Xenia M’s–Tolkien Experience Project (40)

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 Xenia 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 Xenia M’s responses:


How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?

I was a wannabe hippie at a very small high school in rural Ohio in the late 1960’s. There was a girl named Joyce who was further advanced in hippie-dom than I was so I looked to her for guidance. She was reading a book with a very psychedelic cover so naturally I had to get a copy. It was The Fellowship of the Ring. I don’t think Joyce ever finished the book; she mostly carried it around for effect. But I devoured it and saved my allowance money (some hippie!) for the next two volumes. I read them over and over.

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

I liked the travel sections the best when the Fellowship is traveling through woods, mountains, and Moria.

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

I used to hike a lot as a young person and imagine I was part of a Fellowship traveling through Middle-earth.

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

Yes, I have been affected by two things:

1. The Tolkien Professor’s podcasts, which led to participating live in the Tuesday and Wednesday night Mythgard classes, which led to enrolling in Signum University as a graduate student. The course work has caused me to take a more scholarly look at Tolkien’s writing. Happily, this has not been dry but actually has enhanced my enjoyment. I notice subtleties that I had previously overlooked.

2. The Peter Jackson movies, for better or for worse. Previously, I didn’t pay much attention to the battle scenes and JRRT didn’t elaborate on them too much either but the movies made the battles extremely, possibly overly, exciting. Also the monsters, such as the cave troll and the oliphants were very exciting in the movies. Also, when I read the books now I have an actor’s face for every character which I suppose is OK but not something I would have wished for.

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

Yes! Especially to people who are overly involved with politics, accounting, databases, etc. I suggest they start with The Lord of the Rings, then The Hobbit, and then The Silmarillion, in that order.

Patricia Minger’s Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (39)

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 Patricia 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 Patricia Minger’s responses:


How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?

I found The Hobbit in the school library when I was about ten years old. I immediately loved it, although I don’t remember that first reading very clearly. I was one of those kids who stayed up late reading by the light of the 15-watt bulb in the hall outside my room. (Which may explain why I needed glasses by the time I was twelve.) I devoured the whole thing in about two nights running.

I did not start reading The Lord of the Rings until I was about thirteen. I dimly recall my mother saying the book was ‘too old’ for me. She never read it, so I don’t know why she thought that. Once I did start, I read it continuously about three times. The descriptions of the places enthralled me, and the adventure of it all. The maps fascinated me. I would have followed Aragorn into battle. I took Sam to my heart. I wept when Frodo left the Grey Havens.  I loved fantasy of any kind, but without knowing it, I grokked that this was the ‘deep magic’ version of the genre. To this day when I start to re-read it, I eagerly anticipate it like a new experience.

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

My favorite part of Tolkien’s work shifts with time and experience, but I have always had a great appreciation for the landscapes he paints, particularly certain breathless, stunning moments. Certainly, the environment functions as a character, one that occasionally comes to life and speaks. It was no surprise to learn that Tolkien saw with the eye of an artist. Some of his paintings express elemental visions, and are as striking as his prose.

I think the strengths of the PJ films were the visuals, and Howard Shore’s exquisite score. There are those who take exception to some of the adaptation, but those two features outweighed any possible flaws of the script. Surprisingly, my imagination limited the magnitude of scenes like the Ride of the Rohirrim, or the Mines of Moria, and the movies fully fleshed these out for me without dislodging my own impressions. And the music: the music of the Ainur! A worthy sub-creation.

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

My fondest experience of Tolkien’s work has to be the bond it has created between my sister and me. When we were growing up, it was our job to wash the dishes after dinner. For many years we took turns reading aloud, one of us working while the other read. We went through many books in those years, but my favorite was The Lord of the Rings. It has led us on many adventures together, from Mythgard and Signum University, to the A Long Expected Party (ALEP) community based in Kentucky, to midnight premieres of the movies, to Oxford and the recent Bodleian Library exhibit.

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

Naturally my approach to Tolkien has changed over the years. In my original readings, where all I had was the story in front of me, I took it at face value. In more recent times I have absorbed the scholarship of people like Verlyn Flieger, Michael Drout, Tom Shippey, Corey Olsen, and so many more, and I have experienced more depth to my readings, more questions, more attention to details. His essays, his shorter works, and Christopher Tolkien’s extensive exploration found in The History of Middle Earth of course inform my understanding and curiosity. Getting my BA in English also gave me a better idea of context.

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

Would I recommend Tolkien’s work? Yes. With the caveat that his work is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea. The Lord of the Rings is magnificent. It rises above genre in the way that all truly great works of fiction do. But I will also admit that if someone asks me ‘Would I like it?’ I do not give a quick answer. I sort of feel a protectiveness about it. I don’t want someone to read it who will not like it, or who might even hate it. I usually qualify a recommendation with the caveat that while I found it a revelation of what literature could be, I do not expect that will be everyone’s experience.


