Joe Hoffman’s Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (6)

This is one in a series of posts where the content is provided by a guest who has graciously answered five questions about their experience as a Tolkien reader. I am very humbled that anyone volunteers to spend time in this busy world to answer questions for my blog, and so I give my sincerest thanks to Joe and the other participants for this.

To see the idea behind this project, check out this page

I want to thank Donato Giancola for allowing me to use his stunning portrait of J.R.R Tolkien as the featured image for this project. If you would like to purchase print of this painting, they are available on his website!

If you would like to contribute your own experience, you can do so by using the form on the contact page, or by emailing me directly.

Now, on to Joe Hoffman’s responses:


How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?

A classmate showed up with the Tolkien Calendar (Tim Kirk, 1975). I was curious, so he lent me the books on a Tuesday. I read The Hobbit in a couple of evenings, and inhaled the entire Lord of the Rings over the weekend.

What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?

It changes every time my life enters a new stage. At the moment, I enjoy imagining how Bilbo lived in the Shire in the years between The Hobbit and The Unexpected Party. I too am a sort of old man, happy with his books and his gardens. When I find likely youngsters, I make sure they‘re made aware of a wider world than the one about which their schools tell them. I too get occasional sidelong looks from my more respectable neighbors.

What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?

In college, I loved to talk about books. But I’m a scientist, so my views about them were idiosyncratic and ignorant. I met an English major who thought my ideas were amusing, and who showed me there were other, much better ways to read books. Tolkien was the only author we both enjoyed. She married me.

Has the way you approach Tolkien’s work changed over time?

Of course! You can’t step into the same river twice, and you can’t read The Lord of the Rings the same way twice.

Would you ever recommend Tolkien’s work? Why/Why not?

I would recommend his books to anyone. Different ones first, depending on the person. Some people don’t like them; they are not of our Fellowship; no harm done. It would be a tragedy, though, if someone were a lover of Tolkien who never read him.


You can see regular blog posts about Tolkien and many other subject from Joe on his website: www.idiosophy.com

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