There wasn’t a Teens Can Write, Too! blog chain in December but happily there’s one this month! January’s prompt comes from Miriam at Miriam Joy Writes.
“Is there one particular book that changed your life? If so, why did you originally choose to read it? What impact has it had on you?”
This prompt is cool because it seems so simple at first but the more you think about it, the harder it becomes. Only one book?! But I love a lot of books! I kept deciding on one book, then remembering another great book just seconds later. Since at the moment I have sixty-one posts categorized ‘Harry Potter‘, it might surprise you that I’m not writing about that series. It’s had a huge effect on me and I’ve loved it for a long time, but I don’t think that’s quite the same thing as it changing my life. I think just the fact that I’m not writing about Harry Potter shows that another book must have changed my life, because I used to be all Harry Potter all the time.
In the end, I chose the Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien, consisting of The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. This totally counts as one book because that’s how he wrote it; it’s just usually published in three volumes. Miriam also provided some other questions, so I’ll answer those in an attempt to stay on track in this post so I don’t dissolve into, like, fangirling about Aragorn’s hair.
“Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.”
In a nutshell, Lord of the Rings is about a Ring and how the guy who made it – Sauron, the Dark Lord in the title – wants it back. He has most of the other Rings but needs this one to control them all. See, he wants control over all of Middle-earth because he’s a big meanie. Frodo Baggins is a young hobbit and the next Ringbearer; he must destroy the Ring by throwing it into Mount Doom where it will melt. But this isn’t an easy task. He’ll have to walk all the way. Also, the Ring corrupts nearly everyone who sees it, even if they don’t want to be evil. And did I mention that there’s a past Ringbearer named Gollum, a crazy, shriveled old hobbit who wants his “precioussss” Ring back? There are battles and dwarves and wizards and highly attractive elves and I absolutely love it.
I only recently read it, though. I started with The Hobbit in October and finished the trilogy by December, just in time for the new Hobbit movie which was my intention. I may not have been a fan of it for a long time but that has nothing to do with it changing my life.
“Was it something you were given, or something you bought by chance?”
I don’t remember, actually. I have a boxed set of The Hobbit plus the trilogy; my brother has the same thing but a different edition; my mom has just the trilogy, but the one with really nice covers pictured throughout this post. I’m not quite sure how we managed to get so many copies when we’re not huge Tolkien fans. Well, most of us anyway – I’m the only one who likes it. I’m the only one at my house who’s read more of his stuff than one book. Anyway, at some point I ended up with this boxed set but I don’t remember if I bought it, picked it up secondhand, or was maybe given it as a present. If I did buy it, then I don’t know what I was thinking because we already had several copies. All I know is that it sat on my bookshelf for a long time.
“Did you know anything about it before you started?”
Yes and no. See, I tried to read it several times before and just couldn’t get interested. When I first tried to read The Fellowship of the Ring at age eight I didn’t know anything about the story. I tried to read it a few times after that, getting further and further each time but never even finishing the first book. By the time I read the trilogy this fall, I knew that Gollum fell into Mount Doom along with the Ring, Gandalf “died” in Moria and came back to life looking like he suddenly learned how to do his own laundry, and various other things. There were also some things that I thought happened and they amuse me now because I was so wrong. I was completely sure that Aragorn died even though he’s the king and the last book is The Return of the King. Maybe I thought he pulled a Gandalf? I also thought Gollum might be female. I feel so stupid now.
“How many times have you now read it, and what has it done to your life?”
Ha. Well, I’ve only read it all the way through once and intended to not reread it for a while because I have other Tolkien stuff to read, like the Appendices at the end of The Return of the King. Also, The Silmarillion. (Spellcheck is telling me ‘Silmarillion’ should be replaced by ‘Millionairess’…) I found The Book of Lost Tales at the library but it turned out to be Volume II so I think I need to find the first one. Anyway, I’m still reading that stuff but I’m also, yes, rereading the books already. I’m reading them in reverse order because the last is my favorite.