For more thoughts from Patricia Minger, see her Facebook page!

Miles S’s Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (38)

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 Miles and the other participants for this.

To see the idea behind this project, check out this page

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 Miles S‘s responses:


How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?

I was first introduced to The Lord of the Rings when I was nine years old. I had been reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis and had enjoyed it immensely. My father had a Brilliantine paperback edition of The Fellowship of the Ring (with the wonderful Barbara Remington cover art) and gave it to me, telling me, “there is a very scary part where they make a journey underground and encounter a dreadful spirit of the underworld!” I was so intrigued that I began to read it almost immediately and was soon completely engrossed in the story. Of course, The Bridge of Khazad-dum had me enthralled and I was devastated when Gandalf the Grey fell into darkness.

What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?

It really is difficult for me to define what I feel is my favorite part of Tolkien’s work. I was absolutely enthralled with Middle-earth after my first (of many) readings of The Lord of the Rings, and that was not diminished by subsequent, multiple readings of The Hobbit and The Silmarillion. If anything I would have to say that perhaps those three works are my favorites of the Tolkien catalogue. I have not been quite as big a fan of most of his posthumously published material (with the exception of The Silmarillion of course which he was working on prior to his death) because I am not sure whether Professor Tolkien would have wanted this material published.

What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?

One of my fondest experiences associated with Tolkien’s work is perhaps my first reading of The Silmarillion when I was 16 years of age. I had pre-ordered my copy from the local bookstore and taken the bus to pick it up the day it arrived. At first I found the narrative odd and disjointed, but being a lover of Tolkien and possessing the dogged determination that comes with young adulthood, I soldiered on and very quickly fell under the spell of the incredibly vast and complex universe that Professor Tolkien wove around me.  I found the history of the Elves to be incredibly noble and tragic, and the story of Feanor, the Silmarils and the flight of the Noldor to Middle Earth reminded me of the legends and myths I had read in books on ancient Greek/Roman and Norse mythology. I keenly remember reading of the Dagor Bragollach and the madness of Fingolfin; of his riding forth alone to Angband to challenge Morgoth to single combat. When I read the line “and Morgoth came” the hairs rose on the back of my neck and a shock of fearful anticipation coursed through me like an electric current. There have been very few times, before or since when the written word has been able to elicit that kind of a response in me.

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

Of course my approach to Tolkien’s work has changed over time. After multiple readings of his work, and vastly more experience gained through reading the works of other authors, my appreciation of Tolkien has been modified and placed in the context of a greater appreciation of literature in general.

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

As for recommending Tolkien, I have been doing so ever since I first experienced his work. I think part of the genius of Tolkien’s work is that it is approachable by readers of any calibre. One only has to look at the popularity of the very simplistic, commercial movie versions of his work to see how it can appeal across a large demographic.


 

Wesley Schantz’s Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (37)

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 Wesley 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 Wesley Schantz’s responses:


How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?

As a kid, I read an illustrated Hobbit with pictures from the Rankin-Bass movie. I think it was my dad’s. I would read and look at the pictures about equally. Then in middle school I read The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings in plain paperback editions at least a couple of times through, before the Peter Jackson movies came out.

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

The sense of an individual crafting something which also aspires to be universal, a mythic whole, and that we’re being invited to imaginatively participate in the endeavor.

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

Reading The Hobbit for the first time at summer camp, when Bilbo comes to Gollum’s lake, to the spiders in Mirkwood, to Smaug, and finally makes it back home again.

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

Listening to The Tolkien Professor courses on The Silmarillion, Leaf by Niggle, Smith, etc. and studying Tolkien’s scholarly work, starting with the two big essays and his translations, I’ve become interested in his cultural impact, beyond just his stories.

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

I highly recommend it. A great way for new readers to encounter him is in the company of Narnia, Harry Potter, and A Wrinkle in Time, through Signum Academy’s summer camps!


For more from Wesley Schantz, check out his blog!

Abner de Souza’s Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (36)

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 Abner 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 Abner de Souza’s responses:


How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?

Though familiar with Tolkien’s name, being a C.S Lewis’s reader, it was all because of the LOTR movies. Which I just came to watch in the year of the second part of The Hobbit trilogy , for, until then I only had seen the scene of the Hobbits in Fangorn, which in my memories were totally different. Well, though it was a bad quality, illegal copy, it was enough to take me out of my world and so I became, or, more accurately, I found out I was thirsty for that fantastic beauty I found in Middle-earth. So, by the time of the third part of The Hobbit, I’d already read the four books and considered myself his biggest fan, and abandoned, because I had no idea by the time, that The Silmarilion existed.

