Inklings

A Toast to the Professor | Celebrating with Favorite LOTR Moments

Today is Tolkien’s 126th Birthday! Every year on January 3rd, we fans raise a toast! (According to The Tolkien Society, it’s at 9:00 p.m. your local time.) Here’s the official way from their website :):

All you need to do is stand, raise a glass of your choice of drink (not necessarily alcoholic), and say the words “The Professor” before taking a sip (or swig, if that’s more appropriate for your drink). Sit and enjoy the rest of your drink.

Current office decor

So tonight I’ll raise a glass, but thought it would be fun to share a few favorite quotes from the book and scenes from the LOTR movies!

1. “I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” The Fellowship of the Ring

2. “Courage is found in unlikely places…be of good hope!” (Gildor to Frodo in The Fellowship of The Ring)

3. “All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost; The old that is strong does not wither, Deep roots are not reached by the frost. From the ashes a fire shall be woken, A light from the shadows shall spring; Renewed shall be blade that was broken, The crownless again shall be king.”

4. Samwise being Samwise

5. “Where there’s life there’s hope.” Sam’s Gaffer (The Two Towers)

6. “But that’s not the way of it with tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in mind. Folks seem to have been just landed in them, usually – their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn’t.” Samwise Gamgee

7. Éowyn being awesome:

8. “He (Faramir) looked at her, and being a man whom pity deeply stirred, it seemed to him that her (Éowyn) loveliness amid her grief would pierce his heart. And she looked at him and saw the grave tenderness in his eyes, and yet knew, for she was bred among men of war, that here was one whom no Rider of the Mark would outmatch in battle.” I love this because it shows the romantic Tolkien was (Return of the King)

9. “For Frodo.” Gets me every time.

I couldn’t resist, I had to sneak one in from The Hobbit:
“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” (Thorin to Bilbo as he was dying)

What are some of your favorite scenes?

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Fun Finds

Fun Finds for Everyday #2

Oh hey December! Well, there’s no snow in my area this month (although it was a warm 10 degrees this week), but in a funny twist, family and friends in both Louisiana and Texas have gotten all the snow. I guess they’re just trying to be like The Springs :). Anyway, I hope this Christmas season has started off beautifully for you and that you are encouraged by the hope we celebrate a little bit extra this month!

And if you need some gift ideas, these might help!

1. Awesome Tolkien Shirt. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. Thanks to the internet, I’m the absolute easiest person to shop for. Get me something of Tolkien or Lewis and I’m set. Like this shirt for example or the coffee mug. Seriously. I’ll be the happiest person.

2. See above.

3. Jute Clutch. With Christmas parties and NYE parties coming up, it’s always nice to have a pretty clutch option. I love mine! It’s in gold, but was a hit at the NYE party I went to last year!

4. Sunburst Ring. I love rings! When I find one I love, I’m wearing it all the time. I love the simplicity of this design and the silver. Plus sunbursts make me smile.

What’s on your Christmas list this year?

Inklings

The Friendship of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis (Plus It’s International Inklings Day!!)

(If you’re new, welcome to Inklings Week 2016! I don’t want you to miss any of the posts this week, so be sure to check them out here!) 

I miss you Oxford!

“Friendship makes prosperity more shining and lessens adversity by dividing and sharing it.” Cicero

Today is officially International Inklings Day!!!! On this day 90 years ago, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were gathered for English tea with Oxford English faculty at Merton College and met for the first time. This would begin a 40 year friendship and this friendship would inspire generations to come and also help to produce some of literature’s greatest masterpieces.

Yet, truth be told, it wasn’t friendship at first sight. After that first meeting, Lewis commented (I believe jokingly!) about Tolkien: “No harm in him: only needs a smack or so.” He thought him rather opinionated, but this was more due to the fact that at the time Lewis was an atheist and Tolkien was a strong Roman Catholic. As Diana Pavlac Glyer explained in Bandersnatch (which really is an excellent book and you should all read it!)

