Stepping Beyond the Basics

Books written or edited by Christopher Tolkien (Refresh page to see more options):
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Stepping Beyond the Basics

A couple of analyses by Tom Shippey:
Shippey is the most visible and one of the most highly respected Tolkien scholars around today.  Not everyone who studies Tolkien agrees with all of Shippey's conclusions, so read his book(s) ready to take what works for you and leave what doesn't.  But whether you agree with one of his points or not, it will get you thinking...  
J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century, by Tom Shippey.  "The" current scholarly book on Tolkien's writing, it focuses a bit more on placing Tolkien within the times in which he lived than does the same author's The Road to Middle-earth.
The Road to Middle-earth: Revised and Expanded Edition, by Tom Shippey. This is an earlier work by Shippey, now revised and released in paperback, that's considered more "important" by many Tolkien scholars than Author of the Century.
Some books from Verlyn Flieger:
Professor Flieger is my personal favorite among Tolkien commentators; she seems to understand the "heart" knowledge of Middle-earth as well as she does the "head" knowledge.  But her head knowledge is in no way lacking.  She tends to look at Tolkien's writing by making connections, while Shippey is  more likely to analyze a passage or an idea by teasing it apart.
Splintered Light: Logos and Language in Tolkien's World,
by Verlyn Flieger
Splintered Light: Logos and Language in Tolkien's World,
by Verlyn Flieger

A Question of Time: J.R.R. Tolkien's Road to Faerie, by Verlyn Flieger

Back to the Source with HoMe:
Christopher Tolkien has done monumental work in editing his father's Middle-earth-related notes and drafts.  The History of Middle-earth (HoMe) has a dozen volumes now.  They're fascinating studies of the process of subcreation, but don't buy them expecting stories.  They're not the history of Middle-earth in the way The Silmarillion is, but rather the history of how Middle-earth came into being through J.R.R. Tolkien's imagination and writing.  

Here are three possible ways to first sink your teeth into HoMe.  First is a boxed set of the first 5 volumes of the work.  Second is a suggestion for anyone interested primarily in LotR, with a boxed set of 4 volumes that talk specifically about the writing of that book.  Third is a smaller bite--the first volume of HoMe by itself.

The Histories of Middle-earth, (set of volumes 1-5):
The History of The Lord of the Rings (4- volume set):
The Book of Lost Tales I (The History of Middle-earth, volume 1):

Between The Silmarillion and HoMe: Unfinished Tales
Unfinished Tales is more about "tales" than the HoMe books are, but the tales in it are in lesser or greater states of being... well... unfinished.  Christopher published it after The Silmarillion, for people who wanted more background on the stories found in that book.  When that wasn't enough, he began the HoMe books, which, actually, weren't considered a series when they started. Lost Tales was called "Lost Tales," not "The History of Middle-earth, Volume I," or even "Lost Tales I."  When it comes to inquisitiveness that's not cured by the giving of information, hobbits are nothing compared to Tolkien readers!    
Unfinished Tales:

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