75. ‘Tolkien’, by Michael White

I should begin by making it completely clear that the ‘Lord of the Rings’ is, and has always been, the book(s) I would be most likely to choose, should I be forced to choose just one book to keep forever, a la ‘Desert Island Discs’. I have read it countless times, will no doubt read it again in the future, and have also loved every single other thing Tolkien has written – I am officially an addict, capable of losing myself completely in that wonderful world of magic and heroism. In fact, of all the books I have ever read, and there have been a few, these would probably be the ones I most wish I had written.

This is Mum’s copy, but as she was reading it, she sent a copy to Australia for me because she was enjoying it so much and knew I would too. (And, yes, I have Mum’s copies of LOTR, but those, I’m afraid, I can never part with!)

Michael White is a very good biographer, and has written many excellent ones, mainly because he allows the character of his subject to shine rather than his writing – good though that is. I believe he wrote this one with especial care – in the prologue, he talks about his introduction to Tolkien in his teens, and that he read the LOTR trilogy himself many, many times as a young man – I suspect he may have been a bit of a long haired pot smoking hippie! But, as far as Tolkien is concerned – man after my own heart. And he read it again prior to writing this. Good man!

I think this book will appeal primarily to those of you who want to know more about the incredibly inventive and imaginative mind behind MiddleEarth. But, it also offers beautiful insights into a lifestyle that is gone forever…that of the pre-computer age, and the Inklings who met at the ‘Eagle and Child’ to discuss their writing with no idea their words would one day become part of a Hollywood blockbuster series. The pub, by the way, is still there, and was a place of pilgrimage for me the first time I went to Oxford. To sit where Tolkien and C.S.Lewis did…well.

Safe to say I recommend this. As always, I am hoping to find a new home for this book, and am looking forward to gifting it forward – and if it has already gone, here is a link to purchase it for yourself. I don’t think you will regret it!