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So I find myself in a curious position with my daughter who I've yet to covert to Tolkien-ism...

Forum Admin

Jul 18 2013, 8:45pm

Post #1 of 25 (604 views)
So I find myself in a curious position with my daughter who I've yet to covert to Tolkien-ism... Can't Post

She is nearing 15 years of age and is very intelligent AND she loves to read Fantasy. I'm beside myself that she is so reluctant to read the LOTR. She tells me, "Dad it is simple... I just didn't like the movies and I'd rather read other stories."

The position I have found myself in is that I have been reduced to denigrating... nay lambasting the movies in order to make the point that the book experience is vastly different. I won't rehash my 2001 movie review but I was myself torn between love and hate (love of the visuals that brought Middle Earth to life and hate, every time my favorite bits of prose were rewritten in modern-speak or when the characters were given flaws so as presumably to make them more relatable).

Anyway... I feel sort of bad about having to trash the movies to sell the books. I did finally get her to agree (at some point in the nebulous future) to start reading Fellowship and go as far as Bree and if she still isn't digging it then I will leave her alone. Of course she doesn't know that if that happens I will only wait a year or two before I once again put on the pressure.

Forum Admin / Moderator

Jul 18 2013, 8:58pm

Post #2 of 25 (410 views)
Maybe she should start with The Hobbit [In reply to] Can't Post

It's a much shorter story, and since the movies aren't all out, she can't pre-judge the story from the movies.

I read The Hobbit first, and it's still my favorite.

Tol Eressea

Jul 18 2013, 9:11pm

Post #3 of 25 (400 views)
Genius! and some other thoughts. [In reply to] Can't Post

Pure genius entmaiden! I would whole-heartedly second this great idea.

Also, I think it important to note that Literary Arts and Visual Arts, are two separate forms. I, personally, compartmentalize my fandom into to parts, the Movie Fan and the Book Fan. Which is better, neither.

I did not fully appreciate the movies until I had read the books, then, for me it was,"I HAVE to watch the movies again!" There was such nuance to the movie, that was only understood, once I had read the books.

On the other hand, the movies gave me a visual picture of the characters and an idea of their manner of speech.(I 'hear' the voices of the characters in my head, when there is dialogue written.)

This cycle only inflames my fandom more. Having seen something in the book/movie, I will then compare it to its coounterpart. Often this also entails a bit of digging in the Sil or HoME.

I do not know if this argument might aid you in your quest, but I will just leave it here.


Jul 18 2013, 11:31pm

Post #4 of 25 (423 views)
Could you accept [In reply to] Can't Post

the fact that your daughter just may not be a fan? I don't mean to criticize, I'm just genuinely curious. I mean, if Tolkien was in danger of imminent extinction, I'd say do all you could do to convince her. But he isn't exactly lacking in fans, even among the younger generation.

My Sam Gamgee is indeed a reflexion of the English soldier, of the privates and batmen I knew in the 1914 war, and recognized as so far superior to myself- J.R.R. Tolkien

Forum Admin

Jul 19 2013, 2:41am

Post #5 of 25 (395 views)
I will if she comes to that conclusion... but [In reply to] Can't Post

That is my point... she doesn't know yet because she hasn't read the books. We already know that a person can not care for the movies and yet love the books (not that I fall into that camp as I enjoy many aspects of the films) but there are mobs of rabid book purists who despised Jackson's version of the story. Oh well time will tell.


Jul 19 2013, 5:12am

Post #6 of 25 (364 views)
Speaking as a 15... [In reply to] Can't Post

...myself, I would rather not give her the Hobbit. As much as I love it, I think she might find it a bit too childish, especially if she already likes other fantasy.

Reading your post my made me smile, because I have the opposite here- I'm trying to convince my DAD to read LotR, without much success. He said Concerning Hobbits put him to sleep.

'There lie the woods of Lothlorien!' said Legolas. 'That is the fairest of all the dwellings of my people. There are no trees like the trees of that land. For in the autumn their leaves fall not, but turn to gold.'

Ereinion Nénharma

Jul 19 2013, 7:50am

Post #7 of 25 (352 views)
I would say... [In reply to] Can't Post

...let her decide for herself whether or not she wants to read it.

