T is for…

TT is for tons of talent and no time to read it:

Tolkien, J.R.R.
Tolstoy, Leo


I told you I was going to have to admit another gross bit of lacking in my fantasy education, and here it is: J.R.R. Tolkien, father of the modern fantasy epic and I haven’t read a single one of his works yet. The Simarillion is on my 2014 reading list, however and I’m looking forward to reading it. Much of the happier events in Tolkien’s life made their way in one form or another into his writing. He was uncomfortable with the success of his books and being made into a cult icon, and eventually took his wife and made himself scarce. He lead a rather fascinating life that has too many points to mention in brief summary. For a novice writer like myself it was a rather inspirational biography to read.

I’m going to be honest and say that War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy terrifies me. No, I haven’t read it, but its presence on my shelf, with its 1000 pages in itty-bitty print signifies a very long commitment that I’m not ready to make just yet. I’m fascinated yes, perhaps willing to stroke a few pages in a secret viewing, but I’m not ready to put it on a reading list. I need to experiment with a few other books before I give so much of my time to just one work of fiction. Tolstoy was born the son of a Russian count, and after leaving the university he was flunking, he and his brother joined the army. During this time, and subsequent tours of Europe, Tolstoy’s social and political views began to change. He became a pacifist and an anarchist who was passionate about education. He founded thirteen schools for the serfs on his family’s estate, but was forced by the government to shut them down. Tolstoy eventually died of pneumonia when he attempted a mid-winter, late-night escape from his wife and his life of privilege. Apparently she was bitterly envious of how much attention he gave to the students of his philosophy, and opposed many of his views.



So there you go. Two classic authors I should have read by now but haven’t. Are there any other great T’s out there that I’m missing? Let me know in the comments!


23 thoughts on “T is for…

  1. Now that you’ve asked…I’ve drawn a blank, but I’ll let the chai settle in and clear my brain. Maybe I’ll come up with a good T author. I know one person who read War and Peace. Just not sure I’d make it through. One page/day, three years later it’s done!

    • Ha! The tale of Genji is 1200 pages and 6 years later I’m still not finished it. I go through spurts of reading it, though and then long periods of letting it sit. It’s just one of those books. I imagine War and Peace will be the same.

  2. You’re picking a difficult entry point into Tolkien’s world with The Simarillion. It’s a very dry, very slow read that doesn’t resemble much beyond the series of footnotes and references it was cobbled together from. I’d start with The Hobbit and go from there.

    My A to Z Challenge

    • I unfortunately have to start with what I have. I used to have The Hobbit, but I don’t know what happened to it. I don’t mind reading The Simarillian first. I’m not expecting an epic out of it. 🙂

  3. How about Amy Tan, author of the Joy Luck Club and several other books? You chose two authors I revere. Tolkien I read to my children until they were old enough to read him for themselves. Tolstoy requires patience and perseverance but is well worth the effort; his characters are so memorable!

  4. No no no. Just don’t start with The Silmarillion. Start with The Hobbit or Fellowship. Starting with The Silmarillion will be a mistake. If you can’t start with one of the others, just wait till you can.

  5. I only have three T authors: Tolkien, Tolstoy, and Mark Twain. With Tolkien, I’ve read the Silmarillion, Hobbit, and LOTR, but I haven’t gotten to the Book of Lost Tales, Vols. 1 and 2, or the Unfinished Tales. I haven’t read Tolstoy, and I likely won’t for a long time — to many other books on my reading list. I’ve read Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court — all very good.

  6. Yup, seriously, don’t start with The Silmarillion. I was a massive Tolkien geek in my younger days, and even I struggled with it. It’s not a story, so much as random bits of history and mythology that props up his world, and unless you are familiar with the world already, it’s unlikely to mean anything to you.

    I read War and Peace years ago. By which I mean, I read the Peace bits, and skimmed the War bits, as I really wasn’t that into the detailed battle strategies that he lays out in loving detail. Agree that Anna Karenina is a lot more accessible.

    • Got it. I’ll start with Fellowship, but I may need to wait until I have the whole series, or I’m going to need to read it again and again as I collect each book :/ Memory problems.

      I’m looking forward to reading War and Peace when I… finally get around to clearing my schedule of responsibilities enough to give it the time it deserves.

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