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  • gretchenrubin 17:27:57 on 2017/08/28 Permalink
    Tags: , , , J.R.R. Tolkien, , ,   

    A Little Happier: The Book “The Hobbit” Illustrates How Boredom Can Spark Creativity. 


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    In Episode 92, Elizabeth and I interviewed Manoush Zomorodi, the host and managing editor of the terrific podcast Note to Self — “the tech show about being human.”

    Manoush has a fascinating book coming out soon, called Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self.

    I got to read the galley, and in the book, she recounts a wonderful story, about J.R.R. Tolkien.

    In the early 1930s, J.R.R. Tolkien was a Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford, and he made extra money by grading papers. As he was doing this (very dull) work, he came upon a blank page. He wrote, “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”

    Almost ten years after writing that first line, Tolkien completed his book, The Hobbit. And that line is, indeed, the first line of that novel. After his publisher asked for a sequel, he went on to write the giant towering masterpiece trilogy, The  Lord of the Rings.

    Sometimes, boredom allows us to dream up some new idea.

    Have you ever had a great idea, insight, or creative spark while being bored? While driving, while showering, while doing some boring household task? Perhaps this is one reason that walking and running seem to spark creativity.

    This mini-episode is brought to you by the Platinum Card from American Express. There’s a world of experiences waiting to open up with the Platinum Card–backed by the services and security of American Express.

    Want to get in touch? I love hearing from listeners:

     

     Happier listening!

    The post A Little Happier: The Book “The Hobbit” Illustrates How Boredom Can Spark Creativity. appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • gretchenrubin 18:12:33 on 2017/06/24 Permalink
    Tags: J.R.R. Tolkien, , ,   

    A Moment of Happiness from a Hobbit, from The Lord of the Rings. 


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    “Take care! I don’t care. Don’t you worry about me! I am as happy now as I have ever been, and that is saying a great deal. But the time has come. I am being swept off my feet at last,” [Bilbo] added, and then in a low voice, as if to himself, he sang softly in the dark…

    –J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

    I love that line, and think of it often: “The time has come, I’m being swept off my feet at last.” It almost sounds like Virginia Woolf.

    Once, I fainted very slowly, and I remember the curious feeling of having my body utterly take control of itself, and being helpless to direct my actions consciously. It was oddly pleasurable — that feeling of being swept off my feet.

    Now I want to go re-read The Lord of the Rings books.

    The post A Moment of Happiness from a Hobbit, from The Lord of the Rings. appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • feedwordpress 09:30:47 on 2017/01/31 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , design, J.R.R. Tolkien, , , , principles, , , ,   

    Revealed! February Book Club: Keys to Good Design, a Personality Quiz, and High Fantasy. 


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    Because nothing boosts happiness more than a great book, each month, I suggest:

    — one outstanding book about happiness or habits

    — one outstanding work of children’s or young-adult literature–I have a crazy passion for kidlit

    — one eccentric pick–a widely admired and excellent book that I love, yes, but one that may not appeal to everyone

    Shop at IndieBound, BN.com, or Amazon (I’m an affiliate), or your favorite local bookstore. Or my favorite, visit the library!

    For all the books I choose, I love them; I’ve read most of them at least twice if not many times; and they’re widely admired.

    Bonus book this month: with Shea Olsen, my sister Elizabeth Craft has a new young-adult novel, Flower. The tag line? “She had a plan, then she met him.” Romance, temptation, secrets, college applications, celebrity...Check it out.

    Now, for the three book-club choices. Drumroll…

    A book about happiness, good habits, or human nature:

     

    The Enneagram Made Easy: Discover the 9 Types of People by Elizabeth Wagele

    On episode 99 of the Happier podcast, my sister Elizabeth and I discussed the “Try This at Home” of taking personality quizzes. The Enneagram isn’t a scientific way to understand personality, but many people find it to be an illuminating framework. To my mind, that’s the chief benefit of a personality quiz: whether it helps us glimpse into our own nature. Sometimes it’s hard to look directly in the mirror, and something like a personality quiz can help us see ourselves indirectly.

    Buy from IndieBound; BN.com; Amazon.

     

    An outstanding children’s book:

    The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

    I was astonished to realize that I’ve never suggested the Tolkien books as my kidlit choice (though arguably they aren’t children’s books). These are towering classics of world literature. The Fellowship of the Ring is the first in a trilogy called “The Lord of the Rings,” and while The Hobbit isn’t part of the official trilogy, and is very different in tone, it’s quite related to the high fantasy epic that unfolds. These books are unlike anything else. Read the books even if you’ve seen the movies; as always, movies can’t capture so much that’s wonderful about books. For instance, one of my favorite characters, Tom Bombadil, doesn’t appear in the movies.

    Buy from IndieBound; BN.com; Amazon.

     

    An eccentric pick:

    The Pocket Universal Principles of Design: 150 Essential Tools for Architects, Artists, Designers, Developers, Engineers, Inventors, and Makers by William Lidwell.

    This is an absorbing, fascinating, accessible book. Each page has a very succinct description of a design principle, with a fascinating example on the facing page. I loved reading this book because it made me realize why certain designs in the world around me worked well — or didn’t work. It’s so fun to know about design principles like “Back-of-the-Dresser,” “Defensible Space,” “Figure-Ground,” and the “Dunning-Kruger Effect.” These may sound dry, but they’re fascinating.

    Buy from IndieBound; BN.com; Amazon.

     

    If you want to make sure you never miss a month’s selections, sign up here for the book club newsletter.

    Remember, if you want to see what I read each week, I post a photo of my pile of completed books on my Facebook Page every Sunday night, #GretchenRubinReads.

    I just went to the library a few days ago — my reading stack is huge. What book are you most excited to read next?

    The post Revealed! February Book Club: Keys to Good Design, a Personality Quiz, and High Fantasy. appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • feedwordpress 14:30:23 on 2016/11/13 Permalink
    Tags: , J.R.R. Tolkien, , , , ,   

    “I Am Being Swept off My Feet at Last.” A Good Thing–or Not? 


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    bilbo-baggins

    “ ‘Don’t you worry about me! I am as happy now as I have ever been, and that is saying a great deal. But the time has come. I am being swept off my feet at last,’ he added, and then in a low voice, as if to himself, he sang softly in the dark…”

    — J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

    If you know your Lord of the Rings trilogy (and we all should), Bilbo Baggins makes this remark to Gandalf, just after Bilbo’s 111th birthday party, as he’s leaving Bag End forever.

    How I love that line! “I am bring swept off my feet at last.”

    A good thing, or a bad thing, to be swept off your feet at last? It could probably go either way.

    The post “I Am Being Swept off My Feet at Last.” A Good Thing–or Not? appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
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