If you recognise the names Frodo Baggins, Smaug, and Aragorn, then you’re probably a fan of J. R. R. Tolkien. You may have first come to Tolkien by way of the spectacular movies of recent years, which have created legions of new fans. Tolkien Reading Day offers an opportunity to return to his wonderful books, where the myths of Middle-earth began…
Tolkien Reading Day is celebrated on 25th March each year. This is the date of the end of Frodo’s quest, when the Ring was destroyed, and the Lord of the Rings, Sauron, and his Dark Tower Barad-dûr were overthrown. The first Reading Day was held in 2003, and it’s since become a global event. Its aim is to celebrate and promote the life and works of Tolkien by encouraging fans to read favourite passages from his books, to respond creatively to them, and to spread the word about the wonders of all things Tolkienesque.
Each year Tolkien Reading Day has a theme. In 2022 it was Love and Friendship. This year it’s Travel and Adventure. To spark your imagination, just think of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins’ parting words to his young relative Frodo, as he relinquishes the Ring to him, and departs for Rivendell:
‘The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can.’
Or the line from the walking song, ‘Home is behind, the world ahead’, which perfectly captures that sense of exhilaration and excitement at the start of a new journey. Or ‘Not all those who wander are lost’, the most famous line from the poem which prophesies Aragorn’s ascension to his birthright as King of Gondor. This theme is rich in possibilities.
If you’ve already read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, why not try Tolkien’s lesser-known, or more complex, works? He was extraordinarily prolific, so there will undoubtedly be something to tempt you, from the comic medieval short story Farmer Giles of Ham and the collection of poems The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, to the posthumous collection of myths and short stories, The Silmarillion.
You could also listen to a podcast on Tolkien. The Tolkien Society suggests, among others, The Prancing Pony podcast, which features Tolkien Reading Day specials. To use their own words: The Prancing Pony Podcast – The best Tolkien podcast this side of Bree!
Finally, simply spread the word by taking the chance to talk about Tolkien. Share your favourite passages from his books, your ideas and thoughts about his life and work. Why not recommend Tolkien to someone who’s never tried reading anything by him before? By doing so, you’d be setting them off on a journey into a whole new world, full of drama, delights, danger… and, of course, dragons.