Why We Care About Fictional Characters

When this was posted over at A Farewell to Sanity, I knew I had to share it with you lovely readers. I really have nothing to add; I’ll just let the post itself do the talking.

Happy reading!

Miriam Joy Writes

It’s funny the way we care about fictional characters. I mean, we know they’re not real, but something inside us cares what happens to them. We want Frodo to destroy the ring without getting killed; we want Jack to let Owen back on the Torchwood team; we want Sherlock not to fall. It matters to us.

Why does it matter to us?

Fictional characters are fictional. They don’t exist, they really don’t. Often, however, they outlive their authors. Walk up to a random person in the street (not one wearing fake ears, the LotR fandom do not count in these circumstances), and say ‘Gandalf’. See what they say. Now walk up to someone else, equally randomly, and say, ‘JRR Tolkien’. You can imagine the responses you’d get, can’t you?

It’s partly because there have been films, and the Lord of the Rings has permeated our culture quite deeply, but there’s…

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From the Shire to Mount Doom

Warning: there WILL be spoilers.  If you haven’t read all three books in the LOTR trilogy, you might want to skip this post.

Well, readers, I did it.  I finished the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  It was long and hard going (just like the journey made therein), but I finally pushed through, determined to get to the end by the New Year.

Granted, I still haven’t read the Appendices, but that’s okay.  For me, the main bit of the text is what really counts.

My final thoughts on the series?  It got a bit more endurable by the end, what with the climactic battle scenes and the bit with Gollum and all.  (Gosh, Gollum is creepy.)  I was a bit surprised when the main part of the plot was over with about eighty pages still to go, but then- BAM- a wild subplot appeared!  And I did enjoy that, with the Shire being under attack and Frodo and the gang having to save it.  Although Frodo didn’t really do much, did he?  I suppose he was too worn out from getting rid of the Ring.  You can’t go through something like that and come away unscathed.  He never drew his sword again after that business in Mordor.

The good thing about that was Merry and Pippin and Sam got their fair share of action.  I mean, doubtless they already had some moments in the spotlight, what with the former two becoming knights of Rohan and Gondor and with the latter basically carrying Frodo’s weight through the entire trek into Mordor.  But for Merry, at least, the battle in the Shire was his shining moment.  I loved that.

Indeed, this entire trilogy was vastly different than anything I had expected.  I thought it would be a boring documentary of everything Frodo did, Frodo’s journey, Frodo’s hardships.  But it was not that at all.  It was about Aragorn becoming the King Elessar, about Gandalf’s plans coming together, about the friendship between a Dwarf and an Elf, about the corruption of men once considered the best of their kind.  It was about the passing of one age and the coming of another, about time’s inexorable flow that sweeps away civilizations and erects new ones in their place.  It was about the wounds time can heal, and the ones it cannot.  It was about hope and perseverance and sacrifice.

And I was pleasantly surprised by all of these things.  It wasn’t just the story of Frodo, it was the story of an entire world being shaken apart and put back together again, along with all of the people that made it happen.

Granted, there’s probably some sort of even deeper meaning that sailed over my head.  I’m more inclined to see the story than what it represents, no matter what the book is.  But from what I have seen, this deserves to be called a classic.

I’m not going to say I enjoyed this series.  It took too long to read and the first two books still seem a bit long-winded in my mind.  But I can firmly say that I respect this series.  For all of my griping about how long it was taking to get through, I have to give it credit in the end, and I have to acknowledge that maybe this wasn’t as bad as I’ve been making it out to be.  I realize now why it is so loved by its fans, and I finally know what this is all about.  This was a splendid way to end my year, with a series that I finally got to read after years of putting it off.

My next step is to watch the films and see how they compare.  On the reading front, though, I’m quite looking forward to starting off the year with something new, seeing as how I don’t plan to read The Hobbit or The Silmarillion anytime soon.  Of course, I’m going to finish Omnitopia Dawn as soon as I can so that can get out of my sidebar, but after that, I’m not sure what to read.  There are so many novels to choose from in the To-Be-Read stack.  I suppose we’ll find out.

Readers, do you have any thoughts on the Lord of the Rings?  Is there anything important that I missed?

Happy reading.

One Book to Rule Them All

So here’s the deal.  A couple of months ago, I started reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  I’ve mentioned it here before*.  It took me the longest time to read the first book, and I’m still a little over halfway through the second.  It’s the slowest I think I’ve ever been reading a series.  I’m reminded why I gave up all those years ago the first time around.  And yet I keep reading.

I have nothing against Tolkien, mind you.  There’s good reason this series is seen as the greatest epic fantasy of all time.  It’s just that it’s not for me.  It’s a slow series and I’m starting to think I’ll never be done with it.  And yet I keep reading.  Why do I keep reading?

Part of it is certainly because I promised both myself and a good friend that I would.  And part of it is because I feel the need to finish what I’ve started.  Somehow, I really want to know what happens to the little band of travelers.  But I think a big part of the reason I’m continuing with this is because I feel that, as a self-proclaimed book nerd, I have to read LOTR.

After all, this is the ultimate fantasy story.  This is one of the greatest series of all time.  Certainly it’s one of the most well-known series.  Plus it’s basically the epitome of all things book nerd.  In the Venn diagram of things that are geeky (in a good way, as are all things references to geekdom on this blog) and things that are book-related, LOTR is in that intersecting middle part.  So, therefore, I have to read it.

(Ring picture courtesy of Wikipedia. Everything else courtesy of me.)

Don’t I?

