Roverandom by J. R. R. Tolkien
Sometimes, I feel absurdly lucky that I was introduced to The Lord of the Rings via Peter Jackson’s films in the early aughts. The Lord of the Rings was, without a doubt, cool when I got into it. And not just in my circle of friends in middle school, who tried to teach themselves Elvish and wore ninja shoes to school—it was part of the pop culture vernacular. Return of the King won eleven Oscars on one of the greatest days of my twelfth year on this Earth. (To be fair, there wasn’t a lot of competition.) Obviously, mainstream approval isn’t necessary for me as a fan these days (witness my adoration of Plunkett and Macleane), but only something that glowed that brightly in could pierce the pop culture resistant bubble I grew up in.
The Art of The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull
Of my various stupid human tricks (lactose intolerance, short hamstrings, that thing where I can bend my thumb behind my hand…), I’m usually most fond of my browsing sense. An urge to get up and go browse somewhere usually means that there’s gold in them there hills (hills being, of course, thrift stores, libraries, and, occasionally, curbs), and I often return with, say, a copy of The Cake Doctor or a Wonder Woman t-shirt from my adventures. Such an urge gripped me while at the library for the Jessica Hagy event, and, afterwards, I meandered upstairs to find a copy of The Art of The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien, one of my long-shot books to read, just lying there in the new books. Oh yeah.
Gollum: How We Made Movie Magic by Andy Serkis
In 2003, my friend Natalya used to come from school and read Gollum: How We Made Movie Magic every afternoon. Or so she told me when she heartily recommended this me. From 2001 to 2004, there were plenty of film tie-in books to sate budding Ringers like ourselves, ranging from simple visual companions to gorgeous art books, such as The Art of the Lord of the Rings. (Side note: Ngila Dickson should totally write an autobiography. I’d read the living daylights out of that.) With my mixed feelings towards The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, I couldn’t help picking this up when I saw it at a used bookstore to revisit Middle-Earth Mark I.
Wildthorn by Jane Eagland
Wildthorn has been on my reading list for a while; given my love for Sarah Waters’ “Victorian Women in Love” trilogy (not, obviously, the loose trilogy’s actual title), seeking out more titles about queer women in Victorian England is just natural. So when I discovered that there was a young adult title that covered similar ground, I was quite pleased. I’ve actually rented this book before and simply not gotten around to it; luckily, it’s at my local library, rather than needing to be requested, so that’s a definite help. So, needing something quick before Thanksgiving, I finally managed to read the thing.
Woman: An Intimate Geography by Natalie Angier
When I was a wee lass (which, in my case, means prior to fourteen), I found a copy of The Female Eunuch at the independent bookstore in my hometown. Being a budding feminist, I took to it like a duck to water, marveling over Greer’s work. In a way, Woman: An Intimate Geography reminds me of The Female Eunuch; both works go through the female body piece by piece and insert a female perspective into largely male-dominated science. There’s a bit in The Female Eunuch where Greer talks about how you can’t conclusively tell the sex of a skeleton, and Woman: An Intimate Geography takes that sort of thing and runs with it.