As a scientific assistant and managing director of the Institute of Intercultural and International Studies (InIIS), Dr. Roy Karadag reads masses of specialist literature. So much in fact that the time left for private reading has continually become less over the years. However, one book has become a part of his life and he reads it over and over again regularly: The Silmarillion by J. R. R. Tolkien, the mythological prequel to The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. It’s his absolute favorite book.
“I currently read very, very little in my free time,” admits Roy Karadag in an almost apologetic manner right at the beginning of the interview. “I am gifted many novels but just can’t keep up.” One reason is that he is writing his own book about the history of social policy in Africa. The time left after working and day-to-day life is short. “I would have more time to read if I set more time aside,” knows the family father. “On holiday, I sometimes read a whole novel in a few days,” as he did with Unterleuten by Juli Zeh. However, he often turns to half-scientific literature in the evening, shortly before going to sleep.
Like an Addiction
One book that Roy Karadag has repeatedly read since his youth is Tolkien’s The Silmarillion - his undisputed favorite book. “It started when I was 11 or 12. I read my first Lord of the Rings book then.” Initially he read it in German and then went on to only read the English original. “Tolkien not only enchanted me with the language but also with the story,” reminisces the politics and Islam scholar about his first reading experience. And he soaked up everything like a sponge. After Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, he also devoured The Silmarillion. The highly complex epic tells the story of gods and heroic sagas, as well as the creation of the world. The collection, which was published posthumously and was not completed by Tolkien, focuses on the creation of Middle Earth and thus forms the foundation of his more popular novels from a chronological perspective.
Escaping Everyday Life
Roy Karadag continues to read The Silmarillion nearly every year and this repetitiveness seems to have become a personal ritual of his. “In order to stay in the Middle Earth cosmos,” he explains - and for him to dive into and unfold in Tolkien’s mythical work, which fascinated him as a boy. “To be a hero just once! That’s what everyone dreams of at that age.” And with Tolkien, the young role play fan found more than enough inspiration to escape from his mundane everyday life as a school pupil in Kiel.
Tolkien’s Mythical World
What still enthralls him today is the multifaceted nature of good and evil. Figures from Greek mythology, such as Prometheus, appear in a changed form. When the boundaries of evil are crossed, these characters are continually challenged to fight for good. The fights against monsters, dragons, and magical beings still amaze him and the book remains interesting despite him having read it several times. He discovers new things, views it from a different perspective, and recognizes even more similarity to heroic stories from the Old Testament. “I did find Tolkien more interesting than the Bible as a child,” he laughs.
And what about Game of Thrones or similar fantasy series? Does he like them? “They’re nice but it’s not the same,” answers Roy Karadag immediately. He is only interested in the original - for him, Tolkien wrote the “basis works” for all fantasy literature.
Recommendation for all Fantasy Fans
Roy Karadag recommends that all Lord of the Rings fans read the maybe less known book The Silmarillion as a way of getting started with Middle Earth.
How often has he read his favorite book? That’s something that Roy Karadag can’t say exactly. Yet he is sure that he will continue to read Tolkien’s The Silmarillion in the future - over and over again.
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