“It got worse. As Lewis and Tolkien got to know each other, it became clear that they had a number of serious disagreements. They had different interests and personalities. They came from different religious traditions. And they had different academic specialties. Lewis was an expert in literature and philosophy; Tolkien was a philologist, an expert in languages. He loved Old Norse and Anglo-Saxon. Lewis said that meeting Tolkien triggered two of his childhood prejudices. He explains, “At my first coming into the world I had been (implicitly) warned never to trust a [Catholic], and at my first coming into the English Faculty (explicitly) never to trust a philologist. Tolkien was both.

Soon after the faculty disagreed on required courses for English students and Lewis and Tolkien found themselves on opposite sides of the debate. So Tolkien decided that in order to win people over to his curriculum, he would gather the faculty together to bring about love for mythology and ancient languages. This turned out to be a genius move. Once again, I’ll quote Bandersnatch:

Lewis and Tolkien discovered they had significant common ground. They gravitated towards each other because they shared an interest in what they called “northernness,” the vast skies, icy landscapes, and heroic tempers of the ancient Vikings. As they talked together, Lewis was slowly won over to Tolkien’s view of the English curriculum. And as they worked side by side, they forged a solid friendship. E. L. Edmonds, a student at Oxford, remembers, “It was very obvious that [Lewis and Tolkien] were great friends—indeed, they were like two young bear cubs sometimes, just happily quipping with one another.”

Tolkien would go on to play a significant role in Lewis’ conversion to Christianity (especially on the night of September 19, 1931, where, along with Hugo Dyson, the three men spent hours discussing life and faith and Lewis later said this was his final push for Christianity) and Lewis would be Tolkien’s biggest supporter and encourager in finishing Lord of the Rings and other works. Their friendship was a staple in each other’s lives and, while, in later years the friendship did change, it never lost it’s meaning.

In Tolkien and C. S. Lewis: The Gift of a Friendship by Colin Duriez, we see that “with C.S. Lewis’ death, it was a “wound [Tolkien] knew he would not lose, as one loses a falling lead.” Even years after Lewis’ death Tolkien wrote about Lewis: “The unpayable debt that I owe to him was not ‘influence’ as it is ordinarily understood, but sheer encouragement. He was for long my only audience. Only from him [did I] ever get the idea that my ‘stuff’ could be more than a private hobby.”

I’ll leave with a few fun facts because I’m all about fun facts.

  • Lewis’ character, Elwin Random, in Out of the Silent Planet, resembles Tolkien quite a bit. Elwin means “elf-friend” and the character is a Cambridge philologist who has a love for languages.
  • The Professor in Narnia was also inspired by Tolkien.
  • Treebeard was inspired by C.S. Lewis.
  • They each have rad names: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien and Clive Staples Lewis
  • They both lost their moms at a young age
  • Tolkien’s dad died when he was a toddler and Lewis’ Dad withdrew and sent Lewis to a boarding school after his mother’s death.
  • They both fought in WWI.
  • In 1961, Lewis nominated Tolkien for the Nobel Peace Prize in literature (which he totally should have won)
  • Both Humphrey Carpenter (Tolkien’s official biographer) and Edith Tolkien (when she told scholar Clyde S. Kilby) stated that C.S. Lewis actually wrote Tolkien’s obituary, which was published the day after his death (9/2/73) in The Times.

“My happiest hours are spent with three or four old friends and old clothes tramping together and putting up in small pubs – or else sitting up till the small hours in someone’s college rooms talking nonsense, poetry, theology, metaphysics over beer tea and pipes.”

I hope y’all enjoyed this brief look at Tolkien and Lewis’ friendship! Who has greatly encouraged and inspired you in your life?

Inklings

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien | Inklings Series Discussion

“But in the days of Bilbo, and of Frodo his heir, they suddenly became, by no wish of their own, both important and renowned, and troubled the counsels of the Wise and the Great.”

I admit these are sometimes the hardest posts for me to write. All I want to do is say how much I loved it and then list a bunch of quotes :). It’s the balance of not writing out a dissertation and having a worthy discussion! But it’s not my fault Tolkien and Lewis were geniuses right? Moving on…after reading this delightful book again (years after my last reading of it), I have been reminded of the age old truth: the book is always better. I love the LOTR movies, but man! There is so much more that awaits in the book! You can’t understand Tolkien’s true greatness without reading the book.

