I am part of the Tolkien Society’s Facebook group. I don’t have an actual Tolkien Society membership (yet… I hope to sign up when it turns 50). As a way of saying thanks, as well as recommending some items to members both newly joined as well as seasoned, I have created this post for them.
No, these aren’t “ultimate collector’s items” or anything elite,
expensive, etc, but are targeted at some interests and trends I’ve
noticed in the group since I’ve joined.
With that, check out the items below, which are categorized as best as possible:
THE CORE MIDDLE-EARTH BOOKS (or, A Great Place to Start)
Of course, the best place to start any Tolkien collection, is what I
like to consider “The Main Middle-earth” books. Now these aren’t
all of them, but these give you a very great idea, and reading
experience of Tolkien’s Middle-earth. The titles (in publication, and my
suggested reading order) are:
The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings (The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers
and The Return of the King), The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales.
These exist in a few different formats and editions, but it depends on
what you’re looking for and hoping to get from your books.
If you’re looking for a matching set : The Hobbit 70th Anniversary Edition, The Lord of the Rings 60th Anniversary Boxed set [includes the Reader's Companion], The Silmarillion hardback, and Unfinished Tales hardback' all from Harper Collins and features cover designs on the dustjackets.
Please note, that The History of Middle-earth was omitted from this section due to its in-depth historical approach and style (multiple versions of the same content, for example) as well as The Children of Hurin and Beren and Luthien; due to them being contained in other works already, which are mentioned in this post, albeit in different forms.
Notable Editions :
- 70th Anniversary hardback
- Jemima Catlin illustrated hardback
THE LORD OF THE RINGS
- 60th Anniversary Boxed set
- hardback single volume
“THE ENHANCED EXPERIENCE” (Enrich Your Reading)
In 1999 I believe it was, there were collector’s editions of The Hobbit and
The Silmarillion which came in their own gift boxes. They came with a
hardback edition of those respective books, as well as a few extra
goodies. Some of the extra goodies are available elsewhere. While not
completely identical to what’s offered in those boxes,
the content itself is the same.
The maps of Wilderland and Beleriand included, are part of the set called The Maps of Tolkien’s Middle-earth by Brian Sibley and John Howe. Tolkien reading “Riddles in the Dark” form
The Hobbit, and Christopher Tolkien reading Beren and Luthien from The Silmarillion are both included in the
Tolkien Audio Collection, among other readings.
In addition to those, Robert Foster's The Complete Guide to Middle-earth is very handy to have. It may not cover everything (it covers content from The Hobbit - The Silmarillion, which is the core basis of Tolkien's writings) but is still an incredible resource.
Also, there's The Lord of the Rings: Reader's Companion. It comes with the 60th anniversary box set, and provides further insight and background info as you progress through the text of The Lord of the Rings. It can be purchased on its own, as well, if you already own The Lord of the Rings in another edition.
BEST EDITIONS OF PETER JACKSON’S FILMS
I’m not going into what people think of Peter Jackson’s films; but for
those who are interested in watching them or owning them, I highly
suggest the blu-ray extended edition box sets of both trilogies on their
own. In terms of technical aspects (audio, screen
quality, etc) blu-ray offers the best of what’s currently possible, and
you also get quite a lot of bonus materials in both sets. It’s more
financially feasible to go for the two separate trilogies (The Hobbit as one box set,
The Lord of the Rings as another), than opt for the recently
released Middle-earth box set. You get quite a lot for the money spent,
even if they don’t fit in one box. Then again, there’s always
customizable slipcases…. The same goes for books, as well.
[also, the music from each of the 6 films is exceptional, so do look at the soundtracks no matter how you feel about the films themselves!]
TOLKIEN’S CONTRIBUTIONS: BEYOND MIDDLE-EARTH
These are for those interested in reading non-Middle-earth material, as
well as seeing what Tolkien contributed to his fields of study, as well
as his own personal interests.
Finn and Hengest
The Monsters and the Critics [later editions also put "Beowulf" in front of the title]
The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun
The Fall of Arthur
The Story of Kullervo
A Secret Vice
The Lay of Aortrou and Itroun
FOR THE “SCHOLARS”
These titles are for the Tolkien fans who really wish to dig deep, and delve into the histories and evolution of Tolkien’s writing itself.
The Annotated HobbitThe Lord of the Rings: Reader's Companion / The Lord of the Rings 60th Anniversary Boxed Set
The History of Middle-earth (13 books)
The Tolkien Companion and Guide
MY PERSONAL SUGGESTIONS (A “Best Of” This Post, if you will)
These are what I suggest to look into, a little mix of everything, really, for any Tolkien fan, new or seasoned:
The Hobbit : Harper Collins 70th hardback, Annotated Hobbit, or Jemima Catlin hardback
The Lord of the Rings: 60th Anniversary Boxed Set with Reader's Companion, or single volume hardback
The Silmarillion: Harper Collins hardback
Unfinished Tales Harper Collins hardback
The Complete Guide to Middle-earth , hardback illustrated by Ted Nasmith (Harper Collins)
The Maps of Tolkien's Middle-earth (Harper Collins)
The Tolkien Audio Collection (Harper Collins)
The Tolkien Audio Collection
I hope that this post was varied and informative. I strived to cover various aspects of Tolkien, as well as different items and editions.