|This is the edition I bought from the Monash bookshop|
I have to be honest. It took me a while to get into this, originally. I bought it when I was at university because everyone, staff and students alike, was saying, "You HAVEN'T read Lord of the Rings?" I got about halfways through, but never finished it.
Then, one summer, I went on holiday. I was tired. I didn't want to go do touristy things - I just wanted to lie on the beach and read. I took along Fellowship of The Ring - and suddenly, I was caught up, swept away by the narrative and the characters. I finished the entire book when I got home and have read it six times since then and would be re-reading it again, except for all the review copies and books I have to read for my library. It's because of this book that I'm very picky in my fantasy reading; anything that has on the cover a comparison to LOTR is immediately dropped back on the bookshop shelves. NOTHING is anything like it, though some have tried. It has become comfort reading for me. When I'm tired and stressed and need to be reminded that an ordinary person can be a hero too, I pick this up again and, as I go through it, mutter, "Oh, good, this is the chapter where they meet Aragorn...where they reach Rivendell ... where Eowyn disguises herself and goes with the army..." and enjoy it all over again.
When I hear some currently-big-name writer having a go at this book at a writers' festival, I think, "If your novel is still being read and loved fifty or sixty years from now, then you can comment, mate!"