For me, some of the biggest themes are courage, bravery, sacrifice and friendship. Take this interaction:

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

I also was a huge fan of the brotherhood and friendship of the hobbits. The commitment and loyalty to follow Frodo, knowing it would be dangerous, made my heart happy. Plus the forming of the Fellowship? Awesome all around.

Other tidbits worth noting:

  • Hobbits are sometimes feisty and witty fellows and it had me cracking up. When Gildor (an elf) didn’t answer Frodo’s question one way or the other, his response was “And it is also said ‘Go not to the Elves for counsel, for they will say both no and yes.'”
  • Glóin was at Rivendell and we got all the details on our dwarf friends from The Hobbit 🙂
  • Aragorn has pretty much been everywhere in Middle Earth approx. 100 times.
  • Lady Galadriel – love her character. From “tempting” each member of the fellowship to her gifts. Everything done with a purpose; to make each one stronger. The gift to Sam? His garden-in-a-box? Loved it!
  • The story of Beren and Lúthien..sigh. That’s worth reading The Silmarillion for.

“Courage is found in unlikely places…be of good hope!” (Gildor to Frodo)

As always, here’s a few questions to get the discussion going. Feel free to answer some, none or all and of course be sure to include any other insight and thoughts!

1. Which Hobbit do you identify with at this point in the book?
I appreciate Pippin’s love of food :). I understand Frodo’s reluctance to have people come with him, as he didn’t want them hurt. Merry has courage in him and Sam, well Sam is amazing. I’ll say this – I want to be the type of person Sam is.

2. If you could be one in Middle Earth, which would you pick: Hobbit, dwarf, elf, wizard or man?
An elf! They are wise and know how to handle their weapons.

3. What’s something you wished would have been added or done differently in the movie?
Two words: TOM BOMBADIL. Also Glorfindel deserved better.

4. What were some quotes that really stuck out to you?
This statement. Frodo is not only vulnerable, to me he shows such courage.

“I will take the Ring,’ he said, ‘though I do not know the way.”

I want to memorize this in elvish:

“All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost; The old that is strong does not wither, Deep roots are not reached by the frost. From the ashes a fire shall be woken, A light from the shadows shall spring; Renewed shall be blade that was broken, The crownless again shall be king.”

Just because I love how Tolkien writes:

“The bow of Legolas was singing.”

One more quote on friendship:

“You do not understand!’ said Pippin. ‘You must go – and therefore we must, too. Merry and I are coming with you. Sam is an excellent fellow, and would jump down a dragon’s throat to save you, if he did not trip over his own feet; but you will need more than one companion in your dangerous adventure.’ ‘My dear and most beloved hobbits!’ said Frodo deeply moved. ‘But I could not allow it. I decided that long ago, too. You speak of danger, but you do not understand. This is no treasure-hunt, no there-and-back journey. I am flying from deadly peril into deadly peril.’ ‘Of course we understand,’ said Merry firmly. ‘That is why we have decided to come. We know the Ring is no laughing-matter; but we are going to do our best to help you against the Enemy.”

Other thoughts:
I love much of the new fantasy stories out there (looking at you Potter), but Tolkien really was the master and I see Tolkien influence in so many of these stories. But that’s okay because Tolkien was a genius. Times a billion.

I also need to mention I was reading the part of the CREEPY CRAWLING BLACK RIDER BY MYSELF. Any sound that night was clearly a creature fixin to attack me. So that was neat. But not really.

Can’t wait to hear from y’all! 

Bookish Radness, Inklings

You don’t like Lord of the Rings? This Post is For You.

I like to think I have an open mind. I can debate with others who share completely different opinions from my own without getting fiery or feisty. Healthy debate is a good thing. Why? It helps you really understand why you value and believe what you do and you can learn a thing or two from other people.

Unless we’re discussing one thing. Then I have no choice but to inwardly (and quite possibly outwardly) judge you. What topic would cause such a dramatic reaction you ask? Must be one of the hot topics right? Religion or politics si? Nope, this goes much deeper readers.

