Get Ready for Tolkien Reading Day 2023
Whether you’re an avid reader who has made it through The Silmarillion or your familiarity with Tolkien’s bibliography is limited to a couple of memes, Tolkien Reading Day is the time to explore his epic high-fantasy novels and advance your reading into his other works. In our blog post, we’re offering a beginner’s reading guide to Tolkien and discussing the inspiration for his novels and his influence on popular culture.
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How Did Tolkien Reading Day Begin?
Since 2008, the Tolkien Society has been observing Tolkien Reading Day on March 25th. The date was chosen as it is the day of the destruction of the One Ring and the defeat of the Dark Lord Sauron in The Lord of the Rings.
The purpose of this day is to celebrate and promote the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, especially his most famous works such as The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion. It is a day for fans of Tolkien's works to come together and read, discuss, and share their love of his stories and characters.
How Is Tolkien Reading Day Celebrated?
Fans usually celebrate the Reading Day by hosting reading sessions where they read their favorite passages from some of Tolkien’s most notable works such as Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Schools, universities, and libraries will usually organize seminars or lessons about Tolkien on the Reading Day to promote the author and his works.
So why not get together with fellow Tolkien fans and throw your own reading get-together? You can encourage your friends to bring any special editions or even memorabilia to show and discuss. Some other activities you can do are:
- Create your own fantasy realm inspired by Tolkien. You can draw maps, doodle fantastic creatures, and even create your own language.
- Play Tolkien trivia, solve Tolkien crosswords, or make your own glossary of the creatures in his works.
- Host a viewing party. You know the drill: tell everyone to come dressed as their favorite character, make sure there’s a second breakfast, and play the director’s cut.
- Share your favorite quotes or videos of your reading sessions (viewing parties) on social media with the hashtag #TolkienReadingDay2023.
If you still don't have a Tolkien book in your library or you're looking for a specific title or edition to add to your collecton, here are some online stores and bookshops where you can find a wealth of books by Tolkien as well as publications that study his work:
How Tolkien Changed the Fantasy Genre Forever
J.R.R. Tolkien is widely regarded as one of the greatest writers in the fantasy genre and as the father of modern high fantasy. Tolkien's works have had a profound impact on literature and popular culture, and have inspired generations of readers and writers alike.
Tolkien also wrote a large number of essays, contributed to the Oxford English Dictionary, and had a particular talent for studying language. Among other languages (as many as 17), he could speak English, Old English, Latin, German, and Finnish at various levels. For his literary works, he created several languages, including Elvish, Dwarvish, and others spoken by the characters in his novels. He was a linguist who was interested in creating languages with a rich history and structure, which he then used to build the worlds and cultures of his stories.
Why Tolkien’s Works Are So Popular
- Complex world-building: J.R.R. Tolkien created a magnificent and intricate fantasy world that draws readers in and makes them feel like they are part of the story.
- Memorable characters: Tolkien's characters are well-developed and engaging, causing readers to become invested in their journeys.
- Epic storyline: The Lord of the Rings has a rich, multi-layered narrative that spans multiple books, drawing readers into its depths.
- Moral themes: The Lord of the Rings explores concepts like good vs. evil, duty, sacrifice, and friendship, making it more than just a simple adventure story.
- Influence on pop culture: Tolkien's work has had a significant impact on the fantasy genre and pop culture in general, which has helped to keep it relevant beyond its initial release.
The Lord of the Rings Phenomenon
The Lord of the Rings follows Frodo Baggins, a hobbit who embarks on a quest to destroy the One Ring, an evil artifact created by the dark lord Sauron. The trilogy consists of The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. The Lord of the Rings has been adapted into numerous films, video games, and other media, and is considered a classic of modern literature.
J.R.R. Tolkien was inspired by a variety of sources, including a lifelong love of language, mythology, and folklore. Some of his major inspirations include:
- Language and linguistics: Tolkien was a professor of philology (the study of language) at Oxford University, and his deep interest in language informed much of his writing. He was particularly inspired by Old English, Old Norse, and Finnish, and he created intricate fictional languages for his Middle-earth stories.
- Norse mythology: Tolkien was fascinated by the mythology and sagas of the Vikings, and many of the themes, characters, and creatures in his work can be traced back to Norse mythology.
- Christianity: As a devout Roman Catholic, Tolkien infused many Christian themes and symbolism into his writing. For example, the character of Gandalf can be seen as a Christ-figure, sacrificing himself for the good of others.
- World War I: Tolkien served in the British army during World War I, and his experiences in the trenches heavily influenced his writing. The themes of loss, sacrifice, and the destruction of the natural world can be seen throughout his work.
- English folklore: Tolkien drew on a wealth of English folklore and mythology, including stories of elves, giants, and dragons, as well as the Arthurian legend.
Tolkien’s Middle-Earth Books Reading Order
Start with The Hobbit. It's a more accessible and light-hearted introduction to the world of Middle-earth.
Read The Lord of the Rings next. This is Tolkien's most famous and beloved work, and it continues the story from The Hobbit.
Consider reading The Silmarillion next, but be aware that it is quite dense and can be intimidating for some readers. This book details the mythology and history of Middle-earth.
Read some of Tolkien's shorter works, such as The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, Smith of Wootton Major, and Leaf by Niggle.
Look for annotated versions of Tolkien's works to help you better understand the world of Middle-earth and the myriad characters and creatures that inhabit it.
Finally, don't be intimidated by the length or complexity of Tolkien's novels. Approach them slowly and enjoy the journey through Middle-earth.
How to Read The Silmarillion
The Silmarillion is a collection of mythopoeic stories written by Tolkien. It was published posthumously in 1977 and edited by his son, Christopher Tolkien. The book is a prequel to Tolkien's more famous work, The Lord of the Rings, and describes the creation of the world of Arda, the history of the Elves and Men, and the war between the Valar (gods) and the evil Melkor.
It also contains stories of heroic deeds, such as those of Beren and Luthien, and the epic quest to recover the Silmarils, three magical jewels created by the Elven craftsman Feanor. Through the tales in The Silmarillion, Tolkien created a rich tapestry of mythology and history that reflects his love of language, history, and storytelling.
- Prepare yourself mentally: Silmarillion is a dense and complex book, with many characters and storylines. Before diving in, take some time to clear your mind and get ready to focus on the text.
- Take notes: Keep a notebook nearby while reading, so you can jot down key information about characters, places, and events. This will help you keep everything straight in your mind.
- Read slowly: Silmarillion is not a book to be rushed through. Take your time with each chapter, and make sure you understand everything before moving on.
- Reference the maps: The book contains several maps that offer helpful visual aids for the story. Refer to them as needed to keep track of where things are happening.
- Don't worry about understanding everything: Silmarillion is a challenging read, and even Tolkien experts sometimes struggle to keep all the details straight. Don't worry if you don't understand everything on your first read-through - you can always come back to the book again later.
- Enjoy the language: Tolkien is known for his beautiful prose, and Silmarillion is no exception. Take a moment to appreciate the language as you read, and let yourself get swept up in the story.