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Cat in the Stax: Classics To Read for Christmas in July

By Jenna Newman

We’re celebrating Christmas in July, so the feeling of cheer never needs to disappear. Light a candle, snuggle up with one of these books, which are great all year round! 

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

This novel is the epitome of a Christmas classic, which is why it’s taken the coveted spot of first on my book list this week. Dickens’ classic story of Ebenezer Scrooge has been adapted for every audience and medium. My personal favorite adaptation is the Mickey Mouse Disney take starring Mickey and Scrooge McDuck. However, if you haven’t read the classic in a while (or ever!) it’s definitely worth the read this holiday season. 

The Man Who Invented Christmas by Les Standiford

If you’ve read, and loved, A Christmas Carol then the next book for you to read is The Man Who Invented Christmas. Standiford tells the story behind the story, including how Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in a last attempt to save his career. If you like to see stories on a big screen, The Man Who Invented Christmas became a film in 2017, although it hasn’t picked up as much momentum as one may have expected. 

The Father Christmas Letters by J.R.R. Tolkien

Whether you’re a Lord of the Rings fan or not, The Father Christmas Letters is worth pulling off the shelf this holiday season. The novel is a compilation of letters that Tolkien wrote to his children each year at Christmastime. Each letter was written either from Father Christmas or a polar bear. Tolkien creates a world for his children, aiding in their belief of Santa Claus and all things having to do with the North Pole, which creates for a magical read for all.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Once again, I’ve found a way to throw my favorite book Little Women onto a book list. If you haven’t picked up the book yet, Christmas is a perfect time to read it for the first time. Little Women was originally two separate stories, Little Women and Good Wives. The first original novel and first half of what we know today as Little Women is book-ended by the March girl’s Christmas day celebrations. Greta Gerwig’s movie adaptation was also released Christmas Day 2019!


Jenna Newman is a graduate assistant in Falvey Memorial Library and a graduate student in the Communication Department.






‘Cat in the Stax: Celebrating with the Hobbits

By Jenna Newman


History of Hobbit Day

Sept. 22 is a big day in the Villanova community from 1842 Day to Voter Registration Day. However, another arguably important holiday on the same day is Hobbit Day. Hobbit Day takes place on the day of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins shared birthday, the date of the Long Awaited Party. 

The American Tolkien Society first proclaimed Hobbit Day in 1978. They refer to it as essentially the ideal holiday, combining the costumes of Halloween, food of thanksgiving, gifts of Christmas, picnic atmosphere of Labor Day and Memorial Day, and the fireworks of the Fourth of July. You can also celebrate by diving into the literary world of Tolkien and Middle Earth.

What to read? 

The great thing about The Lord of the Rings is that the ideas from the trilogy and the world that J.R.R. Tolkien created can be examined in conjunction with many of the subjects we study today including philosophy, history, religion, and international relations. Below is a list of books in Falvey’s collection that have Hobbit ties to a variety of disciplines. 

The Hobbit, or There and Back Again

In compiling a list about books to read for Hobbit Day, it would be ridiculous to have anything other than the book where it all started at the top of list. For adventure lovers or Lord of the Rings newbies, The Hobbit is the place to start. Before taking a deep dive into some of the theories at work behind the story, it is imperative to answer the two questions of, “Who are Hobbits?” and “What is the world they live in?”

The Hobbit Party: The Vision of Freedom That Tolkien Got and the West Forgot 

This book combines the world of Middle Earth with the politics of today. Providing a critical look at Tolkien’s political beliefs of small government and economic freedom, authors Jay W. Richards and Jonathan Witt examine how these beliefs can be seen within the storylines of the Shire. It can be argued that the political message of The Lord of the Rings series is second only to its  religious message. 

A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War: How J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-1918

If you have any interest in history, biographies or the faith that became the basis for The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Chronicles of Narnia, this is the book to grab off of the shelves. This book explores how the Great War led to a friendship between authors J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis as well as the foundations for what we now know as the worlds of Narnia and Middle Earth. 

The Lord of the Rings: Popular Culture in Global Context

Ernest Mathijs appeals to readers interested in the fields of media and film studies as he examines the impact of The Lord of the Rings on both the regional and global industries. Throughout the chapters the impact of the franchise, reception by critics and fans, and the success of spin-offs are all discussed. This book offers yet another perspective on the wide-spreading impact of the franchise.

The Philosophy of Tolkien: The Worldview Behind the Lord of the Rings

For anyone either well-versed or just interested in philosophy, this book looks at 50 philosophical questions in 13 categories and then examines Tolkien’s work to answer each question. Author Peter Kreeft relies on Tolkien’s texts to answer each question, providing a strong framework of analysis. The deep-dive into the philosophical world of Middle Earth is an adventure separate from the literary works themselves.

The International Relations of Middle-Earth: Learning from the Lord of the Rings

Based on a course taught at the University of Southern California, this book examines how the world of Middle Earth can help us learn about our own world. Many of the common themes in international relations such as good versus evil and human agency versus determinism are explored in Tolkien’s works. 


Jenna Newman is a graduate assistant in Falvey Memorial Library and a graduate student in the Communication Department. Current mood: Planning my next Lord of the Rings movie night. 




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Last Modified: September 16, 2020

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