Tuesday, May 5, 2009

One Book to Rule Them All

I first read The Lord of the Rings when I was in 5th grade. My older sisters had given me The Hobbit a few years before and I ate that up, but when I plowed into LOTR after that I just couldn't do it - too many words, not enough action. They exacted a promise that I'd give it another shot the following year. And I did, this time completely falling in love with it.

I will never forget the look on my mother's face when I stomped down the stairs at about 11 o'clock one evening and rounded on my sister - she and mom were having a chat in the kitchen - and, her copy of Fellowship clutched firmly in hand, demanded to know why she'd made me read this book if You Know Who was just going to die. She placated me with assurances that "it gets better" and "just keep reading", while my mother looked on incredulously and spluttered "What are you doing up?!?" At the time it was in bed at 9pm and lights out at 9:30, I believe. But there were books to get to so I usually read for a couple of hours after that. And of course I followed my sister's advice and finished it, and over the years I've acquired at least four or five editions of the thing, paperback, hardcover, and leatherbound.

5th grade was a while ago, but I still re-read LOTR every 18 months or so, and those who do not re-read books probably won't believe this old saw, but I really do discover something new each time in addition to renewing old acquaintances. Every other time or so I accent my visit with the "deep" material - The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, and the like. This doesn't feel like one of those times because I have a stack of lenders I need to take a bite out of, most especially more of the Flashman books a buddy has lent me.

I had to put ROTK down today to head into work, right as the Rohirrim arrived at the Pelennor, and after all these years and page turns, it's still not easy to do.


Tam said...

I've probably read it thirty times or more.

I really, really need to just go read Narn i Hin Hurin again, just to get a fix...

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