Tolkien Opinions and Habits Survey Results!

Every year on March 25, the anniversary of the Downfall of Sauron, the Tolkien Society hosts Tolkien Reading Day. This year’s theme selected by the Tolkien Society is Hope and Courage. 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 full schedule of events by clicking here.

Tolkien Survey Results


Usually for our annual Tolkien Reading Event, I crowdsource one or two questions like “What is the most impactful scene from Tolkien’s works?” and compile the results, but this year I decided to mix things up by making a survey and asking a bunch of random but fun questions about Tolkien and his works. Thanks to the magic of Twitter and everyone who helped spread the word about the survey, 108 people responded! (All questions were optional, so there are a few questions that not everyone answered.)

Check out the questions below and let us know if you agree with responses or if any of them surprise you!

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Survey Results

This skews young, but it’s fun to see some readers came to Tolkien when they were older, as well!

Everyone who said no…check out our posts on why you should read The Silmarillion!

It would have been a bit funny if someone said no to both the book and the movies because…why are they taking a survey about Tolkien then? But I guess one could have read only The Hobbit or only Tolkien’s other works somehow!

A nice mix of answers here, though I am not surprised Sam is a favorite.

I was sort of hoping this number would be higher because I think it would be fun if all of us were writing about Tolkien in school, but 12% is a pretty good showing!

I added an “other” option for the Tom Bombadil besides yes/no/no strong opinion, and for some reason a lot of people used it to write out why they were essentially voting no or no opinion, lol.

Predictably a lot of votes for Eowyn, but at least the others got votes, too! I imagine Luthien didn’t have as much of a chance, since fewer people have read The Silmarillion.

I was worried this was going to be 99% people saying Lothlorien, and it was early on in the survey responses, so I am glad to see some votes for other forests!

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What is an unpopular opinion you have about Tolkien or his works?

*Don’t murder each other in the comments. 😉 (Someone has a point about throwing Isildur into Mount Doom though….)

  1. Not sure if this counts as unpopular, but the female characters are mostly underrepesented in the books.
  2. His poetry sucks.
  3. The world is a little too black and white, evil and good.
  4. Frodo was not the best person to look after the ring. He was unreliable. Also Gandalf helped a minimum amount. He could have helped them so much more in LOTR. In the hobbit I get his lack of investment but LOTR it was much more important to support and help the hobbit more than he did.
  5. The Movies (LotR, NOT the Hobbit!) are better movies than the books are novels (seen in isolation, not talking about all world building, history of ME etc.)
  6. He can be a little convoluted.
  7. Could happily go without the songs.
  8. Elves are better than humans at literally everything; they are too good at everything – and that’s no fun at all.
  9. Sam shouldn’t have gone into the West
  10. I wish this family would give more creators access to make movies, tv shows and other media with the lord of the rings, and this gatekeeping only serves to keep it out of the publics attention. i am not saying we need 20 plus movies but an animated show done by people who care would bring it to new audiences
  11. The Hobbit shouldn’t have been split into 3 movies – the original animated movie was better.
  12. Fanfic is as valid an exploration of Tolkien’s world as academic analysis.
  13. I feel like his stories are wonderful but his writing is a bit over-descriptive.
  14. I don’t need 3 pages of adjectives for the rocks around Mordor
  15. Other than Tom Bombadil being cut from Fellowship, the film is a better version of that story. I could do with less walking.
  16. I do not know if this counts, but in my opinion, the Silmarillion is not an overly difficult book to read/understand like many people say it is.
  17. If you read them after a ton of other fiction, it feels oddly dated.
  18. Most people read the books in the wrong order. The Silmarillion should be read first to get a base for the rest of the books.
  19. Fucking spiders – just unnecessary
  20. Boromir should have lived.
  21. The Silmarillion should have been left unpublished.
  22. The Ring is not sentient.
  23. LOTR could do with being more concise.
  24. Not a complaint per say, but a difference of stylistic opinion. I generally prefer novels that emphasise narrative over world-building. From that perspective, I feel that Tolkien’s emphasis on world-building can occasionally result in a clunky narrative, detracting somewhat from the story. Even then, however, fantasy as a genre is heavily defined by the world it seeks to create, rendering this point effectively moot. It’s an unpopular opinion for sure, but in the context of Tolkien – and fantasy more broadly – it scarcely detracts from my enjoyment of his work.
  25. That the entire saga wasn’t meant for the big screen, I feel as though Tolkien wanted our imagination to imagine these magical places.
  26. The movies have way better pacing than the books do. Two Towers is too long and too slow!
  27. Tom Bombadil rules.
  28. Tolkien was a man of his time and we should examine his works that way. We should also be allowed to take some liberties with the canon for adaptations and other creative works. For example, the new Amazon tv series. I’m ok with small changes being made to better serve a story for the screen.
  29. Tolkien was not the greatest fantasy writer. He was a very good fantasy writer with the advantage of being the first.
  30. Gandalf was a con man,
  31. Jackson films are garbage.
  32. They are always walking.
  33. Elrond should have pushed Isildur in the volcano.
  34. Too much poetry!
  35. You can be racist, even without meaning to.
  36. He wasn’t good at depicting women and routinely made them one-sided caricatures instead of actual developed characters.
  37. The books were better than the movies.
  38. The man died too soon to bring another layer of depth to his story, which would probably put him up on the pedestal along with Homer or Virgil.
  39. The Silmarillion is so much better than The Lord of the Rings.
  40. Frodo had no personality.
  41. Not all of his poetry is that good.
  42. The stories are great, but once his focus went to creating a history (The Silmarillion) it turned to a snooze fest.
  43. It is a bit over written.
  44. The Lord of the Rings is plodding and unmemorable. The Hobbit is much better.
  45. The only non-white people you come across are ‘bad guys’ (the Haradrim and the Corsairs) which isn’t a good look these days.
  46. LOTR is far too padded (don’t know if this is unpopular though!)
  47. Turin was THE WORST. Giving yourself eighty-five names doesn’t erase all the terrible choices you’ve made. Morwen was the only redeemable character of that family, though she was pretty amazing.
  48. Tolkien doesn’t *need* more female characters any more than Little Women *needs* more male characters. Tolkien was writing about his world, and the female characters he did write about were ones that left a legacy. As a kid, I was still able to find myself in his world and enjoy his dense mythos even though I’m female. It always felt like there was room.
  49. They are unevenly written.
  50. All my opinions are popular.
  51. I like the songs in the Lord of the Rings books.
  52. Reads a little stale in the beginning, specially the Hobbit. Takes a while for it to pull your attention.