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 Sadie 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 a 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 Sadie’s responses:
1. How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?
When I was 10 or 11 years old, my aunt gave me The Hobbit to read. Now, I don’t remember why she did this, nor did she probably think it would grow into a total fanatic obsession. At the time, I had a bad habit of starting and stopping books, or starting books and never finishing them, so it took me a while to read it. I started it, got bored, read something else, and I picked up The Hobbit again when I was in middle school. Somewhere between starting The Hobbit and actually finishing it, I watched the Peter Jackson adaptations and fell head first in love and into this world. Over the past ten years, I have probably seen the movies 300 times. I would talk about them constantly to anyone who would listen, driving most people crazy.After I got myself invested in the movies, I decided to try the books. That led to me finishing The Hobbit when I was twelve. At the same time, the story itself inspired me to write my own (terrible) fanfiction that eventually morphed itself into its own creation that I now keep alive through a writing role play with my best friend. After I finished The Hobbit, I attempted (and failed) to read the trilogy. I got slowly through Fellowship and Two Towers and when I was in eighth grade, I read The Silmarillion for the first time. I finished Return of the King later that year. The story itself and the community around it has helped me through some hard times and helped me crawl out of my shell when I was in middle school, even if it did get me labeled as a nerd, which I quickly found to be a good thing. 🙂
2. What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?
My favorite part(s) (it’s too hard to choose just one) are when Fingon rescues Maedhros from the cliffs of Thangorodrim, Fingolfin’s Challenge, the voyage of Earendil, and the passage in Return of the King when Aragorn is healing Eowyn and a healer recognizes him as the king saying, “the hands of the king are the hands of a healer, so shall the rightful king be known”. Along with the Tale of Aragorn and Arwen in the appendices. I have many more but I had to narrow it down
3. What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?
My fondest experiences have probably happened in the past year or so. I am a sophomore in college and my department (history) has game nights every year (this year was different due to COVID). Last year, at both the Christmas Party and game night, a few of us played Lord of the Rings Trivial Pursuit and another Tolkien trivia game (that we thought we were going to be good at, we all sucked). We played so late into the night both times that we were kicked out of the areas we were in. Then, this year, at the beginning of spring semester, I decided to do a research proposal project for my Intro to Historical Studies class, on Tolkien’s works and the influence of Christianity and the Bible. One night, two friends and I were seated around a table, theorizing and trying to figure out who might have influenced characters and events in Tolkien. It was a special night for me, because I love discussing things like that with my loved ones and for one of the first times, I had found people who loved it as much as I do.
4. Has the way you approach Tolkien’s work changed over time?
The way I approach the works is very different now, than it was when I was a teenager. I like to approach them now as stories of hope and wonder. Stories that if given the chance, I would pour over for hours as a job. When I was a teenager, I approached them much the same way but also then, it was because I was much more connected with the films than I was with the books.
5. Would you ever recommend Tolkien’s work? Why/Why not?
Would I recommend Tolkien? Of course! I want people to find the wonder in it that I did and have their outlook on life changed the way mine was. It’s helped me find the good in the world, through the fandom and community. Every time I read them, I find something new.
You can find more from Sadie on Reddit!