Book a Day, Giveaway 008: Tolkien’s World: Paintings of Middle Earth.

[Update 1/17/2011: Book gifted to Tyler–please see comments below!]

Connie Willis’ Hugo and Nebula-nominated Doomsday Book is still up for grabs! At this point, it’s first come, first served.

I mailed out the first batch of books on Thursday, and hand-delivered a few yesterday. I love the little human connections I’m making, and the possible impact of a few of these books. They’re going from looking pretty on my bookshelf into the hands of people who will value and utilize them more deeply. I hope a few of you will get back to me and share your stories (and thanks, Ruth, for sharing yours). 🙂

Today’s title is a book of Tolkien art:

I loved Tolkien growing up, and read the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings religiously every 18 months or so. Some of the kids’ earliest memories are of me reading about Frodo’s journey every night before bed, and it was a geeky parental point of pride when CatGirl decided to spend one winter break watching the extended version of all three Peter Jackson films, and then went back to watch the various commentaries.

I think I may have outgrown Tolkien. Or rather, there is so much else that is strange and wonderful out there that I no longer feel the need to return to the comforts of Middle Earth. But I still have a deep and abiding love for the stories and characters in that world.

Tolkien’s World : Paintings of Middle-Earth is a coffee table book. It’s full of art by the great Tolkien illustrators: John Howe, Alan Lee, Ted Nasmith, Michael Hague. It includes my favorite LotR picture:


To be honest, it’s not the most impressive coffee table book in the world–the pictures could be a bit more vibrant, I think. But I reveled in it, and any Tolkien lover would appreciate it.

If you’re interested, leave a comment below telling me about what Tolkien means to you.


  1. This is a lovely book indeed! It is very nice to give this away… I remember I saw it when I was still very young and found it very inspiring! Will get some Tolkien friends over here to post a comment. I’ll add a small article to my website! And to say in a few words what Tolkien means to me: it is a part of my life and I probably spent some hours a day on Tolkien… it is more then an addicting it is part of myself!

  2. I was about 12 years old when I first read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I was hooked for life. Tolkien’s writings contain such basic and universal truths about humanity, friendship, and good and evil in such a vivid, complex world that they will always be a foundational part of how I look at life. I have a good start on a Tolkien book collection, and am always looking for a volume I don’t yet have. The centerpiece of my collection (and probably my most prized possession) is a single-volume hardback 50th anniversary LOTR which I bought in Oxford, the town where it was written, right after visiting the Eagle and Child pub where Tolkien read it to The Inklings as he was writing it. I like to brag a little about that 🙂

  3. Well, giving away books is always to make people notice *grin* You are right, there are better books on paintings on/about Middle-earth but still it is quite a decent collection and always worth having – particularly if you are a Tolkien fan (preferably the books as it differs strongly in its aesthetics to the Jackson movies…)

    And the importance of Tolkien to me? It has changed my life; for the last 25 years I have been spending time (too much of it ;)) on reading Tolkien, writing about him, lecturing as well as having loads of fun and interesting people (like Pieter above :))

    Keep up the good work!

  4. Dmitriy Borisenkov

    First of all, sorry for my terrible English. I’m from Russia and I never get involved in learning languages. Of course, I always dreaming to read LOTR, Silmarillon, Lost Tales, Unfinished Tales, Letters and so on in English, but it had remained a dream.
    My first reading of Tolkien book was in 14 (7 years ago). It was The Lord of the Rings. Not to say that LOTR has become my favorite book since the first reading, but it left the desire to go back and reread. Since that I read LOTR twice. And this book really changes my life. I found friends and began to appreciate the friendship. I realized how important it is to properly use the time allotted to you. In fact, the changes were more, but they are difficult to write in English 🙂
    And, of course, I like to see pictures assigned with Middle-Earth and whole Arda. My favorite picture is The Eagles are Coming by Michel Whelan. It has factual errors, but I think it reflects the spirit of LOTR.
    If go to the question “what Tolkien means to you”, I would say Tolkien is my favorite writer and (may be it sounds loud) he is my teacher of life. His books and his seemingly ordinal life of Oxford don became an example for me.
    P.S. I hope this comment is understandable despite errors.

  5. Marijke Rauch

    I love fantasy and especially Tolkien. One of my dreams is to one day own a signed copy of one of his books. Won’t happen anytime soon though, students don’t exactly have a lot of money…

  6. Sarah Courtis

    I was 6 when I first encountered Tolkien with a puppet show of the Hobbit in a local theatre. When I was 9 I was given the Lord of the Rings. This was the same year my dad was dieing so I used these books to help me through the ordeal. It also helped that the first movie came out that same year. Ever since I have been a collector, enthralled by the depth, beauty, mystery and madness that is Tolkien’s world.

  7. I first read Tolkien in ’64. It was a life altering experience. I got involved with Tolkien fandom which led to my chairing the 1st & 2rd Conferences On Middle-earth. When I moved to Europe shortly thereafter, I hosted a panel on Tolkien at Eurocon 1. This experience introduced me to science fiction fans & authors in Europe & the UK.

    The rest they say is history. I’ve been deeply involved wth SF fandom & promoting Tolkien’s works along the way.

    I went on one tour of Middle-earth & led a 2nd.

    I’m currently chairing The 3rd Conference On Middle-earth.

    Yes, Professor Tolkien has indeed impacted on my life. And I’m glad.

