I have long since lost count of how many times I have heard this. Last year I remember deciding to read Little Women, to the shock of several people I know who all said the same thing “I can’t believe you haven’t read it” Well I hadn’t, never seen the movie either, so I read the book. I also spent most of the book waiting for Beth to die, because at least three people told me “Beth is so sad” Well, she didn’t die, she got sick, and recovered. I won’t say I felt cheated though. Only a bit baffled. I haven’t read on yet.
This is an excellent addition to my dragon’s-hoard of books, which I was very pleased to find today. Considering I have just finished re-reading His Dark Materials it was nice timing. This is the first omnibus edition of the trilogy from 2001. It has my favourite cover art featuring the Alethiometer.
I love getting side-tracked. I’ve been keeping up with my Tolkien reading this month, but after discovering my friend Travis hadn’t read His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman after he asked me if I had seen the Golden Compass movie, I’ve re-read the whole trilogy again. He’s finished book two but I cheated (couldn’t help myself) and finished book three a couple of days ago. I’ve got the short stories Lyra’s Oxford and Once Upon a Time in the North to read, which I haven’t read before. But is there anything better than seeing someone else discover books that you love for the first time? It’s only the third time I have read them, and each time I read them they amaze me.
I am still suffering some severe Hobbit-fever.
Of course January usually begins with Tolkien for me, and I’ve finished my yearly read of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. This year for the first time I’ve gone straight into further reading, and a few days ago I finished reading The Silmarillion for the first time in many, many years (and seemingly no less difficult than the first time I read it). Last year I painstakingly collected the massive 12-part-plus-index History of Middle Earth, plus the two-part History of the Hobbit to add to my collection. After checking out an article from the Tolkien Library on Recommended Reading Order I’ve decided to continue on with Unfinished Tales and The Book of Lost Tales part One and Two for this month.
“I am in fact, a hobbit in all but size” J.R.R Tolkien
I have been enjoying a rather Hobbity holiday. This is usually the time of the year I start reading Lord of the Rings, and watching the movies (my new Blu Ray boxed set this year) but I don’t always read The Hobbit before I start LOTR, in fact I will usually read it later. Having read it directly before I started Fellowship of the Ring I was able to enjoy it more as a prequel, more than usual in any case. I sometimes forget the references to Dale and the Mountain during Bilbo’s birthday party, the last chapter in The Lord of the Rings in which we are still allowed to be children.
1984 is as devastating, as stimulating, as simple and complex, as thought provoking, as when I first read it as a teen. The final chapter, a small essay on Newspeak, which I undoubtedly skipped with the impatience of youth, has interesting implications. Rather than being written from George Orwell’s perspective, in his present, it is written from an historical perspective, from a not too distant future in which the all-seeing, all-controlling all-powerful totalitarian Party, which seemed a psychopathic state so implacable and unstoppable to Winston Smith, has been defeated.
I want to read that book, in which the Party and its seemingly unrelenting, psychopathic, true-believing functionaries like O’Brien, are defeated. I want to know how, I want to know why.
The implications of a Newspeak that enriches, that expands vocabulary, rather than destroys it, that generates ideas, rather than limiting, also has intriguing possibilities.
If there is one book that must be read, this is it.