Graeme Cheadle’s Experience– Tolkien Experience Project (180)

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 Graeme Cheadle’s responses:


1. How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?

I was first introduced to Tolkien’s work as a child. Both my parents had read and enjoyed The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings in the late ’60s or early ’70s, and my mother in particular was given a copy of The Fellowship of the Ring, I think (or perhaps it was the entire trilogy) by a friend when she had a serious illness and was recuperating in hospital. Years later, when my siblings and I had been born but were still quite young, she’d tell us about hobbits and Black Riders when we were on camping trips, and the small hints I got from those stories fascinated me. I think we also had a companion book to the 1978 Bakshi animated film adaption of The Lord of the Rings at home, and a copy of The Father Christmas Letters, though my brother and sister and I didn’t really get the significance of them at the time. My mom later read The Hobbit to us, and eventually I read The Lord of the Rings myself one summer, and I was hooked.

2. What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?

It’s difficult to put this into words, because there is so much I could mention. I think what keeps me coming back is the intensely believable “reality” of Tolkien’s invented worlds. They’ve always seemed very real to me, and I’ve always wanted to visit and even live in them. Tolkien himself said something about the attraction of what he called the “unattainable vistas” of his worlds, “the glimpses of a large history in the background, an attraction like that of viewing far off an unvisited island, or seeing the towers of a distant city gleaming in a sunlit mist.” You get the feeling when reading The Lord of the Rings, or even The Hobbit, of a much larger, vaster, and incredibly older *history* behind them, both internal and external, to the places and characters that Tolkien describes, and to which some of the characters look back, whether it be Aragorn singing the Lay of Leithian to the hobbits or Elrond astonishing Frodo by saying he remembered The War of the Last Alliance, and indeed the War of Wrath itself. Most casual readers never find out a lot about these things, but they seem very real and fully formed, by both Tolkien and his characters. This “realism” always intensely attracted me to his works.

3. What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?

This is very difficult too. I suppose my favourite memory was the first time I read The Lord of the Rings at 13 or 14 years old; in some ways I’ve been trying to recapture that magic ever since, for the past 30 years. More recently however, the highlight of my Tolkien experience was visiting Oxford in early 2019, seeing some of the places he lived and worked, visiting his grave, and, best of all, having a pint in the room he used to drink in at The Eagle and Child with C.S. Lewis and the rest of the Inklings, in a chair by the fire, reading “The Fall of Gondolin,” on his birthday (his 127th), which was also my birthday (my 41st). I think that’s about as “peak Tolkien” as you can get, unless you could visit Middle-earth or talk to the professor himself.

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

I would say yes, because at first my appreciation was very much tied to the narrative: I just wanted to know what happened, and how things get resolved. Eventually that led to me wanting to know more about the worlds in which the events take place, as much as I could, and I read The Silmarillion and parts of The History of Middle-earth series. In both high school and university I started to analyze the tales in a more academic and scholarly way, and this interest has persisted to the present day, hence my research into podcasts, all kinds of books, articles, talks, etc., about both the man and his works. But the purely narrative draw has never really diminished for me either.

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

Absolutely, and in fact I do all the time. Anyone who knows me much at all knows about my Tolkien fascination, and I certainly recommend the books to friends for the pure enjoyment I think they bring. I look forward to teaching my young niece and nephew all about The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings in a few years, and I even bring Tolkien up occasionally in my professional life, as a teacher of English as a Second Language.


You can read more from Graeme on Facebook!

TEP #41 — Matt from “The Nerd of the Rings”

For this episode, I had the chance to catch up with the creator of the YouTube Channel The Nerd of the Rings!

Matt started his channel to talk about his passion for Tolkien and it has really taken off over the past two years! I was able to have a great conversation with him about what some of his favorite topics have been, and how he was first introduced to Tolkien’s world!

Unedited video of this interview is available exclusively to our patrons on Patreon! Subscribing at $5/month gets you access to video interviews, behind-the-scenes information, early releases, an exclusive patron-only series, and other bonus content!

Links to audio of this interview are below!

Subscribe to the podcast via:

Please consider supporting the Podcast on Patreon!

