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We all have books we’ve been meaning to read but just keep putting aside, and J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion has been on my list for at least a decade. I’m ashamed to say my paperback copy of the book spent seven years in the trunk of my car because I never took it out after I moved. Oops. It’s finally time to dive in though, and I’d like you to join me in exploring the lands beyond Middle-earth. We’ll read The Silmarillion together in bite-sized pieces and discuss the latest pages once a week.

Haven’t heard of The Silmarillion? The stories within it explore more of the world we got to know and love in The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. The book dives into the mythology of the universe of Eä (which Middle-earth is part of). The Silmarillion was edited by Tolkien’s son, Christopher Tolkien, and published after Tolkien’s death. It’s comprised of five parts, and Christopher used material from Tolkien’s older writings to fill in the gaps as well has material he created. I’ve heard mixed responses to the book, but I’m curious enough about the legends and history within its pages to commit. We’ll see if I feel that way in a few weeks.

We’re going to split The Silmarillion into 13 parts to make it digestible. The first discussion post will be on Tuesday, July 8, and they’ll go up every Tuesday after that until we’re finished. If you’d like to read along with me, you’ll need the 1985 mass market paperback edition. The ISBN number is 0345325818, and you can get it online for less than six dollars or request it from your local library. The cover looks like this:

the silmarillion cover

If you can’t track down that exact copy, you can still follow along with the reading schedule. Just be aware that your book may be slightly different. We’ll be tackling about 30 pages per week:

Part 1: Ainulindalë and Valaquenta – discussion July 8
Part 2: Chapters 1-4 – discussion July 15
Part 3: Chapters 5-8 – discussion July 22
Part 4: Chapters 9-10 – discussion July 29
Part 5: Chapters 11-13 – discussion August 5
Part 6: Chapters 14-16 – discussion August 12
Part 7: Chapters 17-18 – discussion August 19
Part 8: Chapter 19 – discussion August 26
Part 9: Chapter 20 – discussion September 2
Part 10: Chapter 21 – discussion September 9
Part 11: Chapters 22-24 – discussion September 16
Part 12: Akallab̻th Рdiscussion September 23
Part 13: Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age – discussion September 30

A couple of pieces of advice before you get started:
– Don’t obsess about the pronunciations. It’s easy to get hung up on how to say a name, and it can suck the joy right out of reading. Pronounce names however you want and make up nicknames if it makes it simpler.
– Bookmark the family trees and maps so you can flip right to them when needed.

Who’s ready to go on an adventure with me? You’ll need to read Ainulindalë and Valaquenta by July 8. Journey to the comments and tell me if you’ll be participating. Be sure to let me know if you have questions here or hit me up on Twitter. In fact, if you’re going to read The Silmarillion and you use Twitter, let me know your user name so I can update you when the latest discussion goes live. Finally, when you tweet or post on any social media about the read-along, please use the hashtag #NerdistBookClub.

Featured image by Gordon Theobald

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  1. John Enfield says:

    So, where did the discussion about the first two parts happen on the 8th? I was going to participate but my week got crazy and I missed it.

    I’d say that I enjoyed reading it.  It’s amazing to think that this was all invented by Tolkien himself.  He was, no doubt, inspired and influenced by the other creation stories he’d studied from real-world cultures.  It especially reminds me of Norse mythology.  But he still managed to invent his own imaginary culture to set all of his other books in. No wonder they feel so real and believable as we read them. They’ve go the mother of all back-stories for them.

    I especially like the ‘god’ Ulmo. Not because he has a name almost like the name of a familiar red Muppet, but because I like the character that Tolkien gives him.  I can just imagine him rising up out of the water of the sea, river or lake to see what is happening on land.  Have you seen the movie ‘Prince Caspian’? I imagine Ulmo looking a bit like the water spirit in that movie when it destroys the bridge. 

  2. helloooooo this place is emptier than arda before eru started the whole “music to create stuff” thing.

