Thursday, 10 January 2013

2012 Book Catch Up: Books 99 - 101

I'm still getting caught up with the books I read towards the end of last year. I've got less than ten of these left to go, so hopefully I'll have these all written up by the time I'm ready to start writing the book reviews for this year.

Book 99 of 2012: The Rough Guide to Lord of the Rings - (Edited by Paul Simpson, Helen Rodiss & Michaela Bushell)
This was a little book that Mr Click found for me in a wonderful Oxfam shop in Oban. I was distracted by some other books and he just pulled it off the shelf and asked me if I had it. It was only a couple of quid, so I picked it up and it wound up in a box of books in the spare room. So when I rearranged my bookcase I pulled out and stuck it on the shelf expecting it to be a quick read. It was actually a longer read than I was expecting because it's very detailed and although there's photos from the films on the cover, a great deal of the book is actually given over to Tolkien and the books.

There were a few bits that were kind of repetitive, which I put down to the fact that different bits of the book were probably written by different people. It has resulted in reinforcing some little bits of knowledge, like the fact that Sean Astin put on 30 pounds for his role as Samwise Gamgee.

The book was in black and white with some orangey-yellow text in places. So there were black and white photos throughout the book. Most of these didn't add much, they were often from the film with captions that were (at times trying a little too hard to be) funny. Often these didn't add to much to the book and weren't anything that I hadn't seen before, though at the time this was published The Return of the King wasn't out yet, so some probably weren't so familiar. What I did like was the photos of places where Tolkien had lived or been, they weren't anything special (and they were in black and white) but I thought they were interesting.

There was a good mix of topics covered by the book; some was totally mundane, like music and merchandise linked to The Lord of the Rings (scarily enough most of the merchandise I actually own, though it reminded me to look out some of New Zealand Mint Lord of the Rings coins which are now worth around £40 which is good to know). Then there were deeper topics looking at serious things like religion and politics. I would have liked a little more about the later topics, but I suppose that might not have appealed so much to the target audience and I do have other books that discuss those things.

If anyone's a little bit obsessessed with interested in the Lord of the Rings, then I'd definitely recommend it as an interesting little read.

Book 100 of 2012: Christmas Eve at Swamp's End - Norman Duncan
Another of the many Christmas Kindle books I downloaded in the run up to Christmas. This tells the story about an orphaned teenager at Christmas who is desperate for a baby of her own. The teenager, Pattie Batch, knows of a mother who has several children already and proposes to take the latest addition off her hands, but is turned down. She's even made a little shawl for the baby that she is waiting for. Meanwhile, a local man finds a little abandoned basket which he takes to the local pub...

It was very short, only 27 pages. I took it to the bath with me and read most of it while I was in there, finishing it off in bed later in the evening. It was a nice quick little read and was a simple story. Honestly, I could relate to the character of Pattie. She's really yearning for a baby and has made a shawl for it, imagining what her baby will be like.

I couldn't help but want more from the story. It ends after Pattie has been given a very special gift for Christmas, but I wanted to know more about the backstory as well as what would happen next. Obviously it's set during a different time and things worked differently back then, but it would have been nice to know a little more about what came next.

It needn't have been a Christmas story, it could have been set at any time of the year. But it was a nice little addition, it was a sort of festive 'magic of Christmas' thing. Ignoring the little question marks about what came before and what happened next, it was a nice little quick read.

Book 101 of 2012: The Curious World Of Christmas - Niall Edworthy
This was a random book that I found when I was sorting out a box of books. I have no idea where it came from, I suspect it was popped into my stocking one Christmas, though I've never read it before. It's a collection of facts about Christmas, the origins of traditions with little stories from people in jobs various fields, about their experiences at Christmas.

It was a really interesting book. I love Christmas and I like hearing about the history behind the things that we do at Christmas time. I learned lots of things that I didn't know. It was also pretty funny. I couldn't help but read extracts out to the people I was with because it was so interesting that I couldn't help but share.

It was very well presented. The facts were arranged in boxes or in different fonts and styles, with little pictures beside them as well. The book was divided into various sections dealing with the traditions, the food, history and other bits. That meant that it was easy to back and find bits that I wanted to share with people. The one problem I did have was that the stories from people which interspersed the other sections was printed on grey pages and in some places had a picture behind it as well. That made it a little bit tricky to read, especially when I was in a darker room.

The addition of the bits from real people, with their (often unconventional) Christmases was pretty interesting too. I actually would have been interested in having a few more of them. There was a surgeon who managed to save a man's life on Christmas day, a Firefighter, a lifeboat man, a priest (who's dog ate almost all the Christmas dinner). They were interesting, because I think everyone tends to think that their Christmas Day routine is the best way to do it, so it's nice to see how other people celebrate Christmas.

This book was definitely aimed at adults as opposed to children, some of the facts leaned towards the more adult side of things. I think it would be good to share the facts with children but some are dealing with sex and stuff, hehe. I think I'll probably pull it out again in the future and remind myself of some of the little details.

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