All hail the Ring-bearer and the master of words who brought us all to Middle Earth.
It’s Tolkien Reading Day, everyone! So grab your nearest Hobbit, eat second breakfast, take a hike, and of course, start reading.
In case you are one of the many (like me) who has lamentably finished reading The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, here are a few less-read Tolkien titles to help you celebrate.
- The Silmarillion. Essential reading for the Tolkien nerd at this point. In case you’re unaware, this is the master history of Middle Earth written in a lofty epic style, begun when Tolkien was fighting in World War I. The creation of our beloved universe. The mythology. The creation of Dwarves, guys! Canon adventures of the Lady Galadriel and Lord Elrond! And everyone has about six names each, so start your cheat sheet of who’s who early before you get Maedhros mixed up with Maglor. It’s worth the effort–more like dozens of epics packed into one.
- The Fall of Gondolin, Beren and Lúthien, and The Children of Húrin. In case you’re not up to reading the entirety of Middle Earth’s history, there’s a three book set (illustrated by the exceptional hands of Alan Lee) of three stories, expanded. Beren and Lúthien is waiting for me on my bookshelf. In a sacred place of honor. Be jealous. It’s okay.
- A Tolkien Miscellany. Selected stories, a few of Tom Bombadil’s adventures that didn’t make it into The Lord of the Rings, the essay On the Fairy Story, Frodo’s song, “Smith of Wootton Major,” and “The Shadow Man and the Shadow Bride” (which haunts me with its beauty to this day) and many others, all snug in an orange cover. Perfect for bedtime stories. Or maybe I have a strange idea of bedtime stories…more like the 1001 Nights.
- The Story of Kullervo. Tolkien’s interpretation of a myth. If you liked The Children of Húrin, this should be perfect for you except written in gorgeous poetic verse. And if you haven’t heard of it, don’t be surprised! It was only published a few years ago! If you’re not into tragic stories…maybe skip this one in favor of something else.
- The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún. Another myth. Personally I hate and love this one in a way that’s impossible to describe. Brace yourself–it’s amazing. Skaldic poetry. It burns and screams at you. And that means a lofty beauty so complete you have to do a double take about what’s happening (werewolves? Incest? Murder? More murder? Murder with flaming castles on top? Yes, that’s what we thought it was!). This was the book that had me reading aloud Old Norse just to feel the words on my tongue. And you can see threads of The Children of Húrin everywhere. Every hundred pages or so, expect do a “Hey, was that Odin just photobombing in the background?” like a Nordic “Where’s Waldo.” Oh yeah, and Attila the Hun is there.
I could go on, but you might just want to check The Tolkien Society’s list and descriptions without my (what’s the word? Fangirling? Obsessing?) commentary.
Here’s to Master Tolkien, weaver of worlds! And to the next favorite book!