  3. At the beginning of the book I was a bit confused, but later on I read easily as the story progressed

  4. XagzanOTM says:

    “…a third theme grew amid the confusion, and it was unlike the others. For it seemed at first soft and sweet, a mere rippling of of gentle sounds in delicate melodies; but it could not be quenched, and it took to itself power and profundity.”
    Even if Tolkien didn’t particularly have hobbits in mind when writing that bit, and of course the third theme was about the Children of Iluvatar (Elves and Men), I couldn’t help but read Frodo and Sam in it. Cause that’s really what the hobbits were about, wasn’t it? Simple, peaceful folks with unyielding strength and courage, even if they were small, even if they didn’t realize it. 
    Gandalf recognized it, and loved them for it (and for their pipe-weed).
    Just something that came to mind.

  5. A little to similar to Genesis if you ask me, but cool never the less. I like how we learn a little of the hierarchy with Sauron and Morgoth. 

    • XagzanOTM says:

      I don’t know if it’s too similar…I mean, they both have a God and a creation story (and only 1 at that; Genesis has 2), but aside from that Genesis is actually pretty different in its subject matter, intent, theme, etc.

    • XagzanOTM says:

      (meant Ainulindale has 1 creation story)

  6. Lara-Anne says:

    Is there a certain time that the discussions will start?

  7. lokiarty says:

    Music and themes is an interesting way of creation 

  8. Christine says:

    Got my copy mailed to me just in time to speed read the part we’re discussing. Twitter handle is @News_on_Shuffle . I look forward to following this adventure with everyone 🙂

  9. jamal says:

    how do i follow this?

  10. jamal says:

    How do I get in on this? Ive already read it but im interested

  11. Elise Elliott says:

    I am in, although late!

  12. I’m 100% in! Twitter: @scarletregina

  13. Wesley Wells says:

    count me in! 

  14. brainwise says:

    :: Tap, tap, tap :: Is this thing taking comments?

  15. brainwise says:

    OK. I’m going to try to participate! Twitter: @brainwise

  16. brainwise says:

    I’m gonna try to participate in this!  Twitter: @brainwise

  17. mrdo says:

    Yes. I’m in. @mrdo

  18. very excited to read this book again! i read it for a class a few years ago, wrote about it and even presented at a conference, but rushed through so fast, it will be nice to slow down and get into discussions. where will be we discussing? twitter? the comment section right here? looking forward to july 8!

  19. Devonn says:

    Totally in! Twitter: @devonndrossel

  20. Kim Shennan says:

    I’m in.  Had to search the entire house for my very old and worn copy.  🙂

  21. Kim says:

    I’m in. Searched the entire house, but I finally found my copy of the book! Yay!!

  22. Damns_Nation says:

    I’m in! I’ve been meaning to read this for two decades.

  23. darcy says:

    Twitter @nekomancy will be joining #nerdistbookclub

  24. T_ says:

    I am in….   @T_magus666  

  25. Lara-Anne Barnard says:

    Lara-Anne BarnardI’m in

  26. T_ says:

    I am definitely in … I found a used copy .”T” as in Tom   

  27. T_ says:

    I found my copy and I will be participating for sure. “T” as in Tom …  [email protected]  

  28. Leslee says:

    I borrowed a copy from a friend so I’m totally doing this. Twitter: sugafreefatgirl

  29. Jason Wadsworth says:

    I mentioned I’m in, but here is my twitter @ajwadsworth

  30. I’ve been reading the histories (currently on book 3: The Lays of Beleriand), but I think it will be a lot of fun to go through this book again more slowly and discuss with others who are interested. I’m really looking forward to it!

  31. Heather says:

    I’ve been reading the histories (currently at book 3: The Lays of Beleriand), but I think I will enjoy reading this at a more casual pace alongside the histories.

  32. Karen says:


  33. John Enfield says:

    Finished reading the ‘assignment’ for the book club yesterday. Should be some interesting discussion of this.  Lots of complex subplots and a lot of characters introduced here.  Almost like reading the origin myths of some long lost civilization rather than a fantasy story.

  34. John Enfield says:

    It’s not easy for some people to read without study aides but it really makes the world that the more familiar books of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings even more rich and full than they otherwise are.

    If you’ve already read those books, this one explains the background for them alot.  If you read this first, things would probably make even more sense in the other Tolkein books.

  35. John Enfield says:

    Agreed! A group reading always helps keep me motivated for dense books like this.