''Do not fear the shadows, for seeing them means light is near...''

Tol Eressea

Jul 19 2013, 9:47am

Post #8 of 25 (358 views)
Now why did you have to put it like that? [In reply to] Can't Post

quote - "but there are mobs of rabid book purists who despised Jackson's version of the story."

I was going to say; well there it is - you can't make someone like the books. But calling people names dosn't help.



Jul 19 2013, 1:47pm

Post #9 of 25 (340 views)
I think books and movies come to people when they most need it [In reply to] Can't Post

I read LOTR in high school (back in the late 60s) and I know I liked it. Liked it enough to remember I liked it as opposed to the hundreds of books I've read since then I can't remember anything about.

But I don't often reread books and didn't reread LOTR until after the FOTR movie came out.

When I did, I describe it as feeling like I'd been hit in the head by a 2x4. It affected me so profoundly it consumed me.

The thing is, I was in a point in life that made it magic. And I don't think that book would have meant nearly that much to me at any other point in time. At 16, it was a cool book. At 50, it was a book that changed my life.

I'm not saying that 50 is the prime age for everyone. I journaled about my experience that summer (of 2002) and wrote:
I would read wonderful (to my eyes) passages to 16 year old son and his eyes would glaze over and say, “I don’t get into all that stuff.” And why should he? He shouldn’t have seen all the sorrow I’ve seen and can’t have seen all the joy. On Debbie’s weblog, this age issue was a big topic of discussion. Many people were glad they hadn’t read it for the first time (for apparently, the first time is so completely unique) until they were old enough to get the depths of the story. And some who had read it at a young age wistfully wondered how their experience might have been different if they had been older for their first read.
But when I joined the LOTR classes at Barnes and Noble University I met 16 year olds that had seen sorrows and LOTR spoke to them deeply in the way it had to me.

I'm not saying that there is only one way to relate to LOTR. I know that is not true. I think LOTR has this awesome ability to support people in tough times and help them heal afterwards. But other people are drawn to LOTR for entirely different reasons.

And I'm not advocating withholding LOTR from children hoping they're older when they read it first.

Because what I'm advocating is that people, I think, can be drawn to just what they need in life. And if someone knows that the people they respect in life highly value a book or a movie or perhaps an experience, they will... I think... when the time is right, allow themselves to experience that valued thing.

But if something is pushed on them, especially by certain people at certain times (and I am thinking 'by parents' during someone's 'teen years' - the time in life when kids are trying to find their own identity and aren't always keen to adopt their parents identity), then they can be permanently turned off it. Your pushing runs the risk of making LOTR, in your daughter's eyes, more about you than about the story Tolkien wrote.

My own practice was to buy books (including LOTR and the Sil) I valued and give them to my children. Stuck them on the shelves in their bedrooms. I said, this is a book I liked a lot. You might like it someday. (although, I should say, we did also read books outloud to them till late adolescence.) As they grew, some of those books left their room unread. But I not only don't like people pushing things on me, I think people pushing things on us kind of disrupts that signal that is 'what is meant to come to us'.

Within the circle of family and friends (outside of those I've made in Tolkien fandom), there are a few Tolkien fans. But not a ton. Some of them never read fantasy. Some like science fiction more than fantasy. Some aren't overly fond of the mythic, kind of old style of story telling of LOTR. The thing is, they're all wonderful people I respect whether they like LOTR or not and I don't think they don't like LOTR because they haven't given it a chance. I think the tweakings of their personality draws them to something different that what I'm drawn to. I'm glad they've found something to love as much as I love LOTR. I don't think they are lacking by not loving LOTR.

If you tell her what you think and let her be, I think that is sufficiently planting the seed. "Some people like the movies but not the book. Some people like the book but not the movie. Some people like both. You hope she'll give the books a chance even if the movies didn't appeal to her." And then drop it. At least drop the nagging. (said as a mother who can nag with the best of them) Don't drop your natural enthusiasm and joy for Tolkien. Let her see you enjoying what you enjoy - that's a powerful thing to model. Then let her see you allowing and accepting her finding her own joys in life.