What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?

If you asked a book, I would say with no doubt The Silmarilion. Because of it’s majestic beauty, incomparable. But, the “part” of his work I can’t say. Maybe the linguistic, that, like the gift of the elves, it was his magic of writing, of making men have dreams of that intangible fairness. Like only the words he created could give you the description of what it means without spoil.

What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?

That is something I discovered suddenly. Walking to school, back in those days I was reading The Lord of The Rings, I caught myself gazing upon the trees. In a moment I just knew that I was changed forever by a book I was reading. I can still see the tree, the street I was in, like I’m right in front of it. This moment is in my mind and heart. Unremovable.

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

Never. Since I read The Lord of The Rings, to read a new work, to watch or to listen to an interview or record he made, or anything related to him, it’s like a ceremony for me. I have the highest respect for all of his legacy and so I care about not giving it the recognition of it’s worth. By now, I’ve read or listened to a lot by Tolkien and about Tolkien, though I have this way that might seem strange. I do not consume the work of someone I like and that has already passed in the same way I do for the work of the living. So I go slow, as slow as I can. It’s reasonable actually. For I fear the day I will know all that there is to be known. But for Tolkien, being who he is, it’s different. I always make sure to have something new to pass Christmas day or my birthday.

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

If I would? What can a man do in the name of love if not share all that is good?


If you want more of Abner’s thoughts on Tolkien and other topics, you can find him on Twitter!

The Tolkien Birthday Toast–A Reflection on Reflection

For a few years now, I have followed the tradition of the Tolkien Birthday Toast that I was first introduced to through the Tolkien Society.

You can visit the Tolkien Society’s page explaining the toast for more information or for the basic procedures.

Today I wanted to take a moment to laud the simple traditions that fandom inspires. It is easy to look at something like the Tolkien Birthday Toast from the outside and assume it is nothing more than an exercise performed by a group of over-enthusiastic nerds.

I think there is something a bit more, though.

alcoholic-beverage-ale-beer-1464825

At this point, the toast is a shared, communal tradition that lends itself to something that our everyday lives increasingly push out: reflection.

I call it a communal experience because, whether one celebrates it alone or in the company of others, there is an understanding that this act is something shared. Different fans and groups of fans across the world will do this same act, and participating in something that large gives a sense of unity and belonging.

It is more than that, though. This sense of community is nice, but what is the community about? Why does it matter?

Having the toast focus on the author rather than a specific text or event makes this activity a very special kind of reflection. It is a moment to pause and appreciate the achievements of an author and the life he lived. Tolkien was not a writer by trade, he was an academic. While many people were drawn to him because of his creative endeavors, those are only part of Tolkien’s influence. The toast allows people with varying degrees and experiences with Tolkien and his work to participate, and this is important!

This is the point that intersects the most with my interests as a researcher into the reception of Tolkien’s writings: The Toast invariably calls participants to reflect on the ways that Tolkien’s writings have produced meaning in their lives.

Often, participants will share stories of how they first read Tolkien or how Tolkien changed the way they saw the world. These stories are the kind of reflection that are increasingly pushed aside in a fast-paced culture.

A tradition that practices taking a moment and recalling these stories of connection and inspiration is well worth participating in! So tonight, at 9pm, consider raising a glass to The Professor!

Don Standing’s Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (35)

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 Don 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 Don Standing’s responses:


How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?

Around the time I was starting high school, I was reading a fair bit of Conan and Sword and Sorcery stuff. I remember seeing on the cover of many books variations of “Not since Lord of the Rings…”. And so, like water circling a drain, I bought my first copy of Fellowship of the Ring. That was about 50 years ago.

What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?

Favourite part? If that means favourite work, then The Silmarillion then Smith of Wootton Major. If that means favourite part of Lord of the Rings, then Book I. If that means favourite aspect of the writing, then tone. If that means favourite character, then Middle-earth

What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?

I just listened to an interview with author Julian Barnes who said, “I don’t believe in God, but I miss him.” This resonates with me and I think that may be my answer. The Silmarillion, as the blurb on my edition says, “approaches the mythic”. I don’t know what that is supposed to mean, but for me there is a holiness to it, an exaltation. It is a paean to wonder and awe – things I miss in this world.

On another level, introducing my son to Tolkien: I have an illustrated copy of The Hobbit and I would retell the story using the illustrations when he could barely talk. He called Thorin and Company “dorfs” and, in the double page spread illustration of the Battle of Five Armies would name the orcs: always the last one named was “Jibby”. Fond memories.

On another level, rediscovering and re-experiencing the works through Signum University, the Tolkien Professor, and The Prancing Pony podcast.

