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 Paul 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 Paul Goodall’s responses:
1. How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?
When I was 17 a friend recommended LOTR to me. At the time I read mainly thrillers and spy stories and I had never read any fantasy. When he explained the plot of LOTR I was not particularly impressed. However I got a copy from the local Library and to my surprise I was completely hooked from the beginning. 44 years later I still have that sense of wonderment that I initially felt.
2. What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?
I have always loved the scenes in the Shire in books 1 and 6 of LOTR. Also the Second Age section of Unfinished Tales and “Narn I Chin Hurin”.
3. What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?
In the last 2 years I have been listening to the various Tolkien podcasts by Cory Olsen and also the Prancing Pony podcast. I have had so much pleasure from both of these; I enjoy the erudition, the humour and the enthusiasm of the presenters. Also the sense of community that they bring: my family all love the Peter Jackson films but don’t share my obsession with all things to do with Tolkien.
4. Has the way you approach Tolkien’s work changed over time?
Definitely. Reading books about Tolkien, particularly by Tom Shippey and John Garth, has given me a deeper understanding of the depth and complexity of the books. Also, I first read LOTR and The Silmarillion when I was a teenager. I am now in my 60s and my life experiences mean I can appreciate the books in a different (although not better) way.
5. Would you ever recommend Tolkien’s work? Why/Why not?
I would never say “you must read Tolkien” but I would say that, for myself, reading LOTR has given me much more pleasure and satisfaction than any other book. Also my immersion in the world that Tolkien created has given me decades of comfort and intellectual stimulation.