Comments or questions:

  • Visit us at Facebook or Twitter
  • Comment on this blog post
  • Send us an e-mail from the contact page
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Kathrin Heierli’s Experience — Tolkien Experience Project (179)

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 Elvish Black’s responses:


1. How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?

When I was about 12, I was on a holiday and my supply of books had run out very quickly already. So my dad gave me The Lord of the Rings books. They were in English, and not being a native speaker with only a couple years of English yet, they proved a challenge, but since I had nothing else, I tried my best. I remember liking it, but as I got to Tom Bombadil, it got confusing on top of the language barrier, so I stopped. Two years later, when The Hobbit movies were about to come out, I picked up The Hobbit, my English now up to the task. I continued with The Lord of the Rings and watched the movies. For a birthday I got gifted tickets to see the trilogy in full with live symphony orchestra and choir accompaniment, which further intensified my love for them.  When The Hobbit movies came out I remember having mixed opinions, but essentially, their presence in pop culture is what got me into reading Tolkien.

2. What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?

The Lord of the Rings books and movies rival for that spot I’d say. I love them for different reasons. But that said, I also love Tolkien’s illustrations, the whole legendarium, the backstory behind the whole creative process, his non-legendarium writings, his non-fiction…  I’m very much on the completionist side. The big body of fanworks and the fandom that has sprung up around it is not directly his work, but is a big part of always renewing and intensifying my love for his work. Over all, the whole genre of fantasy echoes and builds on so many of his stories and ideas, even though some part of the genre does this very bluntly, (looking at you, D&D et. al, I love you, but you know what you did).

3. What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?

Huh, this is a really difficult one, I’m gonna have to give a best-of. Viewing The Lord of the Rings trilogy with a live orchestral soundtrack has to rank really high up, but playing it with our high school orchestra was great in a different way. The Tolkien Exhibition in Paris in January 2020, just a month before the pandemic hit. Figuring out & doing the hike Tolkien did in Switzerland in 1911 (I live reasonably close by) and discovering all those locations in which you can feel moments from the stories take place, or even which are direct inspirations. Discovering obscure Russian Silmarillion musicals during quarantine. Can heartily recommend all of those.

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

Absolutely. It feels a bit like 3 phases. The first phase was discovering The Hobbit and reading The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion. I did have some LotR friends then, but not that many. So I was mostly consuming the media.
In later high school, about when we were playing The Lord of the Rings in orchestra, I was having somewhat of a resurgence of Tolkien fandom. I was looking into studying illustration and for a while got quite obsessed with Tolkien’s art, and Middle-earth art in general (from John Howe & Alan Lee to fandom artists). I drew more of it myself, figured out the Tolkien hike, listened to lots Tolkien podcasts, went to conventions, recorded myself singing the oath of Feanor in Quenya for a group project for The Silmarillion Film Project, things like that. Lots of nerding about about background info, and also trying to engage with communities of fellow nerds, mostly online, since Switzerland is still a developing country for Fantasy as a genre and Tolkien in particular.

The third phase started pretty recently. I’m finishing my bachelor’s degree this spring, and YouTube in all its algorhythmic wisdom decided, that it was gonna recommend the Russian rock opera “finrod-zong” to me now. (If you aren’t familiar with the musical, treat yourself. It’s a Beren and Luthien musical, but the main character is Finrod. It’s really good, there are several versions with subtitles, though the one you wanna start with is the 2014 version). I forced a friend watch it with me, and now we’re belly deep into Russian fantasy musicals. (There’s even a wholly separate Lay of Leithian rock opera coming out.) This has also brought me fully into Tolkien, LotR & Silmarillion twitter & tumblr, where before I only used to lurk on the sidelines. (I hear it’s been having a revival during the pandemic, too). I also have the desire to draw a lot more Tolkien related stuff, which at the moment has to take a backseat due to my bachelor project, but still, my Procreate library has slowly been taken over by LotR content, and for the summer I’m already planning to participate in two Tolkien fan art events. So in a way, this winter and spring, thanks to an obscure Russian musical, I’ve found a lot of new, awesome ways to interact with Tolkien’s work IRL and online.

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

Absolutely. I am a librarian’s daughter, & I have through that connection been able to increase the city’s biggest library chain’s Tolkien selection from sparse to quite decent. Also, look at the above monologue about Russian Silmarillion musicals, I’m obviously not too shy about recommending things. Of course only to people who seem somewhat interested, not to be overly evangelical about it .