Much much deeper.

We’re talking about Lord of the Rings* internet. Lord.of.the.Rings.

When someone tells me they don’t like Lord of the Rings, I’m a bit taken aback at first.

Say wha????

So I am here to make my confessions. I can’t help but possibly think some (or all) of these things when I encounter one of those lonely souls who doesn’t seem to enjoy my beloved Middle Earth.**

1. I don’t trust you.
Or anything you might say.

2. If we’re related, I question our blood connection.
Neither my parents or brother enjoy this type of genre, thus they aren’t fans of this EPIC, AWESOME AND LIFE-CHANGING story. As I’ve mentioned before, this has led me to believe I’m actually adopted from Middle Earth and they are hiding this from me. The only other explanation is they simply don’t like them and I’m not sure I can emotionally handle that yet. Now I know how Smeags felt.

3. I’m going to assume you hate friendship and love.
Because that’s what Middle Earth adventures are made of. If you want to be a murderer of love and happiness, well, to each his own. But I also have to ask, do you also hate puppies? Sunsets? Chocolate??? Because that’s what it feels like. Forget stabbing me in the back, just go right to the front. Why you’re at it, punch me in the face too.

4. I’m also going to assume you have plans to take over the world since you, as mentioned above, obviously hate friendship and love.
I should just start calling you Sauron now. But it’s cool, I’ve got arrow wielding friends.

5. I unfortunately can’t invite you to all of the things that happen in the cool kids’ circle.
I may or may not have thrown extremely awesome Middle Earth type get togethers in the past. Show up at my door with Frodo haterade?! Well then…

6. I might not show it, but you’re crushing my heart.
I can only handle so much of the world speaking crimes against Tolkien. But it’s cool, crying is healthy.

7. I’m going to need you to please provide legitimate reasons for not liking my Middle Earth.
If you don’t like Lord of the Rings because you were once attacked by a Hobbit, I can give you that. But if say you adore certain reality television or reading 50 Shades of Grey instead, well….I can only weep for you and all of humanity.

But if none of these apply to you and you’re Team Middle Earth, then if we’re ever in the same town, let’s pull a Merry and Pippin kay?!

*This also applies to all things The Hobbit and Narnia.
**This is all in jest of course! But only kinda. J.K….j…..k…..

What have I missed fellow fans? Also, if you aren’t a fan – what is it about the series you don’t like? I promise I’m genuinely curious as I know not everyone is a fantasy fan :). Also, if you want to join in the monthly Inklings series, I’d love to have you join! You can find all the details here!

Bookish Radness

My Top 8 All-Time Favorite Fiction Reads

Do I dare even tackle such a list? Now before you think there’s really only eight favorites on my list, I just have to say this is me we’re chatting about! But here’s a start of some novels that have held a place in my heart for at least 10 years. You know it’s solid if it’s remained on the list for at least a decade.

Mark of the Lion Series | Francine Rivers: If you ask me for a book recommendation, this will always be the first series I recommend. Looking for a biography of the 13th President? Read Mark of the Lion. Oh, you want a story about London society after 1912? I think the story of Marcus and Hadassah is just what you need. Just kidding, I’d give you a legit recommendation, but I don’t think I can put into words how amazing this series is. If I ever meet Francine Rivers, I’m just going to hug and thank her for this book. I’ve probably read it 10 times and I only see that number increasing through the years.

Just know it’s a three book series. I did not know this and when the first book ended, I texted my friend who recommended it asking why she would think to suggest a book that just RIPPED OUT MY SOUL. Yep, my reaction was equivalent to all caps plus a bag of chips and toss in some fireworks.

I own a hard copy and the kindle version so I can read it at anytime. I also read it two weeks after I read it for the first time because it’s just that amazing. If I could only have one series the rest of my life, this would be it. (I need to confess, I only read this about 5 years ago, but I’ve read it 10+ times, so I still added it to the list.)