I have this problem with a lot of books, a lot of classics that I tell myself I’m going to have to read eventually if I want to consider myself a true book nerd.  Things like 1984 and Lord of the Flies and at least something by Jane Austen.  And it all starts with the Lord of the Rings.

I’m not even sure why I don’t like it, other than maybe the pacing is a little slow and there is too much description.  But that’s to be expected.  Perhaps I’m just not used to reading books like this, which would be true.  These days, though, I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m not too fond of Frodo.  It all comes from my realization that I’m liking The Two Towers a lot more than I did The Fellowship of the Ring.

Anyway.  The point to this rambling behemoth of a post is this: there are some books that I just have to read, if for no other purpose than to make myself a well-rounded reader and to experience the classics that society says everyone should have a chance to read.  Besides, what’s the point of liking to read if you’re not willing to read new things?  This series is definitely something new for me.

On the other end of the spectrum, should we only read what we like?  Should we forsake boredom and expansion of our literary horizons for the comfort of books that we know we’ll enjoy a whole lot more?  And so now I have a question for you, my lovely readers: What is your stance in this?  Are there any books that you feel you have to read at some point?  And if so, what are they?

Happy reading!

 

*Remember when I was all worked up over reading this trilogy AND the Inheritance Cycle before Inheritance came out?  Yeah.  Turns out that didn’t happen.

Yes, I Know I Have No Life

How do I know this?  Because the most stressful thing in my life right now is the amount of books I need to read.

Yeah.  It’s ridiculous, I know.

Not *that* kind of Riddikulus.

Anyway, that’s why I don’t have time for a super long post today.  You see, I’m determined to get The Fellowship of the Ring* finished today, and I still have about 150 small-type pages to go.  Thank goodness for three-day weekends.  This book is going to keep me busy at least for the rest of today, and then I have homework and my post for Teens Can Write, Too! that’s due on the 18th…

Like I said, stressful.  But I think I can manage.

I'm not blonde, but...you get the point.

Why am I rushing myself to get this book read?  Well, for one, I’ve been on it for about a week now and made little progress.  And two, Inheritance comes out November 8th (!), which means I’m going to have to reread those books before that.  And I can’t do that because I’m reading this trilogy first.

Being a book nerd is so hard sometimes.

Okay, I just need to calm down.  Open the book, log off of Panem October, and get this song out of my head.

I can do this.

Happy reading (I hope)!

 

*My thoughts on the book so far?  Quite good, for my first real immersion into epic fantasy, but a little too much description for my taste.

The Case for Audio

I suppose now is the time to talk about audiobooks.

As for my personal experience with the things, the only audiobooks I’ve listened to (apart from a fifth grade class reading of From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler**) are for the Artemis Fowl series, by Eoin Colfer.  They’re about fairies- but not the Tinkerbell, oh-look-at-me-I’m-a-rainbow-sweating-daffodil-aren’t-I-pretty kind.  No, these are kick-behind save-the-world fairies WITH RAY GUNS.  And there’s also an evil genius child wonder in the thick of it, which I always enjoy.

Remember when I said I had decoded Gnommish? This is the series I was talking about.

Anyway.  One day a couple of years ago I was skulking around iTunes, looking for something good to buy, and I came across the first of these books as an audiobook.  I had never read Artemis Fowl before.  I had never listened to an audiobook for fun before.  Purchasing it as a curiosity, I proceeded to fall in love with the series, thanks in part to Nathaniel Parker’s wonderful narration.  In the time since, I have purchased the second, fourth, and fifth books on audiotape, buying the rest (of seven books) in actual paper editions (although I’m working on getting the third and seventh off iTunes, which was so gracious as to FINALLY get those available).

The title character and his female counterpart at the time of the sixth book. This fan art is FANTASTIC.

Unfortunately, the sixth one doesn’t appeal to me as an audio version because it’s read by a different person than all of the other ones are.  That’s where one of my main points comes in: when a book is read to you, the person reading it shapes your perception of the action in a big way.  How fast or slow or loud or soft or in what cadence they read it determines the film that appears in your mind when you imagine the action.  A lot of times, it adds to the adventure of reading a book for the first time.  For the most part, I feel Mr. Parker does a splendid job of doing this.

But that’s not the best part.  The very best part is the voices.  If you have a really good audiobook, the narrator will do different voices for all the characters.  This is true of the Artemis Fowl audiobooks.  Each character has a distinct voice that adds so much more to the story.  Now, even when reading a hard copy of one of the books, I find myself imagining Mr. Parker’s voices and even narrations going along with the text.

This is, I believe, an "official" picture of Artemis from the official website/graphic novels.

So, that’s my bit.  I just thought I’d share my thoughts on this rather different method of reading (as well as proclaim my being part of the Fowl fandom).  In all, it’s a good way to get into the story.  Besides that, audiobooks are handy when you’re doing something with your hands and want to read at the same time.  Nowadays I never clean my room without putting Artemis Fowl on the speakers.

Oh!  I almost forgot!  There’s this really cool ARG going on in the Hunger Games fandom, and it’s called Panem October.  Not much has happened yet, but it’s a six-month thing that’s going to run until March, when the movie comes out.  Go there!  Sign up!  Tell me if you want to friend me!

Oh again!  Yesterday I started reading the first book of The Lord of the Rings.  Thoughts on the series?

Happy reading!

 

*Quick side note: I was nominated once more for a Versatile Blogger award by the lovely Nerdygirl98.  Thanks!  Everyone go check out her blog!  It’s got rolls of duct tape and barrels of awesome!

**Does anyone else think that’s a REAAALLLLY long name for a book?  But it works somehow.  THE MAGIC OF WORDS!