Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Book 1 of 2013: The Fellowship of the Ring

I like to reread Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings every year. It's become a massive tradition for me now and I get antsy if I get towards the end of the year without having covered it. Although I only read it about six months ago (and I usually save it for my summer read), The Fellowship of the Ring was picked as one of the Challenge books for the HTV Reading Challenge, so I decided that I'd start the year by revisiting an old favourite.

I've got loads of different copies of The Lord of the Rings, from a large hardback illustrated single volume copy to a single volume copy which was purchased when my Mum was pregnant with me (so I've grown up with it on my bookcase). I'd originally planned on reading the single volume which I found in an Oxfam shop several years ago and then shortly afterwards realised that it was an early single volume edition and therefore doesn't have all the appendices that more modern ones have.
But then the challenge for The Fellowship of the Ring was posted, so I decided to go for the three volume edition. I only own one three volume edition, the version I first read when I was sixteen; the first time I made it all the way through the book. I love revisiting this book, I can remember the various places these paperbacks have been with me and different places I've read them. The last time I read this copy it was lying in the campervan out at Ettrick Bay, towards the end of the summer, the year we moved to our new place, before we got Tara.
This is obviously one of my favourite books. It's so familiar that I find myself looking forward to my favourite bits. I'd practically decided which quotes I was going to write into my book journal before I even got to them.
Sometimes I find myself sailing through my annual reread, different sections I tend to get through quicker than others; the beginning parts I usually read quickly, slowing down once the Hobbits leave the Shire and meet Tom Bombadil and Aragon, I'll pick up after the Fellowship leave Rivendell and then slow down again as I draw to the end of the book. It's a pattern I've noticed in the last few read throughs, I'm sure it's because I get nervous about the dangerous bits, even though I know everything will eventually work out! This time I was quite slow to read it because instead of reading before work, I had taken to dozing in bed, as well as knitting while watching TV in the evening instead of reading.
There's something about this book that just begs to be read aloud. There's something about the way that it's written that I just love to hear spoken. I think it's something to do with how fascinated by language Tolkien was, he understood about the history of the words that he was using and so the words he picks carry a lot of weight. Even if you're not aware of whether a word is Germanic in origin, or whatever, it carries some sort of meaning, based on how it's been used before. I love reading this book out loud, which often leads to it taking longer to read, but it sounds so much better.
Each time I reread these books, I find myself drawn to different characters or bits of the book. This time I found myself really enjoying the Hobbits. I like how they offer a bit of comic relief. Perhaps it's because I went to see The Hobbit at the cinema a few days after starting this, it just put me in the mood for them. I also felt really interested in Boromir as a character this time around. I'm not sure what it was, but I'm looking forward to seeing if that influences my view of Faramir and Denethor as I read the next two books.

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