Reading for leisure

Plowing through reading a book as your primary research is easier than going the hard lengths of internet and library research.

My research was quite simple, so I bypassed the rigors of thorough research. My research was all done for fun by simply reading a book.

If you’re researching for fun, I mean, you’re not being paid, and it is a labor of love, there is also the pains of labour in it. Which means it is no longer fun.

So, there’s a time to make fun actually fun: read the book for leisure instead.

Just reading for leisure, without taking notes, sounded so much better.

So I spent a little time reading the same book I read for research and read it for leisure. I didn’t regret it.

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A good quick read

Read my first Star Wars comic book adventure, probably coming hot off the heels of the Star Wars buzz over the last few years. “Luke Skywalker and the Treasure of the Dragonsnakes” (2010) is a brisk, fun read, and it amazes me how well the writer organized his theme to make it sound so resonate at the end. And Yoda is a lot of fun in this.

What one can deliver

Little things I pick up along the way…as I was reading a book, I stumbled onto a nugget of wisdom. The book appraised films for this or that reason and a reason a critic gave was personally illuminating. The critic said a certain director wasn’t prepared to go the places a subject or premise would naturally go. It clicked. If I am to write stories, write stories I am prepared to deliver on. Go to the places the subject demands. If I can’t go there, don’t write it.

Give a book a chance

As I was talking to someone about a Star Wars book I had ordered, which, by the way is a ” special” Star Wars book, the momentum of the conversation made me think about the Star Wars: Aftermath books I haven’t finished reading. So, I felt like reading them.

I was inspired, as per usual, but my rationale for wanting to was that I don’t like to waste and I like to finish the job, in this case not a real job, but finish the job metaphorically speaking. I had to finish the book. This despite the book losing its luster for me about a month or so ago. The lesson: when one has hit the wall with a book, give it some time, and then the wall may come crumbling down, somehow.

The aftermath of Aftermath

Been catching up on Star Wars: Aftermath: Life Debt, the second in the post Return of the Jedi novel trilogy (Yes, this trilogy is all book, not movie). Three-thirds in to reading Life Debt, I found my mind wandering, the lustre of this novel was replaced by the mundane. It caused a life changing decision or at least caused me to think twice about continuing to read this trilogy. I decided to put this trilogy to rest and had a life affirming revelation. The deeper less candy-coated Star Wars fiction is better.

Pretty obvious stuff really

I love researching for the sake of it, to dwell on and absorb knowledge, but whenever a writer wants to apply research, one should know what it’s useful for before starting. Is it for a book? Is it to learn something to pass onto your readers? Pretty obvious stuff really. The trick is knowing why?

Maybe research for fun, full stop, no more than that. Become not a know-it-all, but useful in some regard that you never thought about before. Research for fun may come in handy somehow.

Liking serials not a fine science

I love the idea of a serial of books, the epical feel of a serial.

A serial is about the same characters in a long or short series of adventures. Even if the number of books is overwhelming, a serial’s “aura” attracts one to the whole package irrespective of how long it takes to read each book in a serial.

What is this apparent “aura”? What makes one buy a particular serial and read one book after another until the serial is finished, and then there is another book in the serial coming out to look forward to? Is it the cover of the first part? Or is it the covers of all the parts with a distinctive signature look? Is it the look of a character’s face? A special effect, perhaps? Or is it the title, like “The Adventures of Saint and the Leopard and the…” and so on. Perhaps something bizarre?

In the end it comes down to how one connects to the product and this is not a fine art or a fine science. It just happens.

I had a whole slew of Hardy Boys books. But I didn’t read them. The impression is what counted in this case. The appearances counted even as the reading of them didn’t. The mystique or “aura” of the serial mattered even as the series of book remained on the book shelf, unread. However, one can sit down and just read it, some day. To take the plunge. But whatever it was like reading it, serials will always remain mysteriously etched on my mind as something special.

Perilous undertaking to save Middle Earth

At school, we had to listen to J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings being read. I never liked the book much. It was a bit unusual and strange with its epic themes somehow devoid of reality and a cast of strange characters of elves, hobbits and conjurers. The Lord of the Rings is now a film and a blockbuster at that. This makes all the difference to someone feeling foreign to the book.

The journey through Middle Earth could have felt like tedium, arduous for viewer. Yet the first part of The Lord of the Rings trilogy The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) works and progressively ups the stakes.

The story is set in the world of Middle Earth which is undergoing a seismic upheaval as Sauron’s denizens the Ringwraiths seek a ring that in Sauron’s possession will control Middle Earth under an oppressive spiritual darkness.

A diminutive hobbit, the earnest, honourable Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood), gets possession of the ring and on the advice of Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen), a wisely, well-beared wizard, Frodo must take the ring out of his homeland, the Shire. If he does not leave, the Ringwraiths will track Frodo down to the Shire and kill Frodo and take possession of the ring.

Frodo and fellow hobbit, the faithful, good-humoured Sam Gamgee (Sean Astin) embark on an escape, without knowing anything much of the details of their journey onward. Yet with a mental road map of where to go next and one thing in mind: don’t let Sauron get possession of the ring.

Keep away from the roads, says Gandalf. Frodo will take the country. The Ringwraiths, dark and foreboding, who succumbed to evil but were once men, are tracking Frodo down on horseback and the danger makes for action, suspense and excitement.

Writer and director Peter Jackson doesn’t make it look easy for the hobbits. Even so there are some things that require one to suspend disbelief.

The film may get one thinking about the deeper meaning.

Like when Arwen (Liv Tyler) appears “out of nowhere” to assist Frodo, I thought that’s hard to believe because Frodo should have died. But thinking about it more, Arwen helps Frodo despite the dark or sinful influences, the “poison”.

The outcomes of Gandalf’s hopeless plight on a tower in Mordor will also make you think twice, in unbelief, but also awe.

The powerful scene of Gandalf trying to escape the demonic clutches of Sauron’s right-hand man Saruman (a deeply resonant Christopher Lee) leads up to it.

The middle breaks at Rivendale for the introduction of the fellowship of the ring, where representatives of the tribes of Middle Earth meet and join Frodo on his quest to eliminate the ring.

At Rivendale, there is time to explore, in this very long movie at almost three hours, the characters. Not necessarily a bad thing in slowing down the action, as the moments with the characters are rich, but may be aloof nevertheless.

I think The Fellowship of the Ring is better when it moves along with the action and creates meaning out of those actions, out of miracles, daring escapes, and facing conflict and evil.

The Fellowship of the Ring gets better and keeps on getting better, making this a vivid, panoramic tale where it is indeed a perilous undertaking to journey Middle Earth to save it.


The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) ****½ Starring: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Christopher Lee, Sean Astin, Viggo Mortensen, John Rhys-Davies, Orlando Bloom, Sean Bean, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Liv Tyler, Cate Blanchett, Ian Holm. Director: Peter Jackson. I watched this film at the 171min length (DVD Widescreen Edition) Originally 178 minutes There are also the 208min length (Special DVD Extended Edition) and the 228min length (Blu Ray Extended Edition).