Wednesday, January 14, 2009

2009 Tolkien Readstravaganza

Ultra-Geeky Richie Time. Be warned: If you read this you will no doubt think me insane and dorky in ways you never thought possible before (or it will justify your long held suspicions about me)

I am not one for making resolutions at new years. I never stick with them I do not avoid making goals, I just prefer that they grow out of something naturally rather than arbitrarily set them because the calender tells me I should be.

I say all this because I have just set myself a reading goal for the first six months of the year. Over the last few years my collection of books by and about JRR Tolkien has grown from just the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings to 20+ volumes. It is no secret that I am a huge fan of books and that I am quite proud of my library (which has grown to over 500 books by now). I tend to buy books that i know I will read someday rather than books that I know I will read right away. This is the case with my Tolkien collection. Last year I read through all of the Lord Of the Rings related fiction (Unfinished Tales, Silmarillion, Children of Hurin, Hobbit, LOTR Trilogy etc..).

Earlier this month I decided that it was time I tackle the histories of the Lord of the Rings, and have since decided to expand that to the entire 12 volume set of the History of Middle-Earth, and beyond. I have resolved to read 24 books by the end of June totaling 9,953 pages. This is roughly one book a week and the equivalent of 57 pages a day. When I break it down like this it really isn't much more than 1-2 hours of reading a day. I should note that these totals include indexes which I obviously won't be reading, but since I pulled the page counts from librarything I didn't feel like going back and subtracting the indexes. Even getting rid of them I would still probably be close to 10k pages anyway.

I am fairly hopeful that I can follow through with this goal, mainly because I was already doing it without the goal. I had already finished the 1st volume of the History of the lord of the Rings before I even considered reading through everything else. To date I have read 861/9,953 pages. Given the amount of time that I have put into video games in the last few months, I am more than ready to be turning my attention to something other than the computer. That is actually the biggest threat to my goals. The internet has always provided me with too many moments of "ooh just one more thing to look up." So last night being able to turn off the computer for a few hours and concentrate on a book was a great relief. I find that while 60 pages a day is not so bad, I tend to prefer to do larger chunks of time. I imagine Sundays will be where I get most of my reading for the week accomplished. This probably goes back to my days as a student where I would spend my days off from work at the local coffee shop working for up 10 hours straight. It was more of a necessity then, but now I find that being able to devote large parts of my day to a task is still very rewarding.

So, below is a list of when I hope to be finished with each book on my list. There are actually still a few books that I have had my eye on but have not purchased or added to the list that may end up there before the year is over, but this is a good start.

# History of Middle-Earth VI The Return of the Shadow (Finished)
# History of Middle-Earth VII The Treason of Isengard (16 Jan 09)
# History of Middle-Earth VIII The War of the Ring (23 Jan 09)
# History of Middle-Earth IX (half-volume) The End of the Third Age (30 Jan 09)
# JRR Tolkien: A Biography & the Letters of JRR Tolkien (13 Feb 09)
# History of the Hobbit: Mr. Baggins (20 Feb 09)
# History of the Hobbit: Return to Bag-End (27 Feb 09)
# History of Middle-Earth I The Book of Lost Tales Part 1 (6 Mar 09)
# History of Middle-Earth II The Book of Lost Tales Part 2 (13 Mar 09)
# History of Middle-Earth III The Lays of Beleriand (20 Mar 09)
# History of Middle-Earth IV The Shaping of Middle-Earth (27 Mar 09)
# History of Middle-Earth V The Lost Road and Other Writings (3 Apr 09)
# History of Middle-Earth X Morgoth's Ring (10 Apr 09)
# History of Middle-Earth XI The War of the Jewels (17 Apr 09)
# History of Middle-Earth XII The People's of Middle-Earth (24 Apr 09)
# Tales from the Perilous Realms (1 May 09)
# The Silmarillion (8 May 09)
# The Children of Hurin (15 May 09)
# Unfinished Tales (29 May 09)
# The Hobbit (5 Jun 09)
# The Fellowship of the Ring (12 Jun 09)
# The Two Towers (19 Jun 09)
# The Return of the King (28 Jun 09)

When it comes to blogging, I hope to be able to write some of my thoughts as I go through the histories especially. Since I do like to read in large chunks however, my thoughts get easily muddled and what I find interesting at the beginning of one reading session may be totally forgotten by the end of the session (My mind's default setting seems to be 'sieve.'). I am sure I will be updating my twitter feed often as well, mostly with page counts, but also the occasional quote or thought.

So there it is.

Proof of my insanity, and also of my great fondness for Tolkien. The world he created has taken root in my imagination like nothing else I have ever read. The fact that there are 14 volumes (including The History of the Hobbit) filled with how he wrote and crafted the world, people, languages, and events of Middle-Earth is a testament to how much he poured into it all. If he had merely set about writing a book, then I am sure I would have lost interest years ago. Instead I find myself eagerly returning to his work often and enthusiastically. I have surely set myself a daunting task, but one which I am happy to embrace and embark upon.

UPDATE 01/19/2009: I have updated the total page count. LibraryThing pulls its information from Amazon, which had the incorrect page counts listed for the ISBNs I own. Instead of 10,232, the total is 9,953. I will probably add on the new Tolkien book when it comes out in May to bring me back over 10k again.


Thomas said...

you are insane... is that book order anything particular (chrono?) It didn't seem to be in any order.

Brad said...

Wow, after this you can go on talk shows as a Tolkien consultant! There's worse things you could do with your time.

rheimbro said...

Haha, sadly I don't think they let Tolkien fans on Maury or the View... That and as with most things, the more you learn about something the more inept you feel about it in light of all the things you realize you don't know!