And as I sat proofreading my post and inserting the line about how we did read to our kids and when doing so, we chose the books... a segment was running on the local news program about how to keep kids engaged with reading over the summer and they recommended reading outloud.

Maybe you and your daughter can find time to read outloud to each other. She could choose a book and then, maybe... as a gift to her father, you can choose LOTR. When I first met the man I would marry, we read books outloud to each other. The Princess and the Goblin and Dandelion Wine were two I remember. It is a wonderful experience.

And if you are reading LOTR, then you're inflecting the words in just the right way to bring out the nuances in all the best ways.

But I think a suggestion to read outloud can't sound like just another manipulative way to push LOTR. Don't let that dynamic creep into your relationship. :-)

LOTR soundtrack website ~ magpie avatar gallery
TORn History Mathom-house ~ Torn Image Posting Guide


Jul 19 2013, 3:47pm

Post #10 of 25 (299 views)
I think that would make a great poll [In reply to] Can't Post

Wonderful words of wisdom. I especially agree that LOTR resonates with a person in different ways at different times of their lives - certainly true for me. However, I was surprised that it resonated most with you at 50. I had the impression that for many, many fans reading LOTR is a profound experience in the late teen years (sometimes leading to the criticism that Tolkien fans are stuck in late adolescence, actually). I wonder what the results of a poll would be?

"That is one thing that Men call 'hope.' Amdir we call it, 'looking up.' But there is another which is founded deeper. Estel we call it, that is 'trust.' It is not defeated by the ways of the world, for it does not come from experience, but from our nature and First Being. If we are indeed the Eruhin, the Children of the One, then He will not suffer Himself to be deprived of His own, not by any enemy, not even by ourselves. This is the last foundation of estel, which we keep even when we contemplate the End. Of all His designs the issue must be for His children's joy."
Finrod, Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth, HoME X Morgoth's Ring


Jul 19 2013, 3:55pm

Post #11 of 25 (299 views)
I agree with Entmaiden [In reply to] Can't Post

Starting with The Hobbit may be a more effective approach. The pace is definitely much quicker. Maybe you can use Queer Lodgings as the marker for her to stop and assess whether or not she wants to continue. Beorn has to capture her interest, I'm sure...

Best wishes,



Jul 19 2013, 4:11pm

Post #12 of 25 (303 views)
It's a fair enough statement. [In reply to] Can't Post

There are two kinds of purists. There are those who prefer the books and dislike certain aspects of the films. Or they hate everything about the films. But they at least have seen the films and have a valid position from which to make a judgment.

Then there are those who have dismissed the films, sight unseen, and condemn them simply because they don't like the idea of anyone besides Tolkien touching their precious book. They would have hated any film by anybody.

"BOTH [political] extremes are dangerous. But more dangerous are team fanboys who think all the extremists are on the OTHER side." (CNN reader comment)

It is always those with the fewest sensible things to say who make the loudest noise in saying them. --Precious Ramotswe (Alexander McCall Smith)


Jul 19 2013, 4:25pm

Post #13 of 25 (294 views)
Some analogies for you to consider: [In reply to] Can't Post

Tell the most elderly lady in your family that she can't say she doesn't like "Saw II" unless she sees it first.
What if someone told you that you can't say you don't like the latest kiddie cartoon unless you see it first (I'm thinking like ... Barney)?
I could go on with more lurid analogies but I will stop here for now.

I just think that this is flawed reasoning. It is possible to use a combination of previews, reviews, and knowledge about a person's own preferences to make a judgment about whether a story in any form is "their cup of tea". This is especially true when the previews and reviews all paint a clear and consistent picture of "do not want" for that person.

Not all fantasy is blandly the same. It varies quite a bit and LotR / TH etc. is high fantasy - which actually makes it a whole lot different than most of what's out there for fantasy right now.


Jul 19 2013, 4:27pm

Post #14 of 25 (289 views)
When I was 1bout 15 I had a friend [In reply to] Can't Post

who said she tried to read TH and found it quite boring at the time.
But now that she is in her 30s and we are still friends, I think she may have liked it better - but I'm not really sure.
She likes Lovecraft. Although it shares some elements of fantasy with Tolkien, these are really very different.
Similarly, whatever she likes reading may be significantly different from Tolkien in ways you haven't considered thoroughly.


