Thursday, May 2, 2013

Silmarillion Reading Group

So I have plans for the summer to get a bunch of my friends to read The Silmarillion. It is, admittedly, a rough book to get through in some ways, at least in terms of it being wholly unlike The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings

What strategies did you use as you read The Silmarillion (especially if this was your first time)? What might I recommend my friends do as we read? I've heard of keeping running character lists to refer back to, but of course this is supposed to be fun summer reading so I don't want it to see homeworky. 

Any tips, thoughts, or suggestions?

Also, I would like to at least start reading the History of Middle-earth series. I probably won't get through all 12 volumes over the summer, but I've been known to be hubristic, so. Does anyone want to join me in a Reading Group for this series? We might meet up occasionally and continue our awesome conversations (possibly with beer, the only thing I can think would make them better).  


Anna Adams said...

I got through it by telling myself I was going to write a parody/fanfiction type thing for it. That helped me pay attention to what happened because I was planning to write about it. I actually wrote a page on a notebook somewhere. It started off like, "In the beginning there was this dude named Iluvatar, or something like that. He really liked music and whatnot. So one day he brought some guys called the Ainur into being. They were cool. They played music, but it took them a while to get their shit together and play well." I thought it was fun. Obviously it won't work for everyone, but if you guys try to do fun stuff with it, it should be easy to read. (Maybe drinking games if there's going to be alcohol?)

sworland said...

I would love to read through the History of Middle-earth! I was actually looking into buying these just last week, but I'm really confused. Do they have their own titles? Like the Book of Lost Tales, Lays of Beleriand, etc.? But Megan I'm totally in. I'm going to miss my biweekly Tolkien discussions!!

Also, I think you're already setting your friends up for success in getting through The Silmarillion by getting them together to talk through it. That was the most helpful tool for me as well as marking the family trees near the back of the book so I could easily reference them.

drldonovan said...

Yes, all the History of Middle-earth (HoME) books have their own titles. I have inserted the list below. For more info, go to the Tolkien Gateway at:

The Book of Lost Tales: Part One (1983)
The Book of Lost Tales: Part Two (1984)
The Lays of Beleriand (1985)
The Shaping of Middle-earth (1986)
The Lost Road and Other Writings (1987)
The Return of the Shadow (The History of The Lord of the Rings v.1) (1988)
The Treason of Isengard (The History of The Lord of the Rings v.2) (1989)
The War of the Ring (The History of The Lord of the Rings v.3) (1990)
Sauron Defeated (The History of The Lord of the Rings v.4) (1992)
Morgoth's Ring (The Later Silmarillion v.1) (1993)
The War of the Jewels (The Later Silmarillion v.2) (1994)
The Peoples of Middle-earth (1996)

Austin M. said...

To those of you interested in reading HoME, be prepared for an incredibly different Tolkien experience. I can only equate it with some of the medieval historical research I have done. It is very rare, at least in the parts I used for my paper, to find sections which actually deal with narrative storylines. However, for Tolkien buffs like us, this is okay. Good luck!

Megan said...

Yay good ideas for Silmarillion reading, everyone! For anyone who wants to read HOME over the summer, should I make a facebook group? Shall we continue posting here?

Julie Lautenschleger said...

I think that reading small portions at a time really helped me get through the Silmarillion. It allowed me to separate, in my mind, each of the stories from one another. Of course, I think that, like with anything a person studies, it really helps to just talk about what was read. You can only remember so much from reading silently.

Troy Wells said...

I wish I could join you guys, but I will be leaving pretty soon. You should really make some sort of a facebook page though so we can keep up on our Tolkien talks:)...And as far as strategies, I like the thought of a character list because that was something I really struggled with while reading the Silmarillion. I also like Anna's drinking game idea:)