Happy Tolkien Reading Day 2019! 
Happy Tolkien Reading Day 2019

Happy Tolkien Reading Day 2019!
By Steven Kelly

March really is a delightful month. Winter's icy grip starts to thaw, which I am more than ready for. The greatest sports event of the year - the NCAA D-I basketball tournament - unleashes its madness, making temporary kings out of underdogs and ruining midterm GPAs and Q1 sales reports across the country. And best of all - at least for fantasy nerds like myself - at the end of the March there is Tolkien Reading Day

On March 25, readers around the globe will pay homage to J.R.R. Tolkien, author of literary marvels like "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings," by reading some of their favorite passages from his works. The organizers of the event, The Tolkien Society, chose March 25 because - spoiler alert - it's the same day in the story that the Ring of Power is destroyed, the Dark Lord Sauron is defeated and the free peoples of Middle-earth, including those lovable little hobbits, are saved. 

If you've managed to miss this cultural phenomenon and words like "hobbit" and "Sauron" are gibberish to you, then you're in for a real treat - that is, should you accept this quest and delve into one of these modern classics. Or maybe you've seen the wildly popular movies and enjoyed them, but haven't yet cracked open the books. This could be your chance to experience what those book super-fans have been raving about all these years.

But if you're running low on time and can't make the 20-hour commitment to read one of his books cover-to-cover, we have another option for you - come to our Tolkien Reading Day on March 25 at 5 p.m. at Aurora Central Library! Join us in the Small Community Room for a short presentation, select readings, and a lively discussion.

No matter what your experience with Middle-earth may be, why not make like a Ringwraith and take a stab at it! Aurora Public Library has a wealth of Tolkien-related resources so we can help you get your fix. Also, come check out our display at Aurora Central Library, where you'll find many of these books and movies ripe for the taking borrowing.

Tolkien Reading day display

If you're still on the fence, keep reading below to find some suggestions, whether you're a newbie or the most dedicated Tolkien fanatic. Happy reading, and namárië!

For Hobbits (Beginners):
"The Hobbit" - Go on an adventure with Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit homebody who gets swept into a quest to help a company of dwarves steal back their gold from the ferocious dragon Smaug. Along the way, meet some trolls, a horde of goblins, a vegetarian were-bear, some elves with a serious bone to pick with the dwarves and a nasty little creature with a penchant for riddles. It's a light and lovely read, originally marketed as a children's book but suitable for event the most discriminating adult reader.

"The Adventures of Tom Bombadil" - If you're looking for something smaller, or if poetry is more to your tastes, try this short collection of whimsical poems, many of them written in the style of fairy tales or nursery rhymes. While we don't have it in our collection, this is a great opportunity to use Prospector and learn how to borrow books from all over Colorado. 

For Humans (Intermediate):
"The Lord of the Rings" - This is Tolkien's masterpiece. Expanding on the world he created in "The Hobbit," "The Lord of the Rings" is a tale of truly epic proportions. Meet Frodo Baggins, Bilbo's nephew, who discovers that the magic ring he inherited is actually the One Ring, the Ring of Power, and as such he holds the fate of Middle-earth literally in his hands. It's got war, it's got romance and it's packed with moments of both tenderness and hilarity. Originally published in three volumes, you'll often find this book in its 1,000+ page gargantuan form. Don't plan on finishing the whole thing on the 25th, but you can put a serious dent in it. And trust me - it's absolutely worth it. 

"The Children of Hurin" - Do you like tragedy? Brooding, grief-stricken heroes with vendettas to satisfy? Crafty dragons who can cast wicked spells with their eyes and scorch entire forests to ash with their fiery breath? If so, this book will speak to your soul. I'd describe it best as a kind of diet-"Silmarillion" (see below), as it's an expanded novelization of one of its chapters, but still totally digestible as a stand-alone tale. It also loosely alludes to the Norse sagas and the great Finnish epic "Kalevala", so it's a great choice if you're into those. 

For Elves (Advanced):
"The Silmarillion"  - Though not for the faint of heart or the easily distracted, "The Silmarillion" is a shining gem in Tolkien's mythos. Published posthumously by his son Christopher, the book gives us the ancient history underpinning the events of "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" - the creation of the world, the awakening of the elves and humans (and dwarves), the marring of creation by a fallen god who makes Sauron look like a playground bully and the constant battle to prevent the aforementioned bad guy from ruining everything. It reads like ancient mythology - alien in some ways and deeply familiar in others, but always beautiful and poetic. There are lots of new names and places, which can be overwhelming at first, but give it some time (and take several long looks at the appendices) and before you know it names like Fingolfin and Thangorodrim will be like those old friends. 

"Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary" - Also publish posthumously, this 2014 book can offer you a glimpse into Tolkien's academic work. After all, he was first and foremost a professor of Anglo-Saxon (Old English) at Oxford, though he's certainly better known for his fiction. In this book, Christopher Tolkien gives us his father's personal translation of the great Old English epic of a mighty warrior who battles monsters for kith and kin and no small amount of glory. What makes this work tricky is that Tolkien did his best to preserve the syntax  of the original language, which can be challenging for modern readers. It's still a delightful read, and you might notice some interesting similarities between it and "The Hobbit," with a stolen cup arousing the anger of dragon...



Posted by svanholb@auroragov.org On 12 March, 2019 at 11:06 AM  

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