Once more I waste my time trying to read "The Lord of the Rings"

I stayed at my brother’s at Christmas. In the room I was given was a thick volume of all of The Lord of the Rings. Wanting something to read I thought I would give it another try. I only made it this far:

When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag Ends announced that he would be shortly celebrating his eleventy-first birthday…

and threw it aside.

Eleventy-first makes two references to our modern number system to make up something that makes no sense at all. J. R. R. Tolkien I dub thee wanker.

Anyone been put off a book quicker than the first sentence?

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth…

Oh, so I can blame him! No need to read the rest of this…

Shuuuuuun the blasphemer! SHUUUUUUUUUUUN!

Another keyboard falls to the SD.

I really need to stop drinking things while I check this board.

Well, there are plenty of books that I’ve never bothered picking up at all, which is about the only way you can be put off a book faster than the first sentence.

I have never been able to get past the first page of any James Joyce novel.

“Call me Ishmael”
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
“Once upon a time…”

Actually, I thought it was going to be kind of fun (I have a high twee capacity), but it just turns into a textbook after that.

It took Tolkien some time to realize he was writing a more adult book than The Hobbit.

There’s cultural pressure against not starting a book at the beginning, but skip ahead to where some action starts. You can go back to the beginning after you’ve bought into the narrative.

Where to begin? I don’t have the book beside me, but maybe start when Frodo reaches Elf land (Rivendell?), the Quest is decided on, and the Fellowship formed.

For most readers the series is a unique achievement, completely worth your time, but it starts slow and twee.

But there is a point in that starting slow. Life is slow and happy in the Shire and they seldom hear about bad things let alone actually have to deal with them. Then the four hobbits get thrust into darkness and war, and at the end of all that, come home to find that their comfortable lands themselves have been taken over and changed.

‘Eleventy’ has a story. It’s comes from the Old English word hundendleftig. This tells us that Tolkien was an out-and-out Anglo-Saxon linguistics nerd. Same way you can tell that Rowling probably knows a bit or two about French by reading any Harry Potter book.

Secondly, it tells us that Bilbo was really old, to the point where people probably weren’t really sure what the cardinal number version of his birthday would be.

Thirdly, it tells us that hobbits, child-like in their rustic simplicity, simply don’t give a damn what its really called. If you had access to weed as good as theirs, neither would you.

I know when I first tried reading LOTR, I could never get past about page 58 or something - just bored the hell out of me.
Finally a friend said, “Trust me, get about another 20 pages further and you won’t be able to put it down!”
He was right - and I have read the entire trilogy probably 6 times or more over the years.

And regarding “eleventy-first”, sounds like a nice name for the 111th birthday to me.
Certainly no worse than people talking about “tweens” or “baby boomers” or “Gen-X’ers” or “Gen-Y’ers” when talking about age groups today.

To the OP: It’s fantasy. Do you know what fantasy is? If you want to read something in the genre of Realism, then don’t read a fantasy book.

I think it’s one of the better opening lines out there. Up there with, “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen,” for quickly establishing that you’re dealing with a world outside of your normal experience.

Wait. Another try? Had you been put off by the first sentence before?

The first third of Lord of the Rings is nothing but set up. The story doesn’t really get rolling until the breaking of the fellowship.

That said, if you don’t enjoy Tolkien’s style, don’t read him. I, for one, see no point in forcing myself to read an author that I don’t enjoy, and you shouldn’t either.

And, that said, if you’re expecting sympathy for your criticism of his style, you’re on the wrong message board. :stuck_out_tongue:

Exactly. And anyone who can’t figure out what “eleventy-one” is, or who can’t be bothered to think for 2 seconds (eighty-one, ninety-one), probably shouldn’t bother reading the book. Hey, it’s just not for you. But don’t tell us it’s not a good book, or that the author is a “wanker”. You just didn’t like it,

Close to the OP’s theme, I was talking with a colleague about having read and enjoyed I, Claudius (and Claudius the God) not withstanding the exceptionally long opening line.

He challenged me to read Ray Federman’s “Double or Nothing”. When I started I had a nice bottle of red, and by the time I finished the first sentence I was nearly pissed. I can’t recall reading beyond the first page.

Seconded. I love LOTR (as my username will surely reveal) and think Tolkien built his legendarium, word by word, with amazing skill and ageless appeal. But it’s clearly not for everyone.

“Oh God, not another fucking elf!”-Inkling Hugo Dyson, during a reading by Tolkein of Lord of the Rings.

“It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents–except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.”

– opening line of Paul Clifford, by Edward Bulwer Lytton

“Gerald began—but was interrupted by a piercing whistle which cost him ten percent of his hearing permanently, as it did everyone else in a ten-mile radius of the eruption, not that it mattered much because for them “permanently” meant the next ten minutes or so until buried by searing lava or suffocated by choking ash—to pee.”

– 2007 Bulwer Lytton Grand Prize winner for the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels, written by me.

I have some expertise in bad opening sentences.

I haven’t been able to get into “The Hobbit” yet, but I did manage “Lord of the Rings.” For me the trick was to just skim over the songs and the parts where Tolkien was describing every leaf and twig in a forest - that turned it into a legendary fantasy story. I might have to have another go at “The Hobbit” one of these days, too.