It's that time of year again. For some reason my thoughts turn towards this book every year around Autumn. Rather like Frodo contemplating adventuring out of the Shire every Autumn. I imagine that LotR is my mental equivalent of comfort food, in somewhat the same way as Enid Blyton is. Also, as I said somewhere previously, I'm somewhat obsessional and my obsessions tend to be cyclical, so I go through a LotR phase every now and then.
My first experience of Tolkien was not a good one. Some years later I was told to read LotR by my Dad, and I did. I loved it. There were some bits that dragged (there still are, but I've read every word multiple times and have no issues with skipping entire chapters if I feel like it), but most of it was phenomenal. I love this book. Until the last few years, I lived at home and read my Dad's copy. Then I moved out. I had no LotR of my own. I was given a beautiful 50th Anniversary edition one year. It's gorgeous. I adore this book. The cover is soft, it has a little box, the edges of the pages are shiny gold, like in very old books and there's a little red ribbon to mark your place. The maps are fantastic, in black and red and there are some images in the book of the pages of the Book of Mazarbul (from the Chamber of Records in Moria). I also have a copy of Two Towers illustrated by Alan Lee. I'd like individual illustrated copies of Fellowship of the Ring and Return of the King as well (by John Howe, preferably, but I'll take Alan Lee as well) - this is a book I like to read in the bath and my single volume is too unwieldy and precious for that.
I like to watch the movies too, despite the many and varied objections I have to it (not the least of which is our missing 2nd half of the Two Towers Extended Edition). It's a fun romp through a book that tugs at the heart strings and evokes all manner of feeling. Also, it's pretty and quicker than reading the book. Of course, no sooner than I watch the movie (again) than I want to read the book (again), so they feed into themselves.
Tolkien's precision and profundity are two of the most enduring qualities of this work. The language is exquisite, the descriptions are evocative, the characters are real. This is a book that stays with me, always. The issues are real and - most importantly - applicable to each and every stage of a person's life. Also, I'd make a very good hobbit.