Tolkien Reading Day

Photo credit: bernswaelz

Turns out yesterday was Tolkien Reading Day.  The Tolkien Society organized the first Tolkien Reading Day back in 2003.  If you’re a really big fan, you’ll know that March 25 was the day that the Black Tower was destroyed and Sauron, the Dark Lord was defeated.

Tolkien was a fascinating man.  Born in the late 19th century, he served in WWI, studied with honors at Oxford and then returned there as a professor.  He wrote many books and articles during his years of teaching, publishing The Hobbit when he was 45 and finishing the Lord of the Rings when he was close to his retirement.

I read The Hobbit the summer of 1973 while I was living in Northfield and working at The Ole Piper Inn.  All my Carlton friends were scattered for the summer months and my boyfriend was doing an internship in the Twin Cities; except for the weekends, I had a lot of time on my hands.  I had never read any fantasy prior to this, in fact didn’t really understand that there WAS fantasy.  It was still a subset of science fiction, and I hadn’t read much of that either.  After all these years, I don’t remember exactly why I decided to read The Hobbit, but within pages I was hooked.  I was not scheduled at the restaurant that night, and I just kept reading and reading.  I finished it the next morning, having not slept a wink.

The Hobbit turned out to be the door into the fantasy genre for me.  I immediately followed up with the entire Lord of the Rings triology, Piers Anthony, Terry Pratchett, Terry Brooks and on and on.  Then I found Ursula LeGuin and Anne McCaffrey who gave me the beginnings of my dragon fixation.  To this day, while I probably read more straight-up fiction, the fantasy genre is still my favorite.  And if I need “comfort” reading, that’s right where I go.

Tell me about a book that opened a door for you.

29 thoughts on “Tolkien Reading Day”

  1. About the same time you were reading Tolkien, I was readingA Hundred Years Of Solitude for the first time and, in search of more magical realism, I began a period where I read almost exclusively Latin American authors— more Garcia Marquez, Carlos Fuentes, Mario Llosa, Isabel Allende, Jorge Amado, Jorge Borges. I extended that to John Nichols, who at the time came out with <The Milagro Beanfield War, followed by The Magic Journey and Nirvana Blues, which felt like the same vein.

    In the decades since, my reading has shifted to other genre, but I still retain a few of the books from that period.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Dibs in Search of Self, by Virginia Axline. This is a book that recounts a year of play therapy of a 5 year old boy who was quite emotionally disturbed and who was cured and found to have an extremely high IQ. His therapist was a clinical psychologist. It is a true story. My Grade 6 teacher read this to our class in 1970, and it was then and there that I decided to be a psychologist.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That makes so much sense.

      When you are trying to mentor someone to fill you role in the future, maybe you should hand them a copy of the book. They might be as beguiled by it as you were.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Ack! How could I forget THE BOOK that really has shaped my life.
        You reminded me Linda when you made this comment about giving a book as a mentor.
        I do that often with “The Little Prince”. I keep a few in my office and I give out a couple each semester to students that I think I will appreciate it.

        One of my absolute favorites.

        I was mid twenties when someone gave me a copy. Mind Blown!
        I just loved it.

        Liked by 3 people

  3. I went through a couple of reading drags I’m thinking of the 1970s when you’re talking about your experiences in that time I was reading teaching as a subversive activity and why Johnny can’t read in a bunch of books on education and helping me understand why I was so frustrated with education. I think BiR has mentioned that this is what got her into teaching it convinced me to stay the heck away from academia because of all the crap involved.

    jon hassler got me into womb reading where i just curl up
    kurt vonnegut got me into riding an idea into the sunset

    which is where i’m off to now

    corona virus masks for menards is my mission today

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I remember reading the Tolkien Trilogy in 1967, a wonderful moment when I hated to go to sleep because that was time when I couldn’t be reading about the adventures of those Hobbits.

    But the single book that had the most impact on me Was Sand County Almanac (written, of course, by Aldo Leopold). I was stunned to see ow incredibly interconnected everything in nature is. And I was deeply moved by the way Leopold wrote about land use in terms of ethics. That had never occurred to me before. No book I’ve read ever altered my understanding of the world as much as that one.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I second A Sand County Almanac as a game changer. I’d like to add Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. Both of these books were assigned reading for a freshman ecology class, so that would have been in late 1968 or early 1969. Gave me a whole new appreciation for the environment.

