Nico Berger’s Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (20)

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 Nico 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 Nico Berger’s responses:


How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?

When I was freshly 15 and the second Lord of the Rings film had just been released, my father was in the living room rewatching the first one. I had seen previews for it but I misinterpreted it as a scary film, and I avoided those like the plague! But I was curious. It looked so beautiful, the elves in their glowing gowns and the characters looked medieval and magical. I loved that kind of thing, usually. I watched a few scenes, understanding nearly nothing, my dad giving a vague explanation since he hadn’t read the books, and when it was over I put the Blockbuster VHS back in. I watched it maybe 4 times in two days. I had so many questions – what is the Ring, how exactly does it have power, and most importantly, what happens next?

I looked into it, and the internet told me to read The Hobbit and then The Lord of the Rings. I found The Hobbit on my bookshelf at home and slogged through it, not really feeling compelled by the story, and then bought the trilogy. We left for Christmas vacation then, and bored in the Bahamas with my family (I’m not a beach person), I devoured the three books in 4 days. When I finished The Return of the King, it was already dark and I was supposed to be asleep. I didn’t know how it all ended. Needless to say, it’s so deeply heartbreaking and beautiful I hugged the book tightly and cried myself to sleep. When I got back home, I went to see The Two Towers, and got all the Tolkien books I could get my hands on. It’s been 15 years and I still reread and rewatch it all regularly.

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

So many things come to mind; small things that together are powerful. The depth of the languages Tolkien created (funny enough I am a Norwegian speaker via my mother, so I was able to grasp some of the Elvish structure already), the deep (and sometimes even boring!) history of this world, and the occasional sad endings or unfinished stories make for such a realistic world. It was exactly what I needed as a teenager to escape. It felt as real and full as this world.

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

Kind of corny but that night I mentioned before: the story was so exquisitely sad, I felt as if I’d been stabbed. I was only 15, this felt like my first real heartbreak. All I could think was Frodo, Bilbo, Gandalf – I don’t want you to die. You made it through! I don’t want you to die. As soon as I’d read “‘Well, I’m back,’ he said.,” I hugged the book and sobbed. I’ve been a voracious reader since I was little, but no book had ever affected me like that. So it’s painful, my fondest experience, but by far the most potent book experience I’ll ever have.

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

Yes! I’m 30 now, a linguist of all things, and I’ve studied Elvish and the Dwarvish runes quite a bit. I am essentially constantly in the middle of rereading the 17 Tolkien books I have on my shelf, which I either read intensely or passively between the other novels that come my way. I consider watching the films a nearly ritualistic experience, where I have to be in just the right mood and have done all the preparations before (freshly rereading the book on which the film is based). I spend more time now learning about Tolkien and his other nonfiction writings, whereas when I was a child the appeal was less academic and more about the sensation that it was all real. It’s gone from escapism to appreciation for me.

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

To anyone and everyone. I really do believe reading is so very important, and exercising one’s imagination, and Tolkien’s work is challenging. It’s not written as accessibly as Harry Potter. I could write that fanfiction all day, it’s easy – but Tolkien writes like a learned scribe from a time long since past and it’s nearly impossible to mimic. Reading his writing style takes conscious thought to understand sentences you’d never hear in ordinary life, such as “Thy account has wrought in me much joy, for I am fain to learn of her fate.” Ok, I just made that up, but you know what I mean! Aside from the cognitive benefits of reading Tolkien, it’s just such a treasure trove. For example I also love Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy – but that’s it. It’s just those 3.5 books. There’s not a lot more to dig into this world, whereas with Tolkien there is a near-endless supply of drafts, stories, and history to explore. Disclaimer: rumor has it Pullman is writing again, so hopefully I’ll be wrong soon. Also if someone could fall in love with these characters as deeply as I did, it’s worth it. Everyone deserves that feeling of magic.

Liam Chung’s Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (19)

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 Liam 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 Liam Chung’s responses:


How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?

My mom religiously buys out library sales, and owns copies of almost every classic work of literature, from The Name of the Rose to The Great Gatsby. Naturally, she owned an absolutely ANCIENT copy of LOTR, and as a kid I was so enticed by the art and style of the books that I read The Hobbit at around 9. I didn’t get around to the rest of the books until I was about 13, but when I got there I fell in love with them, and after I finished reading them on my mom’s edition, I went out and bought my own leather bound copy.