The most obvious thing that Lord of the Rings has done is to make me into a fan of high fantasy. I’ve adored fantasy like J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter since I was little but that’s not high fantasy. Since finishing the series I haven’t yet had time to read much besides Tolkien and stuff for school, but I have a big list of fantasy books to get at the library.
Finishing Lord of the Rings has also given me a huge confidence boost. It’s the longest book I’ve ever read, at over a thousand pages long. Now I feel like I can read anything. It’s not like I don’t read or only read short books, but I really wanted to read the series and could never get very far through Tolkien’s wordiness. In addition to that list of fantasy books mentioned above, I also have a bunch of long classic books that I now have more motivation to read. I thought the characters never did anything more interesting than walking for miles and miles, but actually, that’s mostly in the first book. In the other two they have more to do, like killing people. And smoking weed. Anyway, now I have more motivation to read other reaaaaally long books.
It also taught me a bit about writing. I’ll probably learn more when I reread the books, but I picked up things here and there. Like, don’t spend six pages describing the characters walking for an hour. Don’t worry, there are some positive things I learned too! I love the Gollum scenes because I love tragic characters (he’s my favorite character in the series) and I want to write one of my own so I’m trying to pick up tips about the evil/pitiful aspect.
But most importantly? Most importantly, it opened up my mind. I’m open to new things, but I’d tried to read Lord of the Rings so many times before and was always bored to death. I thought I could never enjoy it. Lord of the Rings showed me that opinions can be changed. I thought I hated high fantasy after reading the first two books in Christopher Paolini’s awful Inheritance Cycle. Now I don’t think so. I thought I would never find anything better than Harry Potter. Yes, I am – gasp! – admitting that I have found something better than Harry Potter. Lord of the Rings taught me to not judge things so quickly. In fact, I’m trying to do this with Arwen, one of the characters. Lots of people think she’s boring/annoying/wimpy but Aragorn obviously sees something in her, so I’m not making any decisions about whether I loathe or love her.
I love Lord of the Rings and I will continue to love it until I’m shriveled up, living in a cave with my books, and calling the trilogy “my precious”! It really is a brilliant story and everyone should read it. Still not convinced? This will explain all the awesome main characters (warning: language) and made me giggle a lot. And here’s the story, for the attention-span-impaired:
And if those didn’t convince you that it’s awesome, then I don’t know what will.
Want to follow our blog chain? Here are the participating parties, day by day:
January 5th – http://fida-islaih.blogspot.co.uk – Muslim Spirit by Fida
January 6th – http://theteenagewriter.wordpress.com – The Teenage Writer
January 7th – http://missalexandrinabrant.wordpress.com – Miss Alexandrina
January 8th – http://cinderscoria.blogspot.co.uk – Between The Lines
January 9th – http://avonsbabbles.wordpress.com – Avon’s Babbles
January 10th – http://www.nonconformistwriter.blogspot.co.uk – Life.
January 11th – http://weirdalocity.wordpress.com – Inside The Junk Drawer
January 12th – http://notebooksisters.blogspot.co.uk – Notebook Sisters
January 13th – https://musingsfromnevillesnavel.wordpress.com – Musings From Neville’s Navel
January 14th – http://theloonyteenwriter.wordpress.com – The Loony Teen Writer
January 15th – http://mirrormadeofwords.wordpress.com – A Mirror Made Of Words
January 16th – http://epistolarygirl.wordpress.com – Epistolary Girl
January 17th – http://www.inklinedwriters.blogspot.co.uk – Inklined
January 18th – http://zarahoffman.tumblr.com – Zara Hoffman’s Blog
January 19th – http://sydneyjoto.wordpress.com – SydneyJoTo
January 20th – http://realityisimaginary.blogspot.com – Reality Is Imaginary
January 21st – http://thelittleenginethatcouldnt.wordpress.com – The Little Engine That Couldn’t
January 22nd – http://www.katrinakennedy3.wordpress.com – Writers Response
January 23rd – http://incessantdroningofaboredwriter.wordpress.com – John Hansen Writes
January 24th – http://miriamjoywrites.wordpress.com – Miriam Joy Writes
January 25th – http://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com – Teens Can Write, Too! (We’ll announce the topic for next month’s chain.)