In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.
Happy Tolkien Reading Day, 2019!
Whether or not you’ve read JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings—which I, somewhat to my great shame, have not—you can surely accept that it’s influence on an entire genre has been immense. In the eyes of many, The Hobbit—prelude to Tolkien’s magnum opus—kickstarted the fantasy genre into what it has grown into today. Great authors, past and present, from Raymond E. Feist to George R.R. Martin, Robin Hobb to Patrick Rothfuss to Samantha Shannon, have all expressed clear influences to Tolkien’s Middle Earth.
The world he created has been adapted into movies, an upcoming Amazon Prime TV show, as well as an upcoming Tolkien biopic which will delve into the origins of Middle Earth. It’s no surprise that his works are as alive today as they were back in 1937 when The Hobbit was first published–The Hobbit itself has never been out of print since the day it was released.
While not the origin of the fantasy genre, much of what JRR Tolkien created has been adapted and built upon by writers of the genre in the decades since Sauron’s ultimate defeat, and fans clamour for the opportunity to revisit and relive their experiences with Middle Earth as often as they can.
“Not all those who wander are lost.”
Originated in 2003 by the Tolkien Society, March 25th has been recognised as Tolkien Reading Day, a day which encourages readers “to celebrate and promote the life and works of J.R.R. Tolkien by reading favourite passages”. On the anniversary of the day in which Sauron finally fell, readers are also encouraged to explore Tolkien’s works outside of The Lord of the Rings; his picture book for children, Mr. Bliss, his novella Roverandom, or his comic medieval fable, Farmer Giles of Ham, to name just a few.
This Tolkien Reading Day, I’m intending to finally start reading The Fellowship of the Ring, a story I know well from its adaptations, but never the source material itself.
I’m inviting you, Bookstacked readers, to share some of your favourite passages or scenes from the series. If you haven’t read the books, talk to me about the films. If you haven’t seen the films, just talk to me about any fantasy book you’ve loved. JRR Tolkien’s contributions to the fantasy genre have been immense, and are rightly held to high esteem, but not everyone finds their way to the genre through that door, and I don’t think there should be any regret or shame in not reading his works.
“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.”
To join in with Tolkien Reading Day, readers are encouraged to share passages online with #TolkienReadingDay and discuss the works of Tolkien with like-minded fans. This year’s theme is Tolkien and the Mysterious, and all are welcome to participate.