There is really only one answer to the question ‘Name a book that changed your life’:
The Lord Of The Rings by John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
Back in 1981 I found three weird looking pockets on a flea market. Nothing special really; the cover art wasn’t exactly thrilling, quite the opposite! Here, take a look at “IN DE BAN VAN DE RING”.
It was my first year at university. I was staying over at my boyfriend’s house because I had an internship in a neighboring village and he lived closer by than I did. Meanwhile I was in the middle of moving to another, better student room.
In that crazy busy week, in between my internship, riding back and forth from one student room to the other, packing and transporting by bike, I took up the first part “De Reisgenoten” (The Fellowship). For eighty pages I wondered what the heck it was all about, used as I was to literature from high school. But after those first pages time slowed and finally stood still.
I read on ’till deep in the night, only to start reading again at first light. This story, so full of imagination and fantasy, so vibrant and alive, adventurous and breathtaking, was unlike anything I had ever seen. I read and read, and when the final page of “The Return Of The King” had been turned, I took a deep breath and finally landed back on earth. This earth, not Middle Earth. I went out and bought The Hobbit. Only to start over again. And it never ever stopped after that. I had found a piece of myself in High Fantasy Land.
Soon I changed to English, because it is my belief that one should read a book in the language it is written in. If possible of course! Translating for example “Silverbeard” to “Zilverbaard”, “Bree” to “De Stee”, it just sounds less real, less exciting. Reading English, at first with two dictionaries at my side, became easier with every book. It prepared me for writing in English, expanding my vocabulary and showing me syntax and grammar.
And I’m always open for suggestions and corrections, so please do not hesitate if you see me writing something incorrect repeatedly. Thank you!
After “The Lord Of The Rings” many other fantasy books followed. “Wizard’s First Rule” and the rest of The Sword Of Truth series by Terry Goodkind is a close second. His creation Gratch the short-tailed gar has stolen my heart. Three quarters of my huge bookcase is filled with fantasy.
And when my back gave up on me, fantasy offered me an escape window into another world where the loss of an active life and sports was less painful. Far worse was done by Sauron than my hernia could ever do. I started writing at a fantasy forum, called The One Ring, where I found new friends, both online and face-to-face in Holland. Which also lead me to gaming. Which lead to even more international friends.
But most of all, John Tolkien with “The Lord Of The Rings” freed my imagination and fantasy. Daring me to explore new horizons, steering my whole life into a new direction. I owe him my books, my friends, my writing, my blogging. In a way, I owe him a big part of my life. And he will always have my everlasting gratitude and respect for that.