Dracula | Bram Stoker: Vampires? Wha? Let’s just clear things up by saying it is nothing like modern day vampire shenanigans. No, this is a classic that so fantastically demonstrates battling such evil. I’m reminded that in the fight against evil, you will battle dark forces, you will lose people, you will want to quit, but you won’t. The world will be a better place because you didn’t. I haven’t read this one in a few years, but man, what a book! My e-reader friends, it’s free, so no excuses!

Redeeming Love | Francine Rivers: That sneaky, sneaky Rivers lady. Without knowing how it happens, after reading her stories, you’re forever connected to the characters she creates and wish you could meet these people in real life. Redeeming Love was also the first Christian Fiction book I read back when I was in college. I remember my friend Lindsay, from one of my Comm classes during my freshman year (folks, I never remember details, so the fact that I remember the class, the friend and the year should tell you something ;), gave me her copy to borrow and I had the chance to read it over Thanksgiving and I devoured that sucker in about two minutes flat.

Please, read this book if you haven’t yet (which I need to point out that every monthly top seller list Lifeway releases, Redeeming Love is on it. I jest not. And it’s nearly 25 years old. In May, Francine Rivers not only had her latest (which was fantastic, see my review here), but Redeeming Love as well. P.S. IT HAS IT’S OWN WIKIPEDIA PAGE. Need I say more?

The Land I Lost: Adventures of a Boy in Vietnam | Huynh Quang Nhuong: This is one of the first books I vividly remember reading. I read through it so many times, I’ve lost count. Since growing up in Vietnam was so vastly different from growing up in my parent’s house in Orange County, California, I was so fascinated by this man’s life. Every time I read this book I wanted to do one thing: Go on an epic adventure. If my mom ever asks why I’m always fixin to do something crazy, it’s because I grew up on stories like these. It was also my Mama who gave it to me 🙂

Fire By Night | Lynn Austin: Sigh….just thinking about this book makes me want to re-read it. I think I might too. It’s been a while since I’ve encountered Dr. McGrath and Julia, so I think this summer I might change that. Not only do I love Julia’s character (and connect with her), I adore Dr. McGrath. The whole series is enjoyable, but this one shines far greater than the other two. Plus it’s Civil War (and still my favorite Civil War fiction novel), so win with that.

The Giver | Lois Lowry: I’ve talked about this one the blog enough, so I’ll keep it short. Without pain, one would never know the true depth of happiness, beauty and love. Lowry so beautifully captures this. Plus it’s coming out in the movies soon!!

The Harry Potter Series | J.K. Rowling: Duh.

To Kill a Mockingbird | Harper Lee: This was one of those books I actually liked in high school and understood at the age of 16 why it was such an important piece of literature. It’s beautifully written, it’s an amazing story and Atticus Finch is one of the all-time greatest heroes in literature.

You might be wondering about the books I talk about every 27 seconds and why they aren’t on this list. Well, I figured it was a given that anything Narnia/Lewis or Middle Earth/Tolkien related are in their own category of greatest all-time anything. I mean, I have a monthly series about them internet, so of course they are my favorite of favorites. (If you want to join in The Inklings series, check it out here)

Alright, there’s the fiction list! I feel I can breathe a little easier now ;). What do you think? What are some of your favorites to add?

Bookish Radness, Movie Musings

8 of the Best and Worst Movie Adaptations

There’s something that happens to all book nerds when they hear the rumors are true and their favorite book is coming to the big screen. First there’s absolute excitement.

Then, utter terror. Because WHAT IF THEY RUIN THE BOOK FOR ALL ETERNITY?? Like when you hear about terrible casting or who was chosen to direct it and all you can say is this:

These types of details can ruin a book nerd’s life folks. Dramatic? Yep. But no less true. So today is a list of movies gone right and movies gone…well..those I don’t speak of.

(Some of) The Best

The Client (or any Grisham novel really): The casting on this was phenomenal, it’s an excellent read and action packed. Oh and Mark Sway (be sure to say that in a very Southern accent). Seriously Tommy Lee Jones is so fantastic in this one, as is Susan Sarandon. I think I might need to stop writing and go watch it. I also loved The Pelican Brief, but that could be more based on the fact that it stars Denzel Washington and well, need I say more?

Harry Potter: Besides capturing my beloved characters so well, I thought the movies did an excellent job of being light-hearted in the beginning and then moving to the deeper and darker storyline as it went on. Of course there were a couple artistic additions to the movie, but nothing that drastically shifted it from the storyline. Although I’m still angry they had Dumbledore hollerin at Harry in the Goblet of Fire. Did not happen in the book people!

Lord of the Rings: The trilogy did not disappoint. I mean where do I even start? Where details left out? Of course. But have you read LOTR? We’d still be watching them if they included everything. But as with Potter, they did a good job with artistic license.

Pride and Prejudice: I know, there was a lot of details left out, but I added it because I love the movie a bunch and they did a fabulous job capturing the characters and their personalities with the casting. Who doesn’t love Darcy? Or want to punch Lydia? Anyone else annoyed beyond measure by Mrs. Bennett?

I also have to admit I’m not a huge fan of the BBC version. Mr. Collins in that version CREEPS ME OUT. Like I could barely handle any scene he was in. I really should be putting Emma on this list, because that one was pretty much word for word.

Catching Fire: Man oh man, did the second movie vastly improve from the first. I mean BY LEAPS AND BOUNDS. Not in the acting or special effects (I thought those were great in the first movie), but following the storyline. Can we chat about how much I cried my eyes out when they were in Rue’s district???? My oh my. Many friends who haven’t read the books understood a lot more after watching the second movie. So yes!! I can’t wait for the final book to be made into a movie!!

C- Category

The Hunger Games: Did I just write that? Especially after just gushing over the second film? I did. But hear this first – I like the movies and I’m counting down the days until the next one. But if we’re all being honest, they left out some major details. If you didn’t read the book, I’m pretty sure the mine explosion (shown as an elevator going down and then white smoke) was totally random. Plus, I’m still angry about the scene after it was announced two winners from the same district could win if they both survive. In the book, this is the moment you really feel and see that Katniss cares for Peeta. She literally YELLS OUT HIS NAME. The movie? A whisper. I shouldn’t be so angry, but y’all I AM. They also play up Team Gale/Team Peeta. LAME. As you can see from the previous category, they do much better with Catching Fire (although QUIT IT WITH GALE PEOPLE).

(Some of) The Worst

The Bourne Identity: My first thought after finishing the first movie (I loved the books) was “Did we read the same story?” While the movie series itself is entertaining and I enjoy each one they release, they get an F- for following the book. At least they got his name right.

Eragon: I hope they redo this one. So then we can all act like the first release didn’t happen. Such a great series, yet the movie…just no. No no. No. It didn’t work. Which is a bummer because a lot of the casting was fabulous. John Malkovich (sidenote: If you haven’t seen Red, you need to rent it/download it/amazon it immediately. He is reason alone to watch that movie), Jeremy Irons…you can’t go wrong with names like that. But, as much as it hurts to say, they did.

Alright, it’s your turn friends. Add your two cents with favorites and not so much favorites! Did I get mine right?

Book Reviews, Fiction, Inklings

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien | Book Review

What can I say about The Hobbit? Here’s my review in one word: Awesomeness.

J.R.R. Tolkien is one of the greatest authors ever and if we’re being honest, I’ll stop being your friend if you say anything bad about his stories or him.

It’s been so long since I’ve read The Hobbit that it was like reading it for the first time. I forgot so much of it and I love Tolkien’s way of telling a story. I laughed at many lines, grew to love each character and was reminded again that Tolkien was a genius. If you’ve never read the books, put them next on your list!

He created a language, incredible story lines, creativity beyond most people and even today’s famous books are influenced by his story (I love me some Harry Potter, but you can’t help but notice the similarities with Lord of the Rings). I am so excited to see the movie coming out this weekend! Not sure how three movies will pan out, but I figure that’s just more Tolkien radness on the big screen.

In case you live under a rock and haven’t seen this preview, you’re welcome. How do you not get chills when Thorin starts singing?

After every read or re-read of Tolkien, I’m left with one single question: Is it too much to ask for Middle Earth to be real and for me to be an elf or rider of Rohan?

I didn’t think so either.