Welcome to the first of what I hope become weekly discussions among our community here on Jokien with Tolkien!
Today I would love to hear from you all about your introduction to The Lord of the Rings (or The Hobbit or any of Tolkien’s other work: whichever you experienced first). Please vote in the below poll and feel free to expand on your answer in the comments if you have a story you’d like to share or some additional details about your own experience.
What I’m wondering today is 1) did you first experience Middle-earth through one of the movie/tv adaptions or through the books first and 2) did that first experience motivate you to then read or watch the other option or not? For example, did you read the books first and then watch the Peter Jackson movies? Did you watch the Peter Jackson movies but never get around to the books? Maybe you were introduced to Middle-earth via The Rings of Power or one of the animated movies! Did you read the books after beginning with either of those or no? (note that I’m just asking where you started and whether you were then inspired to make the jump to another medium, not whether you’ve read ALL the books or watched ALL the movies/tv)
Thank you! I plan to be discussing and analyzing these results in my Thursday newsletter, so look for that in your inboxes then!
This week I was the guest on That’s What I’m Tolkien About! Mary Clay and I discussed the first portion of Appendix A in The Lord of the Rings. Check out part 1 of our conversation linked below (or wherever you get your podcasts) and be sure to subscribe to the podcast if you like what you hear and/or follow the pod on Twitter and Instagram at @tolkienaboutpod
My 30% off paid subscriptions sale lasts through the end of this week, 1/14! Instead of $5 monthly or $36/yr ($3/mo), it’s currently $3.50 monthly or ~$25/yr (just over $2/mo).
I listened to the BBC radio drama first! Then books, and later movies.
I saw the Fellowship of the Ring when I was a freshman in high school, and then I immediately read the trilogy. I still remember the sense of awe and wonder that I left the theater with, and the way it drove me directly to the bookstore. I didn't read The Hobbit until much later. I still haven't read The Silmarillion. I rewatch the original film trilogy (every few years) more often than I reread the books.
My Dad read the books when he was younger and then he took us as children, to see the movies and I've seen them all, except the show. I loved the movies growing up and they're a bit of a comfort movie on chill slow days.
My first introduction to Tolkien was when our family did read aloud with the Hobbit when I was growing up! I then read the books before watching any of the movies
I saw the movies when I was in middle school and high school. I was an awful reader and hated reading. I didn't read the books till about 5-7 years ago after I found a love for reading and improved. I love the books so much more then the movies but still enjoy and appreciate the movies for introducing me to the books.
Animated Hobbit cartoon when I was a kid, then read the books as an adult, then movies.
Circa 1980. We'd started playing D&D, and our middle school science professor suggested that we might like Tolkien. My whole friend group read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings more or less at the same time. I still remember one of them spoiling Gandalf's return for me. (I forgive, Nathan, but I do not forget! 🙂)
The timing was pretty good. I remember watching the Rankin Bass Hobbit in social studies, then the R-B Return of the King showed up on TV for the first time weeks after I finished that book. Shortly afterwards the Bakshi Lord of the Rings was rereleased in theaters (as a double feature with Watership Down), and then came the BBC radio series on NPR.
(We recorded that to cassette, which required being home to start it in those pre-automation days. If one of us was out for an episode, we'd trade and copy each other's recordings. There was a station technical problem with the Council of Elrond episode and it was *years* before I heard that in full.)
Then the Silmarillion, which was the only other thing out there (other than Tolkien bios and encyclopedias). Eventually Unfinished Tales, and some of the later-published material intermittently.
After almost two decades came the Jackson LotR movies (which I generally like, but like many fans have issues with), then the Hobbit movies (which mostly didn't work for me at all, other than the Unexpected Party), and now Rings of Power (which evokes more mixed feelings, but still watching for now).
I saw the first movie on DVD and the next day went to Borders (RIP) and immediately bought the trilogy. Was first in line for the movies! 🤓
Also, have you heard of this project? You should contribute (and anyone else who might be reading this)! I believe he is still collecting stories 😄
My brothers loved the movies so much, when I was still really young, but I wanted SO MUCH to watch them. Finally, my parents let me watch the movies when I was 11 and I was IN LOVE. Read the books when I was 12 for the first time and was just obsessed. I tried reading the Silmarillion but that was kind of hopeless. I tried rereading it in high school and in college, but homework got in the way of me actually finishing it. I finally read it the full way through when I was 21 though! I just had a baby and we started reading through the Hobbit with him!
I first read the books when I was in college back in the 80’s; I knew of them for several years before but didn’t really know the story in depth. When I read the books, I was simply blown away. I re-read them every year for a number of years, and then less often after that. All told, I’ve read them at least 12 to 15 times. It was quite some time then before I started watching the movies. I absolutely loved the LOTR movies, but the Hobbit movies not so much (completely overdone).
My dad read The Hobbit and LoTR aloud to the family when I was really little. I think that happened before I saw the 1977 animated Hobbit, but I can’t be sure. I’m more confident I had both heard and watched before playing the 1988 “War in Middle Earth” PC game. I don’t really recall life before a variety of Tolkien exposures.