  8. Allyson Buchelt

    Tolkien was introduced to me at age 7. After reading through The Hobbit at an alarming pace, I was eager for more. Being only a child, my thirst for more could not be quenched without adult help. Therefore, it wasn’t until I was 10 that I was able to take in Tolkien’s greatest work, “The Lord of the Rings’. Immediately after that, the movies were released, and ever since then, I have watched them in marathon order every year, and continue to read as wide a variety of Tolkien books as I can each year. Tolkien is more than a great author, he shows a world where being the “underdog” isn’t a bad thing. Where being different and using your talents can help all of humanity. Tolkien is my inspiration to be myself and not let anyone else change that.

  9. Danny Rorabaugh

    When the Lord of the Rings movies came out, I found myself drawn to the exciting world of Arda. However, upon reading the books, I found something more amazing then just a fantastic realm of magic and adventure. I discovered a rich domain of culture, language, and myth. When I got to college, I was pursuing mathematics. Yet, having read The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion and many of Tolkien’s short stories, my interest in language had bloomed, and so I double-majored in math and linguistic. Now as a graduate student in mathematics, I have also read The Children of Húrin and am reading through the History of Middle-Earth. Linguistics may not be my current vocation, but much of my free-time is spent dabbling in linguistics or listening to Tolkien-related podcasts. I am still considering lingually oriented careers and, for whenever I finish The History of Middle-Earth, the Unfinished Tales and The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien await me on my bookshelf.

  10. Thomas

    I am now 19 years old , and I first got in touch with Tolkien via my grandparents who had a little bookshop. I was 12 years old when I received the Dutch version of The Two Towers from them (a film tie-in) a few weeks before Christmas. They knew I was a fan of The Lord of the Rings, although I had not yet seen the films… I had a sticker book of The Fellowship of the Ring with pictures from the film (also a gift from them) but that was all I had ever seen of the films.
    A few weeks later, I received The Return of the King (also a dutch film tie-in) for Christmas. Over the next year, I did see the films and was completely fascinated by the world of Middle-earth, its heroes, its villains, its creatures, its buildings, its nature, the whole lot in fact.
    Then I began to flip through the pages of The Two Towers and started to ‘read’ the chapter The Forbidden Pool but I didn’t manage to read more than the first two pages of the chapter.
    At the end of this year, I finally bought the Dutch The Fellowship of the Ring. I could finally start, or so I thought. It wasn’t until another year had passed, and I was about 14-15 years, that I really started to read The Lord of the Rings! The first time I read it, I thought the First Book was quite dull, but the rest was really ‘supercool’. I was for the second (but not for the last!) time fascinated, even more than I was by the films!
    I then bought The Hobbit (an old Dutch paperback edition I found in some second hand bookshop) and read it too. I thought it very good, but I liked The Lord of the Rings more, so I read the latter again. And then, my eyes really opened: I found the First Book not so bad after all, in fact, it was one of the parts of the book, that were really easy to get my imagination work, withouth being disturbed by images from the films. Later on, I managed to read almost the whole book without any film image popping up in front of my eyes. That was soooooooo coooool!! 😀
    I then bought The Silmarillion and Tolkien’s Fairy Tales, and then, I sold my soul to dear Ronald. What a Great Tale was The Silmarillion! Of course I faced some difficulties in reading it (the first time, I only read a part of Ainulindalë, I let it rest for some time, and then I started again and managed to read through the whole book, and then read it again, and then I finally ‘got it’.)
    Also the Fairy Tales are so Great, they were (and are still!) so beautiful, especially Leaf by Niggle and The Smith of Wootton Major.

    That’s about it 🙂

  11. Deidre Olsen

    It’s funny how sincerely a work of literature can move you, how it can help to define you, how it can teach you so much about life, about people, about the world and about yourself.

    To me Tolkein and his imagination create an indescribable intrigue, one that whirls me away to other places and provides me with genuine inspiration. I think about the world he creates, of middle-earth, of the morality and ethical issues presented, of how the characters deal with such and how this is presented in the world I live in.

    Few authors create this intrigue, few authors are able to captivate me so. Tolkein has inspired me since I read the Lord of the Rings in Grade 3.

  12. Deidre Olsen

    I wrote my previous comment and I feel as though I didn’t say enough.

    Let’s just say that to me Tolkein is proof that their is imagination left in the world of reality, despite the feeling that we are forever creeping farther and farther away from it as we become more apathetic and indifferent to fantasy and the genuine inspiration of fiction.

  13. For me it’s really simple. Tolkien has been a source of inspiration to me for nearly three decades, and his works still inspire me today. So for me Tolkien means inspiration 😉

  14. Thomas

    I am 15 years old.I read for first time a tolkien book when y have 6, i read the Hobbit. From that moment my life changed drastically: Since that time i devoted to read and write my own stories always inspired by that extraordinary world that tolkien create. For me Tolkien is not just the author, that wrote the books with that y growth and pass my childhood . For me Tolkien is my a source of inspiration, which has led me to explore a world that if not for her i never well known that world.
    In that way Tolkien change my life.

  15. John

    Hi Everyone, and thank you so much for sharing your encounters and fascination with Tolkien. Your comments turn this post into something of a treasure for me.

    I apologize for taking so long to respond. It’s been a busy week, and honestly, it’s been difficult to come to a decision. There are no real criteria, and Pieter’s kindness, the healing that Sarah experienced through the books, and Dmitriy’s earnest sincerity all appealed to me.

    In the end, I’ve decided to give this book to Tyler Hilgendorf, for the simple reason that his experiences evokes nostalgia for my own–the age at which we encountered the book and our pilgrimages to the Eagle and Child to see where the Inklings gathered (CS Lewis is another favorite of mine).

    If the rest of you are still interested in this particular book, please follow the Amazon link–it’s available for fairly cheap if you buy it used. And thank you again for sharing.

  16. Well, thank you very much John! I’m glad that my comment resonated with you. It’s been cool to hear all the other stories that people have posted about how Tolkien has affected them.

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