Book Thoughts: The Hobbit

The Hobbit was a fantasy book written by British author J. R. R. Tolkien and released in 1937. Tolkien has become famous in recent years with all the movies now being made based on his books, but the original books have been around for decades. I think I received this book as a gift from my grandpa during elementary school. The text was a little too dense the first time I read it. I only remembered sparse details of the story. There was just too much detail.

Tolkien created this entire world with different animals, different locations, historical events, weapons, magical artifacts, and more. In the book these were many times simply referenced off hand expecting the reader to already know what they meant. Think about real life, we read a news report with lots of proper names. We know most of those proper names so we understand it easily, but imagine being an alien and knowing nothing about Earth or its history. Reading a simple news story would be confusing until we learned the background of all the proper nouns.

I read The Hobbit again recently during a road trip and, having already seen The Lord of the Rings movies, was able to understand it a lot more. After getting home, I also had the power of the internet to look up topics and get more explanation. Having that background I really appreciated the detail this time. It was amazing how much work Tolkien put into the world of Middle-earth. This was one of the first times “worldbuilding” to this extent was done by a single person. They do this all the time for movies, TV shows, and video games these days (along with pen and paper role-playing games), but back then it was extremely rare. It was cool knowing how The Hobbit connected to the later Lord of the Rings story. Little did I know reading it those many years ago that a simple gold ring this little hobbit found would cause so much evil and destruction later on.

Despite all this though, I still am cautious when it comes to anything this detailed. I always fear that I will get too hooked on it. It’s not that I begin to believe it is real. I am always able to tell the difference between fantasy and reality. No, the problem is that I want to see the end of the story. Much like a TV show keeps egging you on for seasons to see all the loose ends tied, a long series of books can also get someone hooked. Luckily, Tolkien only wrote a few of these books, but I know of other book series that have hundreds of books. It is easy for a person to fall into materialism, wanting to have all the books and getting angry if anything gets in their way. I have made one exception to this rule: Star Wars novels. One of my only personal goals is to read all the novels. I am only spending a few hours each week reading though. I may never even read all the books at this rate, but I don’t mind. I enjoy the journey.

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