My wife and I are currently cleaning out our kids play room, as they spend the second part of their fall break with their grandparents a few hours away. We purchased a new couch, to take up space, and to help transition it from “chaotic room with toys everywhere” to “recreational room for the whole family.” This is an important transition as the kids get older I think, and part of our general settling in process as we celebrate four years in the same house – the most time we have ever spend in one location as a family.
As part of that process, I am whittling away, once again, at my collection of books. With the advent of Kindle, and my becoming more accustomed to it (and accepting of it), I have transitioned some of my hard copy collection to digital copies. And as I have gotten older and expanded my reading breadth, some books have fallen out of favor with me, or I have just realized (or accepted) that these are not book that I wanted to read.
One particular set of books, taking up significant space on the shelf, has drawn my attention, and a question. Do I have to have this set on my shelf to truly consider myself a fan of fantasy?
I read the Lord of the Rings trilogy as a teenage, already realizing their significance, and already a fan of the genre. And I will admit, it was a difficult read for me. And that is saying a lot, given that I tackled The Elfstones of Shannara at the tender age of 10. I got some helpful advice (skip the poetry and songs) and put my nose to the grindstone and finished the series. I reread part of The Fellowship of the Ring before the first movie came out, but it was just as difficult a read all those years later. So while I appreciate the series, and respect it…I can’t say that its one of my favorites, or that I will be rereading it anytime soon.
So when clearing space, I started to put it in the box to pass on or sell, but I was haunted by a thought. Is this one of those integral series that a true fan of fantasy *has* to have on their shelf to have some credibility and respect? I mean I love Kindle and all, but some books are trophies and markers as much as they are reading material. There are certain staples one has to have on the shelf, mixed with those personal favorites that demonstrate personality, and then a few rarities and “b-sides” mixed in to show off and generate talking points for one’s collection.
For now, the set remains on the shelf, and the box remains open and not completely full. I figured I would sleep on it and make a decision later this week. What do you think dear readers? Do I need to keep it? Can they go? Am I just being paranoid, or do any of you out there agree with that little voice I am hearing in my head?
And beyond that – what defines a fan of fantasy? Are there certain classics that need to have been read? Or is there any real bar there that people need to meet? Do you have greater respect for those that have read things like Lord of the Rings?