Last night I decided to indulge in a little retail therapy at Tar-jay. They didn't have the Jeff Buckley CD I wanted (I've decided, after years of hearing everyone's raves, to try Jeff Buckley), but I found something even better: Johnny Cash's latest, The Man Comes Around. Then I stood there for like an hour debating whether to buy the one-volume version of Lord of the Rings or maybe pick up a copy of The Hobbit for that matter. I managed to bypass both, telling myself the library has lots of copies. Then I went home and didn't even get around to listening to Johnny Cash (it's cool; I've already heard it and it both rules AND rocks) because I got so sucked into the battered paperback of The Fellowship of the Ring I picked up at a used bookstore with alison_says. Stayed up way too late, but it was worth it. I think I've found a new obsession to rival Homicide (though I'm pretty certain I could never be more obsessed with anything than I am with Homicide). I foresee wasting lots of money on action figures in the future.
Now, of course, I'm overwhelmed. Why do the elves leave Middle-Earth? Why is the Lost Realm of Arnor lost? Can someone explain the essential things to read and perhaps let me know if there's a "best" edition of the books? And does anyone know where I can find some decent maps?