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

Easy. When Samwise fights Shelob to protect Frodo at the end of The Two Towers. I still remember reading it for the first time, and being blown away. I especially remember glancing at the table of contents and seeing the name of the chapter, “The Choices of Master Samwise,” and being incredibly excited to get there, because (at the time) Samwise was my favorite character.

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

I finished The Return of the King sitting outside in my backyard, and felt a powerful sense of peace after finishing that epilogue-esque ending with Sam returning home to his family. Nothing special, but an incredibly meaningful moment in my life.

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

Yes. My view of the characters and their struggles has been put in context just by being able to sit with them for a couple years, and I’m sure it will continue. The most notable change was after I read The Silmarillion, and a lot of the prologue in Fellowship of the Ring was put into context. It completely changed how I viewed the entire adventure, because it made it more like these tiny figures marching through a world that’s much older and much more jaded than they are.

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

Absolutely. I recognize it’s not for everyone, and the vast majority of people I recommend it to say “it’s so boring! I couldn’t finish it!” and at this point, I just sigh and move on. But it means a lot to me when I can actually talk someone into reading them and enjoying them. I remember I had this English teacher in high school who, upon finding out the LOTR was my favorite work of literature, proceeded to just absolutely trash them, saying how they’re a lazy children’s book where nothing happens. I’m not sure I’ve ever been more angry in my whole life, but I survived. I hope that one day she changes her mind.

Nelson Goering’s Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (18)

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 Nelson 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 Nelson Georing’s responses:


How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?

My parents read The Hobbit to me when I was 5 or so. I vaguely remember that I was initially reluctant, but my dad persuaded me to listen to him read the first chapter. That was all it took to hook me, and after that it was me asking them to read me The Lord of the Rings, and then re-reading both books many times on my own ever since. Tolkien’s other works came later. The Silmarillion I think I just sort of discovered on my own, on a bookshelf in the house (I’m not sure my parents had ever actually read it). I read that when I was about 12 (took me two tries: I started reading it during the summer one year, got stalled out, and tried again sixth months later — once I got past the initial cosmogonical bits, I finished it in two or three days). Things like The History of Middle-earth came later, when I started to get involved with online Tolkien communities, especially the Lord of the Rings Plaza.

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

Probably the later parts of The Hobbit, from their arrival at the Lonely Mountain through the Battle of Five Armies. These have everything that’s best about Tolkien: a strong feeling of the natural world, complex political tensions (even more complicated than is obvious at first glance), an elegiac tone as they wander in the ruins of the past, witty conversations, exciting action, and a dragon.

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

Just sitting and reading, especially when the weather is doing something interesting, or while travelling. No one big moment stands out, but there are hundreds of small ones.

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

I suppose it’s broadened a bit. Maybe the biggest change is reading his academic work, since I always have two hats on: my Tolkien fan hat, and my philologist hat. It’s odd reading something like his essay on ‘Ofermod’, which I think is thoroughly wrong in terms of argument, but is interesting to me as something Tolkien wrote. But the basic thing with his stories is to just sit and read and enjoy, and that hasn’t changed a bit for me, whether it’s The Hobbit, The Wanderings of Húrin, or The New Lay of Gudrún.

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

I personally think Tolkien is the best writer of his generation, but I don’t actually recommend him very often. This is mostly because nearly everyone I know is already familiar with at least some of his writings anyway, and partly because I feel really good things are best stumbled across, not hyped up. I do sometimes recommend particular works by Tolkien, such as The Fall of Arthur, to people who I think might enjoy them but may not run across them on their own.

Jay Karpowich’s Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (17)

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 Jay 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 Jay Karpowich’s responses:


How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?

