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Beyond & Back Again

Recently, (the day of this post, actually), I began one of my annual traditions: re-reading The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings! - I used to do The Silmarillion too, but good Lord, that one takes some dedication!

If you're reading this then you've probably read at least some of my stuff. You've, um... probably noticed how much I enjoy Tolkien's universe (plus a few others). More times than naught, I get flack for re-reading his books. Why is that?

Ok, ok, can I be a picky reader? Yes, most definitely. But there's just something with re-reading a favorite book. I just started Bilbo's most famous adventure today - and already I love it once again. Each time, the experience is new, yet familiar all at once. And while I almost know the story by heart now, it doesn't lessen the anticipation or enjoyment I get from delving back into it again.

This may be a 'no-duh' sort of realization here, but as I was reading the thought occurred to me how it wasn't the book that had changed - the power and feeling Middle Earth gives me; re-reading gave me a chance to mark how I have changed as I've been swept off my feet on my own adventure over the years. I see new connections as I read. New patterns. I enjoy new depths and look for new details. It's a lovely thing. It really is.

Especially as a fantasy writer, it seems like Tolkien is a dirty word, professionally speaking. Saying your next novel is like Lord of the Rings is considered literary taboo. Why is that? If I ever get to where I write a story that generates that much love and devotion, that over half a century later people are still re-reading it, well... that's the dream. That's the goal. It's not a bad thing whatsoever.