Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass
Lewis Carroll
Ill. John Tenniel
(Wordsworth Editions Ltd., London: 1993)

READ: October 2005

N.B.: The Wordsworth cover is blue and shows Alice with the Cheshire Cat, but I couldn't find it online.

Oh, Alice! Always a lovely book to come back to. It's easy to forget the little fantastical things in both of these stories. And, of course, Through the Looking Glass is based (loosely) around a kitten - always a good inspiration. If you've never actually read either of these stories, well, it's never too late to do so. And John Tenniel's illustrations are definitely classic - these are the Alice-drawings that you think of when you think of Alice before Disney (and since, really - Disney Alice was never that clever).

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Lord of the Rings
J.R.R. Tolkien
Illustrated by Alan Lee
(Houghton Mifflin, Boston: 1991)

First published in 1954 (Fellowship of the Ring).

READ: June-October 2005

I don't actually need to review this one, do I? You all know the story. If you don't - or if you've only ever seen the recent movie version - go read it. God forbid you've only seen the version by Ralph Bakshi, which I for one am trying to purge from memory (not easy to do when I see the DVD of it that I own every day). The BBC's audio dramatization, on the other hand, is good. But I don't think the musical counts.

Not for the faint-hearted, of course - my copy of the illustrated version weighs in at over 1,000 pages, plus another 200 or so pages of appendices (all necessary reading, of course). But if you've got the patience, it's a wonderful tale. And imagine the hours you can then while away debating movie-vs-book! You will wonder why Tom Bombadil was left out, and debate whether it was necessary that Glorfindel's role in the Flight to the Ford be melded into Arwen. Was Boromir as bad an anti-king, pro-ring guy as the movie tried to make him out to be, and what was the exact nature of the prophetic dream that caused him to seek Elrond"'s counsel?

Or, um, maybe that's just the kind of things I would enjoy ...

Learned Friends by Jack Batten

Learned Friends: A Tribute to Fifty Remarkable Ontario Advocates, 1950-2000
Jack Batten
(Irwin Law, Toronto: 2005; co-published by The Advocates' Society)

READ: October 2005

At work, once or twice a week, I receive a photocopy of the front cover page of all new acquisitions received by the library, and I browse through these to see what's new and noteworthy. This was one of them, and it instantly piqued my interest. When I was an articling student a few years ago, I was recruited by a member of The Advocates' Society's editorial board to do research on 50 Ontario advocates. Sound familiar? Yup, this research was part of the initial work done on Mr. Batten's book (except he wasn't the writer I was working with at that point). I note I don't get an acknowledgement anywhere in the book, but to be fair, as an articling student I had unfortunately very little time to spend on this project and didn't get very far (though I did interview one of the lawyers profiled).

Anyway, I was pleased to see this book in the list, and searched it out at the library (we have two copies). Each of the 50 lawyers has a two-page spread detailing their life, career accomplishments, etc., with photos (young and old whenever possible). The writing is light-hearted and engaging. Some very interesting people are profiled in this book, and there are even a few women amongst the group.

And now, a professional anecdote: About a week after I finished reading Learned Friends, one of the staff at the library asked me about a reference question she'd received. A student was doing a history project about some murder trial from the 1950s and wanted to know where she could find more material. The description of the case triggered something for me, and I flipped through Learned Friends on a hunch until I realized that one of the lawyers profiled had acted for the defendant in that matter, and thus I was able to give the student some help in that respect as to where she might find more information! Neat that books actually help you out sometimes ...