You can find more from on Twitter and Tumblr!

Elvish Black’s Experience — Tolkien Experience Project (178)

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 Elvish Black’s responses:


1. How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?

It was around – my dad loved the books. I was an avid reader from a young age, but I think we tried The Hobbit too young. I enjoyed paging through to find the poems and songs, but didn’t really read the book. I didn’t see the appeal of a protagonist who had no interest in adventures. I remember riding my bike down the big hill from the pool shouting the lyrics of the elves in Rivendell – Oh, what are you doing!

I was into Dungeons & Dragons as well, and had read the Player’s Handbook and the Monster Manual even though the campaigns my brother and I wrote were simplistic and didn’t ever get very far. My parents were watching The Two Towers once in the computer room on the little tv by the day bed. I asked if I could join them. Their response was ‘sure, but it’s a movie with no beginning and no end.’

I didn’t even realise it was a fantasy movie, because the split Fellowship meant we mostly saw characters the same height and I had mostly seen either realism OR fantasy, but not both.

I distinctly recall Sam talking about ‘llama’s bread’ and that I thought I had heard the word ‘elvish’ when he was talking about foreign food but I was pretty confused how that all fit together. Why would elves have llamas?

I recognized Treebeard as soon as I saw him. Ran downstairs to get the Monster Manual and paged through it to find the treents, proudly showing my parents. I was more curious about the movie at this point but still really didn’t understand.

At eleven I got my first crush. It was on a redheaded boy in my class, and I heard he liked The Lord of the Rings, so I was ready to give it another try. My first readthrough was so successful that I decided I didn’t care a whit about boys anymore, this book was so so much better. I was absolutely hooked.

2. What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?

The way it speaks to universal Truth without necessarily being true in the sense that it happened. It seems to speak to deeper things that are rarely reached in words. I particularly liked reading about Elves, and the idea of experiencing reality in a way slightly inhuman. The core of all things being song. The power of linguistic aesthetic. The broken references that to the author are not so broken.

The Lord of the Rings will always be my favorite to read, as much as I like the rest of it.

3. What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?

Choosing one would be too difficult.

I started writing Tengwar in seventh grade, and it influenced my handwriting. I started learning Sindarin and my father gave me a journal of his Quenya notes from when he was a teenager. I got nicknamed Elvish in high school, and I still use that professionally today. I played The Lord of the Rings online for over a decade, met some incredible people and wrote intense stories with them. The biggest compliment to my elves was when someone said they were a bit alien, not quite human.

I went on a life-changing trip to New Zealand to see some of the film locations and met more wonderful people there. I married my husband in a bilingual English/Sindarin ceremony and we honeymooned in Switzerland to see the inspiration of the Lonely Mountain and Rivendell, with a stop in the UK to see the Tolkien: The Maker of Middle-earth exhibit.

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

The most stark change was at the Maker of Middle-earth exhibit. Something about that experience made me relax very much about my own stories and somehow care less about devoting myself to corralling the group I would play with into coming together and having the same perspective on things. I only get one life and if I am going to create it needs to be less strict in how it develops. My characters can only be hindered by my being too strict on them.

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

Of course. To everyone. I think that different people get different things out of Tolkien’s work, but the depth and magic of it is unmatched. I also believe that it is a spiritual experience.

TEP #40 –Aurélie Brémont

For this episode, Sara sat down to talk with translator and scholar Aurélie Brémont!

Aurélie completed her PhD in English Medieval Studies on Tolkien and the Celtic Heritage in 2009 in Sorbonne Université, Paris. Since then, she has been present in conferences in the UK and in France. In 2016 she had the opportunity to translate Tom Shippey’s J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century into French and her work continues to be influential in several areas of Tolkien studies.

Unedited video of this interview is available exclusively to our patrons on Patreon! Subscribing at $5/month gets you access to video interviews, behind-the-scenes information, early releases, an exclusive patron-only series, and other bonus content!

Links to audio of this interview are below!

Subscribe to the podcast via:

Please consider supporting the Podcast on Patreon!