Bakshi’s Hobbit - remember watching it as a kid & being completely enthralled. Also remember watching the Bakshi LOTR (🎶“Frodo of the 9 fingers and the ring of dooooooom!”🎶) but it was a little scary at times for me, and I preferred The Hobbit. Read the books (Hobbit & LOTR & Silmarillion) in high school & fell in love with Tolkien’s writing (and one Samwise Gamgee). The Jackson movies came out when I was in college, and I was at opening night for all three, nerding out & telling my non-Tolkien-obsessed friends all the little side tidbits I could think of. (“You see how Saruman’ tearing down those trees? That’s a bad idea - gonna make somebody real mad.”) Pretty sure I was insufferable. 🤓
I was introduced through the movies. I was maybe 11 or 12 and watched them at a friend's house, I later read the books as a teen. I have a few memories of my dad listening to The Fellowship of the Ring as a book on tape in the car before I watched the movies, but I didn't hear enough to have any idea what was happening with the story.
I watched the LotR and then the books. But the actual beginning was when my dad bought the RotK game on PS2. I got hooked on to it and then saw the movies which later paved way for the books.
My dad read my brother and I the books when we were little and then showed us the movies afterwards. He made sure to show us the behind the scenes movie magic so we wouldn't get scared by the Balrog, but didn't think that the orcs or shelob would be scary to sub-8 year olds! Still became one of our favorite movies and we would watch almost once a month and on all days when we were bored. I finally re-read the books again a year or so ago and have branched into Silm and the others now.
My dad used to read LOTR to me when I was very small, before my parents would let me watch the first film (it was a PG rating after all!)
I attempted the books when I was young and couldn't manage them. I saw all of the films as they were released. But recently I started reading the books and became insatiably hooked. I'm on the Silmarillion and have Unfinished Tales lined up. I love everything about Middle Earth and am delighted that there is so much material to get through
We were living in the UK on 1981 and my dad was reading The Hobbit to 11 year old me. I used to read ahead and get to the end of the page before him and want to turn over, so he got annoyed and told me to read it myself. The same year the BBC did thier radio play of The Lord of the Rings and he got a friend to record it on cassette for me - those voices shaped my imagining of the characters, so you can imagine my confusion when Ian Holm has that scene with Frodo at Rivendell, I heard him talking to himself!!
I read The Hobbit in 9th grade and loved it. I attempted LOTR right after but only got about halfway through and quit. Which is kind of weird for me, since I’ve always been a pretty good reader. Of course, 9th grade boys are not always known for their long attention spans. I finally made it through LOTR in college. After Fellowship came out in theaters, I went back and reread them all.
One thing that my wife and I did a few years ago was listen to the audiobooks. I’d always been a little skeptical of audiobooks in general but we had a long car trip and there was a free trial of audible so I decided to take a chance. We loved it! The version we listened to was the older version narrated by Robert Inglis. It was good throughout but where it really made a difference to me was in the songs. I tended to be someone who skimmed them in the books but hearing them performed made them much more meaningful to me. I’m now (very surprisingly to me) an audiobook guy. I’d have never guessed it!
We read the Hobbit in Year 7 and was hooked
My mom bought me the hobbit when I was 11. At this tike I was interested in classic literature, and the book seemed too childish by the description so I set it aside. Fortunately my mom wouldn't buy me a new book if I didn't finish everything I had, so I picked it up after a few months and I never put down Tolkien since then
I read the Hobbit for school in the 8th grade. Never heard of Tolkien up into that point. Fell in love with it, and then afterwards watched the movies. I am in the process now of making my way through the LotR books.
I saw FOTR in theaters when I was 13, then read LOTR during the next year prior to TT being released. In the 20 years since, I’ve read LOTR and Silmarillion every year. 3-4 years ago I started to get into Unfinished Tales, Beren and Luthien, Fall of Gondolin, Children of Thuringia, etc.
The books, but kind of in conjunction with the movies: I think my family became aware of them because the movies were coming out, and we had to read the books before we watched the movies. So I read them first in 2005, watched them in 2006 when I was 12. And then in high school I was reading LotR every year, read The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales, used my spending money on The Children of Hurin when it came out, and was learning Elvish for fun. I haven't seen the movies in years now and don't really care to again, but read LotR annually.
The movies. They were a tradition in our household growing up since my Dad used to read the books as a kid. Because of that, he introduced us to the films pretty young. This past year, my wife and I read through The Hobbit with the intention on reading The Lord of the Rings next. We want our kids to have the book-to-film experience so we figured we should read them first!
Nearly our whole church was raving about the movies and I was the type who must always read the book before watching the movie. So in my case, I read the books first because I really wanted to watch the movies!
My dad had this amazing edition of the LOTR trilogy that I read in high school, and I immediately loved it. I remember all of my friends making fun of me for reading about hobbits, and then the first movie came out about 2 years later and exploded, and I felt vindicated. Ha.
I haven't read The Hobbit since middle school, though. I need to rectify that!