I was 17 years old in 1978, we did not have cable TV back then, but where I lived there was something called Wometco. It was a over the air station that broadcast on UHF channel 50. During the day it was a Public Broadcast Station, but at 8pm every night they would scramble their signal and broadcast current movies. If you bought a $10 a month subscription, you would get a box for your TV that would unscramble the picture and sound. One of the movies that they showed was Ralph Bakshi’s animated The Lord of the Rings. Wometco would rebroadcast the same movies many times in a month so I saw the movie 5 or 6 times. I was immediately drawn into the story the movie was trying to tell. (I also found some of Bakshi.’s animations pretty cool for back then). But I was left hanging because the movie ended at the battle of Helm’s Deep, and no second part was ever made.
My sister who was at college at this time found out I saw and liked the movie. She told me she had the paperbacks in her room and to go borrow her copies if I wanted to read them. After reading them, I was hooked for life. And while I see the movie as a pale shadow of the literary work, I still hold a soft spot for it for introducing me to Tolkien, though I know many people hated it.
I then read The Hobbit, and The Silmarillion, (both borrowed from my sister again). But very soon bought my own copies, and any other works by Tolkien I could find.

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

There are many, and like everyone else, hard to point to just one. But to pick one, I would say the Horns of the Rohirrim. Horns, horns, horns. In dark Mindolluin’s side they dimly echoed. Great horns of the North wildly blowing. Rohan had come at last. Always gives me chills and misty eyes. Even the version of this in the Jackson movies does the same.

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

That would have to be playing the MMO The Lord of the Rings Online. I have always been a gamer going back to pinball games through console games and computer games. Was lucky to be invited to play LOTRO in it’s beta testing days, and have now been playing it for over 11 years. The development team has done a fantastic job of story telling and in their own way fleshing out parts of Tolkien’s works that he left vague. And just to be able to run around in Middle-earth, though it be a digital version, is just too much fun to describe.

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

Somewhat. At first I read the books or listened to the audio versions just for the joy and entertainment they brought to me. And each time I would find something new I missed before. Now, by listening to pod casts like The Tolkien Professor’s, and talking to other fans, I look at the works with a keener eye, looking for things that I may have missed or miss-interpreted before.

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

Always have and always will. They are a wonderful body of work that I would want others to have the chance to love as much as I do.


If you want to hear more from Jay, he is on Facebook. You can also find him in Lord of the Rings Online as Linlen or Louni (on Landroval server).

Silmarien Ingoldo’s Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (16)

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 Silmarien 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 Silmarien Ingoldo’s responses:


How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?

I watched Peter Jackson’s films when I was little and I absolutely loved them. But it wasn’t until I was 21 years old that I finally managed to read Tolkien’s works. When I was around 19, I came across a Wiki article about The Silmarillion. I remember the title struck me as somewhat ethereal and I made a mental note to read it. Coincidentally, around the same time, a friend told me he was reading it and advised me to read it as well. I tried but I found the beginning tiring and confusing. I tried again during the summer but I gave up for a second time. The next year, I had a Lord of the Rings [films] marathon and I became hooked. I searched for some details I was curious about and I was amazed to see that there was a whole mythology behind everything. Then, I managed to finally sit down and read the whole book [The Silmarillion].

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

It is the longing feeling that his works evoke about something you haven’t experienced but you wish it was real. And I love how his work succeeds in making me feel nostalgia. I reach the final pages of The Lord of the Rings or I read the poems and songs that various characters sing about the days of old and I can feel the depth of time, the world-weariness of the Elves in Middle-earth and their bittersweet nostalgia. You start the whole journey from The Silmarillion, throughout The Hobbit and finally The Lord of the Rings and when you are done, you feel as if you yourself experienced what you read. Finally, another favourite part is that a person reading Tolkien’s work can become a better person. You get influenced by the high and noble morals of the characters, you get motivated to go through difficulties and you can gain a whole new appreciation of nature; what I call “seeing the world through Elven eyes”.

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

Undoubtedly, reading The Silmarillion for the first time. I cannot overestimate what reading this book did to me. I was completely astonished with its epicness and world-building, and the tragedies moved me as no other book has ever moved me. This book made me lose myself in a fantasy world.
Also, the friends I made. I became a member of online communities where I met some of the kindest and deepest people I could ever had hoped for. Those people were with me when I wanted to have someone to share my love (or rather obsession) for Tolkien’s works and we still talk everyday. You can tell the influence that Tolkien had on their character formation to an extent and this creates a peculiar, special bond between us.

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

Definitely. I read Tolkien’s works before I started studying English Literature. So, everything was new and amazing. After I started my studies, I saw how extensively Tolkien was influenced by other literatures. This gave me a new perspective of his intellectualism and erudition, I realised that his work possessed the best elements of older works and motifs combined and improved with his own imagination and talent.

