I grew up on Tolkien. When I was young, my mom used to read to my brother and me in the evenings, and The Hobbit was one of the ones I recall quite clearly. Unfortunately, my poor auditory learning skills lead me to imagine hobbits as something much closer to large gophers than smell men, but that mistake was soon remedied when I re-read the book for myself a few years later.
My grade six teacher gave us reading projects from a list. The list one hundred different projects listed on it, each one with a different point value. They ranged from re-writing the ending to keeping a journal for one of the characters to building a diorama of a scene. We could pick any book (with teacher approval), and do any project we liked for it, as long as the points added up to 100 for each book, and we didn't repeat one project for multiple books. We would do several books over the course of the year.
When my brother was in grade six, he used The Lord of the Rings for at least one of his books. Everyone was so impressed that he was reading such difficult books at such a young age. Academics is about the only area where there has ever been competition between my brother and I; outside of that, we share very few interests and skills. When I was in grade six, I also read The Lord of the Rings.
Fortunately for me, I accomplished this just in time. It was during the next three years, the duration of my junior high years, that the movies came out. Of course, this only served to feed my enthusiasm for all things Middle Earth. Those were the golden years of fandom. Everyone loved Lord of the Rings and it was a beautiful and wonderful thing for us all to share.
I re-read the books in junior high and again in high school. I haven't had a chance in the last few years, but I did re-read The Hobbit for the book club my friends and I briefly had, read a copy of The Tolkien Reader that I found at the thrift store, and make yet another half-hearted attempt at The Silmarillion.
In the past few weeks, casting confirmations for The Hobbit have been trickling out, and what a slippery slope they are leading me down. There are so many tumblrs out there dedicated to The Lord of the Rings. I keep looking at pictures from the movies and making my heart hurt for nostalgia for the days when it was all Middle Earth all the time. And oh, the cast interviews! I love this one with the four hobbit actors - so adorable, and so hilarious. I really really wish I had twelve hours to spare, because I haven't seen the movies in ages, and I've never seen the extended editions, and and and...
Basically, in the amount of time I've spent drooling over fan sites in the past few days, I could have watched at least one of the movies instead. This realization has lead to a new addition to my wall:
Gandalf the Wise, indeed. Back to work now. No more tumblrs. Maybe I can spare the time over reading week.