Weekly Reading Update: The Simarillion, Mother Night, The Book Business

I apologize for being a tad late on this week’s reading update, but it’s been a busy week for procrastination.  I found some Lord of the Rings fanfiction that I became mildly obsessed with for a few nights, resulting in a lot of wasted time.  I usually don’t have a problem with fanfiction (the unpublished kind), as long it remains ridiculous and an innocent guilty pleasure.  However, the horrible kind is simply mesmorizing–like a bad car wreck–and oftentimes it’s hard to pull yourself away after merely 1…2…3 hours.

That aside, it’s also been a busy week for reading. I finally finished The Silmarillion, as well as figured how to pronounce it.   My dad warned me that it was tough, and it was, but I didn’t think it was horribly difficult to follow.  It was nice to have the Atlas of Middle Earth at my side, as well as a general idea of Middle Earth lore (since I just finished The Lord of the Rings).  Finishing it cememted my belief that Middle Earth actually IS a real place and I only need to wish hard enough to be transported there.  It was longer than I expected, but I especially appreciated the the third section, outlining the major events in the War of the Ring.  You really can’t appreciate the extent of the tale without knowing of the White Council, the destruction of Dul Guldor (Galadrial is a badass) and what happens in the fourth age.  Suffice it to say, I’m happy I put forth the effort to finally read The Silmarillion, even if it wasn’t on my “to-read” list for the summer.

Nazis are fun!

Nazis are fun!

And then, for something completely different.  I knew I needed something different to jar me from my fantasy-fiction obsession, so I read the last of the Kurt Vonnegut novels that has been staring at me for a year, Mother Night.  It was actually one of three Vonnegut novels I “stole” from my dad’s workroom a few years ago (he wasn’t reading them and they were gathering dust!).  Of the three, Mother Night had more plot than Breakfast of Champions–a major plus.  But I enjoyed the Nazi-element more than the strange sci-fi bent of Cat’s Cradle.  However, Slaughterhouse-5 is still my favorite–no surprise there.

Fortunately, Mother Night was far shorter than The Silmarillion and I managed to finish it in two days.  I then moved on to something even more different–The Book Business by Jason Epstein.  The book is an exploration of the publishing business–it’s “past, present and future”–as well as a collection of Epstein’s memories from the “good ol’ days” of publishing.  Unfortunately, the book was published in 1999, making his predictions of the e-book revolution a little naive.  So far, I can comfortably say the book is no replacement for the Summer Publishing Institute and the crate-load of knowledge they shoved in our head.  However, Epstein’s voice is nostalgic and literary and his vinettes about working at Random House in the late 50’s (before things became horribly corporate) are endearing and enjoyable to read.  It’s a little slow reading–the chapters are a collection of lectures he gave during the 90’s–but I received the book free from a former professor after writing a piece on a local bookstore for my senior project.  I figure I owe it to him to read.

In other news, I moved my brother into Bowling Green University today (in Bowling Green, Ohio).  It felt a bit strange walking around a college campus again, knowing that I won’t be returning to school as an undergraduate.  My boyfriend and I will be taking a tour of the engineering school at the University of Michigan (for him, of course) next week, and so I guess UofM grad school will always remain on my backburner for future endeavors.  Everyone at my internship jokes that I should have gone to grad school instead of looking for a job in this horrible market, and on the most frustrating days of my job search I can’t help but agree.  However, I have never truly regretted my decision to look for a job.  Besides the practical reasons (I’m waiting for my boyfriend to finish a 5-year degree in Aerospace Engineering), what I really want for my life at this point is to be a working writer. It’s my dream, and I’m young and still mildly optimistic about this world–what better timing is there (give or take an economic recession)? I want to really LIVE in this world, not hide in academia.  I want to work 9-5, make a little money to spend and save, read anything I want (and NOT for class), give my writing time to blossom and figure out what my little life is going to be about.  OK, so things are a little scary right now.  But I’d rather be scared now than continue putting off major decisions.

Besides, the thought of graduate school always brings up the perennial question: what to study?  Journalism (worthless?), Literature (definitely don’t want to be a professor) or Creative Writing (have never taken a college-level class in the subject).  Ah! I’ll think about it later.

Oh, I recently joined Goodreads.com and loaded all 304 of my books.  I’ve tried LibraryThing.com as a way to catelog my books online, but they cut me off at 200 for the free subscription.  Goodreads is just as great, if not a little user-non-friendly at times, and I had fun taking their literary trivia quiz.  Look me up, be my friend if you’re also a member and check out my literary repertoire.  I’ll admit it’s a little intimidating, but I know I’m not as bad as other book-lovers I know.

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