Christmas is a time of family, warmth, sharing, and of hectic shopping. However, booklovers don’t have to look far as it is Letters of Father Christmas that you want.
When I first heard about the Icelandic concept of Jólabókaflóðið I decided this is a the perfect tradition for myself and my bookloving family members and friends. However, which book would I choose first to read on the couch while it’s cold and winter-y outside?
The inspiration came when I visited friends in Edinburgh, of which one had this book on her bookshelves. The Christmas magic was screaming from the cover and then I knew this would be the fist Jólabókaflóðið-book for me.
Unlike Tolkien’s other work, this one is not as much as a story, it’s more of a bundle of childlike wonder and adventures that are being told while sitting around the fire while it’s snowing outside. It’s perfect for christmas. The letters and stories told in them are simple and short, and yet they have everything a good story needs. This is Tolkien in his prime, the grandmaster of fantastisc tales that will be remembered for centuries. And therefore Letters of Father Christmas is not only for the Tolkien-lovers, but for everyone who enjoys tales that radiate the warmth that is to be connected to a holiday.
Letters from Father Christmas
Every December an envelope bearing a stamp from the North Pole would arrive for J.R.R. Tolkien’s children. Inside would be a letter in strange spidery handwriting and a beautiful coloured drawing or some sketches. The letters were from Father Christmas. They told wonderful tales of life at the North Pole: how all the reindeer got loose and scattered presents all over the place; how the accident-prone Polar Bear climbed the North Pole and fell through the roof of Father Christmas’s house into the dining-room; how he broke the Moon into four pieces and made the Man in it fall into the back garden; how there were wars with the troublesome horde of goblins who lived in the caves beneath the house! Sometimes the Polar Bear would scrawl a note, and sometimes Ilbereth the Elf would write in his elegant flowing script, adding yet more life and humour to the stories. No reader, young or old, can fail to be charmed by the inventiveness and “authenticity’ of Tolkien’s Letters from Father Christmas.
J.R.R. Tolkien. Letters from Father Christmas / HarperCollins / 9780007280490
Ik ben in de afgelopen jaren wat huiverig geworden als het gaat om het lezen van series. Er zit een verplichting aan verder te gaan, en wat als het laatste (of het middelste) boek nou enorm tegenvalt? Maar nu ben ik weer voor de bijl gegaan: Bloed en Beenderen van Tomi Adeyemi was niet alleen in twee dagen uitgelezen, ik baal ook als een stekker dat ik nog zo lang moet wachten op het tweede deel.
Young Adult is een lastig fenomeen in de boekenwereld. Wat de een te eng vindt, vindt iemand van dezelfde leeftijd alweer te kinderachtig. Daarnaast zijn veel YA-verhalen grotendeels voorspelbaar op het gebied van thema’s, karakterontwikkelingen, zelfs in de verloop van het verhaal. Bloed en Beenderen is in dat opzicht misschien niet het meest vernieuwende concept: jongeren moeten de wereld redden en worden daarin tegengewerkt, het is een eerder gebruikt concept. Waarin het eerste deel van deze gloednieuwe trilogie echter wel anders is dan alle anderen, is dat het verhaal gebaseerd is op de mythologie van West Afrika. En dat de “mythische taal” echt bestaat. Ik las nog niet eerder een boek waarin Yoruba gesproken wordt.
What makes a fanatic, a fanatic? And why do mass movements have so much power? Important questions, and The true believer explains all while also giving an insight into the human mind.
The appeal and mindset of mass movements has not changed in the last 500 years.
That might sound strange as the world has changed drastically in the last centuries, but after you finish The true believer you’ll realise that human psychology has changed very little. This book puts the start of Christianity, the French Revolution, and Soviet Russia in one line and it is completely and utterly correct. The base of these three movements, and so many others, is completely similar!
Hoffer wrote The true believer during the peak of Stalin’s regime, in the ’50’s. And yet his work can be adapted to modern times quite easily. For those who do not understand why extreme-right seems to be on the rise in Europe or why people would ever join IS, this work is compulsory. The true believer dives deep into the human minds, and defines those who are most likely to join a mass movement. Therefore, it gives great insight to the people around us, and the way they think. By doing so, it can teach us how to prevent movements that threaten modern society, but also teach us how to inflict change in a world that has become stagnant on many subjects.
The true believer is a tough read, only 160 pages thick and it might take you a while to take everything in. It is confronting on who we are as humans, and comforting when you realize that everything can be explained and the tension can be defused. A must read for every student who’s trying to make sense of the world around him/her.
The true believer
A stevedore on the San Francisco docks in the 1940s, Hoffer wrote philosophical treatises examining mass movements–from Christianity in its infancy to the national uprisings of modern times. His analysis of the psychology of mass movements is a brilliant and frightening study of the mind of the fanatic.
Eric Hoffer. The true believer / HarperCollins / 9780060505912