This question is often asked. In what order should I read Tolkiens’ books?
Here’s the reaction of the fans of Middle Earth. My reading assignment is very similar to that of the guys at TolkienLibrary. Go there for a more detailed explanation of why, what and when.
As for my list, this is the order in which I most recommend you, especially if you’re new to Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings: Start reading Tolkien’s books in this order:
1 Hobbit: Why don’t we start where it all started.
A Hobbit lived in a hole in the ground. No disgusting, dirty and wet hole filled with worm heads and a pleasant smell, no dry, naked and sandy hole where there is nothing to sit and eat: It was a Hobbit hole, and that’s consolation. A Hobbit is a simple and frivolous fantasy story that Tolkien wrote first, without many historical details.
2. Lord of the Rings: The Lord of the Rings is a natural extension of the Hobbit and ends this story. In this book, however, it becomes clear that Tolkien’s thoughts are already connected with the enormous mythology and history that lies behind it, and that applies to the entire book.
3. Silmarillion: It’s an extraordinary journey. Silmarillion is not easy to read. Note that, unlike most other items in this list, this is a complete overview of the covers of a book. A number of unfinished texts and comments you will not encounter.
4. Unfinished fairy tales: Unfinished Tales is, as the name suggests, a collection of Tolkien’s Mediterranean stories. These are usually longer versions of Silmarillion’s fairy tales, but there are many open moments from The Lord of the Rings with old favorites from Gandalf, Elrond, Nazul, Balrogs… in a collection published by the son of the authors, Christopher Tolkien.
5. The history of Middle-earth: The history of the Mediterranean is one of the greatest works of literary archaeology. Tolkien’s son, Christopher Tolkien. Christopher Tolkien has published an extensive collection of manuscripts, maps and illustrations and most of his father’s works from the middle of the earth have been published in the 12-volume series History of the Mediterranean. These books considerably extend the original material published in Silmarillion and in many cases deviate from this material.
Read more about what is written in the history of Middle-earth:
- Book of Lost Stories – Part 1 and Part 2 : The Book of Lost Stories was Tolkien’s first step in creating his mythology. It is a kind of proto-silmarillion; all fairy tales in other forms are dealt with in later works, but here Tolkien is a very young writer who expresses himself in his own way.
- The word of Belleria – Part 3 : The Word of Lethargy is a fairy tale of Bears and Luthia, in different variations, and the Word of the Children of Burin, told in rhyming or alliterative verses. There are also fragments of some extra alliterative poems.
- The origin of the Mediterranean Sea – Parts 4 and 5 : The Lost Road and other writings: These two volumes contain a first Silmarillion, a more mature version of what is in the Book of Lost Stories. The first part of part 5, to which it owes its name, is the history of Numenor. Part 5 also contains a considerable amount of linguistic information.
- The return of the shadows is part 6, the betrayal of Isengart is part 7, the war of the rings is part 8 and the defeat of Sauron is part 9: These four volumes are devoted to the history of the writing of The Lord of the Rings. Part IX also contains the term Paper Club, another attempt to tell the Numenor story.
- Morgoth Ring – Part 10, Jewellery War – Part 11 : These two books are about the last Silmarillion, Tolkien’s work on the subject after the publication of The Lord of the Rings.
- The peoples of the Mediterranean Basin – Part 12 : This last part is about writing the appendices of The Lord of the Rings and other unfinished works and fairy tales.
6. Harin’s kids: If you missed the history of Middle-earth and jumped directly to the children of Churin, you will love it. Christopher Tolkien edited the manuscripts into a coherent story and published it as an independent book in 2007. Jurin is my favorite character in the history of Middle-earth.
7. The Gondolin case: The Falling Gondola is one of the stories in the book of lost fairy tales (not on my list), which formed the basis for one of the parts of his later work, Silmarillion. The independent book version of the story was published on the 30th. August 2018 published. It is an amazing story and such a turning point in the history of the Mediterranean.
8. Bears and Luthien: The story of Bears and Luthien is my favorite story in all Middle-earth, and how I can end it all. The story of Bears and Luthia, the best love story, is told in several books by J.R.R. Tolkien (first in Silmarillion, then in Unfinished Tales and Mediterranean History). It is a story about the love and adventures of the mortal man Bears and the immortal elf Luthian.