What I read in April 2020 (Part 2)

Books, The Hobbit, the Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The Return of the King

My vintage copies

With libraries and bookshops closed I decided to reread The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I first read them in my early teens and perhaps more than once since, however I had watched the films more recently. With no rush to return books to the library I read more slowly than usual and took time to digest a chapter or two.

Apart from many details of the stories I had forgotten the wonderful descriptions and the (deliberately) old-fashioned style of writing. I hadn’t previously noticed some of the  hidden depths to the writing with echoes of phrases and concepts from the Bible. JRR Tolkien (which I struggle to remember is pronounced Tolkeen) was a Christian and a member of The Inklings along with CS Lewis.

The maps included in each volume are works of art helpful in understanding the journeys made by the characters*. The original maps for the Lord of the Rings were created by his son, Christopher Tolkien , according to Wikipedia. The appendices in The Return of the King are extremely detailed with the background to the stories – history, family trees, alphabets, calendars, a timeline of the story and more. Even so there is a publisher’s note in my copy apologising that it hadn’t been possible to publish and index of names promised in the Fellowship of the Ring!

There is a downside to reading really good literature: a free book I downloaded to my Kindle app couldn’t compete with these amazing books and will not be reviewed here!

*In case any readers are not familiar with these books, they are works of fantasy. The characters include creatures from mythology such as elves and dwarves and a species invented by the author – hobbits. A touch of humour is that in the folklore of some, hobbits were missing.



What I read in April 2020 (Part 1)

Three books are reviewed in this post.

April was during lockdown with no libraries open. I had read the library books I borrowed earlier. I decided to investigate the library’s ebooks, although I really do not enjoy reading books in digital form. A librarian of my acquaintance is very enthusiastic about BorrowBox. I downloaded the app to my phone. The search function is not very specific. The book I was looking for was not available. It had ‘Meeting’ in the title. Other books came up in the search results. I borrowed a children’s picture book by Michael Morpurgo – a master storyteller – Meeting Cézanne.

Meeting Cézanne is published by Walker Books. It is recommended for readers of seven years upward. The story of a ten year-old boy going away from his home and town for the first time involves new experiences in the country, hero-worship, misunderstandings and adventure. The delightful detailed illustrations by François Place add to the story. It displayed remarkably well on my phone and is available as an e-book or paperback. I read it twice!

The Vision of His Glory: Finding Hope through the Revelation of Jesus Christ by Anne Graham Lotz was a hardback book destined for recycling if no-one wanted it. Although it was several years old it was in new condition. Having read The Daniel Prayer, I was happy to give this book a reprieve. I began reading it, discovering that it is a study of The Revelation of St John the Divine. Before Christmas I was not ready to read a serious study, so after reading the introduction, I put it on one side. The Ladies’ Bible study group met and discussed what to study next. Revelation was suggested and I mentioned this book. Copies were obtained for the members and we began the study in January a week after watching a video: a lecture on Revelation by an American professor.

The book proved to be more easily used for individual study than for a group. The chapters were rather long. I missed a few meetings through illness and then we had to adjourn because of lockdown. It was towards the end of April that I reached the end of the book. While I appreciated the author’s intentions in writing this book* and found it hopeful and encouraging, some of the details really niggled with me. Perhaps I have too literal a mind, but describing the sun above Golgotha as tropical was something I’d have liked to see edited out. Realistically, it is only like us saying the weather is Baltic, when it is very cold. I am sure the author didn’t mean that Jerusalem is in the tropics!

*From the inside of the dustcover: The Vision of His Glory gives

  • Faith to the doubting
  • Courage to the timid
  • Victory to the defeated
  • Hope to the hopeless

Lost London: An A to Z of forgotten landmarks and lost traditions by Richard Guard was another book I borrowed as an e-book. It is very interesting and detailed. However the e-book with text and illustrations was not well laid-out. After renewing it for another three weeks I only reached the letter G on page 126 of 318. If I find a printed copy of this book in the library I shall try again.


What I read in March (Part 2)

This post is about three fiction books. It may be the last book review post for a month as Sue’s Trifles is taking part in the Blogging from A to Z in April Challenge again this year. There will be posts every day except Sunday for the whole of April.

What Magic is This? by Holly Bourne is a young adult book about thirteen-year-olds. It is an easy read, being printed in a very clear dyslexia-friendly format. The issues dealt with in a fictional setting include whether magic spells work, death of a pet, mental health problems, divorced parents and boy-girl friendships. The three main characters learn during the story, supporting each other through some difficult issues. It is a hopeful book, which I borrowed from the library.

An Unsuitable Match by Joanna Trollope is a romantic novel in which two newly-single people in their sixties and their grown-up children are woven into an interesting story. All of them learn new things about themselves. I thoroughly enjoyed this book set in England and the United States of America.

Towers in the Mist by Elizabeth Goudge is another young adult book. It could not be more different from the other YA book in this post. It was first published in 1938. I reread the copy, which I first read at about the age of the characters in Holly Bourne’s book. It is a historical novel set in Oxford during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. The history of Oxford at other times, both earlier and a little later, also features in the book. There is Elizabethan literature heading each chapter. Many of the characters are famous people of their time, who are still remembered nowadays for their achievements.

Although I regard this as one of my favourite books, I had forgotten the details of the story. I began reading it slowly (for me) savouring all the description and wonderful writing. I interspersed this with the other two books in this post as I intended to return them to the library quickly. However events intervened and the libraries are now closed due to the pandemic.

The young people in the story were all living in an age when Christianity was the normal way of life, but the differences between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism had led to all kinds of suffering. I made notes on each chapter and intend to write a more detailed post about the structure and story for publication on the More than Writers blog, perhaps in May.