Author John Crowley has posted a very thought-provoking list of non-fiction books that should be read by writers, especially writers of science fiction and/or fantasy, since they are engaged in the enterprise of world-building. (I was glad to see Charles Mann's 1491 on the list. My review of the book for Reason is now online here.)
In honor of shiny_elfriend's birthday, a quote for the day:
I sang of leaves, of leaves of gold, and leaves of gold there grew:
Of wind I sang, a wind there came and in the branches blew.
Beyond the Sun, beyond the Moon, the foam was on the Sea,
And by the strand of Ilmarin there grew a golden Tree.
Beneath the stars of Ever-eve in Eldamar it shone,
In Eldamar beside the walls of Elven Tirion.
There long the golden leaves have grown upon the branching years,
While here beyond the Sundering Seas now fall the Elven-tears.
O Lórien! The Winter comes, the bare and leafless Day;
The leaves are falling in the stream, the River flows away.
O Lórien! Too long I have dwelt upon this Hither Shore
And in a fading crown have twined the golden elanor.
But if of ships I now should sing, what ship would come to me,
What ship would bear me ever back across so wide a Sea?
-from Galadriel's Song of Eldamar, The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien