This year I couldn't decide what I wanted for my big birthday present. I finally decided on the J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide (Two Volume Box Set) by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull for a combined anniversary and birthday present. It looks great!
Vol. 1 is The Reader's Guide (not to be confused with The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion by the same authors) which includes "comprehensive alphabetical entries on a wide range of topics, including a who's who of important persons, a guide to places and institutions, details concerning Tolkien's source material, information about the political and social upheavals through which the author lived, the importance of his social circle, his service as an infantryman in World War I -- even information on the critical reaction to his work and the 'Tolkien cult.'"
Vol. 2 is The Chronology. It "details the parallel evolutions of Tolkien's works and his academic and personal life in minute detail. Spanning the entirety of his long life including nearly sixty years of active labor on his Middle-earth creations, and drawing on such contemporary sources as school records, war service files, biographies, correspondence, the letters of his close friend C. S. Lewis, and the diaries of W. H. Lewis, this book will be an invaluable resource for those who wish to gain a complete understanding of Tolkien's status as a giant of twentieth-century literature."
I'm also really interested in the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment edited by Michael Drout but don't want to spend $200, especially since Drout and the contributors are not happy with Routledge. Apparently Routledge did not incorporate the final round of editing, much to everyone's frustration. Even so, it looks like an outstanding resource, but I think I'll let my university library pay for this one! For more on the Encyclopedia read Drout's story of its imperfections, visit Squiretalk or Squire's Reader's Diary.
I'm looking forward to my summer vacation so I can enjoy my new books!