Monday, September 28, 2015

Forward March

This past week I've made further progress on the 2015 reading challenge:

Book on Bottom of To-Read Shelf:  The Search for Ice Age Americans

As many times as I walk past this book in the library, I've never broken down to give it a try -- until now. The Search  is a history of American archaeology, focusing specifically on the origins of the Clovis people.   Much of the work has been done by amateurs, literal cowboys stumbling upon finds in the wild. The book is principally about the people searching for Clovis, with little information on the culture other than their diet and some social speculation.

Book with Magic: The Two Towers, J.R.R. Tolkien

I read The Two Towers back in high school, for reasons now lost to me. Why, I wonder, would someone disinterested in fantasy try the trilogy, and the middle part no less?   Last September I read The Fellowship of the Ring, however, and this time around the story made much more sense.   The Two Towers collects books "three and four" of the series,  where where the drama to come tremors the surface.  The fellowship of the first book is, like Gaul, divided into three parts: Frodo and Samwise are missing,  Merry and Pippin carted off by Orcs, and the non-hobbits desperately looking for their furry-footed friends.  The epic final battle between the forces of  good and evil is yet to come, but things are already in motion;  both parts of the fellowship move through war zones as orcs and men collide.  As the story unfolds, Tolkien's rich experience and creativity in philology are on display, treating readers with song and poetry from various cultures. One truly gets the sense when reading The Two Towers that another world is being stepped in to; one with a long, storied history that no character knows in full, but which everyone shares in part. This history makes itself known, a mountain of work casting a shadow across the landscape through which everyone moves, and to which their individual stories contribute.  I'm looking forward to the conclusion, which won't wait until next September.

What's next?  With October finally rolling around I can tackle Stephen King's Carrie, which will be a 'famous author's first book'; it seems like Halloween reading.  Before that I may try 'a book my mother loves'.   I'm going to be taking it easy with a 'trilogy' -- the two options I have in mind are both Star Trek series.  The big challenges ahead are the book with antonyms in the title, and a Pulitzer; so far, all the interesting winners I've found have been enormous.

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