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Breakout the Seedcakes and Blackberry Tarts: Celebrate the 125th Anniversary of Tolkien’s Birth!

6 Jan

January 3 is the 125th birth anniversary of J.R.R. (John Ronald Reuel) Tolkien who was born in 1892 in what is now South Africa in Bloemfontein.  Tolkien’s hobbits celebrated their byrding days (birthdays) by giving gifts to others rather than simply receiving gifts themselves.  Tolkien has clearly gifted the world with his writing; his work has been translated into over 60 languages as well as having been adapted as movies and even video games.  This is the perfect time to come in and check some out some of his writing and works he inspired today.

The Hobbit: or, There and Back Again

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The first and perhaps the most accessible of Tolkien’s novels set in middle earth, The Hobbit tells the story of Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit whose life is changed when Gandalf the Wizard transforms his safe ordinary life into one of adventure.  My first encounter with it was the cartoon from the late 1970’s, which is available at some BCCLS libraries.  Also available to check out is Tolkien’s epic Lord of the Rings published as three volumes (The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King) which continue to be influential on many contemporary writers and is the archetype of High Fantasy.  If you would like to start listening to them right now visit Hoopla for digital audiobook copies.

The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Films Directed by Peter Jackson

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You can borrow several of the ambitious films that Peter Jackson directed including The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey from HPL.  I saw The Lord of the Rings trilogy with my father who was overjoyed with the special effects laden and visually stunning adaptations of books he had loved as a teenager.  The Hobbit movies were a bit controversial with some fans due to the addition of new characters and plot lines to allow for three films; check them out and see what you think.

Video Games Set in Middle Earth

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Not satisfied with merely reading or watching about Middle Earth, immerse yourself in the epic battles with Lego The Lord of the Rings for the Xbox 360 or PS3.  The game allows you to unlock over 80 playable Lego versions of Middle Earth characters.   This game is rated E 10+.  For those looking for a more adult game check out Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor for the PS3, PS4, Xbox One, or Xbox 360 rated M; you play as Talion, a Ranger of the Black Gate and is set prior to the events in Lord of the Rings.  Also available is the rated M game The Lord of the Rings. War in the North for Xbox 360.

The Story of Kullervo

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If you are already a fan of Tolkien and looking for something new then you might be intrigued by The Story of Kullervo.  Although only recently published, The Story of Kullervo is an early short story from circa 1915, which is based on part of the Finnish epic Kalevala.   Also included are transcripts of Tolkien’s talks on Kalevala.

The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings: J.R.R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams by Philip Zaleski and Carol Zaleski

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Tolkien was part of a literary club in 1932 called the Inklings, who first met at Oxford University. The Inklings critiqued each other’s works and debated the hot topics of the time.  The Fellowship focuses on four of the groups most famous members and it is an interesting look at some of the forces that shaped Tolkien and his work.  Looking for more in-depth insight into Tolkien’s work?  You can also borrow from HPL The Tolkien Companion by J. E. A. Tyler and Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit by Corey Olsen.

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

Documentaries to Check Out in Honor of Transgender Day of Remembrance

2 Dec

Transgender Day of Remembrance, occurs each year on November 20.  It is a day to memorialize those who have been murdered as a result of transphobia and to bring attention to the continued violence frequently directed toward the transgender community.  It was started by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a vigil to honor the memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in 1998.  Rita was a part of the transgender community in Boston where she worked toward education around transgender issues.

Because of this day, the week from the November 14-20 is considered Transgender Awareness Week by GLAAD and other organizations and some groups also celebrate the whole month of November as Transgender Awareness Month.  Below are documentaries Hoboken and other BCCLS patrons can check out any time from Hoopla!

What’s the T?

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The T in LGBT stands for transgender and the award winning documentary, What’s the T? looks at the lives of five women whose lives began as boys.  They are a diverse group including an actress, a student, a dancer, an activist, and a nurse.  The film was shown at numerous film festivals and was praised for capturing the compelling lives of its subjects.

Growing Up Trans

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The PBS documentary Growing Up Trans looks at transgender children and their families who are exploring what it means to grow up being transgender.  It includes an interesting look at how medical advances are allowing them to make the transition before puberty and how this impacts their lives.

Out Late

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On the other side of the age spectrum the documentary Out Late features five people who came out as lesbian, gay, or transgender, after the age of 55. LeAnna, who served in the military as a man, became a woman at age 60.  The documentary looks at why they chose to come out later in life and what being out meant to them.  Those featured come from a diverse cross section of North America including Canada, Florida, and Kansas.

I Am the Queen

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In the Humboldt Park neighborhood in Chicago, the Vida/Sida Cacica Pageant brings together the Puerto Rican community to celebrate its transgender participants. I Am the Queen follows Bianca, Julissa and Jolizza as they prepare for the pageant. The women share stories of their transition, their relatives’ reactions, and how they find support in the community.

Do you have other documentaries or transgender resources to recommend?  Let us know in our comment section!

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

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