Comments or questions:

  • Visit us at Facebook or Twitter
  • Comment on this blog post
  • Send us an e-mail from the contact page
  • Email TolkienExperience (at) gmail (dot) com

Mary Reid’s Experience — Tolkien Experience Project (177)

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 Nick Polk’s responses:


1. How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?

My parents were fans of Tolkien, as was my oldest brother. The earliest experience of Tolkien that I remember was a dramatized audiobook adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, complete with sound effects and music. I remember it as very dramatic and exciting, and listening to the audio dramatization led me to pick up the book. Even before that, though I don’t remember it because I was very young, my eldest brother read the books to the whole family, complete with sound effects, voices, and even a tune for the songs.

2. What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?

It is very difficult to pick a favorite part of Tolkien’s work, as there is so much that I love: the prose and Tolkien’s beautiful language, the poetry, the unfolding of the story. If I had to pick one element, it would likely be the sense of hope even in the darkest parts of the story. No matter how dark the world seems, there is always light, and good will always prevail, no matter how long and difficult the path to that victory. There is a sense of goodness and faith that pervades the story, and I love it. It gives me hope. If I did have to pick a single scene, it would likely be the Charge of the Rohirrim.

It is a scene charged (pun intended) with hope, men and women keeping faith with one another. It is a stirring action-piece, and I get chills every single time I read it. The way the scene is interwoven into the narrative, with what comes before and after it, is incredible.

3. What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?

Immersing myself into the world Tolkien created, staying up far too late to read one more chapter, listening to Howard Shore’s otherworldly score, and finding myself drawn into Middle-earth as into no other fictional story.

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

Yes, it has. I studied English in college, including literary analysis, which gave me a toolkit for reading literature. My English degree gave me a greater regard for Tolkien’s skill and a better understanding of how he crafted The Lord of the Rings. Additionally, I have joined Tolkien communities and learned more of how others read and experience Tolkien’s writings. I have gained appreciation for different perspectives and interpretations of the text.

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

Absolutely! I recommend Tolkien to fantasy fans, literary fans, and readers who want beautiful language and themes of hope, courage, and love. I don’t always recommend Tolkien; in addition to literature’s highly subjective nature, some readers find Tolkien’s lyrical prose frustrating, or dislike the pace of the narrative. However, The Lord of the Rings is undoubtedly the fantasy book I have recommended the most often.


You can find more from Mary Reid on Goodreads!

Robert Steed’s Experience — Tolkien Experience Project (176)

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 Robert Steed’s responses:


1. How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?

As far as I remember, I was first introduced to Tolkien in the third grade when the teacher started reading a chapter from The Hobbit during reading time each day. While I remember enjoying that, it did not move me to engage with Tolkien then. It was not until middle school when I read The Lord of the Rings that I started to really enjoy and engage with Tolkien’s work on a more sustained basis.

2. What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?

I am sure this is a common response, but it is difficult to identify a single favorite part. What my favorite is seems to shift from day to day, from season to season, from age to age, and from mood to mood. That said, parts which I always enjoy are the Ainulindale, Akallabeth, “Riddles in the Dark” from The Hobbit, “The Council of Elrond” from LoTR, and “On Fairy Stories.” I could add a great deal more, but then the list would become absurd. It would probably be briefer and easier to list what I do not enjoy.

3. What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?

Not too long ago, I would have said that my fondest experience was when I was simply discovering the legendarium for the first time and starting to plumb its depths. More recently, since I started organizing a small conference and participating in various Tolkien groups, I find that sharing Tolkien’s work and having the chance to learn from others in congenial settings is creating my new fondest experience(s).

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

Certainly it has. As a teenager I read it primarily for the fantasy elements and the action sequences. Since then, my attention has shifted much more to the relational and interpersonal aspects of Tolkien’s work, with a particular interest in the philosophical, metaphysical, and religious underpinnings and themes of it. The attention he devotes to meditating upon the nature of mortality throughout his legendarium has proven to be deeply meaningful for me. There is a strong phenomenological dimension to Tolkien’s work as well, both academic and literary, and that is fascinating. I also pay more attention to the potentially problematic aspects of both Tolkien’s legendarium and his scholarship. Tolkien is a genius, but not beyond criticism; I do not think he would accept being idolized.

