I remember it still. I was in high school. Everyone else I knew had already read it. I was one of those types who resisted going along with the crowd. I refused to read it. And refused. And refused. My friends thought I was nuts, but I wanted nothing to do with it.
I was in a theatrical production of The Hobbit, and one of the stipulations to be involved with the play was everyone had to read the book. So grudgingly, I read the story and learned about Hobbits and Bilbo Baggins and Smaug the Dragon, over hill and under dale. Still wouldn’t read the big tome.
But then I snuck a peek.
And then I was hooked. I discovered that the elves of LOTR were somewhat different from the elves of The Hobbit. Oh the elves! They weren’t the silly, short Keebler kind of elf. No these elves were tall, and beautiful, and wise beyond words. The first elf I fell in love with was Gildor, who Frodo and Sam met at Woodhall and who uttered the famous admonition, ‘Do not meddle in the affairs of Wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger.’ The second elf I adored, and have a twinge of miffed with every movie version that cuts his character, is Glorifindel. A High Elf from the West, ancient, and wise beyond all measure and powerful. He glowed with an aura of pure light. And of course, there is Legolas, my favoritest of all the elves way before Orlando Bloom was even born. I learned all the elfish phrases I could and even taught myself how to write in elven script. When has a book taken you to such places and taught you so much, I wonder?
And then there was Strider, the dark Ranger of the North you weren’t quite sure of until Bree. And he was my favorite, right after the elves. Gimli son of Gloin was my favorite, and Boromir and Faramir. I cried over the fall of Gandalf and cried again when he returned as the White Rider! All of them were my favorite. And I read, and read and read that book over more than once. Well more than 20 times by now, and right around this time of year, Sept. 22, the shared birthdays of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, I read it again.
So forget about watching the movie (that got so much of it right, but also got some of it very wrong), pick up your old dog-eared, yellowing copy or a nice shiny new one – you can still find this book in any bookstore – and read it again as if it were the first time. May starlight always guide your path.