What We Are Reading Today: The Worlds of J. R. R. Tolkien

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Updated 06 June 2020

What We Are Reading Today: The Worlds of J. R. R. Tolkien

Author: John Garth

This book takes you to the places that inspired J. R. R. Tolkien to create his fictional locations in The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and other classic works. Written by renowned Tolkien expert John Garth, The Worlds of J. R. R. Tolkien features a wealth of breathtaking illustrations, including Tolkien’s own drawings, contributions from other artists, rare archival images, and spectacular color photos of contemporary locations across Britain and beyond, from the battlefields of World War I to Africa, says a review on the Princeton University Press website.
Garth identifies the locales that served as the basis for Hobbiton, the elven valley of Rivendell, the Glittering Caves of Helm’s Deep, and many other settings in Middle-earth, from mountains and forests to rivers, lakes, and shorelands. He reveals the rich interplay between Tolkien’s personal travels, his wide reading, and his deep scholarship as an Oxford don. Garth draws on his profound knowledge of Tolkien’s life and work to shed light on the extraordinary processes of invention behind Tolkien’s works of fantasy. He also debunks popular misconceptions about the inspirations for Middle-earth and puts forward strong new claims of his own.


What We Are Reading Today: Factory Girls by E. Patricia Tsurumi

Updated 07 July 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Factory Girls by E. Patricia Tsurumi

Investigating the enormous contribution made by female textile workers to early industrialization in Meiji Japan, Patricia Tsurumi vividly documents not only their hardships but also their triumphs. While their skills and long hours created profits for factory owners that in turn benefited the state, the labor of these women and girls enabled their tenant farming families to continue paying high rents in the countryside. 

Tsurumi shows that through their experiences as Japan’s first modern factory workers, these “factory girls” developed an identity that played a crucial role in the history of the Japanese working class. Much of this story is based on records the factory girls themselves left behind, including their songs. “It is a delight to receive a meticulous and comprehensive volume on the plight of women who pioneered (assembly plant) employment in Asia a century ago ….” — L. L. Cornell, The Journal of Asian Studies “Tsurumi writes of these rural women with compassion and treats them as sentient, valuable individuals …. [Many] readers will find these pages informative and thought provoking.” — Sally Ann Hastings, Monumenta Niponica.