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

I would certainly recommend it. It is the kind of high literature that is didactic and reminds us that it is alright to seek escapism once in a while. You can elevate yourself higher if you permit it to draw you in.


If you would like to see some of Silmarien Ingoldo’s fusions of Tolkien and other literature, visit literature-fusions.tumblr.com/

Jeffrey Hawboldt’s Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (15)

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 Jeffrey 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 Jeffrey Hawboldt’s responses:


How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?

Via the film trilogy by Peter Jackson that went from 2001 – 2003.

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

The extremely detailed world-building and mythos.

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

Reading the books for the first time during the winter months.

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

Not really. Always been a fan, so my views of Tolkien’s works hasn’t changed over time, but rather, my view of the world and myself.

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

Absolutely. They are not for everyone though.


To read more of Jeffrey Hawboldt’s thoughts on Tolkien, see his blog: insurrbution.blogspot.com

Wayne A’s Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (14)

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 Wayne 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 Wayne A’s responses:


How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?

I was first introduced to Tolkien in grade 10 by an English teacher who was using the Return of the King as a novel study. I was hooked immediately!

What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?

Not sure if you mean a particular piece or a central theme to his works, but I think the idea of good vs. evil against all odds has fascinated me, as it manifests in so many of his literary works.

What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?

Ironically, my fondest experience is that it was the last major work that my now much older children let me read to them as a bedtime story. As early teenagers they sat with me every night while I read to them the adventures of Bilbo Baggins.

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

I find myself reading one or more of his works each winter…. Something about this author’s writing whilst the snow flies appeals to my innermost Tolkien admiration.

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

I would highly recommend any of Tolkien’s work….. And have many times over my 22 years as a high school teacher. I continue to use The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring as mainstays for novel studies…. And students still enjoy them!

J.S. Klingman’s Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (13)

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 J.S. 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 J.S. Klingman’s responses:


How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?

My older brothers were gigantic Tolkien fans; they infected me with Tolkienism at a young age, although I became more of a fanatic in 2018.

What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?

Well, I really love the motion pictures’ depiction of the books. But, that’s more Peter Jackson’s work… I really enjoyed The Silmarillion and The Hobbit – the former was an amazing epic account of the times preceding The Lord of the Rings, while the latter was the lighthearted story of a hobbit’s quest. Both struck me as intriguing tales despite the fact that they are written somewhat differently. I found them boring at first, but now I love them. I just need to get used to some things, I suppose…

What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?

Probably reading The Hobbit all the way through for the first time?

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

Yes. I love it now more than ever, and someday want to make a huge personal library of Tolkien’s work. Before, I thought that it was great and all, just not something to get fanaticized over.

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

Definitely, one hundred percent!! Tolkien’s work has been the most inspiring fiction I have ever read/watched!! Middle-Earth is so complex, the characters were all likeable (except for those evil ones), and the motion pictures were AMAZING!! Plus, Tolkien’s and Peter Jackson’s works have a wonderful, hopeful, and truthful worldview that makes them compelling and interesting to read/watch.


To see more of J.S. Klingman’s thoughts on Tolkien, head over to his blog: https://mylittleholeintheground.site123.me/

Jeremiah B’s Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (12)

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 Jeremiah 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 Jeremiah B’s responses:


How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?

My dad introduced me to Tolkien by sitting me down at about the age of 4 to watch the Rankin-Bass animated version of The Hobbit, and I’ve gone ever-deeper into the legendarium from there. But I often return to that animated classic, and I’ll always defend it as being brilliantly executed from those who like to call it silly or weird. While it is never flawless, it manages to capture in 1hr18m what the big-budget Hollywood adaptation managed to miss almost entirely in the course of nine hours.

What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?

This depends on what you mean by ‘part’. My favourite book remains The Lord of the Rings. But my favourite “quality” or “thing” about Tolkien and his work is how rich, deep, and real it feels. When I read it, it “feels” like it could all really have happened. Tolkien achieves this quality through many mechanisms which aren’t appropriate for this short-reply format. But I’ve not felt that quality with my (admittedly limited) experiences with other fantasy novels.

What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?

