Must-have Tolkien Books: 14 Holiday Gifts For Any Middle-earth Lover’s Library

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I have a new piece on the Huffington Post. It’s a handy little guide for purchasing Tolkien-themed books for your loved ones this Christmas. Now I couldn’t put every book on this list. I left out the obvious ones (like The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion), but I did recommend the new version of The Hobbit (illustrated by Jemima Catlin). Some of the books are classics that I’ve had since I was a kid (like The Father Christmas Letters, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, The Atlas of Middle-earth). And a couple have been published in the last couple of years (Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks). Whatever the case, they’re all excellent books…but I could have easily added another dozen great Middle-earth tomes to this list. Check it out.


  1. Nelson Goering says:

    Overall a nice list, but I wish you’d leave out David Day – in the Tolkien community he’s pretty notorious, and for good reason. He’s very inaccurate, to the point of plain making things up (I know, it’s all made up, but you know what I mean). I thought for years there were legless dragons in Middle-earth before I figured out that was an invention of Day’s and had no basis in Tolkien’s writings. He does have pretty illustrations, but really his books should be warned against, not recommended.

    For a better reference work of a similar nature, you already have Tyler. Better still would be Robert Foster’s ‘A Guide to Middle-earth’, which is easily the best of that sort of book (and has the distinction of being cited by Tolkien’s son Christopher in ‘The History of Middle-earth’).

    Or maybe it could be replaced by something biographical? Both Humphrey Carpenter’s original biography and John Garth’s more recent ‘Tolkien and the Great War’ are readable and engaging, and can add a lot to your appreciation of Tolkien. Certainly more than Day does.

    • Noble says:

      Hey Nelson. Thanks for writing. I love both Robert Foster’s guide and Tolkien and the Great War. I just couldn’t put every book on the list. I could have easily done 25 great Tolkien books for every Middle-earth fan’s bookshelf! Even though you feel that way about David Day he’s an enormous Tolkien fan. I just got an email from him the other day–he was going to Germany to do a documentary with the great John Howe about German mythological influences on Tolkien. And even Tyler’s guide a lot of errata before The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales (and the History of Middle-earth) came out and he corrected the parts that he had filled in with speculation. Day’s Dictionary that I mentioned is a cool book. But I also agree with you about Humphrey Carpenter’s biography and Thomas Shippey’s works are excellent. Thanks for checking out my blog!

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