Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Post-Reading-Tolkien Syndrome

(Note: This silly post was originally published on this wonderful blog  in September of 2012. I thought it was worth a re-post.)

A Few Suggestions for the Effective Treatment of Post-Reading-Tolkien Syndrome

    Do you ever look outside, and wish that there were elves passing through your backyard?
    Do you watch the latest fantasy film and decide it’s just not good enough?
    Do you see mossy knolls and think, “Wouldn’t that make the cutest little Hobbit hole?”

       If you answered yes to any one of these questions, you might have Post-Reading-Tolkien Syndrome (or PRTS for short). PRTS is an uncomfortable condition, and cannot be treated by the medical community. As a sufferer of PRTS myself, I've compiled a list of helpful suggestions and activities to soothe the discomforts brought on by PRTS, and bring you back to reality with a gentle push, not a shove.

  1. First, to get yourself in the right frame of mind, you should brew a cup of tea, and bake/purchase some Lembas or Seed Cakes. If, like me, you haven’t found a working recipe for Lembas yet, you can substitute shortbread-it looks right.
  2. Listen to some music while you bake. Here are a few suggestions:
If you can’t find any of these albums or artists, just put on a Howard Shore or Celtic Internet radio station.

     Now that you have taken care of the music and the victuals (wise preparations for any adventure), you have to find another book to read. This can be a very difficult, and sometimes painful process, and you will need the music and food to fortify you. Reading any masterwork can make other books seem sub-par (or reveal the truth, if you will). So you have to let yourself down slowly. Here are some suggestions to make it easier on yourself:

If you just read The Hobbit, and are looking for light adventure fare with deep themes, read The Chronicles of Narnia or The Princess and the Goblin, or Susan Fletcher’s Dragon Chronicles. You also might try Christopher Paolini’s Eragon. If you are a young Tolkien fan and wish there were more books with fantastical places and creatures, try the Fablehaven series or Beyonders: A World Without Heroes, both by Brandon Mull, or the Redwall series.

   If you read The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and need another series with a returning king and unlikely heroes, read Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain or The Monster Blood Tattoo Trilogy by D. M. Cornish (not nearly as silly as it sounds-with a very Tolkien feel!).
   If you’re feeling more epic size and fantasy to boot, also read Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke-which is an amazing book on its own. If you’re on the younger end, or more interested in humans, try the Ranger’s Apprentice Series by John Flanagan.

   If you read the Silmarillion, The Lost Tales, or Unfinished Tales, and need more dreamy locales, bittersweet endings, epic romances, legendary heroes, and/or magic, try The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, by Patricia A. McKillip, The Hero and the Crown or Chalice, Robin McKinley, the Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix, Til We Have Faces, by C. S. Lewis, Le Morte D’Arthur, or The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope.

   If you read The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun, try Beowulf, retro (pre 90’s) Thor comics (I’m serious),  Rosemary Sutcliff’s Historical Fiction, Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea Series, The Song of Roland, Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising series, Patrick Rothfuss' The Name of the Wind, Stephen R. Lawhead’s The Dragon King Trilogy, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (translated by Tolkien!) or good old collections of Norse Mythology.

   If you read Smith of Wootton Major or Farmer Giles of Ham, try Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Patricia Wrede’s Enchanted Forest Chronicles, T. H. White’s The Sword in the Stone,  or Cornelia Funke’s Inheart.

   If you read Roverandom, try Andrew Peterson’s Wingfeather Saga, Neil Gaiman’s Odd and the Frost Giants, or N. D. Wilson’s 100 Cupboards Trilogy.

   If you read any or all of the above, or if you need to laugh, hard, I would also recommend The Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones and Gerald Morris’s The Squire’s Tales (Arthurian mischief and humor).

And finally, if reading a book is too hard right now, here are five more activities to ease your Post-Reading-Tolkien Syndrome:

  1. Walk through a forest at twilight
  2. Watch a movie like Thor, a miniseries like the 10th Kingdom, or a TV show like Once Upon a Time.
  3. Look at Alan Lee’s and J. W. Waterhouse’s art books, or visual guides to England, Ireland, Scotland, or Wales.
  4. Write a story about Elves, Dwarves, or anything else you wish was (or wasn't) real.
  5. Phone a similarly suffering friend and commiserate, then do any of the above activities together.

From one sufferer of PRTS to another, I hope these suggestions help you on your road to recovery.

R. L. Hendrian
Pioneer in the study of PRTS and its effects.