30 DoB Day 12: Used to Love

You remember back when you were a teenager and the discovery of books and music was SO COOL and when you found a band or an author that you liked, you’d just devour anything from them and proclaim it, “THE GREATEST EVER!”

For me, discovering Tolkien was like that.  As a nerd-ish teen, immersing myself in a land of elves, heroes, evil and magic was a lot more fun than the difficult things of the day: thinking about college or, you know, asking a girl out on a date.

So not only was there The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, but when I was in high school the tome The Silmarillion posthumously appeared and I dove into that too.  It was of course the greatest ever – well, maybe not as great as LoTR or The Hobbit, but it was still Tolkien and therefore it was GREAT.

Which brings us to the next question installment in the 30 Days of Books list:

Day 12 – A book you used to love but don’t anymore

Silmarillion

I’ve re-read both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings and they stand up pretty well to revisiting (though I will admit to skimming over some of the loooonnnnng descriptive passages in LoTR). The Silmarillion though, with its patchwork collection of myth, dense language, and lack of a cohesive narrative was quickly abandoned.

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10 thoughts on “30 DoB Day 12: Used to Love

  1. How funny! A fellow Tolkien geek at the office and I have just started reading The Silmarillion together.

    I’m pretty sure I read it once or twice when it first came out, but I have only vague recollections of most of it now. To me, I guess the value of reading it is the fact that it’s the book JRRT really wanted to publish, except that his publishers didn’t think there would be any market for it. (And if it hadn’t been for LOTR, there probably still wouldn’t be a market for it.)

    Mostly, however, it just illustrates the depth of Tolkien’s genius. You read a book, even a really good book, and scratch a little under the surface, and there’s nothing there. But under Tolkien’s surface is this whole history and background, not only of stories, but of language and culture and mythology.

    Incredible.

  2. my Dad read the TOlkien series to me when I was like 6-7 yrs old. Oddly, I have never really been able to read it through on my own! I have never really attempted the Simarillion, but most people I know who read it sort of seemed bewildered…

  3. The Silmarillion was supposed to be the prequel to LoTR, or a full history of all those asides mentioned by Gandalf, Elron and the ancients of Middle Earth. It was a must-read for us uber-fans, the ones who actually learned Elvish and read Tolkien’s translation of Beowulf, though it sometimes felt like a trial by fire. If you could get through The Silmarillion, you could also get through the one-year course of Old English and linguistics, which used to be required for English majors back in the day and which most of us became later on. (Most of us—I switched to history because it was easier to read 19th century birth records than Chaucer in the original OE.)

    I guess I was lucky in that I didn’t love the book, so none was lost in the passing.

  4. Silmarillion is definitely a hard read, but I find it Tolkien’s most amazing and rewarding achievement. Some of his best stories are told in it, and in the Unfinished Tales that follow, and I admit I’ve returned to those stories more often than I have to LOTR and The Hobbit themselves (much as I love them). It doesn’t have one linear plot, per se, but it definitely tells a cohesive theme — the fall of the Eldar from grace and their struggle to regain it. It’s a timeless theme and story that can be seen throughout all of our own history. But I understand how lots of people get over-saturated with Tolkien and then begin to wonder whether he’s really as great as they used to think. I’m a history buff, and I’m perfectly happy spending my spare time reading The Iliad, Beowulf, or the Mabinogion, so that helps to explain why I don’t mind the denseness of The Silmarillion. Still, my admiration for it only grows with time.

    • Thanks for the reply — I wonder if now — after so many years and no longer being immersed in Tolkien as I was at the time, whether I’d have a better appreciation for The Silmarillion now. I’d listened to an interesting course on fantasy literature that went into some detail about Tolkien, his writing and his mythos building. Even that put it in a different light.

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