Category Archives: The Book That Changed Everything

The Lord of the Rings: The One That Changed Everything

Our first guest post in The Book That Changed Everything series is by Tom G. H. Adams. Download his collection of short stories, Defiled Earth, for free when you sign up to his newsletter. I’m sure he’d love you if you spread the word about it too.

thelordoftheringsIf ever there was a confirmation that reading to children pays dividends in inspiring a relationship with books, then my introduction to Tolkien is it. My Dad began reading The Hobbit to me at the age of seven. He never finished it, but he didn’t need to – I lapped up the remaining chapters myself over the next few days. Immediately afterwards my Mum took out The Fellowship Of The Ring from the local library for me, but it was a step too far. I got bogged down in the first chapter so I laid it aside.

At the age of thirteen, however, The Silmarillion was published and I read it within a couple of weeks. I particularly loved the story of Beren and Luthien. I knew I would have to try The Lord of the Rings again. The intrigue associated with Tolkien’s work was heightened when my elder brother informed me that there were more potent creatures than goblins (he was referring to ring wraiths and their ability to smell you from far away.) It also did Tolkien’s reputation no harm that Led Zeppelin and Rush made numerous references to his characters in their early albums. This time I powered through the first chapter (which, in itself taught me a lesson that some books reward perseverance). I think I was lost in Middle Earth for about three months and, to be honest, never fully emerged – such was Tolkien’s effect on me. I went on to read Stephen Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant saga and David Eddings books, together with numerous other fantasy offerings. But no one has ever trumped the master of fantasy.

Do you want to share The Book That Changed Everything for you? Email me at leatherboundpounds [at] gmail [dot] com.

The Book That Changed Everything

neverending_story_childhood_bookjpg-300x300I have always been a reader. I read voraciously as a child, picking up whatever was to hand appropriate or not, to the consternation of my parents. But I don’t really have a feeling of what reading delivered to me before I was encouraged by a teacher to read The Neverending Story. That, for me, was The Book That Changed Everything.

I know what you’re thinking, the bookish kid discovered a book about a bookish kid discovering a book, what a cliché. But, you know, clichés are born from a kernel of truth and the truth behind The Neverending Story is that literature is both an escape from and a return to reality. It is safety and comfort in a time of confusion, it is rebirth and rejuvenation, it is stepping outside the world in order to see it from a new perspective.

In The Neverending Story, Bastian is on the run from bullies and takes shelter in a bookshop where he discovers a book, The Neverending Story. By reading it he becomes part of the story himself, and upon his urging the pages of his very story are read – the story that ends with the pages of his very story being read – the story that once begun will never end. It was my first glimpse of weirdness associated with the fourth wall, something I adore even now, and even as I write this I have goosebumps.

Looking back, so many of my favourite books embrace toying with the fourth wall, or outright destroying it, and I’m certain my enjoyment of these games goes right back to the way I was involved in Ende’s story as a child. There’s a lot of angst about what literature is at the moment, who is inside and outside the rarefied circle of the Literary Establishment. The success of The Neverending Story shows that what literature, yes, even good, capital L Literature, should do is open an arm to us, the pleb readers, and embrace us. Take us into the heart of the story and we will always carry that story in our hearts.

Do you have a Book That Changed Everything? I’d like to start a series of guest posts, to share formative moments of readers. You don’t need to be a writer, the book that changed you doesn’t need to be a childhood book, or a great classic, it just needs to be something that you feel deep in your soul. The Literary Establishment is us, you know, the readers. Let’s embrace it and share our stories.

Email leatherboundpounds [at] gmail [dot] com if you would like to share your Book That Changed Everything.

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