Adult Fiction, Behind the Books, Book reviews and recommendations, Borrowbox, Children 10-12, Young Adult 12-15, Young Adult 16+

Tolkien Reading Day

By Elaine Patterson, Newbridge Headquarters

Tolkien Reading Day takes place annually on the 25th of March and celebrates the life and works of J. R. R. Tolkien, author of some of the famous works of fantasy in the English language. As a mild fan of Tolkien’s most famous works-I really must get around to reading the rest of them one day-I thought it might be a way for people to do something different during the Lockdown.

There are several ways to observe Tolkien Reading Day. First of all, you can read or listen to Tolkien’s books on Borrowbox (titles available below) or watch the films of the books or listen to music from the films’ soundtracks on Freegal. Alternatively, you can read a biography on Tolkien-there is one biography on him in Borrowbox. You can also order one of Tolkien’s books from your local bookstore if you feel so inclined.

Tolkien by Raymond Edwards

J.R.R. Tolkien arguably changed the sort of things we read and write more profoundly than any other twentieth-century writer. When The Lord of the Rings was published, Tolkien was in his early sixties; beneath the outwardly unremarkable life of an Oxford don, his imaginative life was richly nourished by his professional interests. Now in paperback, this is the first biography to deal fully with the wealth of Tolkien’s posthumously published material. It sets his writing firmly in the context of his academic life, shows the great personal and professional difficulties he overcame to complete The Lord of the Rings, and charts his ultimately unsuccessful efforts to complete the great cycle of legends that appeared, after his death, as The Silmarillion. Despite the precipitous decline of Tolkien’s academic discipline, philology, his imaginative achievement may claim to vindicate his academic career.

Available to borrow as an ebook from Bolinda Borrowbox.

J.R.R. Tolkien The Making of a Legend by Colin Duriez

But who was the man who dreamt up the intricate languages and perfectly crafted world of Middle-earth? Tolkien had a difficult life, for many years: orphaned and poor, his guardian forbad him to communicate with the woman he had fallen in love with, and he went through the horrors of the First World War. An intensely private and brilliant scholar, he spent over fifty years working on the languages, history, peoples and geography of Middle-earth, with a consistent mythology and body of legends inspired by a formidable knowledge of early northern European history and culture. J.R.R. Tolkien became a legend by creating an imaginary world that has enthralled and delighted generations

Available to borrow as an audiobook from Bolinda Borrowbox.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

A reluctant partner in this perilous quest is Bilbo Baggins, a comfort-loving unambitious hobbit, who surprises even himself by his resourcefulness and skill as a burglar. 

Encounters with trolls, goblins, dwarves, elves and giant spiders, conversations with the dragon, Smaug, and a rather unwilling presence at the Battle of Five Armies are just some of the adventures that befall Bilbo. 

Bilbo Baggins has taken his place among the ranks of the immortals of children’s fiction. Written by Professor Tolkien for his own children, The Hobbit met with instant critical acclaim when published.

Available to borrow as an ebook from Bolinda Borrowbox.

The Fellowship of the Ring By J.R.R. Tolkien

Continuing the story begun in The Hobbit, this is the first part of Tolkien’s epic masterpiece, The Lord of the Rings, featuring the definitive text and a detailed map of Middle-earth. 

Sauron, the Dark Lord, has gathered to him all the Rings of Power – the means by which he intends to rule Middle-earth. All he lacks in his plans for dominion is the One Ring – the ring that rules them all – which has fallen into the hands of the hobbit, Bilbo Baggins. In a sleepy village in the Shire, young Frodo Baggins finds himself faced with an immense task, as his elderly cousin Bilbo entrusts the Ring to his care. Frodo must leave his home and make a perilous journey across Middle-earth to the Cracks of Doom, there to destroy the Ring and foil the Dark Lord in his evil purpose. J. R. R. Tolkien’s great work of imaginative fiction has been labelled both a heroic romance and a classic fantasy fiction. By turns comic and homely, epic and diabolic, the narrative moves through countless changes of scene and character in an imaginary world which is totally convincing in its detail.

Available to borrow as an ebook from Bolinda Borrowbox

The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien

Building the story begun in The Hobbit and continuing the adventures of The Fellowship of the Ring, this is the second part of Tolkien’s epic masterpiece, The Lord of the Rings, featuring the definitive text, hyperlinked footnotes and page references, and a detailed map of Middle-earth. 

