Friday, January 24, 2014

My Copy of "The Lord of the Rings"

I thought it would be fun to share what my copy of The Lord of the Rings looks like.  This is the only copy I've ever read, and the one I'm using for the read-along.



Yes, it's a movie tie-in cover.  I know there are haters out there who refuse to buy books with movie covers, but I am not one of them.  I bought this on the first day of my college Christmas break back in 2001, a few days after I first saw The Fellowship of the Ring and first fell in love with Middle Earth.  This book was on sale for $10 at a big-box book store, exactly what poor college student me needed.  I love that cover -- the deep blue, the silhouette, the gold writing.  Marvelous.

The first time I read through it, I didn't mark anything.  It took me three years to read it the first time because I didn't want to know what happened before the next movie came out.  So I read only The Fellowship of the Ring that first December, stopping where the movie stops (which is a couple chapters into The Two Towers, but who's counting?).  The next December, I read The Two Towers once I'd seen the movie.  And the December after that, I finally read The Return of the King after seeing the movie.  

And then I didn't read it at all for a year.  But then I read the whole thing in 2005.  And again in 2006 and 2007.  My son was born in 2007, so I ended up skipping a year and not re-reading it until 2009.  And then I somehow skipped several years (probably due to the arrival of two more small time-monopolizers), and this read-along is my first time through the books since 2009.  I know, because every time I read it, I mark it in the back of the book.



As you can see, I use a different color of pen each time, and that's the color of pen I use when making my notes in the book that year.  Yes.  I write in my book.  A lot.  I underline, I make notes, I cross-reference stuff, I draw little symbols in the margins.  Which means some pages now look like this:


(Hmm, guess who's speaking there, that he gets 5 colors of underlining?)

I think that page has all five colors of ink on it!  Not sure how many are like that -- most pages just have one note, maybe two.  Many pages have none.

Why do I mark up my copy like this?  Well, it makes it easier to find parts I love.  If I see stars or hearts, I know that's something I think is important or that I love.



This particular smiley heart marks the first mention of Boromir:



And I mentioned cross-referencing.  Here's how that works.  When I read something that reminds me of another part, I go find that part and write down the page numbers on the corresponding pages.







See how that works?  It's coming in so handy for this read-along, but it always fascinates me to see how Tolkien weaves all these different threads together, sometimes hundreds of pages apart.  In that example above, an idea gets mentioned on pages 50, 356, and 861 -- that's a lot of pages in between!  I'm very in awe of that, as a writer.

Finally, this is the bookmark I'm using this time through.



I have two other Boromir bookmarks, both official merch from back when the movies came out.  This one is made of metal, the picture is somehow printed on, and it's magnificent.  Gets a little fingerprinty once in a while, but a quick swipe on my jeans makes it perfectly shiny again.  Got it on Etsy, love it a whole lot.

So... what does your copy look like?  Is it yours?  A library copy?  Do you write in it?  Do you have a special bookmark you're using?  Please share!  Comment here, or even do your own blog post if you like, and link back to it here.

24 comments:

  1. That is so legit!! I love that each year has a different cover! I dont Mark in mine, but that's because I have like 80 different versions: on my kindle, the original one I bought and cool copies I find at book stores. I can't seem to stop myself :)

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    1. Hee, thanks! This is the only version I own, but I've promised myself that if I can lose 15 pounds by a certain date, I can buy myself an amazing hardcover edition illustrated by Alan Lee. So far I've lost 5, so... don't know if that's going to happen or not.

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    2. We have the hardcover copy you mention, oddly enough; my dad must have bought it sometime in the past. It is a nice copy from the standpoint of being hardcover, having smooth pages and beautiful jacket covers. Myself, I'm extremely ambivalent about the illustrations, though. Some of the scenery ones are okay, but a lot of the closeups of people I actually really, really dislike. Maybe that's mostly because this is my first time reading through it and I much prefer to visualize everybody as the descriptions make me, not even as the movies show them, or maybe the illustrations just aren't up my alley. The illustrations of Treebeard and Luthien the Fair make me cringe. There is one illustration, though, in the beginning of the Two Towers, which I absolutely love. It shows the Three Hunters -- Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas -- on a wide open plane. The wind is blowing and Legolas's gray cloak is rippling beautifully. Something about that rippling cloak and flowing plain and the almost felt presence of wind in the picture totally captures my imagination, so that I love this picture while really disliking some of the others. It probably also helps that Legolas and Aragorn are looking away, so I can still imagine their faces as I choose.

