Wednesday, May 15, 2013

My Favorite Books: The Hobbit

As I was thinking back over some of the books that I really enjoyed when I was young, I realized that I’ve never written about one of my favorite books of all time. While Narnia got me into the fantasy genre, and reading The Lord of the Rings sealed my fantasy addiction and became my favorite book, there was one other book that told me I was on to something.

I’m talking about The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. After racing through the Chronicles of Narnia as an 11 or 12 year old, I was looking around for another book “like Narnia”. Once again, my mother came to the rescue with a suggestion—The Hobbit. I got hold of a copy from the library and devoured it.

Not only was it a good adventure, but it was really funny in places and scary in others. I think it has the perfect combination. This was my first “quest” book, and it really does feature a classic. There are 13 dwarves trying to recover their stolen gold. Their advisor is a wizard named Gandalf who recruits a simple, stay at home hobbit to go off and have an adventure. What’s funny is that he was selected as a burglar to steal the treasure (the idea of one small person trying to steal the wealth of an entire dwarf kingdom!) and to change the number of people in the party from an unlucky 13 to 14!

Bilbo is very put out at the thought of going on an adventure. When the dwarves tell him the golden horde was stolen and is guarded by a dragon named Smaug, he’s even more reluctant. Still, he screws up his courage and decides to go, although he is almost left behind. That sets him on a path that will change his life, and the course of history.

This book fueled my hunger for books of this type and led me to its sequel, The Lord of the Rings. From there I was off. I started reading a lot of fantasy, good and otherwise. I’ll tell you about the next step on that journey next time!

Here's a look at the animated classic version from Rankin Bass:

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