Almost four years ago, on a whim after reading too many /usr/games/fortune's, I bought a volume of The Lord of The Rings. It was a time in my life where I had developed a sort of mental block and had problems reading books (among other things, like spotting holes in the ground two steps ahead of me). I had spent almost a year before that without reading a single new book (this of course, includes my textbooks in engineering college), and had serious concentration problems. I would try to focus on things, but my mind would wander and I would begin to mentally digress.
Well this book eventually brought me great enjoyment and reassurance, and I feel I should acknowledge that. It was a welcome friend to me in a time of confusion and desperation. I had mixed feelings when reading the trilogy -- mostly because I was trying to force myself to read arduous, complex writing like Dostoeyevsky's Crime And Punishment and books of the same ilk. Rings seemed to be sinfully enjoyable compared to those other ones (the measure of a great book is -- it goes well with snack food of any kind), and for some time after I'd finished it, I was sort of lost because there wasn't anything else to read. So I hobbled out to the bookstore and back again, and bought The Hobbit instead.
More recently, over the last few months, I went through the entire Lord Of The Rings Extended DVDs -- through the documentaries, and also watched all the movies with commentaries turned on ( Cast, Director and screen writers, Weta Digital Special Effects Crew -- you name it. Don't ask me how I found the time).
And now, joy of joys, I have begun reading The Silmarillion. I have never read anything quite so beautiful, and so complete and as imaginative. Its like reading a "Best of" collection of human mythology. There are online reviews of The Silmarillion which say that it reads like a catalogue of events, but please don't believe them.
To paraphrase the central idea: the world is created out of a symphony by "The One" -- Eru or Iluvatar -- who creates a number of guardian spirits to watch over it, and then he creates Men, who are blessed with a will of their own and are driven by a quest for the infinite, and who above all have been bequeathed the one gift which the other spirits lack -- death, or freedom from the circles of the world.
How can you not like J.R.R.Tolkien?