturally to me: my spring cleanings are more ruthless culls. With my birthday on Tuesday, I thought this would be a good time to start a new tradition: to celebrate my nativity each year, I will curate my ideal bookshelf, so that I may count my rings in the future. The rules? Ten books I would actually use as reference material. Commence shakedown.
Did you know that there’s a The Lord of the Rings musical? Because there totally is.
For some reason, though, the fact of its existence never sank in, even when a fellow high school thespian told me about how much he’d enjoyed the stagecraft of the production when he saw it in Toronto. But last year, whist browsing TheOneRing.Net’s forums, I found out the cast recording was available on Spotify, and I began to investigate the now-closed show in earnest.
Last month over at the Tor.com blog, Emily Asher-Perrin posted “Fiction Into Reality: Why We Borrow From What We Love”. Asher-Perrin talks about how we deliberately mimic our favorite characters and our stories; for example, as a little kid, she would sometimes dress up a little bit like Luke Skywalker as a little kid to liven up the humdrum routine of school. She concludes that “[m]aybe it’s a little bit about courage. About reinvention. About taking charge of yourself, and becoming the person you want to be.” I think we see the same sentiment in I Want My MTV, when artist Howard Jones states that “[s]urely that’s one of the functions of pop culture, to show people that there are many options out there and you can choose which one is right for you” (115). Given the diverse tastes of fans, we’ve got a lot of options to choose from, and reading Asher-Perrin’s post made me want to share some of the stuff that I have consciously taken from fandom.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
based on The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
Oh, come on, have you met me?
Okay, well, actually, it wasn’t midnight, it was 12:15 AM. The fact that Peter Jackson and company really want you to see this in high frame rate 3D sat poorly with my group of friends—since childhood, I have subconsciously allied myself with people who wear glasses. (I recommend this strategy.) In the interests of not having my friends’ heads explode when exposed to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, I got tickets for the 12:15 AM 2D screening in Atlantic Station. And lo and behold, the official TheOneRing.Net line party was being held at this very screening! Having never been to a line party before (and two of us having never been to a midnight screening before!), we were all super-excited, so when Thursday night finally rolled around and we were done braiding each other’s hair and talking about Tolkien, we took to the highway. (Music: “I Will Wait”, Mumford & Sons.)
I can’t tell you how happy I am it’s December. Sure, finals season is upon me, but I always get antsy on the last one or two days of a month. I like having a fresh calendar and new wallpapers. But November still lingers, in the best of ways: last month, Lu tagged me with a short reading questionnaire. Why don’t we get started?
For us Americans, this past Thursday was Thanksgiving. I finally was able to convince my mother to let me “help” (i.e., take over) with Thanksgiving dinner, and we had a fantastic time brainstorming a menu and executing it. And it was so nice to spend a few days at home, tending to things, like trying new recipes, interviewing librarians for grad school, and finally return my friend Natalya’s The Mighty Boosh DVDs. It’s a nice bit of decompression before the final push, so I’d thought I’d extend the holiday a bit and share what I’m (bookishly) thankful for.
They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but there’s no question that it can make a difference!
What book(s) have your favorite covers? Something that’s perfect for the story, the tone, the colors, the mood…
And did you pick up the book BECAUSE of the cover? Or were you going to read it anyway, and the cover was just serendipitous?
I am stupidly easy to distract with a beautiful cover. While I can’t be too picky at the moment, as I rely mostly on libraries for my books and get whatever edition they happen to have on hand, it does definitely flavor my reading experience. What I can say? I’m a really visual person.
As far as favorite covers, Alan Lee’s illustrations gracing those enormous copies of The Lord of the Rings are jaw-droppingly beautiful; they focus on monuments in Middle-Earth, giving your imagination a bit of wiggle room. Rock and Roll is Here to Stay has a lovely cover, with the text vertical instead of horizontal and limited color. I’m awful fond of the look of the Penguin Classics—you know, illustration, black box—for anything in the public domain. And the American cover for Mr. Toppit is very arresting.
I have read books solely based on their cover; again, I’m really visual and I didn’t really read as a kid. I specifically remember stumbling across the gorgeous cover to The Gigolo Murder, done by Tomer Hanuka, and snatching up The Kiss Murder because of its cover. A decent read, but nothing really amazing, you know?
If you hadn’t noticed, last week was Tolkien Week; with the seventy-fifth anniversary of The Hobbit on Friday and Bilbo and Frodo’s shared birthday yesterday, it’s been a fun week for Ringers and other assorted Tolkien freaks. And Peter Jackson’s contribution to the festivities was a new trailer for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey on Wednesday. It was supposed to drop at 10 AM, but actually went up half an hour before; lucky for me, because in the battle between my Latin class and Tolkien, I have no idea who would win. Let’s take a look.
Next weekend marks a pretty big weekend for Ringers; not only is Friday the seventy-fifth anniversary (!) of the publication of The Hobbit, but Saturday, September 22nd, is the mutual birthdays of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, the birthday that kicks off The Lord of the Rings. An image was recently posted on the official The Hobbit film Twitter feed discussing ways to throw a Hobbit Day Party, but blogger Charles alerted me to the existence of something a little more glamorous—The Hobbit Second Breakfast, an event organized by HarperCollins UK, which includes an event where Fulham Palace’s gardens will be transformed into the Shire, a second breakfast will be provided, and there’ll be a reading from the novel. For everyone else, HarperCollins UK is providing a .pdf packet with bunting, coasters, and a dwarven word search. In short, my Anglophilia is acting up like never before. I’ll be using the word “shan’t” in sentences soon enough.
Even Warner Brothers is getting in on the action, by putting up a website devoted to Bombur’s recipes. (You can even submit your own!) But these recipes are either a little basic or a little specialized (perhaps I am merely unschooled in the ways of medieval cooking, but I have no idea where I can pick up ground pigeon, short of doing it myself). So I thought we’d look at some recipes from my own recipe box that might be perfect for your very own Second Breakfast, be it next Friday, next Saturday, or whenever the mood strikes.