Jul 19 2013, 4:32pm

Post #15 of 25 (284 views)
I would agree. [In reply to] Can't Post

Actually, you may not realize it, but putting this kind of pressure on her might block her from any chance of being able to enjoy these books in the future.

It can get a little bit wierd, awkward, scary, and (like why? what gives?) when something gets pushed on another this much.

Ask yourself another question, what if in place of "LotR and TH" you put "The Bible", how would that change your views of your daughters reaction? Let's say she enjoyed reading about Buddism, does that mean she must automatically then read about Christianity before she can judge it? I know religion is a touchy subject so I am sorry if I offended anyone - I only mention this because of your use of the word "convert".

Which brings up another question, how close does LotR / ME / TH come to being on the level of a religious devotion in your life? You don't have to answer that here ... but thinking about it might be helpful.


Jul 19 2013, 4:34pm

Post #16 of 25 (289 views)
Sounds like a good plan, Tin Man [In reply to] Can't Post

I'll bet she wouldn't admit to you that she's hooked even if she was... if there's face to be saved ;) Like Daddy, Like Daughter?

If she hasn't started, get her a really nice copy of The Hobbit without any movie-related pics and wrap it in a gift... or snail-mail it to her. THEN it's a gift and not something just handed to her. Maybe if she starts with TH, she'll not have to commit to such a long story. THEN threaten her life if she doesn't read LotR ;)

I always tell people the books are much better than the films... and I adore the films! She thinks she knows what's going to happen because of the flicks, but nuh-uhhh.

PLUS as she gets older, she'll get something completely different out of the stories. I don't know about anyone else, but LotR really spoke to me differently as the years (and experiences) went by.


4th draft of TH:AUJ Geeky Observation List - May 1, 2013


"There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West."

I'm SO HAPPY these new films take me back to that magical world!!

TIME Google Calendar
TORn's Geeky Observations Lists (updated soon)

Forum Admin

Jul 19 2013, 4:37pm

Post #17 of 25 (283 views)
I think you are missing a point I made... [In reply to] Can't Post

I know my daughter's tastes and she already reads a lot of similar fantasy books. I do believe she'd love it which is why I give her a hard time about it.

Forum Admin

Jul 19 2013, 4:39pm

Post #18 of 25 (293 views)
Hmmm a curious and yet outstanding idea! [In reply to] Can't Post

A reading out loud exchange... I might float the idea and see where it goes.

Forum Admin

Jul 19 2013, 4:42pm

Post #19 of 25 (297 views)
For me reading it as a 15 year old... [In reply to] Can't Post

I was ready to sail into the West by the end and hated having to close the ROTK when I was finished... so I just picked up FOTR again and the cycle hasn't ceased.


Jul 19 2013, 5:05pm

Post #20 of 25 (297 views)
and who knows.. you might be turned onto a good book you wouldn't pick up otherwise [In reply to] Can't Post

With my own sons, I've tried to tap into their sphere of interest by watching some of the movies they watch. I've seen a LOT of stuff I wouldn't have otherwise. Mostly, I've found it interesting and I'm glad to have had a reason to step outside of my comfort zone.

We don't talk books much. My oldest son (now 30) keeps his likes and dislikes pretty close. We're lucky to get 'it was alright' or 'meh' out of him. Right now, we're pacing each other on the Dresden Files books. He had read the LOTR copies I'd given him as a teen and even the Sil - which I had never read because it came out after my early infatuation with LOTR. But it's not a book he raves about. Pretty much, (even though he reads a lot) the only thing he raves about are games. He loves games! of all sorts. :-)

My younger son (soon to be 27) I talked about in another post recently. He had huge favorites in books growing up. First it was the Animorphs series. Then the Young Merlin series. Then the Subtle Knife books. They were the best books ever written and he would hear nothing else about that matter! (not sure where he gets that opinionated attitude from! haha) Then he moved to Orson Scott Card who he still likes very much although he's quite aware of the conversations many fans/readers are having with themselves about separating (or not) the man from the books. And he also is very, very fond of Douglas Adams. I read Ender's Game at his recommendation while on vacation. I got unbelievably ill. So ill my fevered dreams were almost hallucinations. And my dreams, often obsessive in nature, were triply so. And the obsessive nature of the war games the children were playing ran through my dreams and it was a scary night. Even trying to separate out that unpleasant connection, I don't think the novel was to my taste.

