Lord of the Rings: a child’s memory

Tansy is doing a series of blog posts this week in honour of Book Week about childhood reading and everything around it, so I thought I would add a few thoughts myself. And I am starting with Lord of the Rings.

When I was 12, I was in competition with a friend: who could read the most in that year. We decided it would be on both pages read and total number of books read, but books had to have over 100 pages. Now I got my total books up fast because I was reading a lot of Babysitters Club (I know, right?). However, they were short, and I was mighty competitive back then. So I looked at my parents’ book shelves and I picked the fattest book I could. And why yes, it was LoTR.

I had read fantasy before- that’s another post- but I had definitely never read anything like this. I don’t actually rememeber whether I had read Hobbit first or not… something says not. Anyway, I was blown away. I imagined myself joining the fellowship, and Legolas was my first serious book crush. I loved it so much I read it in 20 days, which was quite quick work for 12 year old me… and important in making sure that I didn’t fall behind in the reading competition, too. I loved it so much that when I started working as a checkout chick, my first major purchase was my own, one volume, not-falling-apart copy – and that was SO exciting. I loved it so much that for a while there, I read it every year; I think I’ve got up to about a dozen or so. This is one book that has had a genuinely long-lasting impact.

Weird fact: I listened to a cassette of the Beach Boys a lot of the time while I read LoTR the first time, such that I had flashbacks to the mines of Moria and the forests of Lothlorien in response to Little Deuce Coupe and California Girls for years after.

For those who care, I don’t think my friend and I ever decided who had won our competition. I think we might have got sick of it.

5 responses

  1. seantheblogonaut | Reply

    My cousin gave it to me when I was 9 but I didn’t finish it until around the age of 12. Like you I re-read it a couple of times. It has that fond place in my memory of being the first book in which I can remember having an emotional connection to.

    I now have an entire self of Tolkienalia not including the various roleplaying games. Pretty sure I have a hobbit recipe book from the 70’s somewhere – that’s for cooking shire food not Hobbits o’course.

    1. omg I want that recipe book! I adore The Silmarillion and own a few other Tolkien books but have never really got around to reading them. I got the drafts etc of The Hobbit last year for my birthday, and have likewise not yet got around to perusing in detail… :O

      1. seantheblogonaut | Reply

        I want to to collect the history of middle earth set by Christopher Tolkien but the cost is prohibitive.

        1. When I thought I would read them, I was picking them up at second hand book shops, usually at a pretty good cost cos they had quite a few… 🙂

          1. seantheblogonaut | Reply

            That’s where I got most of mine (about 6) but they have been getting harder to find.

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