      Liked by 4 people

  5. This is a cool subject. I was thinking of a similar post but more of a specific book.
    I don’t know if any “ONE” book opened doors for me, but several have just given me daily reference points.
    ‘Catch 22’ has given me multiple touchstones. ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’ was too deep for me to absorb when I first read it but I still sure think about it a lot.
    I was talking with a friend recently about Middle school students reading ‘Animal Farm’. We must have read it out loud in class and I “Chuffed” a lot. At least until the teacher told me to keep my opinions to myself. I mean I was a farm kid (and 14 yrs old) and here were all these animals talking and doing all this stuff?? No way was I going to accept that.
    The friend told me the teacher was in the wrong but really, at that point in time, I’m not so sure.
    And then, 2o years later, I saw a live theater production of Animal Farm and while I remember nothing of the story, I remember the costumes and how they made the animals. So, another reference point.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. my favorite example of this type was my horrible english teacher who assigned a satire to be written
      i chose to do a satire on her class called the bingo game if life, modeled after her asking questions in her class and the saying no no no that’s not the answer

      her name was cornelia nachbar
      i started by breaking the name down by syllables corn/ asparagus kneel / stand ya/me

      nach bar bang rod
      asperagustandme bangrod and the giant bingo game of life

      ahhh i remember my friend dave ames laughing so hard at the red notations she had on the front page of the essay with a c- asking if i understood that it was supposed to be a satire and this was wrong wrong wrong.

      i hope i find it
      i really do

      Liked by 2 people

      1. That’s pretty funny, tim, though not terribly smart, if the grade mattered at all. What are you hoping to find? The satire? And, how did you do at Menards?


        1. the satire i hope to find in hard copy
          grades weren’t nearly as important as life
          many teachers were such posters and twits it was painful
          menards is morphing into a big deal
          i’ll start pursuing others next week
          i ve arranged 150,000 to 300,00 a day to be air freighted in
          now the order needs to surface

          Liked by 3 people

  6. OT: My daughter called this morning. She passed on the encouraging fact that Minnesota is Number One in the nation in terms of respecting social distancing guidelines. How do we know? Cell phone data.

    I was disappointed when she said she had to take her Subaru Outback to be repaired. I introduced her to Subarus, which meant Dad’s Advice here might not have been so good. The problem was that her car doesn’t want to turn right. I’ll resist the obvious political comment. The shop guys have a promising theory. They think the car’s reluctance to turn right might be related to the mummified squirrel they found in the engine bay. Who knows what wires that guy bit before he bit the one that became his last meal?

    Liked by 4 people

  7. In my elem. ed and psychology classes in late 60s, I too found Dibs…, and another one that I still think of frequently is Flowers for Algernon, (basis for the movie Charley), which has been on my mind again lately because of my mom’s Alzheimers… there are similarities.

    The early 70s were full of mind-blowing books for me. Although I didn’t get heavy into sci-fi as VS did, Stranger in a Strange Land was another besides The Hobbit that got my attention.

    Will have to finally read The Sand County Almanac, I see. The one for me that is life-changing lately is Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer – documents such a different way of being… with the earth instead of on it, I guess is one way to think of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was reading a lot of science fiction in high school and I remember how outstanding Stranger in a Strange Land was. Also Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End and just about anything by Ray Bradbury.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Rise and Shine sometime this afternoon, Baboons,

    The last three days, when I returned to work, have been overwhelming, so I have not been on the Trail much. I got back to the office just in time to go back home for two weeks. I am trying to get organized right now.

    I had a very difficult time learning to read after spending Kindergarten with an abusive teacher. That experience left me anxious about school and learning, so the next two years, I was a mess and had trouble learning. I finally got it, then discovered Little House in the Big Woods, which opened a world to me as a child. It allowed me to experience the frontier as Laura Ingalls Wilder did, and then I was off to the races. Next came To Kill a Mockingbird, which I thought was just wonderful.

    Off I go again.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Oh, how could I forget Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique? I didn’t read it until 1973, when I divorced, but it really became a watershed in my life. MM before and after BF.

    I don’t know why it took me that long to get around to it, I had been aware of it for years. When my marriage fell apart, I quickly became involved in local women’s groups. At that point, there was no turning back.

    Just as Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, and Richard Wright’s Native Son were books that really pried my eyes wide open to racial issues years earlier, The Feminine Mystique became the cornerstone of my evolution as a feminist.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. There were a number of authors that went off on a road less traveled in the late 60’s and early 70’s. I remember reading William Kotzwinkle’s Elephant Bangs Train, Richard Brautigan’s Trout Fishing In America, and Kurt Vonnegut’s <Cat's Cradle around the same time, and those books took me out of the comfortable YA niche I had been dwelling in.

    A book of short stories by Bernard Malamud, The Magic Barrel, was also transformative for me.

    Liked by 2 people

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