      I'm curious -- did you buy this set? What did you think of the illustrations?
      -- Marcy

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    3. Marcy -- your first time through LOTR? How thrilling! I can't wait until my kids are old enough to read this. My son has read The Hobbit already (he's 9), but I want him to be old enough to fully appreciate this before he dives in -- I'm thinking 14 or so. How old are you, out of curiosity? You mention your dad, so I'm guessing you still live at home.

      I became very fond of Alan Lee's artwork through the behind-the-scenes extras on the DVDs of Peter Jackson's LOTR movies. I really like his attention to detail and overall color choices. But no, I never did buy the set, alas. Maybe one day!

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    4. Yes, "thrilling" is the perfect word for it. (As I'm planning to post on your LOTR read-along, you'll discover a lot about what I thought about it there.) I'm eighteen; I graduated from homeschooling this spring and am taking a year at home before attending college next fall.

      After reading your comment, I went back and looked at all the illustrations, and I agree with you that Alan Lee does have really great detail and good color choices -- particularly the detail. I also realized that I like the vast majority of his landscapes just fine; it's when it comes to faces that I don't like his work so much. So most of his illustrations are pretty cool, really detailed illustrations, a few I don't like at all, and one I deeply connect with.
      --Marcy

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  2. I have the same copy as you, and then my original three paperbacks. I tried marking a couple things in my newer version on this read-through, but it was physically painful to do for me, and I could not keep it up. (I never wrote in college books, either.) I really love that you can do that, and your system looks perfect for you! But it's just not for me. I think I'd be unhappy the next time I read the book if I had markings in it, as I'd keep wanting to see what I wrote and flagged previously, and that would pull me out of the story. Although, two copies would easily solve that. :-D

    My bookmark this time is a trail guide for a park in Santa Monica. Usually my bookmarks are whatever grocery receipt I last have sitting by my purse. Receipts are my favorite type of bookmark.

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    1. I don't actually mark in most books. I have gobs of notes in these, I've been underlining and notating in my copies of the complete Sherlock Holmes canon this time through, and I've got a few things I wrote in during college. But most books, I totally don't.

      I use random stuff for bookmarks sometimes -- my journal bookmark is an extra ticket stub from The Avengers -- and I have loads of free ones I've picked up at the library over the years. But particular books do require particular bookmarks. I actually bought a Gandalf bookmark as an incentive to get myself to read The Hobbit this year.

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    2. Also, I LOVE that we have the same copy. Makes me feel all connected and cozy <3

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  3. If I am not mistaken, my copy is the same print that yours is, because it has the same cover and everything. That's interesting that you write in the book. I do not believe I have ever done that in books other than ones for college, which I highlight a lot. Let me guess, that first page highlighted was Boromir's dialogue. :)

    Have you ever listened to an audiobook version of the LOTR? I know some people don't like audiobooks, but I it makes for a fun alternative experience that is a lot more convenient to listen to while driving, mowing the lawn, ect. I listened an excellent fan version that is much better than any of the "professional" ones that usually are abridged. He actually sounds like most of the actors.

    -James

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    1. How cool that we have the same printing! I actually have a shirt that has the same picture of the Nagul on it too.

      I only write in books that I read over and over. So this, my Sherlock Holmes books, Jane Eyre, and Hamlet. That's about it. Things where I dig deeper into the text than just following the story, really.

      I've never listened to an audio book version. I'm a very visual learner, and I prefer hearing my own versions of voices in my head as I read, so I tend to avoid audio books as a whole. Plus, now I have small children around pretty much all the time, so can't listen to things that might scare them or have inappropriate language, etc. And I absolutely cannot listen to audio fiction while driving because I envision what's happening in the story and don't see what's physically in front of me, which is quite dangerous. But thanks for the recommendation! Maybe when my kids are older we could all listen to that in the car on a long trip while I'm not driving.

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    2. And I forgot to add that no, the first page marked has nothing to do with Boromir -- he doesn't arrive until page 234! The first page with any marking is the first page of the prologue, where I've underlined "they love peace and quiet and good tilled earth." Judging by the colors of ink, the first thing I ever marked was on page 82, where Gildor and Frodo are speaking. I put a smiley face beside "Do not meddle in the affairs of Wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger," followed by a smiley heart beside "Go not to the Elves for counsel, for they will say both no and yes."

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  4. I love your copy; the cover is striking, you're right! I still haven't been able to do your read-along at the moment :( , but my copy of the second book is a movie cover, and my other two are older, used copies I found in library sales (which I adore!).

