Monday, May 30, 2011

talking tolkien

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!

J.R.R TolkienThough 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.

Corey Olsen, the Tolkien ProfessorSo 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:

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!?



  1. Hey friends!

    I had this idea today. I was recently thinking about favourite authors and how I "met" them, and so I wrote a blog post about an eleven year old Nikolas on a roadtrip to B.C. and how he met Tolkien. It got me curious about how we meet those authors who have this incredibly impact on our lives.

    Then I thought, "Why not ask people?" And thus we come to the purpose of this message: if you have a story, any old story, about how you were introduced to an author by a friend, or stumbled upon their book in a library or an attic...then I want to hear about it! Even if the introduction was run-of-the-mill, I want to hear how their work has changed you: maybe you can scrounge up a favourite quote or passage even! Whatever you do, I would love it if you could post your response in the comments section on the blog post titled, "Talking Tolkien" on

    I look forward to hearing from you! Huzzah for reading! Hopefully we'll hear from you soon!


    PS: Anybody can post a comment by clicking the Name/URL option from the drop-down menu by "Comment As..." hopefully it's not too confusing!

  2. Hello Nikolas,

    Great story. Likely much more exciting than mine, but speaking of Lewis... I was introduced to literature in two major ways that have changed my life. When I was a kid I remember my mom reading The Chronicles of Narnia to my brother, sister, and me. As I got a little bit older, they became the first books that I read on my own.

    I have read a lot of Lewis, but my love for reading started to take off when I read the Pendragon Cycle by Lawhead. I still remember reading through it in grade after Dean told me all about it. He couldn't find his copies of the books so I had to search the Library and eventually do my first interlibrary loan. When the first book Taliesin came, it was old and battered, but I remember carrying it with me to school and reading it on the bus and every free moment. And of course I remember talking about it with Dean for weeks as I read through the Series.

    Daniel Cole

  3. Nicole Grant5/30/2011 11:15 PM

    Hm, speaking of Lewis...this is always my story of how I came to love reading.
    When I was 7 years old I was with my mom at her friend Theresa's house, and Theresa had a son named Sam, who was a TEENAGER and therefore fascinating and scary. After I hung around bored for a long time, Theresa suggested that I go play in Sam's room (he wasn't home. I've often wondered how he felt about his mom letting 7-year-old girls loose in his room but I never found out.) It was thrilling. I had an older step-brother and I was never allowed to touch his stuff so when I walked in I was afraid to move anything, or even to sit down. I just looked around, and zeroed in on a boxed set of The Chronicles of Narnia. I had never before this moment opened a novel with the intent to read. In my limited experience, older boys weren't overly possessive of their books, so I thought this was something that, if he came in and saw me with it, I wouldn't be in TOO much trouble. So I sat down and started reading The Magician's Nephew.
    I have no idea how much time passed until I heard my mom calling me. Time to go. I was disappointed but full of a strange energy, too. I carefully replaced the book, then ran down the stairs to tell my mom all about it. Theresa said "What books? The Chronicles of Narnia? Go and grab them." I went back to the room and brought the books down, and Theresa looked at them and laughed, "Oh I forgot, one of these is missing. The Horse and His Boy. We took it on a picnic and never found it again. Well, it's not a full set, but if you like them, you should keep them." I was flabbergasted. I had never in my life received a gift that felt so...valuable. Imagine how you'd feel if you walked into a palace and admired a diamond necklace, and someone said "Oh go on, it looks good on you. Take it home." I stammered something like "Oh, but...I can't...won't your son... I mean they're HIS." "He won't mind," she said. I must have still looked hesitant, or disbelieving, or shocked, because she added, "Go ahead, I INSIST. Now you have to take them or it's rude. Anyway, don't you want to know the rest of the story?"
    I did.
    So I took them home, and I read them.
    And then I read them again, and again, and any book that was supposed to be like them, and never really developed any other hobbies, because that would take away from how much time I could sit, fascinated, at the feet of a wonderful storyteller, and let everything else disappear while I took a guided tour through someone else's imagination.

  4. Daniel,

    Oh man! Taliesin is so good! I think it might be my favourite of the three. Have you read Grail or Pendragon yet?

    I had a similar introduction to Lewis. My Mom got The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and we read it aloud to each other over the course of a day. I remember being shocked when Aslan was killed on the Stone Table. Oops...I guess that was a bit of a spoiler! Uh...Moving on!

    Thank you for sharing! I love how you mentioned talking about the stories with Dean as you read them. I find this really makes the experience more enjoyable--when you can get excited about it with someone else.



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