Frodo and the Companions of the Ring have been beset by danger during their quest to prevent the Ruling Ring from falling into the hands of the Dark Lord by destroying it in the Cracks of Doom. They have lost the wizard, Gandalf, in the battle with an evil spirit in the Mines of Moria; and at the Falls of Rauros, Boromir, seduced by the power of the Ring, tried to seize it by force. While Frodo and Sam made their escape the rest of the company were attacked by Orcs. Now they continue their journey alone down the great River Anduin – alone, that is, save for the mysterious creeping figure that follows wherever they go. JRR Tolkien’s great work of imaginative fiction has been labelled both a heroic romance and a classic fantasy fiction. By turns comic and homely, epic and diabolic, the narrative moves through countless changes of scene and character in an imaginary world which is totally convincing in its detail.

Available to borrow as an ebook from Bolinda Borrowbox.

The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien

Concluding the story of The Hobbit, this is the final part of Tolkien’s epic master piece. 

Impossible to describe in a few words, JRR Tolkien’s great work of imaginative fiction has been labelled both a heroic romance and a classic fantasy fiction. By turns comic and homely, epic and diabolic, the narrative moves through countless changes of scene and character in an imaginary world which is totally convincing in its detail. Tolkien created a vast new mythology in an invented world which has proved timeless in its appeal.

Available to borrow as an ebook from Bolinda Borrowbox

Beren And Lúthien by J.R.R. Tolkien

Painstakingly restored from Tolkien’s manuscripts and presented for the first time as a continuous and standalone story, the epic tale of Beren and Lúthien will reunite fans of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings with Elves and Men, Dwarves and Orcs and the rich landscape and creatures unique to Tolkien’s Middle-earth.

Available to borrow as an ebook from Bolinda Borrowbox

The Fall of Gondolin by J.R.R. Tolkien

There is Morgoth of the uttermost evil, unseen in this story but ruling over a vast military power from his fortress of Angband. Deeply opposed to Morgoth is Ulmo, second in might only to Manwë, chief of the Valar.Central to this enmity of the gods is the city of Gondolin, beautiful but undiscoverable. It was built and peopled by Noldorin Elves who, when they dwelt in Valinor, the land of the gods, rebelled against their rule and fled to Middle-earth. Turgon King of Gondolin is hated and feared above all his enemies by Morgoth, who seeks in vain to discover the marvellously hidden city, while the gods in Valinor in heated debate largely refuse to intervene in support of Ulmo’s desires and designs. Into this world comes Tuor, cousin of Túrin, the instrument of Ulmo’s designs. Guided unseen by him Tuor sets out from the land of his birth on the fearful journey to Gondolin, and in one of the most arresting moments in the history of Middle-earth the sea-god himself appears to him, rising out of the ocean in the midst of a storm. In Gondolin he becomes great; he is wedded to Idril, Turgon’s daughter, and their son is Eärendel, whose birth and profound importance in days to come is foreseen by Ulmo. At last comes the terrible ending. Morgoth learns through an act of supreme treachery all that he needs to mount a devastating attack on the city, with Balrogs and dragons and numberless Orcs. After a minutely observed account of the fall of Gondolin, the tale ends with the escape of Tuor and Idril, with the child Eärendel, looking back from a cleft in the mountains as they flee southward, at the blazing wreckage of their city. They were journeying into a new story, the Tale of Eärendel, which Tolkien never wrote, but which is sketched out in this book from other sources.Following his presentation of Beren and Lúthien Christopher Tolkien has used the same ‘history in sequence’ mode in the writing of this edition of The Fall of Gondolin. In the words of J.R.R. Tolkien, it was ‘the first real story of this imaginary world’ and, together with Beren and Lúthien and The Children of Húrin, he regarded it as one of the three ‘Great Tales’ of the Elder Days.

Available to borrow as an ebook from Bolinda Borrowbox.

You can also listen to podcasts about Tolkien and his works if you prefer. Both PlayerFM: J.R.R Tolkien Podcasts  and Tolkien Gateway: List of Tolkien-related Podcasts have a list of podcasts focusing on Tolkien and his books. If you have a podcast app such as Stitcher, Spotify, or Pocket Casts you can type “Tolkien” into the search bar to see if there any podcasts that centre or focus on him or his works on the app.

You could also have a little gathering of friends on Zoom or Skype and chat about Tolkien’s books or the films or just use Tolkien as an excuse and talk about things other than him and his works. Or if all these suggestions sound too serious or dull, try dressing up as a character from the Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit!

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