So I’ve told you that I love J.R.R. Tolkien a million times. What I haven’t told you is why I love Tolkien. And since today is his birthday (January 3rd 2014 would have made him 122), I figured I’d give you the run-down.
While I don’t do it as often or as much as I ought to, I do write fiction. So in the most basic sense, I want to be Tolkien. To be more accurate, I want to produce something of the same caliber as the world he created, I want to capture people’s imaginations the way he did, and I want to have a similar influence on the literary world. I feel similarly about several other authors (Neil Gaiman and Jane Austen and maybe a few others), but Tolkien has a certain something that makes him my greatest inspiration and aspiration.
His world creation is probably still second to none, and I think that’s something I really want to emulate. You can keep your Narnia, your Westeros, and your Hogwarts, because when it comes to world-creation, Arda and Middle-Earth are the bottom line. Something that really stuck with me when I read Tolkien’s biography last year was the idea that his stories, his legendarium, were to him a kind of mythology for his home. He created his works, but to him the writing was more like a discovery of true things than an invention of fiction. That’s a feeling, I think, that every writer strives for, and I know that I do.
That’s enough rambling from me, I think. Toast “the Professor” today, and happy birthday John Ronald!
Happy New Year from the KU family to you and yours! We wish you a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2015! Keep up with all our crazy shenanigans by following this blog, liking us on Facebook, and following us on Instagram and Twitter @kardsunlimited! To find out everything that’s happening this month, click READ MORE!
Happy birthday to Rudyard Kipling! Or, no, I’m not an Imperial Apologist, I just love The Jungle Book.
So back in the day, many countries of the world, great and small, decided that it would be super cool to travel around the world stealing other peoples’ land. This obviously wasn’t the most popular decision ever, and nor was it really morally defensible when you think about it, but hey, things were crazy back then.
ANYway. There were some pretty great things to come out of the British Empire (and other empires, don’t get me wrong), and one of them was Rudyard Kipling. Born in Bombay, British India on December 30, 1865, Kipling’s innovative short stories, narrative poetry, and beloved novels make him an enduring favorite of readers of all ages. Fun fact: Kipling won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907. He was the first English-language writer to receive the award and its youngest recipient to date. (He was 42.)
Kipling is probably best known for his children’s short story collection The Jungle Book which, along with its sequel The Second Jungle Book, is one of my favorite books ever. The Jungle Books tell the story of an orphaned boy who gets raised by a kickass group of jungle creatures which, I think, is every kid’s fantasy at some point or another. Plus they have other stories like Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, about a mongoose who saves a family from a pair of cobras, and The Miracle of Purun Bhagat about an old holy man who saves a town from a mud slide.
Kipling also wrote a short story collection for younger children called Just So Stories. The stories are fanciful fables about such things as how elephants got trunks (The Elephant’s Child), How the Leopard Got His Spots, and How the Camel Got His Hump. They are the cutest ever and you should read them to your kids all the freaking time. Ok, I guess that’s it about ol’ Rudy. Read on, friends!
So here’s the thing. Some people don’t like Jane Austen. As a rule, I wouldn’t really mind that, because I’m not the kind of person who needs everyone to agree with him, but I kind of really need everyone to agree with me that Jane Austen is the best thing in the world. Mostly because of all the anti-Austen opinions I’ve ever read, the most common complaint, by far, is that her books are boring. False. Patently, hilariously, stupidly false. I’ve actually concluded that people who don’t like Jane Austen probably can’t actually read. And since December 16th is her birthday, I shall here and now school you all on the lovely Jane’s intense awesomeness.
Because if you can read, and you picked up Pride and Prejudice, how could you not be interested in Mr. Bennet’s quip, “You mistake me, my dear. I have a high respect for your nerves. They are my old friends. I have heard you mention them with consideration these twenty years at least.” That’s gold!
Who can read Emma Woodhouse’s hilariously snarky blunder, “Ah! ma’am, but there may be a difficulty. Pardon me, but you will be limited as to number–only three at once.” And not literally lol? She’s so ridiculously self-satisfied that she becomes a bitch!
And the dry wit of Sense and Sensibility, “It is not everyone,’ said Elinor, ‘who has your passion for dead leaves.” So great. Point being, Jane Austen rules, and you (if you don’t love Jane Austen) drool. Full stop.
Step 1! Buy awesome Christmas cards like these!
Step 2: There is no step 2, dummy! You did it! Christmas card mastery unlocked! Send those cards! All these and much more here at KU! Come and get ‘em!
Let’s be honest, KU is pretty much stocking stuffer central. Santa shops here for the stuff he puts in your stocking. Seriously. Also he loves us. Obviously. Anyway, here are some stocking stuffer ideas for your favorite bibliophile!
All this and much much (MUCH) more at KU this holiday season! Come down and see us! <3!
Ok, so. First of all, my parents never really had us believing in Santa. I don’t really know why, seems like a harmless enough myth to me, but it wasn’t for us. When she was in second grade, my sister apparently was telling people that Santa wasn’t real. So her teacher runs into my dad and goes, “Mr. Marthens, Rosalie is telling the other children that Santa Claus isn’t real!” and my dad goes, “Well you know he isn’t, right?”
ANYwho. St. Nicholas is a real saint from whom Santa Claus derives. He was a Greek bishop who lived in the 4th century and because of the many miracles attributed to his intercession is sometimes called Nikolaos the Wonderworker which, if I’m being honest, is a pretty B.A. moniker. He had a reputation for giving many small gifts, especially to children, hence Santa being derived from him, but his feast day (12/6) is also celebrated by the giving of small gifts in many countries.
So when we were kids, my grandmother whose father came from a family of German immigrants would always remind us to leave out our shoes on the night of December 5th so that St. Nicholas could leave us presents. As with Santa, I think we knew all the time that the gifts were from her, but somehow St. Nicholas Day always seemed a little more mysterious and fun I guess because the gifts weren’t labeled.
So if you like giving your kids or grandkids cute little toys and oranges and candy, teach them about St. Nicholas and leave them some mysterious presents! It’s the best!
BONUS INFORMATION! The European traditions surrounding St. Nicholas also encompass the cautionary tales of Pere Fouettard (some crazy butcher guy who kills bad kids or something. It’s all very confusing if you’re not French) and Krampus! (The supernatural German version who’s like a hairy devil or some craziness. We have a book about him!)
OH MY GOODNESS YOU GUYS. IT’S DECEMBER AND KU IS SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO IN THE HOLIDAY SPIRIT! WE LOVE THE HOLIDAYS AS MUCH AS ANY HUMAN BEINGS CAN LOVE ANY SINGLE THING! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! CLICK READ MORE TO FIND OUT WHAT WE’RE UP TO!