Turinturumart posted Thursday 22nd February 2007 (03:34am) under Your First Time.
I hated reading. I have astigmatism, but I didn't find out about it until my 20s, so I just thought that reading was hard. But there was something about the oval-framed illustration on the front cover of my mom's copy of The Hobbit that spoke to me, "This is 'the one', the book that you must read for your book report." The illustration portrayed an enchanting image of a fanciful tree with strange pink fruit, some kind of long-legged water foul standing in a creek, and an elaborately populated hill in the distance (Hobbiton, I suppose). When I opened the pages, I could smell the fantasy - a rich, inheritted smell - like I was continuing a legacy. (This copy was my mom's from the 60s.) The maps in the front cover made the book that much more enticing, and they had that delightfully aged look from sitting in the attic for decades. I couldn't wait to get to Rivendell. I couldn't wait to defy the dangers of Mirkwood, and discover the treasures of Erebor. And what was the meaning of all of these wonderful images and comments strewn about the map, like the picture of the dragon, and "there are spiders"? So I began reading to find out; I guess I was around 12 years old. I knew nothing of The Lord of the Rings. To me, The Hobbit was its own fantastic adventure. I would seclude myself in the rafters of the garage (there WERE spiders) with a bag of mixed nuts and grains and pretend that I was on the adventure with the dwarves, and I would ration out small portions to see that my provisions would last through Mirkwood. I was so relieved to escape to the Elven king's halls and steal some food (I climbed down from the rafters and raided the kitchen). Say w
hat you will about the childishness, but I will always recommend that a newcomer should start with The Hobbit.
When I was done reading The Hobbit, I cannot even begin to describe the depth of my appreciation and longing for the story to continue. I didn't want to say "goodbye" to Bilbo, the surviving dwarves, and especially Gandalf. When I heard that there was a sequel called The Lord of the Rings, this title struck me as rather strange, and in a way disappointing. It sounded too ominous and generalized to faithfully continue my beloved story. But, as all relationships must, my affair with the ellusive contrast between Hobbiton and The Wild developed and grew into something ever deeper, and I found myself in the midst of a land called Middle Earth. Superficially, the illustrations on the covers gave me a sense of comfort as the Fellowship of the Ring displayed the same tree, bird, and hill, but extended the scene to show what had been hidden by the oval-frame on the cover of The Hobbit - I could only assume this was The Shire. That seemed to be the initial theme of my induction into this new world. I made new friends, some of whom were well acquainted with my old friends, but most of whom had their own stories to tell. But I was always happy to know that my best friend, Gandalf, had stuck by my side into this new adventure. And what an adventure it was. The maps finally showed how Hobbiton was situated against The Wild, and the utter southern regions of Mirkwood (where Gandalf had gone). There were also new wonders to entice me. I cannot explain why, but I was more anxious to see Lothlorien than any other place on the map. When the fellowship finally arrived in Lothlorien, I was not disappointed (albeit a bit sad after what had just happened in Moria). What a description - silver and gold! Needless to say, I could go on and on... But, the rest just gets me exactly where I am right now.
Turinturumart's post brought back warm fuzzy memories to me too. For forty years ago, those were also the covers of my first time reading, that was back when I was an ancient twenty-seven year of age. Way to go Turinturumart, your post was well written with wonderful description.