Today, March 25, is the anniversary of the destruction of the Ring of Power and the Tolkien Society has named it Tolkien Reading Day. I don’t have any profound thoughts for Tolkien Reading Day, but I do have a suggestion.
History of Middle-earth
The twelve-volume History of Middle-earth series is certainly intimidating for a lot of people, even some who enjoy The Silmarillion. But there’s a lot to enjoy and learn from these books.
Want to know more about Gondolin? Why not read the first (and only full) version in Book of Lost Tales II? Love the poetry in Lord of the Rings? Check out the tale of Túrin or Beren and Lúthien in Lays of Beleriand. What about Finwë remarrying after Míriel’s death, ever think that was odd? There’s a whole essay about it in Morgoth’s Ring. This is barely a smattering of what you can find in HoMe.
That doesn’t mean these books are easy. In fact, the first time I read Book of Lost Tales I, I couldn’t read for more than 15-20 minutes without falling asleep (especially Christopher Tolkien’s commentary). A lot of readers have similar experiences.
What better way to celebrate Tolkien Reading Day than starting a course on his works? Dr. Corey Olsen, the Tolkien Professor, is working his way through the History of Middle-earth series in the free Mythgard Academy courses. I just finished The Shaping of Middle-earth, and I’ve gotten so much out of each course I’ve taken. This is my second time reading through HoMe but I’m learning so much more than I would on my own. Dr. Olsen is an excellent teacher; his love for Tolkien is not only genuine but also infectious. I highly recommend his course!
Here are direct links to all of the courses thus far:
- The Book of Lost Tales I (9 week course)
- The Book of Lost Tales II (10 week course)
- The Lays of Beleriand (9 week course)
- The Shaping of Middle-earth (8 week course)
- The Lost Road and Other Writings (10 week course)
- The Return of the Shadow (17 week (!!) course)
Give it a try! You won’t regret it.
Photo Credit: John O’Nolan