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

Yes, I would and do recommend it, but gently. Tolkien’s work is deceptive in a way; the fiction can be read purely at the level of story/plot, but of course the reader does not have to stay at that level. There’s always layers of possible interpretation below the surface and beyond the plot. It’s like an onion centered within a Ptolemaic universe—-layers upon layers, wheels circling above circling wheels. Tolkien seems to have thought about and to care about everything, from the smallest seemingly trivial detail of plot to the structure of language to the nature of love and evil, all the way to abstract metaphysics and ontology. Taken as a whole, there is literally something in his work for everyone.

TEP #39 — Elizabeth King

For this episode, Sarah talked with a researcher who looks at Tolkien’s works through a lens of trauma studies: Elizabeth King!

Elizabeth is a PhD student and Graduate Research assistant at the College of Family and Consumer Sciences at the University of Georgia. Her information page on the university site says that she is currently working “on projects related to developing ecologically responsive multi-component systemic interventions for populations exposed to mass traumas.” This approach informs her reading. We were so glad she could talk with us!

Unedited video of this interview is available exclusively to our patrons on Patreon! Subscribing at $5/month gets you access to video interviews, behind-the-scenes information, early releases, an exclusive patron-only series, and other bonus content!

Links to audio of this interview are below!

Subscribe to the podcast via:

Please consider supporting the Podcast on Patreon!

Comments or questions:

  • Visit us at Facebook or Twitter
  • Comment on this blog post
  • Send us an e-mail from the contact page
  • Email TolkienExperience (at) gmail (dot) com

Matt’s (Nerd of the Rings) Experience — Tolkien Experience Project 175

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!

Serena’s Experience — Tolkien Experience Project (174)

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 Serena’s responses:


1. How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?

I was first introduced to Tolkien’s work when The Lord of The Rings films came out, but it wasn’t until The Hobbit films came out that I actually started paying attention to the books. I fell in love short after.

2. What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?

There are two things that come to mind when thinking about this question. The first is the way the books are written. I feel understood when I read Tolkien’s books, like my emotions and experiences are tied to those of the amazingly well written characters, as if I myself were part of the story. Every word is so perfectly placed, I can’t help but feel like Tolkien’s writing is as close prose can get to music and poetry. I find there is something profoundly sentimental about Tolkien’s works, not just in the adventures, but in how these are described.

The second is the work he put into creating a world for his languages – I have always been amazed by the fact that was the order of creation, not the other way around. This denotes such a passionate interest, and as someone who is interested in languages, it makes me wish I could go back in time and be one of his students.

3. What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?

The fondest experience I have of Tolkien’s works are all related to The Hobbit, films (oddly) and book. I was in a really bad place mentally, when The Hobbit films came out – I was a teenager struggling with depression, desperately looking for a way out of a home and situation that was more or less destroying my spirit. Not long after the last film in The Hobbit trilogy came out, when I was 18, one of my closest friends died unexpectedly and I found myself completely alone. At that point, I got attached to a world and characters that felt like they could understand me: desperately trying to belong somewhere, and seemingly always failing. This brought me relief, knowing that someone out there knew what I was going through.

This feeling only strengthened once I started reading the book, when I found that I could also find comfort in Tolkien’s actual words. It seemed to me like each and every word I was reading was a brick that I could use to build myself the home I never had. I find it really difficult to explain how his words make me feel, so I hope that the metaphor clears it up a little bit.

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

It’s been a very eventful few years since I was first introduced to his works, but each time I go back to them (mostly to the films, they are just that little bit quicker to get through), something feels just slightly different. I think the biggest difference I have noticed, while re-reading The Hobbit and re-watching the trilogies this Christmas, is that I have felt happy to be part of them, as opposed to feeling a strong need to be understood and included in them. I have also felt a lot more inspired by them to go and do something meaningful with my life, to put my creativity towards those projects that I have dreamt about, but that I have never found the motivation to actually start.

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

I tend not to show the “Tolkien fan” side of myself to anyone that I am not close to, but I have gifted The Silmarillion to a close friend after reading it, because I just found it so interesting that I couldn’t keep it to myself. I would also say my partner is probably sick of hearing me talk about Tolkien’s books. Unfortunately, I am not friends with many readers, and all the other people I am close to have already watched the films. However, if the situation presented itself, I would definitely recommend all of it – books, films, histories, all of it.