Reading The Lord of the Rings: Resources & Recommendations
I wanted to put together a list of some resources and recommendations for those of you who might be considering reading The Lord of the Rings for the first time. Keep in mind that these are simply things that I’ve found helpful personally, and not a comprehensive list. I also answered more questions here. Happy reading!
If you haven’t read The Hobbit (well, even if you have), make sure you don’t skip the prologue in The Fellowship of the Ring!
The Hobbit has a faster pace than The Lord of the Rings. In LOTR, Tolkien takes a lot of time to carefully set the stage for everything to come, so the first two chapters move very slowly. If you can get past those, though, it does pick up a little.
Just like meeting new friends, it can be hard to remember many names when you’re reading them all at once. However, after you get to know the characters and maybe do another re-read, it becomes a lot easier. I’ve also found that watching the films or even looking at illustrations of the different characters helps a lot because it makes it easier to visualize what different characters look like, and if you’re watching the films, a voice.
My Favorite Editions
Pocket Editions (Pictured Above): These are a nice size for carrying along with you on adventures, plus they’re so cute.
Paperback Single-Volume (50th Anniversary Edition): This edition is durable and affordable, the kind of book you don’t have to feel guilty about throwing into your backpack or marking up the pages with notes.
Deluxe Single-Volume: A little more expensive, slightly fancier. I have this copy and I love the way the cover feels.
Lord of The Rings Book Set with Custom Dust Jackets by Juniper Books: This is the real deal if you’re looking for a beautiful, collectible set. I hope to get something like this someday!
Audible has The Lord of the Rings on audio-book and I’m quite a fan. I love the narration by Rob Inglis - he does a particularly good job with the songs in my opinion. You can find them here: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The Return of the King
Check your Library!
You really don’t need to buy anything to begin reading The Lord of the Rings — visit your local library! Many libraries also have audiobook programs, so ask about them as well.
Companions & Guides Etc.
The Lord of the Rings: A Reader’s Companion: “In The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion internationally acclaimed scholars Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull examine Tolkien's masterpiece chapter by chapter, offering expert insights into its evolution, structure, and meaning. They discuss in close detail important literary and historical influences on the development of The Lord of the Rings, connections between that work and other writings by Tolkien, errors and inconsistencies, significant changes to the text during its fifty years of publication, archaic and unusual words used by Tolkien, and words and passages in his invented languages of Middle-earth. Thousands of notes, keyed to standard editions of The Lord of the Rings but universally accessible, reveal the richness and complexity of one of the most popular works of fiction in our time…”
Frodo’s Journey by Joseph Pearce: “Here, Joseph Pearce, author of Bilbo’s Journey uncovers the rich—and distinctly Christian—meaning just beneath the surface of The Lord of the Rings. Make the journey with Frodo as he makes his perilous trek from the Shire to Mordor, while Pearce expertly reveals the deeper, spiritual significance…”
To Middle-Earth and Back Again by Kaitlyn Facista: I wrote this companion devotional to The Lord of the Rings with new readers in mind, summarizing each chapter as well as offering a short reflection on one theme or quote from each chapter. This is meant to be both a guide through the story itself as well as a deep dive into the influence Tolkien’s Catholic faith played in his creation of Middle-Earth.
The Prancing Pony Podcast: a long-form weekly podcast in which the hosts discuss Tolkien’s works in depth. Season 3 marked the beginning of their journey through The Lord of the Rings.
The Tolkien Road: Chapter-by-Chapter discussions of Tolkien’s work; The Tolkien Road read all the way through The Lord of the Rings a few ways back so you can listen to all of their episodes!