    Your methods of writing in the book are very similar to those of one of my favorite teachers in college. She turned me onto writing in my textbooks, but I could never bring myself to do it in books I read for fun. I feel like it might draw my attention to the same thing time after time rather than allowing me to find new things each time I read a book, but to each her own. (Side note: I do like how you write the years in each time you read the book. I keep a notebook with the year and month when I first read a book, but I don't keep track of my re-reads. It's fun to look back and see what I read thirteen years ago!)

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    1. Well, the read-along will always be here, waiting for whenever you have time to join in! Even if I'm totally done with the books, I'll be happy to respond to comments on the individual posts.

      I learned to do these marginal comments in college from a couple of my lit professors. And I have to say it really doesn't bother me on re-reads, as I tend to smile and nod at what I'd previously marked, but not get distracted by them.

      Thanks to the journals I've been keeping since I was 14, I have a pretty complete record of exactly which movies, books, and even episodes of particular TV shows I have seen over the years. It's definitely fun to look back and see what I was into at different times over the last 20 years!

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  5. I have the same movie cover in my Finnish translation, which has now been on quite a long visit (three years at least) at my friend's house because I prefer to read the original, English version nowadays.

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    1. I think they must have printed a ton of copies with that cover when the first LOTR movie came out, because I see them at used book sales now and then too. And there's a cover with Elijah Wood as Frodo holding out the ring in his hand that I see a lot too. How cool that they used it for a Finnish version too!

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  6. Great post! It's lovely that you share your favourite book with us in this way!

    My LOTR is a seven part set. I can't find a picture of this version, but you can see it here (http://lady-ofthe-manor.blogspot.nl/2013/11/my-bookshelf-link-up.html) where I posted pictures of my bookshelves. I do believe it's a movie tie-in, but there are no pictures on the front, just black with lettering. I love that it's in 7 parts, they are the perfect reading size (not too heavy or to big to take along in my bag)

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    1. I've never seen that set before! Way cool. I would like a set of three books instead of the giant chunk, for easier transport, and maybe when my kids get old enough to enjoy this, I'll get a set of 3 or one like yours, as my annotated copy would not be good for a first read-through.

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  7. That's a gorgeous cover! And even though you say it's a movie tie-in cover it's not obvious (actors plastered on it, etc) I first read the LOTR when I borrowed it from my library but when I decided that I wanted my own copy I bought a cheap three book edition. But now I quite fancy getting a nice hardback edition some day.

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    1. Isn't it lovely? In real life, it doesn't look quite that bright -- the blues are darker, I think. The back cover does have little postage-stamp-size pictures of Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas, and Frodo from the movie, but like you said, the front isn't the movie poster or anything.

      A nice hardback edition would be so great! Like, this is my copy that I write in, and that'd be my nice copy I let other people read.

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  8. I must say I'm impressed at the condition of your LOTR! For reading it as many times as you have, it looks almost brand new!

    Like Jamie, I have a number of different copies. My great deal is my Folio Society edition, which I got off Ebay for $30. I also have a Hobbit paperback that I paid $2 for; it's actually really ugly but when I look online I can't find it for less than $300. Really weird! I'm still not sure what's so special about it!

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    1. Oh, am a huge stickler for NOT breaking the spines of paperbacks. My mom totally ruined my very first copy of "Sense and Sensibility" when I was like 16 by cracking the spine so much you can't read the title anymore, and I pretty much never loaned her my books again. But anyway, this cover does have some wear -- the plasticy covering over the cover is rolled up along the edges in front and back. But you're right -- considering I'm on my 6th read-thru of this copy, and my hubby is on at least his 4th, and it's 12 years old, it looks really good.

      How weird about your Hobbit copy! I have a used hardcover, that traditional green and blue with the Tolkien drawings of mountains and stuff, that I got at a library sale a while ago.

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  9. Hi! I just found your blog from the Classics Club page :) I do the same thing with the different colored pens! I love making notes in my books, but I particularly like to see which parts I thought were under-line-worthy during a previous reading versus those I find important in my current reading. It always surprises me how often the two differ!

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    1. Hi! That's so cool that you do that too! This is one of only two books where I've used different color pens on purpose (the other is a copy of Hamlet, go figure), but I think next time I read through Jane Eyre I'll start doing the same there.

      It's so surprising how, as I read through this again, I see things I previously underlined or made a note about, and this time through I don't think it's all that special. Or wouldn't have caught it if I hadn't previously made a note. So fascinating how our perspective changes, isn't it?

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