This is a little more personal than I’ve gone thus far and a great deal nerdier.  Don’t judge me.  Today I’m thankful for J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth legendarium.

I’m a bigger Tolkien nerd than I generally care to admit in person.  I don’t speak Elvish or wear costumes (some lines will never be crossed) but I did attend midnight openings with university friends, and I know why Fëanor’s sons are important.  I think I was ten the first time I read The Hobbit.  Gollum frightened me so thoroughly that I couldn’t reread those parts of the book for several years.  I finished Lord of the Rings (the first time) somewhere around thirteen.  I don’t know why specifically, but his works struck a chord and have been important to me for a long time.

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born in South Africa and fought in WWI, surviving the Battle of the Somme.  He became a professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford University.  He was great friends with a number of famous contemporary writers, including C.S. Lewis.  He produced several well-regarded translations of Old English epics.  The man was an enormous lover of languages, which is one of my favorite things about him.

Fangorn Forest is my favorite section of LOTR.  I’ve also read many of the extended works.  The Silmarillion is breathtaking.  Tolkien’s concept of creation as a divine piece of music was deeply appealing to me.  I think I’ve made my love of music transparent.  As a student of geography I find the depth of fantastic history and culture he created awe-inspiring.  He knew where his peoples originated, and how they developed.  This is the story that stuck most with me from the Silmarillion.