it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.

It was on this day in 1937 – 70 years ago – that J.R.R. Tolkien published The Hobbit, his first novel. Though I was not able to get into the Lord of the Rings trilogy until I was an adult, The Hobbit has been one of my very favorite books for as long as I can remember. I learned to read very early and read everything I could get my hands on, so my parents practically had to start hiding anything with inappropriate subject matter. This included my mother’s medical books, the reading of which convinced me that I was dying of a number of horrible and rare diseases despite all evidence to the contrary.

But Mom had a paperback copy of The Hobbit, and I was allowed to read that one. I don’t have a clue how old I was when I first read it, but I remember exactly where it was kept on the tall bookshelf in our house in Colorado. I read that book literally dozens of times – so many times, in fact, that the front cover and a few of the beginning pages disintegrated years ago.

I was never able to get into The Chronicles of Narnia as a kid, and even when I forced myself to read them as an adult, I could never see what all the fuss was about. And I never got into the stupid cheesy cartoon they released. I knew exactly how everything looked and sounded and smelled based on my time with that crumbling paperback, and it was all I needed. The Hobbit was to me what The Chronicles of Narnia were for many children my age. It nurtured a vivid imagination and love of fantasy that I still have today. It was a book I loved like a security blanket, that I went back to again and again and lost myself in every time. It made a profound impact on the person I am today.

At some point in the last few years, I swiped that old tattered copy of the book from my mom’s bookshelf, and I’ve had it with me ever since. (Sorry, Mom, and no, I’m not giving it back.) Just like I remember where it was on that old tall dark bookshelf in Colorado, I can picture where it is on my bookshelf at home this very minute. I might not go back to it as often as I used to, but I take some comfort in knowing it’s there whenever I need it.

Comments 5

  • My Dad read The Hobbit to us when we were little. I remember we’d all get on his waterbed and listen to him read a little at a time…

  • When I was fifteen years old, my parents were divorcing. The Hobbit was required reading at Reno High School in Nevada where I was enrolled to wait out the six weeks residency requirement for a “quickie” divorce. Not quite as quick as people imagine. It was my escape from the realities of life that were trying to crash in upon me and a comfort during a trying time. So although my love of books want me to demand you return one of my favorite books, it comforts me to know that it is a comfort to you as it was to me then, plus I know where you live….

  • I read Hobitt to, because I like short people.

  • Interestingly enough, I just reread the Hobbit myself about a month ago. The word “classic” is used so often it loses some of its meaning, but this work is a classic in the truest sense. My #1 daughter read it after 2nd grade, daughter #2 is hesitant because she heard someone say people had their heads chopped off.

    When I readd the trilogy for the first time, I thought it was basically over after the big battle in Return of the King, and got bored of what I thought was just going to be blah blah about feasting, rejoicing, glory, honor, etc, so I stopped reading (though enjoyed the series immensely). It wasn’t until the second read that I discovered that quite a bit lay ahead for Frodo.

    The setting can be so real that people in the 70s began to loose track at times between reality and fantasy, and took role-playing to extremes. I did play D&D a few times and found it recreational, but shied away from those who were obsessed with it.

    Btw, underground homes, done properly, could help to reduce our heating and cooling energy use. See http://flatrock.org.nz/topics/odds_and_oddities/underground_retreat.htm and page down.

  • Um… I’ve actually never read The Hobbit . Apparently it used to be part of the 7th grade reading list until some crazy parents complained about it, so we read The House of Dies Drear instead. It was, the suck.

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