When I was 11 I was invited to travel with my Aunt Jo-Anne, Uncle Jim and cousin Mike to Oliver, B.C. It was a pretty crazy adventure for an eleven year-old, and was definitely the longest time I’d been away from home before. I recall the long drives through golden prairies (Mike’s favourite at the time, which he decided were much better than “ugly rock cuts!”), camping in Drumheller and again in Banff, before arriving in Oliver where we made whips out of willow wands and ate from the plum trees to our heart’s content!
Though we saw some amazing country, my favourite moments were those spent in the evenings. We’d all gather around while Aunt Jo-Anne read aloud from The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien. I had encountered nothing like it before: hobbits on the road, Black Riders who feared fire, a ranger named Strider, and an evil Ring.
When I got home I told Dad all about this story: the first of a trilogy.
“I think I’ve got those somewhere,” he said. And as Dad often does, he withdrew to the basement and returned with the perfect solution. He came back carrying a hardcover edition of The Lord of the Rings.
Since then, I’ve been a really big fan of Tolkien and his work. When I went to College I realized that there was a large scholarly community who also deeply appreciated Tolkien and through books and classes I began to discover others who wanted to engage deeply with all things Middle-Earth.
So when I discovered Corey Olsen, the Tolkien Professor, and his podcasts I was instantly hooked! Corey has recorded seminar sessions with himself and his students (he teaches English at Washington College) on all of Tolkien major works as well as his essays and letters. They’re so great, and he’s hilarious! Josh Chalmers, if you’re reading this, go have a listen: http://tolkienprofessor.com/
Anyway, my love for all things Tolkien is going strong, and I’m pretty good with that. Now I just need to get on my reading for my summer class: C.S. Lewis, where are you!?