These are the first Tolkien-books I ever read. On the left is The Fellowship of the Ring, and on the right is The Hobbit. They’re in Swedish, and I borrowed them from my dad, or maybe he gave them to me at some point… I’m not even sure anymore (it was quite a long time ago by now). As you can tell from the photo, they are well-worn: at this point, I don’t even know how many times I re-read them.
My dad read Fellowship, and (I think) The Two Towers to me and my sister when we were very young: probably too young to really appreciate the story. (Though I do remember it, so it did make an impression.) Later on, in my early teens (I think I was 13, or 14) I read The Lord of the Rings myself and it absolutely changed my world. It changed the way I thought about stories: what kinds of stories I wanted to read, and what kinds of stories I wanted to write.
I still remember laying awake very late at night in my room reading The Return of the King all the way to the end, and crying like a baby when it was over. I just couldn’t stand that the story was over: I wanted to stay in that world. I wanted to stay in Middle-earth. I wanted to stay with those characters. I still feel like that when I re-read the books, even if the feeling isn’t quite as overwhelming as it was back then.
The original translation of The Lord of the Rings into Swedish is rather clunky and unwieldy: I understood this when I eventually read the story in English. Tolkien’s language is beautiful and evocative, and the Swedish translator didn’t really capture that old-fashioned beauty. Still, it did the trick: it turned me into Tolkien fan-girl before I even knew the term “fan-girl”.
I re-read The Lord of the Rings every year, the Silmarillion every once in a while, and The Hobbit occasionally. But March 25th is Tolkien Reading Day. It’s the date when Sauron was overthrown in The Lord of the Rings, so I guess that’s a good day to celebrate by picking up one of professor Tolkien’s books.