November 20, 2012

Hobbit Holes, Audiobooks, and Not Enough Posting

Posted in Blogging, Books, England, Favorite Quotes, Just Life at 9:54 pm by catsinboxes

For any Hobbit fan, you should head over to Redeemed Reader’s website.  Right now they’re having a great Hobbit read-along.  I’m hoping to chip in at some point, but up till now my blogging has been, well, lacking.  I did have very good intentions.  I even had drafts, but I hit what must be called “blogger’s block.”  The post simply didn’t please me, and I didn’t want to share it.  So, there went that one.  I was out of town when I attempted that, so if you’re kind, you’ll use that as a good excuse.  And since then?  Well, I have gotten back into everyday life, and life along with work has kept me busy.

Back to The Hobbit.  It has occupied me for quite some time.  Indeed, it has been one reoccurring theme through the past few weeks.  But really, it goes back much farther.  I believe that I first read The Hobbit when I was between 7 and 8 years old.  I remember listening to BBC’s dramatization of The Hobbit, I believe it was on a trip to New Hampshire.  While slightly confusing (Gandalf begins the narrative with Bilbo chipping in with details), I do remember loving it, especially the music of the dwarves.  Then, at some point, the Recorded Books unabridged production of The Hobbit, narrated by Rob Inglis was acquired.  And since then, The Hobbit has been an audiobook staple.  In our family, audiobooks are also a bedtime staple.  (As I write, the iPod is playing faintly downstairs.)  While it’s not necessary for me, audiobooks at bedtime are my equivalent of chicken soup, pure comfort.  And, of all audiobooks, The Hobbit is a continual favorite.  I remember, at some point in junior high or high school deciding that I wanted to go to sleep to The Hobbit.  There is something, in the midst of all life’s busyness, very comforting about the beginning of The Hobbit.  I love the careful details regarding hobbits in general and one particular hobbit and hobbit hole in particular.  I love the humor: “Bungo, that was Bilbo’s father, built the most luxurious hobbit-hole for her (and partly with her money) that was to be found either under The Hill or over The Hill or across The Water.”  And, as I read the first chapter in conjunction with The Hobbit read-along, I love the capitalization!  It’s a small world indeed when there is simply “The Hill” and “The Water.”  But isn’t it like that in our own little slices of world?  We have “The Woods” and “The Study,” and any number of other very specific words that only those within our family would recognize.  It’s easy to relate to!

Something that I find is helpful when reading The Hobbit, is to realize that it was a bedtime story of sorts.  As such, it seems that Tolkien faced the scrutiny of an audience very close to home:

“Christopher was always much concerned with the consistency of the story and on one occasion … interrupted: ‘Last time, you said Bilbo’s front door was blue, and you said Thorin had a golden tassel on this hood, but you’ve just said that Bilbo’s front door was green, and the tassel on Thorin’s hood was silver’;  at which point Ronald exclaimed ‘Damn the boy!’ and strode across the room to make a note.” (The Tolkien Family Album, Priscilla and John Tolkien, Houghton Mifflin Co., 1992, p. 58.)

I love that quote, and as an occasional bedtime storyteller, I know how easy it is to forget names let alone details!

My thoughts on The Hobbit could continue to flow, but I would like to go and do some reading before bedtime, so I will bring this post to an end.  There will be more posts in the coming weeks, but I will not vouchsafe what Thanksgiving and Christmas will do to my blogging schedule.  I’m being optimistic though, and hoping for the best!

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November 2, 2012

A New Reason to Blog and a Book Review

Posted in Blogging, Book Reviews, Jane Austen, Just Life at 10:10 pm by catsinboxes

Since I began blogging, I have had many inducements to blog.  The greatest has been my love of writing, especially writing about books.  Then there’s been the guilt factor, I haven’t blogged since when???  Quickly following the guilt factor has been the continual resolution factor, I will post once a week, I will post regularly.  But, if a reader were to peruse my blog they would realize that neither the second nor tertiary factor have prevailed.  But, recently I have discovered a new inducement which might -if exercised judiciously- get me to blog faithfully.  And that inducement is the growing library fine.  With monetary loss hanging over my head, I feel the need to blog much more urgently!

And what is the book that has brought me to a state of pecuniary problems?  Before I continue, I should make something clear.  My writing (and choice of vocabulary words) is right now being subconsciously affected by Jane Austen.  It’s an affect I have noticed before, and while I don’t mind at all, I feel that it does require an explanation!

Now, back to the overdue library book which is causing this blog post.

This was a “first” for me in several respects.  It was the first book I have read about economics and the first book I have read about food.  I saw it recommended in World Magazine, and I thought it sounded intriguing.  I found it was in our library system, so I checked it out and began to read.

If you like to save money, if you like food, and if you want to understand how economics related to food works, then this is the book for you!  It was an enjoyable read and very informative.  Tyler Cowen loves food, and throughout the books he adds examples from his personal experience.  This book is full of practical information: Asian supermarkets tend to have the best -and cheapest- produce . . . good food at a good price is more likely to be found in an out-of-the-way location than in an expensive area since business will depend more on a loyal clientele drawn by good cooking . . . Pakistani restaurants tend to be more authentic than Indian restaurants because they cater toward a narrower audience which expects authentic Pakistani food.  These and many more interesting facts (did you know that some of the best French restaurants in the world -outside of France- are in Japan?) can be found within this book.  Tyler Cowen manages to cover a whole host of subjects in 11 chapters.  Eco-concious readers will appreciate his chapter on ‘Eating Your Way to a Greener Planet.’  I found it very interesting, and while I wouldn’t say I agree with all of his conclusions, I definitely see his logic!

One of the best things, for me, about reading An Economist Gets Lunch was the timing.  I read Chapter 4: The Rules for Finding a Good Place to Eat right before heading on a trip to Louisville, Kentucky.  From that point on, armed with a host of rules for finding good, inexpensive food, I was on a mission.  With the help of Tyler Cowen’s tips, and reviews from The Urban Spoon, we ate very well while we were in Louisville: Mediterranean food, burgers, and barbecue -amazing barbecue!  If I were a food blogger, I’d now produce many delicious pictures of said food.  But alas, I am not.  Maybe someday I’ll go into that, but for now you’ll have to content yourself with my assurance that the food was excellent.

So, with the Christmas season approaching, An Economist Gets Lunch is a perfect present for a book-loving friend who also loves food and has a streak of Scotch blood.

There, now my blogging conscience has been assuaged, and I will return this book to the library as quickly as possible.  And, many apologies to the person who put it on hold and is right now wondering why I won’t return it!  I wanted to return it, I really did, I just needed to blog about it first!