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 fan.
To see the idea behind this project, or if you are interested in sharing your own, visit the project homepage. If you enjoy this series, please consider helping us fund the project using the support page.
I want to thank Donato Giancola for allowing me to use his artwork for this project. Prints are available on his website!
Now, on to Matt’s responses:
1. How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?
I was a freshman in college in 2002. That very month, Fellowship of the Ring was released on DVD. My best friend and roommate, on our initial trip to the local Walmart suggested we buy a couple movies, including FOTR. My response? “I don’t know. That looks kinda dumb.” He convinced me to give it a shot, and the rest is history. I was hooked. By the time we see the Argonath, I was in complete awe of Middle-earth. I HAD to know more! As the credits rolled I turned to my friend with indignation, “Is that how it ends?! Is there another movie?!” Needless to say, I was now a LOTR fan.
2. What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?
The sheer size and scope of the world he created is incredible. I love that you can study and research Middle-earth and its events as if it were actual history. The themes are timeless and universal. The characters are varied, memorable, and compelling. The land itself is iconic and a place I’m happy to escape to anytime.
If you’re looking for an answer of a specific book, I love them all! For a fun, casual read, I will pick up the adventures of my favorite hobbit, Bilbo, in The Hobbit. The Lord of the Rings is classic and can’t be omitted from my list. However, I am a big fan of Children of Húrin – an incredible, albeit tragic tale worthy of its better-known counterparts.
3. What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?
There are so many. As a father, sharing Midde-earth with my young children through reading The Hobbit to them and playing the LEGO video games is such great fun. Guiding my kids to becoming readers and fellow nerds is a pretty great “dad win”.
More recently, the wonderful interactions I’ve had with countless Tolkien fans through my Nerd of the Rings YouTube channel has been an incredible experience. It’s gotten far bigger, far quicker than I ever imagined and I’m so thankful to be able to share our love of Middle-earth among such excellent and admirable hobbits!
4. Has the way you approach Tolkien’s work changed over time?
Yes and no. Since rushing out to buy the boxed set of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings after seeing The Two Towers film, it’s been a steady dive, deeper and deeper into the lore. The only thing that has changed is that I now research not just for my own curiosity, but also so I can create videos to share my love of Tolkien with others on the channel.
5. Would you ever recommend Tolkien’s work? Why/Why not?
Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes! Middle-earth is a world that has no equal – and likely never will. No matter who you are or where you come from, you will likely find something to enjoy in Tolkien’s world. It is simply incredible.
On a personal note, my friend who introduced me to LOTR tragically passed away in a car accident back in 2004. It was my times spent in Middle-earth (and Harry Potter), that helped give me a break from those hard days. Anytime I’ve experienced hardships or tragedy, I know I can take a respite by going to Middle-earth and allow myself some healing time. In my opinion, there is no better place to escape to than the world which Tolkien has gifted us.
You can find more from Matt on his YouTube channel!