Every year on March 25, the anniversary of the Downfall of Sauron, the Tolkien Society hosts Tolkien Reading Day. This year’s theme is Poetry and Songs in Tolkien’s Fiction. The primary goal is to promote the reading of the works of J.R R. Tolkien! To celebrate, Pages Unbound will be hosting two weeks of Tolkien-related posts. In addition to our own thoughts, we will be featuring a number of guest posts! Check out the complete schedule here.
My fascination with this fictional land began at the age of ten, when my brother was watching The Lord of the Rings trilogy on TV. I caught only parts of it, but was so intrigued that I borrowed the DVD box-set from a friend and re-watched it in full with my family. I vaguely remember sitting on my bed, trying to recall how the soundtrack went because I was mesmerised. I’d like to believe that I haven’t truly left Middle-Earth since then.
I borrowed the complete unabridged collection of the books from my school library two years later. I finished a majority of it when I had taken sick leave for three days – I distinctly recall taking the bulky book with me when I was waiting to see the doctor at his clinic. I tried to read as many books by Tolkien that I could get my hands on after that and breezed through The Hobbit, The Children of Húrin, Unfinished Tales, The Book of Lost Tales and The Shaping of Middle-Earth. The most obvious piece missing from this list is The Silmarillion, which I plan to finish in March 2017 as a part of my personal celebration of the Tolkien Reading Day.
If someone told me to close my eyes and picture my happy place, it would be Lothlórien. There’s just something magical and ethereal about Middle-Earth that I can’t quite put into words. The strange beauty, the descriptions of the land and the awareness that each rock, tree or creature has its own purpose and will transports me into a place that seems surreal. Reading through the rich prose gives me a feeling of going on a vacation without having left the comfort of my room. I get lost in the pages and when I put down the book, it seems as if I’ve emerged from a dream. I have yet to find another series that has provided such an immersive experience. I am in awe of how detailed the world is; the words make the place come alive in my mind. The characters also make up a large part of why the series is special to me. It is incredible how some characters who only appear briefly in the story are so memorable – take Lady Galadriel or Tom Bombadil, for instance. My favourite of the lot, however, is Samwise Gamgee, who many believe to be the actual hero.
The Lord of the Rings trilogy has had such a huge impact on my reading habits and my personality that I consider it to be a part of me. Fantasy became my favourite genre after I fell in love with the trilogy. I’ve talked about it on my blog several times and even dedicated a month-long series to it. My kind and considerate friends gifted me a replica of the Evenstar necklace from the films for my 21st birthday. I found the hardcover movie tie-in edition of The Return of the King quite by accident at a bookstore for a ridiculously low price and I can’t resist the urge to talk about how extraordinarily lucky I was that day. I recently won a quiz that had The Lord of the Rings as one of its five main topics and got all the questions based on it right. I do a marathon of the films and re-read the books every year – it’s almost become a ritual now.
Being such an ardent fan also comes with a sense of responsibility, especially in the digital world where opinions are broadcast on a daily basis. Some comparisons between Tolkien and George Martin’s works have sprung up these days, with debaters being unaware of how different they are and arguing for the sake of winning some sort of popularity vote. Tolkien’s works have also been criticised as being racist or unsuitable for the modern reader. Some of the comments on such topics seem to have no basis in fact and have left me outraged, to be honest. I do realise that I have a personal bias with regard to this, so I try not to respond where I feel this would be an issue. While healthy debates are quite welcome and are necessary, I feel that as a member of this wonderful community of readers who love and respect Tolkien’s works, it is my duty to not descend to the level of trolls and engage with them just to prove a point, which could potentially harm the reputation of other fans across the world. My sole aim is to share the joy of reading that I have experienced and I hope that my journey would encourage another to try out his works as well.
I’d like to conclude by sharing a few lines from my favourite song in the books:
“The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.”
–The Road Goes Ever On (The Fellowship of the Ring)
About the Author
Nandini Bharadwaj, a 21-year-old from Bangalore, India, is an expert at dabbling in a bit of everything. She will graduate as a Telecommunication engineer in May 2017 and wants to earn a PhD someday. When she’s not typing up posts for her blogs, Pages That Rustle and Unputdownable Books, one can find her stuck in a book, watching a movie or marathoning a TV show. She also likes to cook, and her favourite flavour is chocolate. Her biggest dream is to have a packed and organised floor-to-ceiling bookshelf in her bedroom. She can be found online on Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and Goodreads.