The Fellowship of the Ring - J.R.R. Tolkien

Wine gets better as it gets older; even Hobbits--who exhibit a decided preference, in my humble opinion, for ales/beers/etc--know that. [spoiler] Remember that wine Bilbo gave as a present after his birthday party? The old one that his father laid down? [/spoiler] J.R.R Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring is no different.


I first delved into Tolkien's writing when I was nine: I had seen Peter Jackson's adaptations of The Fellowship and The Two Towers, and had decided to whet my anticipation of The Return of the King by reading the books. I was a voracious reader, and I sped through them at a record speed (for a nine-year-old at least). Then I put them down, and spent the next 11 years of my life praising them as some of the best books written, while avoiding picking them up again.


The truth of the matter is that The Lord of the Rings, which is the trilogy of which The Fellowship is the first part, is infinitely more boring when you're not a nine-year-old girl obsessed with learning every drop of knowledge about the universe that you've fallen in love with. [spoiler] Also, the endless chapters about leaving the Shire, sitting in councils, and loitering about in Lorien really get to you when you're older and less impulsive yourself.[/spoiler] Unfortunately for hordes of readers who didn't get the chance to read Tolkien when they were younger, and now want to pick it up at a riper age. Luckily, there's a bright side to the situation...


...The Fellowship of the Ring, at least, has much more depth when you are older. As a professed YA literature nut, who has spent plenty of time reading popular YA fiction, I can attest that Tolkien is infinitely better, simply on a language level. But even if depth of language isn't your thing (it isn't everyone's bottle of wine), The Fellowship of the Ring offers other depths of analysis that make reading--or rereading--it at a later age a good idea, especially if your primary associations are with Peter Jackson's films.


NOT that I'm dissing any films: I grew up on Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings the way that some people grew up on Lawrence Welk and Jack Benny, and I have an immense affection for every Lord of the Rings material that PJ turns out. But some things in the films--[spoiler] the fact that PJ's Frodo tends to be an emotional sap, whereas Tolkien's Frodo is a pleasurable mix of Carla from Scrubs and Bernadette from The Big Bang Theory [/spoiler]--lack the depth of the books.


All of The Lord of the Rings deserves a read, but The Fellowship of the Ring now has a special place in my heart: I grew up thinking that PJ's film trumped the book in every possible way, and a reread has shown me that Tolkien didn't churn out book one of a trilogy for hooked readers for a reason, and it's lasted as long as it has for a reason. My recommendation for reading/rereading?


If you're under 16...wait. Wait until you're older, until you can fully appreciate the entire thing, even the boring parts. [spoiler] Like "The Council of Elrond," which my Kindle Fire told me would take over an hour to read. [/spoiler]


If you read The Fellowship of the Ring when you were younger...reread it now. Read it as slowly or as quickly as you'd like, but savor every part, even if you remember it from before and know that there are parts you won't be able to stand.

[spoiler] Once again, "The Council of Elrond," which has been my stumbling block for Tolkien for the 11 years in which I haven't read the books. [/spoiler]


Reading Tolkien is like drinking wine. It gets better with age.