Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Getting my Literary Fix (While I'm Waiting)

First of all, any suggestions about productive ways to pass time and keep me from thinking too much about the imminent arrival of our little boy would be greatly appreciated.

Second, I thought I would share one of the best distractions I've found so far. This has been on the "I'd love to do it, but I don't have time" list for a while now.

Ladies and gentlemen (?), meet The Tolkien Professor. His name is Corey Olsen, and he was my favorite professor in college (yes, I do really know him; we're not just Facebook friends). He did a class on The Bible that was incredible and a Tolkien (author of Lord of the Rings, etc.) class that was so popular, it had to be moved into the college's biggest lecture hall. Seriously. The college president's wife audited it.

One of my biggest regrets about my college experience is that I never got to take this momentous class. He actually let me sit in on it the spring after I graduated (shhh!), but it often conflicted with my work schedule, so I only made it to a few classes. Lucky for me, he has posted some of these lectures on his website AND made a podcast so I can get new ones as they come in. (If you want to listen, I recommend downloading it, as the streaming version skipped a few times when I tried to listen to it.)

Seriously. This man is a genius. Amazing. Featured on The History Channel, made keynote speaker at The Festival in the Shire (in Wales), he changed the way I think about fantasy in particular, and literature in general. So far, his podcast lectures have been everything I thought they would be. And they're only about 30 minutes long. He does recommend actually reading the books in preparation for the lectures, which might take a little time, but each lecture only covers a few chapters, and he starts with The Hobbit, which is a pretty easy read. Not too daunting, right?

Oh, and make sure and listen to the first lecture, "How to Read Tolkien and Why". Even if you don't have time to listen to the series, this may well be the most enlightening 28 minutes of your literary life. Tolkien had some fascinating ideas about writing, most of which I had never heard before this lecture but make perfect sense to me.

So, that's what I'll be doing today and probably tomorrow... unless I have a baby tonight. :-P

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