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

I wouldn’t say “approach” particularly. I used to read Lord of the Rings yearly, but haven’t in many years now. I find that I have become rather Smeagol-ish in that I am very interested in the beginnings of things: word origins, pre-history, etc. As I write this, I see that that is probably very Tolkien too. Ironic that the character that, in some ways, was like the author, becomes Gollum.

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

Probably not, although I certainly have. Most people who would be interested already have read it.

As mentioned above, I am interested in beginnings. I have oftentimes seen a comedy routine on tv that is the ancestor of some original bit from the 50s (for example). When I see the original, I am often disappointed by how bland it is. I wonder if that would be the same for Tolkien. Because he has virtually taken over the world and is everywhere, new readers (those used to Game of Thrones for example, or Harry Potter) may not be as appreciative as we who read it when the world was young.

WelCZa’s Experience– Tolkien Experience Project (34)

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 WelCZa 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 WelCZa‘s responses:


How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?

Back at 1995(ish) I was playing local version of DnD and I loved it. And one of my friends/schoolmates I was playing it with told me, that I should read Hobbit and that DnD is based on it. So first I read borrowed Hobbit and next I bought it as well as the LotR and Silmarilion (I was around 15 so it wasn’t all at once).

What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?

Definitely The Two Towers and its battle of Helms deep, where Gimli and Legolas start counting killed enemies and compete in it. IMO it’s one of the most hilarious and touchy part of the story if not “The most…” (even besides destroying of The Ring).

What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?

Definitely Lord of the Rings online. An MMORPG based on, well, LotR. There is nothing more to say.

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

When I was young, Tolkien’s work was bible to me. Now it is just awesome saga, besides others.

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

Definitely. Why? Short answer: Why not? Longer answer: Tolkien was a genius storyteller who even invented at least two alphabets (elvish and dwarven) and at least basics of two languages.

 

Jane Patricia’s Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (33)

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 Jane 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 Jane Patricia’s responses:


How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?

I was looking for fantasy books to read and stumbled upon the trilogy. Since I’ve heard about the movie, I decided to give it a read. Best decision ever

What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?

The way he managed to create new language and a world that is familiar but also wonderful. You can feel his passion towards it. His imagination is beautiful and a great place to be when you’re getting tired of real life. For the books I like Silmarillion the best, especially the way he told about the creation of the world.

What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?

During The Hobbit movie trilogy, my longtime friends and I would make time to reunite in our hometown, get together and go to the cinema on those 3 years. It was before we all got busy with our work and family, so the movies were dear to me.

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

I simply read it when I was younger but now when I re-read it, I began to look at it from a different side, he influences how I imagine things. Sometimes I’d discuss the books/movies with my other Tolkien loving friends. Well we might not get that deep, but it’s something ��

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

Yes! Absolutely! I’ve been recommending it to my friends since the first time I found LOTR. His imagination and penmanship is a work of art. Something that is not to be missed in one’s lifetime.


You see more from Jane Patricia on Twitter!

John David Cofield’s Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (32)

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 John 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 John David Cofield‘s responses:


How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?

I first came into contact with J.R.R. Tolkien and Middle-earth in the summer of 1968. I was 11 and during summer vacation I subscribed to a newsletter for grade school children put out by the My Weekly Reader organization. One issue had a long feature article about these amazing books written by a professor in England. There were illustrations of hobbits and hobbit holes and one of Gollum watching Frodo at the Cracks of Doom. I was fascinated by what I read in that newsletter but the local library didn’t have any Tolkien books, so I put the newsletter aside and went on to other things. Then in April 1969 when I was 12 and in the 6th grade I spotted The Hobbit in my elementary school library. I checked it out and fell in love with it from the first page. That summer I bought paperback copies of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and I’ve never been without at least one copy of each ever since.

What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?

It’s difficult to narrow down to a favorite part, but as a historian and former high school history teacher I know I’ve always enjoyed sections like The Council of Elrond where a lot of the background history is presented.

What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?

Again its difficult to narrow down to a fondest experience, but I know that I first read The Lord of the Rings during an unhappy time in my family’s history. We had made an unfortunate move from one town to another where none of us were happy and where we only stayed for 6 months before moving back to the first town. So during those months The Lord of the Rings was a distraction and a source of happiness for me.

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

As a twelve year old and as a teenager I read Tolkien for the adventure and the story. After nearly 50 years I still love the adventure and story, but I’m also much more aware of the deep values behind the surface plot. Additionally, so many years of reading has left a patina of memory on each page, and I can often remember reading a certain passage many years earlier, reminding me of some of the thoughts and reactions I had to it then.

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

I would definitely recommend reading Tolkien, with the caution that it can become a central life theme. Not that that’s anything but positive, but people do need to be aware that “the book” is more than just a book to me and to many others.