As much as I’m a fan of LOTR, I’ve only ever read the books twice. This second reread was a much better experience than the first time. For some reason my memory of reading the books was that I had enjoyed them, but was a little bored. This time, the second time, I enjoyed and found myself encountering moments I hadn’t appreciated on the first read.
For example, the first time I read “The Fellowship of the Ring”, Tom Bombadil drove me CRAZY! I hated all the rhymes and singing. I thought I would be irritated as the Hobbits made their way into the old forest, but I found myself enjoying the Tom Bombadil episode. Another element that surprised me was the simmering anxiety of the Black Riders looming in the background of the story. I think watching the movies has tainted my memory of the films, but the Hobbits in the books aren’t surrounded by the Nazgul at the Buckleberry ferry as they are in the film. Instead, the Black Riders are a constant force looming at the background of Pippin, Frodo, and Sam’s trip to Buckland. I enjoyed this a lot! I like thrillers and the Nazgul popping up here and there kept the pulse of the quest moving at a quick pace.
Rereading this book reminded me how much I value Tolkien’s story and how much it’s become a part of my reading identity. It also reminds me how much I appreciate fantasy works that help us escape from the real world while also instructing us on how to process real world problems. In these chaotic times, this is just what I needed.