Effective Treatment of Post-Reading-Tolkien Syndrome {Guest Post}

September 28, 2012

My name is Rebekah Hendrian, and I am one of the owners/designers of VirvatuliDesigns, from West Michigan, USA. I am a 23 year old writer who works in a bookstore and runs an Etsy shop on the side. I am working on publishing my first novel, an Arthurian retelling for ages 10 and up, which means I am writing queries and getting rejection letters. I love to read, and when I have the time, my favorite things to read, after anything written by Tolkien, would be historical fantasy, dystopian/cyberpunk or steampunk novels, and nonfiction. I also like pre-90's Marvel comics, and I dabble in art.

Our Shop:
VirvatuliDesigns is the storefront for Rebekah and Grace Hendrian's excess creativity. Virvatuli is Finnish for "will o'the wisp." While neither Rebekah nor Grace is Finnish (that they know), will o'the wisps, fairy lights, ghost candles, etc., are a folklore motif, and are here today, gone tomorrow. It was quite fitting for fantasy inspired crafts that, because of the way they're made, can never be replicated exactly. And it was fun to write in calligraphy.
Grace makes dolls that are inspired by fairy tales, legends, pop culture, and her favorite novels, sometimes all at once. She hopes to add some male characters to her doll collection, so be on the look out for those in the future. Rebekah does most of the knitting, and likes to knit gloves more than anything else. Her designs are inspired by books first, the natural world and folklore next, and she is planning on adding some larger knit pieces, such as cardigans, in the future.

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(Note from Shaylynn: There are still four days left to enter the giveaway of their Elven handflowers!)

A Few Suggestions for the Effective Treatment of Post-Reading-Tolkien Syndrome

        Do you ever look outside, and wish that there were elves passing through your backyard? Do you watch the latest fantasy film and decide it's just not good enough? Do you see mossy knolls and think, “I say, but wouldn't that make the cutest little Hobbit hole?”

       If you answered yes to any one of these questions, you might have Post-Reading-Tolkien Syndrome (or PRTS for short). PRTS is an uncomfortable condition, and cannot be treated by the medical community. As a sufferer of PRTS myself, I've compiled a list of helpful suggestions and
activities to soothe the discomforts brought on by PRTS, and bring you back to reality with a gentle push, not a shove.

  1. First, to get yourself in the right frame of mind, you
    should brew a cup of tea, and bake/purchase some Lembas or Seed Cakes. If, like
    me, you haven't found a working recipe for Lembas yet, you can substitute
    shortbread-it looks right.
  2. Listen to some music while you bake. Here are a few suggestions:
If you can't find any of these albums or artists, just put on a Howard Shore or Celtic Internet radio station.

     Now that you have taken care of the music and the victuals (wise preparations for any adventure), you have to find another book to read. This can be a very difficult, and sometimes painful process, and you will need the music and food to fortify you. Reading any masterwork can make other books seem sub-par (or reveal the truth, if you will). So you have to let yourself down slowly. Here are some suggestions to make it easier on yourself:

If you just read The Hobbit, and are looking for light adventure fare with deep themes, read The Chronicles of Narnia or The Princess and the Goblin, or Susan Fletcher's Dragon Chronicles.
You also might try Christopher Paolini's Eragon. If you are a young Tolkien fan and wish there were more books with fantastical places and creatures, try the Fablehaven series or Beyonders: A World Without Heroes, both by Brandon Mull, or the Redwall series.

If you read The Lord of the Rings Trilogyand need another series with a returning king and unlikely heroes, read Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain or The Monster Blood Tattoo Trilogy by D. M. Cornish (not nearly as silly as it sounds-with a very Tolkien feel!).

If you're feeling more epic size and fantasy to boot, also read Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke-which is an amazing book on its own. If you're on the younger end, or more interested
in the humans than elves, try the Ranger's Apprentice Series by John Flanagan.

If you read the Silmarillion, The Lost Talesor Unfinished Tales, and need more dreamy locales, bittersweet endings, epic romances, legendary heroes, and/or magic, try The Forgotten Beasts of Eldby Patricia A. McKillip, The Hero and the Crown or Chalice, Robin McKinley, the Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix, Til We Have Faces, by C. S. Lewis, Le Morte D'Arthur, or The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope.

If you read The Legend of Sigurd and Gudruntry Beowulf, retro (pre 90's) Thor comics (I'm serious),  Rosemary Sutcliff's Historical Fiction, Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea Series, The Song of Roland, Susan Cooper's TheDark is Rising series, Stephen R. Lawhead's The Dragon King Trilogy, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (translated by Tolkien!) or good old collections of Norse Mythology.

If you read Smith of Wootton Major or Farmer Giles of Ham, try Grimm's Fairy Tales, Patricia Wrede's Enchanted Forest Chronicles, T. H. White's The Sword in the Stone,  or Cornelia Funke's Inheart.

If you read Roverandom, try Andrew Peterson's Wingfeather Saga, Neil Gaiman's Odd and the Frost Giants, or N. D. Wilson's 100 Cupboards Trilogy.

If you read any or all of the above, or if you need to laugh, hard, I would also recommend The Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones and Gerald Morris's The Squire's Tales (Arthurian mischief and humor).

And finally, if reading a book is too hard right now, here are five more activities to ease your Post-Reading-Tolkien Syndrome:
  1. Walk through a forest at twilight
  2. Watch a movie like Thor,
    a miniseries like the 10th Kingdom,
    or a TV show like Once Upon a Time.
  3. Look at Alan Lee's and J. W. Waterhouse's art books, or visual guides to EnglandIreland, Scotland, or Wales.
  4. Write a story about Elves, Dwarves, or anything else you wish was (or wasn't) real.
  5. Phone a similarly suffering friend and commiserate, then do any of the above activities together.

From one sufferer of PRTS to another, I hope these suggestions help you on your road to recovery.

R. L. Hendrian

Doctorous Nonapplicabus

Pioneer in the study of PRTS and its effects.

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  1. HUGE Tolkien fan over here! I love the movie, love the books even more, have studied it in literature...and I do desperatly suffer from these sypmtoms after listening/reading the book! Haven't read it for a while though...need to have a Lord of the Rings reading month...Thanks for the awesome suggestions!


  2. lol, I know the feeling. Patricia McKillip's "Riddle-Master of Hed" series is also brilliantly done. Beautiful descriptions and everything. :)

    Basically anything written by Diana Wynne Jones is worth reading. She's one of my all time favorite fantasy writers.

  3. Absolutely fabulous suggestions! I've read probably 90% of the books on this list, so I clearly suffer from PRTS a whole lot of the time. :)
    I'd like to add anything by Brandon Sanderson to the list. Elantris, the Mistborn trilogy, Warbreaker, The Way of Kings...phenomenal books. Complex characters, fully-developed government and religions in each, complex and completely original magic systems, adventure romance, intrigue, mystery. It's all there. In my opinion, he is the only fantasy writer since Tolkien who reaches Tolkien's level of High Fantasy. Any Tolkien-lover should read (and subsequently adore) him!

  4. JMJ

    wow! I don't know how I've survived without these tips. briliant! :)
    In Christ,

  5. How funny, I was just talking about this syndrome with a friend last night! The suggestions sound great - I haven't read most of those books, actually, so I'm excited to look for them.

    Awesome post!

  6. Thanks all, and thanks Shealynn for letting me be a part of this :)


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