One night my wife looked over at me sitting on the couch and asked, “are you seriously reading that book?” The book was the Letters of JRR Tolkien. She could not understand why anyone would want to read hundreds of pages of someone’s personal letters. Admittedly, it is rather odd. This book is certainly not for everyone. But for those who have enjoyed Tolkien’s stories, this set of letters offers an intriguing and enlightening glimpse into his mind. I most enjoyed seeing Tolkien speak of his Catholic faith as well as getting the window into his mind as he worked, for years and years, on writing the Lord of the Rings. Honestly, I found myself skimming more and more of the letters as I went as it did get a bit tedious. The verdict is, if you are a fan of Tolkien then this book might just be for you.
Another book any Tolkien fan ought to read is Tom Shippey’s JRR Tolkien: Author of the Century. Shippey had written another book on Tolkien, which I have no plans to read (I am done with Tolkien for a while). In this one his goal is to show that Tolkien deserves a place among the most well-respected and admired authors of the 20th century. Many academics and critics have disparaged his work as lesser since it is of the fantasy genre. Shippey’s study of Tolkien’s work reveals just how brilliant and well-read Tolkien was and how much depth there is in Tolkien’s work. If you are a fan of Tolkien, check this one out too.