And so my Tolkien binge continues. And continues, and continues…
First of all, since this is my first post of this kind, I thought I’d mention a few things. I originally thought that I would write all sorts of marvelous posts whenever I began a new book, finished one, was in the middle of reading, etc. And while I may very well do all those things, I thought that it’d be better for everyone if I, at the very least, updated you once a week on what I’m reading. This is a book blog, after all, and I hope that my reading schedule might inspire you to try a few of my favorites on for size. However, my reading schedule may not always correspond with my life schedule. And so, instead of worrying about timeliness (my journalism professors are shaking their fists at me), I want to give you a thorough overview of what I’m reading once a week, every week.
This week, it’s been all about Tolkien and it’s going to continue to be so for at least a week more. Last night, I finally finished re-reading The Lord of the Rings trilogy (for the third or fourth time, I’m not sure). Suffice it to say, the series is one of my all-time favorites. Simply put, if I had the time, it’s a series that I could re-read every year and never tire of it. It’s that perfect. I was introduced many moons ago, when my dad thought that my interest in Brian Jacques’ Redwall series might carry over into a love of Tolkien. A long-time Tolkien fan himself, he had all the tools for thoroughly enjoying the series: not just quality hardbound copies of TLoR and The Hobbit, but a Tolkien Companion, a Tolkien Dictionary and an atlas of Middle Earth. Don’t judge us because we’re nerdy.
A lot has been said on Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and so I think it’s OK if I withold all my fangirl gushing. I will say that re-reading the series this summer was a strategic move: I tend to stray into literary obsessions and upon returning from the Summer Publishing Institute five weeks ago, I became obsessed with Harry Potter. Now, I’ve re-read the Harry Potter series once a summer for quite a few years now; I like to re-read as much as I can when a new book or movie is released. The Wednesday after I came home from New York was the premier of “The Half-Blood Prince” and so I obviously had to re-read the fifth and sixth book, as well as watch the fourth and fifth movie. All in all, I ended up seeing “The Half-Blood Prince” twice in theaters.
When I enter an obsession, it’s hard to snap me out of it. I get emotional when I even think of turning the last page, scenes repeat themselves in my head, I imagine scenes that were never shown, I dream that wizards are real….OK, it’s bad. I mean, I enjoy it. It’s all in good fun, and no, I don’t really think wizards are real (although it would be cool). But I needed to bring myself back to reality, so I countered in the only way I knew how–with another obsession.
That’s right, I’ve been known to harbor similar obesssions over The Lord of the Rings. When approached in isolation, this can be as damaging as a Harry Potter obsession. When it’s used as a counterspell (if I may borrow some wizard-like language), the overall effect is to completely banish the first obsession and dull the effects of the second. I love The Lord of the Rings just as much, if not more, than Harry Potter. So when Gandalf is falling on the Bridge of Khazad Dum, all thoughts of Harry are gone. Hogwarts seems like mere childplay compared to the mystery and glory of Lothlorian, and Sauron would probably kick Voldemort’s ass.
Like many times before, I couldn’t bear to have the trilogy just END with Frodo sailing to the Gray Havens, Sam standing on the shore (*sniff* that part makes me cry every time). So I read the appendices, which is still fascinating, but just enough like a history lesson that you’re lifted from the edges of the story and gently brought back to reality. Even though Tolkien made it all up, the appendices remind you that Frodo’s story is just a TINY part of Tolkien’s 10,000-year history. Suddenly, your sniffles dry up, you’re content knowing that Sam lives a full and happy life, and you can move on.
Of course, I don’t have any plans to move on…just yet. I’ve made it past the point where my heart is shouting, “No! Don’t let Frodo leave Middle Earth yet! Let the story go on for a few more pages!” But my next project is to tackle the Similarion, a book I surprisingly haven’t read yet. It’s always been so forbidding and scary, with all its Elven names I can’t pronounce. But I figured that after reading the appendices, I’m not likely to recognize those fancy names if I come back to it in a few months. And who knows when I’ll read The Lord of the Rings again (well, maybe when The Hobbit movie comes out).
As an FYI, the Similarion is a collection of short tales that make up the history of Tolkien’s Middle Earth, including the story of Luthien and Beren and other tales from the First Age. These tales are referred to frequently throughout the course of TLoR and The Hobbit, and so it’s crucial to read the Similarion if you truly want to understand this magical, amazing world. I’ve heard it’s difficult (my dad took notes), but I think I’m ready now.