Monday, February 10, 2014

Books One & Two

Well, my last book of last year was The Hobbit and it's the first book of this year, too.
We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner! I can’t think what anybody sees in them. (p9)
I read it this time, instead of listening to an audiobook. I actually enjoyed reading it a bit more since it helped me absorb places and names a bit better. Oddly, though, I still didn't enjoy the second half of the book as much. I'm not really sure why. I like it up to Mirkwood but after that, I get a little restless until we meet Smaug. Maybe it's the way the elves treat Bilbo. They're kinda mean.
“Good Gracious!” he thought, “so that is what they are beginning to think, is it? It is always poor me that has to get them out of their difficulties, at least since the wizard left..." (p188)
Preach it, Bilbo.

I did enjoy seeing a bit of the evolution of the English language, though. Reading without the dynamic nature of language in mind can make things sound a bit odd.
...and some were harping and many were singing. (p141)

He used to turn queer if he looked over the edge of quite a little cliff... (p101)
Also, reading this made me once again want to write an essay on how Harry Potter is basically The Hobbit (and probably The Lord of the Rings) revamped.
“Never laugh at live dragons, Bilbo you fool!” he said to himself, and it became a favourite saying of his later, and passed into a proverb. (p204)
Am I the only one that thinks of "Never tickle a sleeping dragon" after reading this?

Logic would dictate that after reading The Hobbit, I would move on with the series, but with all the construction and related stress around the house now, I didn't want my next book to be too long or heavy - so no Lord of the Rings just yet. Instead, I gave Ella Minnow Pea: A Progressively Lipogrammatic Epistolary Fable by Mark Dunn
a go.

I happened upon this book when looking for something Jasper Fforde-ish. I love his humor and always look forward to his stuff, but there's not another Fforde book out until at least April and I needed something fun now.

It wasn't as fun as a Jasper Fforde and the first quarter of the book felt a little forced. Even the book seemed to acknowledge that awkwardness.
My cousins say that I speak in a “funny,” overly formal way, whatever this means. (p30)
Yeah, whatever that means. Shall I list a few of the made up words used, even before very important letters are eliminated?
heavipendence (p35), intensured (p45), rectilitude (p45), humongolacity (p56), concomitate (p60), illegum (p63)
I also had some confusion differentiating between the voices of the characters in some of the letters (and remembering a couple of the lesser characters), but these seem to be issues many epistolary novels have and this wasn't the worst offender by far. Overall, it was an enjoyable little story.

One (non-book-related) complaint, though: when you open a book on a Kindle, it starts at the beginning of the first chapter. This can bypass any introduction, notes, or preface. That's rather annoying and can really detract from the story. In this book, if I hadn't flipped backwards after opening it I would have missed a short list of definitions, including the one that gives the setting of this book.
Nol•lop (nol′ep), n. a 63-square-mile autonomous island nation 21 miles southeast of Charleston, South Carolina. Established as a quasi-communal society by dispossessed southern Americans in the 1840s, the island declared its independence from the United States in 1870. Over the years the country’s leadership has sought to uplift its black and white citizens through almost monastic devotion to liberal arts education and scholarship, effectively elevating language to national art form, while relegating modern technology to the status of avoidable nuisance. Formerly Utopianna, the country’s name was changed in 1904 to honor native son Nevin Nollop, the author of the popular pangram sentence The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.
This information, particularly the autonomous nation off the coast of South Carolina bit, is pretty vital for understanding how the events of this book occur. It makes it an alternate universe setting so things that would be completely impossible in our world now are accepted in the story as being possible because of the alternate setting. So yeah, I love my Kindle but I find that "feature" excessively annoying.

I'm not sure what is next up on my reading list. I should be reading a book on composting but I want something fun still (and probably will until the pool is all done) so I think I'll end up reading some more fiction.


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