When Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings finished, I made up my mind to finally read the books. I was but a few years out of college in 2001 when the adaptations began, and never previously enjoyed the occasion to read the source material. But, I fully intended to rectify that oversight.
Thus, I started Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring. I quit by page 120. Frankly, I was bored with all the Shire and hobbit story. I wanted the battles, the action, the other characters. Because I knew all the major beats after viewing the movies, I simply didn’t have the patience to wade through the nuanced narrative.
So I quit.
And then I started lying.
I want to make it clear that I’m a pretty honest person. I pride myself on being a good husband, a respectable father, and a responsible teacher. I don’t lie often, and I judge those who do harshly (though I know it’s not my place to do so).
So why did I start lying concerning Tolkien? That’s a bit complicated. When one is an English major, one is expected to have read every single book ever written during the history of mankind. I typically don’t give that sort of thing much truck, but when it came to Tolkien, I just could not admit to people that I’d quit The Lord of the Rings. I could not confess that I never read the trilogy. So I just pretended like I had, and no one ever gave it a second though.
But the guilt. Oh, the guilt.
Okay, I’m exaggerating, the guilt wasn’t that bad.
However, I did really always feel like I’d let myself down by not completing the books.
The irony is that I read The Hobbit and loved it, but that was long before the film versions came out.
Now here we are in 2014, and I’ve been watching The Hobbit film adaptations and missing Middle-earth. I decided now is the time – now is the time to end my lie!
So, a few days ago, I picked up where I left off in The Fellowship of the Ring, Strider soon appeared, and now the book is incredibly exciting.
I think enough time has passed that the movies are no longer fresh in my mind, I don’t remember every little thing, and I’m able to enjoy the book on its own terms. And, as further penance for my sins, I’m confessing to the world my long lie, and working diligently to turn it into a truth.
P.S. I’m not sure Gandalf believes me.