I have said, many times, that I am not a fantasy person. I do not like fantasy. So it's kind of weird that the epitome (basically) of fantasy is one of my favorite books of all time.
I grew up on Narnia. I've never claimed it as an "obsession" because it's just to the point where it is ingrained in my very being. However, Lord of the Rings came into my life before Hamlet and Doctor Who and the worse bout of Robin Hood.(I had two times I was obsessed--first quite young, and then in my teens.) It started out with my mom reading a single-volume book to make sure it was okay for reading consumption (yes that sounds weird). This was around the time the films were coming out. I at the time thought it was a theology book. She decided that it was a good idea for a read aloud, so we started off with The Hobbit.
By the time we reached Lord of the Rings, all of the movies were out on extended edition DVDs, which my mom and dad owned. We then proceeded to do a read aloud with movie supplements as many nights as was possible.
This was, quite frankly, a splendid way to get introduced to the story. It instilled in me love for the book but also introduced me to masterpiece of adaption that is the movies.
We (I) became a little obsessed with it.
I often talked my sister until 11 or 12 at night after a reading/watching, we played games, we acted out scenes, and, as we neared the end, I cried. It was one of the few stories that drove clear into my heart and rested there. It was a story of courage in the face of despair, of wise and kingly characters, of, yes, the ultimate triumph of good over evil, but the inevitable cost of the evil, even when it was defeated.
After my dad finished reading it to us (and I did some more crying) I proceeded to re-read it every few months for the next couple of years, including spending basically the entirety of my money ($61.47, if I remember correctly) on buying myself a set of my own (three hardback, red-covered volumes illustrated by Alan Lee. Yes I still gush over them.). To this date I would guess I have roughly have two dozen readings behind me.
Looking back, it makes me wonder what my life would be like without that terrific story harbored in the back of my mind, the noble characters that I admire. The only other story with similar impact was the legend of Robin Hood. It is hard to tell with Narnia, because those books were more a mold or shaping to my life, while Lord of the Rings and Robin Hood were to impact it in different ways.
That is a long prologue to: I am currently reading this beautiful story. Tolkien may not be the best storyteller (do we really need all of these descriptions of landscapes, John?), but he had one of the best stories to tell. I will be forever grateful for it.
On Labor Day, I will also be attending a Lord of the Rings extended edition marathon. Third year running.
My life would not be utterly bleak without Lord of the Rings--but it has been intensely enriched by this tapestry of good, wholesome, virtuous people standing against a Darkness so vast with a Hope so small...and defeating it.
"They cannot conquer for ever." ~Frodo