The Books: My Tolkien Library

This one entry covers two of my major obsessions: books and Tolkien. You have been warned.

As I mentioned before, I have a couple of shelves in my library dedicated for very specific purposes. One of these is the Tolkien shelf.

(Not pictured but also included: The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien and The Lays of Beleriand).

These books are, more or less, everything authoritative written and published about Middle-earth. The book on the far right is Karen Wynn Fonstad’s excellent The Atlas of Middle-Earth. The atlas does contain a couple of errors, but it well deserves the honor of being the only book not published by a Tolkien to be on this shelf.

The 12-volume History of Middle Earth is becoming more and more rare. I happened to find this entire set at a used bookstore in New Zealand, where I paid a fair amount of money for them, but much less money than if I had ordered them online.

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A close examination of my shelf will show two books labeled 4. This is because the 12-volume History of Middle-Earth contains within it a 4-volume set of The History of the Lord of the Rings. Three of the volumes, The Return of the Shadow, The Treason of Isengard, and The War of the Ring, correspond exactly to volumes 6, 7, and 8 of The History of Middle-Earth. However, the fourth volume, The End of the Third Age, is a subset of the contents of Sauron Defeated. For completion’s sake, I have both. And although I wrestled with putting The End of the Third Age before The Return of the Shadow, ultimately it made more sense to me to keep the books in numerical order.

I also need to mention that there are two additional volumes: volume 13, The History of Middle-Earth Index, was published in 2002 and combines the indices from all the individual volumes. And Carl Hostetter is publishing an “unofficial” 14th volume entitled The Nature of Middle Earth in 2021.

Unfinished Tales has sometimes been called the unofficial 13th volume of The History of Middle Earth. Now that there actually is a 13th volume, and an impending but also unofficial 14th volume, who knows?
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In terms of return on investment, I would say I use volume 10, Morgoth’s Ring, more than all the other volumes combined. The second would be volume 12, The Peoples of Middle-Earth.

My copy of Tree and Leaf was given to me as a parting gift from a friend I met in New Zealand when it came time for me to move back to the US. I value it as I value his friendship.

I was given a copy of The Hobbit when I was in third grade. I didn’t understand every bit of it, but I did read it through. Neither I nor my parents can find this copy anywhere, so I bought myself another one, the one that’s on my shelf.

My copy of The Lord of the Rings was given to me on my birthday by my parents. It’s a chonker since it’s all three volumes in one, but I like it and I’ve read this particular one through several times.

I don’t even come close to knowing everything there is to know about the Legendarium. It’s not that hard to stump me. But I know I have the resources I need to answer nearly any question that can be answered, and to me that’s what’s important.

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