I often wish I could ‘forget’ Tolkien and ‘re-discover’ him for the first time. The closest I can get is reading to my daughter (who is 10 as of writing this) and watching her reactions. It is wonderful. I’m letting her dictate the speed of her introduction because I hope it will make her more naturally take to the material. I don’t want it forced. But so far we’ve managed to go through The Hobbit (twice), Smith of Wootton Major, Farmer Giles of Ham, and Roverandom, and we’ve recently begun The Fellowship of the Ring.

However, equally important to me is my wife, who I met through an online book forum discussing Tolkien. This was back in 2004 when meeting people from the Internet was much more taboo than it even is now. It’s safe to say that without Tolkien, my life would be completely different: I wouldn’t be married to this woman, I wouldn’t have my daughter, and I wouldn’t have moved 3500 miles from my hometown across the Atlantic.

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

Yes! Like many, I used to skip the poetry. And I didn’t really start to go in for “Tolkien studies” until I was in my 20s. Instead, I merely read cover-to-cover (skipping the appendices), and moved on. Now I read more carefully and I often read for different reasons (studying a particular concept, and of course, for pleasure). I’ve broadened my Tolkien bookshelf and “to be read” pile significantly, which now includes essays, papers, and books by many other authors who have, in turn, offered a unique perspective on Tolkien.

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

I would (and have several times) recommend Tolkien to anyone who likes mythology/ high fantasy/ romance novels and isn’t afraid of large sections of the narrative being devoted to the description of a landscape or local flora. But I accept that Tolkien is not for everyone!


To see more of Jeremiah B’s thoughts on Tolkien, head over to his fantastic blog: https://mathomhouse.wordpress.com/

Julie Valdez’s Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (11)

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 Julie 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 Julie Valdez’s responses:


How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?

I first heard of J.R.R. Tolkien when I was about ten. A classroom that I was in for the after school program was reading The Hobbit, and I used to stare at the cover wondering how the author’s last name was pronounced. I read a Tolkien work for the first time the following year because my teacher had a copy of The Two Towers lying around. Unfortunately, I only read three pages before I gave up, as I had no idea who the characters were or what in the world an orc was. Fortunately, three years later, I read the entire series for the first time.

What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?

To me, the best part of Tolkien’s work is how very inspiring his writing is. The small have the strongest will. Men are frail, but resilient. The love of friends can help you conquer. Hope is a light in the darkness. Tolkien gave me hope in a time where I had none, and so the inspiration his writing blessed me with has been the best part for me.

What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?

My fondest experience of Tolkien’s work was reading The Hobbit with my little sister. I was thirteen and she was eight at the time, and so in a way, I felt like I was passing something on to her, this love for Middle-earth and admiration for this author. We had so much fun reading that together, and when her class read The Hobbit the following year, she knew even more about the book than the teacher did! In a way, this love that we share for Middle-earth is a special connection, because we don’t know many Tolkien fans our age, so Middle-earth became our special little niche. We had each other to share it with, and it all began with the day she asked me to read her The Hobbit.

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

My approach has changed only a bit. I’ve become so familiar with several of Tolkien’s works that my time rereading has become more of re-analyzation and searching for things that I missed since the last time I read.

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

I recommend Tolkien to everyone. First of all, I am an avid advocate for the classics, and I think that everyone should read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings before they go to college. Second, Tolkien has a very unique approach to fantasy where he borrows from several different mythologies that is very enriching to readers. Third, Tolkien writes unlike any author that I have ever read before. He dedicated his life to fantasy, and his works have a profound resonance that you rarely see anymore as a result. Fourth, whether or not you are a huge fan of the fantasy genre, you can always find something from Tolkien that will suit your fancy. For the fantasy reader, there’s his Middle-earth saga. For those who prefer non-fiction, he has written several engaging essays. For the poetic soul, there are enough songs and poems of several themes to make an anthology. For the little ones, there’s The Hobbit and other light-hearted works like Letters from Father Christmas and Farmer Giles of Ham. Sixth, Tolkien wrote from the human soul, and as a result, his works are felt in the soul. His characters are so complex and human-like that you will most certainly find a plight or characteristic that strikes a chord with you. I just feel that J.R.R. Tolkien was a gift to the world, and that the gifts he left behind ought to be shared, especially in a time where the fantasy genre and writing in general is taking a somewhat unsavory turn.