So there isn't much overlap in books with us.

LOTR soundtrack website ~ magpie avatar gallery
TORn History Mathom-house ~ Torn Image Posting Guide

(This post was edited by Magpie on Jul 19 2013, 5:07pm)

Forum Admin

Jul 19 2013, 5:09pm

Post #21 of 25 (290 views)
It would be some good family time too... [In reply to] Can't Post

Now Ender's Game was a good book (Didn't enjoy the sequels as much) and I am curious to see how they pull off the movie this Fall.

Superuser / Moderator

Jul 19 2013, 8:47pm

Post #22 of 25 (280 views)
The LOTR I read at 18 [In reply to] Can't Post

isn't the same LOTR I read at 30. It's an interesting phenomenon.

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauron’s master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded beggar with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.

Ataahua's stories


Jul 19 2013, 9:21pm

Post #23 of 25 (303 views)
That reminds me of an interview with author Michael Swanwick [In reply to] Can't Post

Michael Swanwick:

When my son, Sean, was nine years old he told me I had to read him Lord of the Rings because his friend had LOTR read to him and he was only eight years old so Sean was suffering from major loss of prestige.

It was a really wonderful experience to travel through Middle-earth with my son. Every night at bedtime, for months, we'd follow the Hobbits through Middle-earth. And it was really a great experience for both of us, but... as we read, I realized that Sean was hearing a very different story from the one that I was reading. The story that he was hearing was the same one I read when I was sixteen. It was the greatest adventure story in the world. He really loved it, but... as a forty one year old man, what I was hearing was the saddest story in the world. Everybody in that book is in the process of losing everything they hold most dear. And there's nothing they can do about that. Galadriel mourns the withering of Lothlorien. The Elves are leaving Middle-earth. Ents are slowly dying away as a race and turning back into trees. The Shire is changing and not for the better. Frodo loses more than anybody. At the end of the three books, Frodo has lost everything. He's saved the entire world but there is no place for him in all of Middle-earth. All that he can do is go to the Grey Havens and die.

That was an important book. I probably read it 20 times through. I might even have read it 20 times in a row, straight through. And then, at some point as an adult, I went away from it and I was afraid to come back because I was afraid it would be a children's book. And then, I reread it... it's an adult book. There were depths in it I could not appreciate at 16. Sean couldn't appreciate at 9. And you have to have experienced sorrow and loss to be able to appreciate it. Tolkien knew that, if you want to live in this world, the price you have to pay is, at the end of the ride, you have got to die. But that's okay. That's a small price to pay.

http://www.wgbh.org/...rd-of-the-Rings-5048 - 34:27-36:36

LOTR soundtrack website ~ magpie avatar gallery
TORn History Mathom-house ~ Torn Image Posting Guide

(This post was edited by Magpie on Jul 19 2013, 9:21pm)


Jul 20 2013, 8:02am

Post #24 of 25 (245 views)
Sometimes. Being too evangelical with ones enthusiasms can do more harm than good [In reply to] Can't Post

I know I've been guilty of this myself! Maybe, there's a risk of it becoming something she has to do to please someone else, or resist doing in order to be independent. And possibly that strangles much chance of actually enjoying the works for herself.

But they do say "go not to a forum for advice, for they will say both yes and no!"

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimë I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


Jul 22 2013, 2:34am

Post #25 of 25 (230 views)
*high five* Me too... me too... // [In reply to] Can't Post


4th draft of TH:AUJ Geeky Observation List - May 1, 2013


"There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West."

I'm SO HAPPY these new films take me back to that magical world!!

TIME Google Calendar
TORn's Geeky Observations Lists (updated soon)


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