J.R.R. Tolkien Books: What Reading Order Is Best?

Can you name the 2nd best selling novel of all time?

The Lord of the Rings trilogy [Amazon].

What about the 3rd best selling book of all time?

The Hobbit (1937) [Amazon].

And Tolkien wrote these in the 1930’s and 1950’s. What a legend.

I propose the following reading order for J.R.R. Tolkien’s books.

Best Reading Order For J.R.R. Tolkien’s Books

  1. The Hobbit (1937) [Amazon]
    • Don’t think that watching the movie is enough. The movie was based on the book, not the other way around. It’s worth it, I promise!
  2. The Lord of the Rings trilogy [Amazon]
    • The Fellowship of the Ring (1954) [Amazon]
    • The Two Towers (1954) [Amazon]
    • The Return of the King (1955) [Amazon]
    • Again, reading these stories is a different experience to watching the movies
  3. Stop there.
    • “Stop there” is not the name of a book, I actually mean stop there. Stop reading. Tolkien’s other works are either completely nuts or just enormous poems, or plays. For example Simarlillion reaches back thousands of years to introduce the ancestral line of the elves. It doesn’t even have a story!

Tolkien also wrote a huge number of short stories, poems, play’s and non-fiction work.

Lot’s of them have been published by his son Christopher Tolkien long after Tolkien’s death.

So if you just love elves and that stuff, go for it by all means.

I will actually mention just one book that might be worth reading:

  • Tales from the Perilous Realm: Roverandom and Other Classic Faery Stories (2009) [Amazon]

It’s a compilation of  short stories, poems, a play and some non-fiction

It includes:

  1. Roverandom (a toy dog who, enchanted by a sand sorcerer, gets to explore the world and encounter strange and fabulous creatures)
  2. Farmer Giles of Ham (is fat and unheroic, but – having unwittingly managed to scare off a short-sighted giant – is called upon to do battle when a dragon comes to town)
  3. The Adventures of Tom Bombadil (tells in verse of Tom’s many adventures with hobbits, princesses, dwarves and trolls)
  4. Leaf by Niggle (recounts the strange adventures of the painter Niggle who sets out to paint the perfect tree)
  5. Smith of Wootton Major (journeys to the Land of Faery thanks to the magical ingredients of the Great Cake of the Feast of Good Children)
  6. On Fairy-stories (the famous essay in which Tolkien brilliantly discusses fairy-stories and their relationship to fantasy)

Your Thoughts?

Am I being too harsh? Are you a huge fan? Have you just begun reading the books? Which order is best?

Have your say in the comments below.


2 thoughts on “J.R.R. Tolkien Books: What Reading Order Is Best?”

  1. Stop reading Tolkien after the Lord of the Rings? Are you nuts? There is so much more to read after that. That is some seriously horrible advice.

    1. right… I read this and thought the Simarlillion was very good. its all the juicy lore and legend of how the elves created the world, and spread their powers. lore on Sauron is crazy cool. wow

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *