Roads Go Ever On: A Hobbit and Lord of the Rings Readalong
This year as I enter the world of reading challenges, I’ve also jumped into my first readalong: Brona’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Readalong 2017. It didn’t take much deliberation to decide to join. Since first reading The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings in 1979, I’ve probably reread them a good ten times or more. I think it’s pretty safe to say that The Lord of the Rings and J.R.R. Tolkien have had a profound influence on my life. In fact, my very first blog post ever, way back in 2006, was about Tolkien’s influence in my life.
I still have the books I bought with my paper route money in that magical summer of 1978 when I devoured them back to back to back to back on my dad’s brown leather La-Z-Boy:
After my initial reading in 1978, I reread them in high school, again in college, and twice more after getting married. I taught The Hobbit to eighth graders for seven years, starting in 2001, just before Peter Jackson’s movies came out, so I read them again at that time. I started keeping formal track of my books read in January of 2003, and since then I’ve read Tolkien’s Middle-earth books twice: in 2007 I listened to the excellent unabridged audio recording by Rob Inglis, and in 2011 I read them on a Kindle for the first time. I’ve also read and loved The Silmarillion, Children of Hurin, and many other books by and about Tolkien and his works.
So I’m definitely all in on a Tolkien readalong.
What makes this readalong special for me is that I’ve just acquired a set of the Millennium Edition of The Lord of the Rings. The Millennium Edition was a one-time set published in 1999 by Houghton Mifflin that divides the books into seven volumes with Tolkien’s original titles:
- The Ring Sets Out
- The Ring Goes South
- The Treason of Isengard
- The Ring Goes East
- The War of the Ring
- The End of the Third Age
- The Appendices
The text is exactly the same, but the trilogy has been set in a new typeface for this edition, split into the seven books, and bound in comfortably-sized hardcovers with the eye of Sauron on the front.
I remember seeing this set back in 1999, but it was priced at $70, and that was beyond our means at the time. Miraculously, a few weeks ago I found a used set on Amazon for $71 that was in fantastic condition–probably as good a condition as mine would have been if I had bought it in 1999. So this is the set I’ll be reading for the readalong.
I’ll try and follow Brona’s schedule as much as possible, reading one volume per month from February to August. If I stick with that schedule, this will be my most leisurely reading of the series ever.
To add more depth and enjoyment to my reading, I’ll be once again using Karen Wynn Fonstad’s Atlas of Middle-earth to trace the journeys of the various characters, and I’ll be listening to the Tolkien Ensemble’s recordings of all the poems and songs from The Lord of the Rings.
With this past January 3rd being the 125th anniversary of Tolkien’s birth, I’m going to make it a point to reread the trilogy every five years until 2042, when I’ll be 76 years old and Tolkien would have been 150.