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Monday Miscellany

Start you week off right, with some book-related reading.

10 reasons we still love J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’

Here’s a list to warm you up for the December 21 opening of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Peter Jackson’s film adaptation (Part 1) of J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic novel.

A Short Defense of Literary Excess

Novelist Ben Masters laments:

The novelists I find myself attracted to are those who cannot resist the extra adjective, the additional image, the scale-tipping clause. It feels necessary to assert and celebrate this, for we are living in puritanical times. The contemporary preference seems to be for the economical, the efficient, for simple precision (though there is of course such a thing as complex precision). Books, it appears, should be neat and streamlined. Language shouldn’t be allowed to obscure a good story. There is a craving for easily relatable and sympathetic characters. Among critics and reviewers, the plain style is more likely to be praised than the elaborate or sprawling. Embellished prose is treated with suspicion, if not dismissed outright as overwritten, pretentious or self-indulgent. Drab prose is everywhere.

He’s a man after my own heart. I actually like the novels of Henry James. His writing is intricate and complex because the ideas he deals with are large and complex.

And that’s also why one of my favorite books is Disturbances in the Field by Lynne Sharon Schwartz. Life isn’t easy. Books like this allow us to study it in all its complexity.

Seattle homeless man arrested, suspected in 1976 Maine killing

I’ve always wondered whether all the forensic wizardry in crime novels and on TV shows like CSI and Law & Order could really happen. The answer is yes.

11 Book Sequels You Probably Didn’t Know Existed

There’s probably a good reason why we’ve never heard of most of these (with the exception of the Lois Lowry trilogy and Paradise Regained).

I have heard of exactly 3 of these. How about you?

The Worst Book List For Women, Ever.

Amanda Nelson takes issue with a list of books recommended last January by Love Twenty, an online magazines for women in their twenties:

So basically, a website devoted to helping women–I’m sorry, girls– in their 20s thinks that those girls are most concerned about shopping, getting married, shopping, maybe getting married, and also shopping (until you get married). Because “With a little sass and a lot of perseverance, you can get your happily ever after, after all.”

Fortunately, she also found an antidote:

I present an alternate list from Thought Catalog- 11 Books You Should Read If You’re A Woman In Your 20s (Hey, she called me a woman!). This list includes Dorothy Parker, Kate Chopin, Toni Morrison, practical books about sex, and even a Hemingway! There are books that discuss race, gender equality, female sexuality (including homosexuality, which Love Twenty basically ignores), depression, and the nature of commitment. It is full of win.

Five Ways to Jump-Start Your Book Club

Kit Steinkellner proposes some truly radical ways to stimulate your book club’s discussions.

How about you? Do you have any suggestions for how to make a book club work? Leave a comment.