As I settle into a tryptophan-induced lull, I guess I’m in a family mood (Thanksgiving being family-oriented in general). Thus, today’s entry reflects on a Book that Shaped My Life that I would probably never had read if it weren’t for my daughter. A very—how shall I put it—interesting child, she started reading at 18 months. By five she was reading novels. When it came time for a first grade book project at school, I suggested she read J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Hobbit, or There and Back Again. What I did not confess to my young and gifted child was this: I had never actually read the book myself. As odd as it was to watch a seven-year-old digest the book, I could not stand by not knowing what she was reading.
The Hobbit is probably all-too-well-known now, or certainly will be when Peter Jackson’s first part adaptation hits theaters in a month. However, unlike The Lord of the Rings, Mr. Tolkein’s earlier work is very accessible to readers young and old. While LotR has somewhat of a cult following, The Hobbit feels a bit whimsical. I distinctly remember the humor of the dwarves, the inherent comedy of Bilbo Baggins… even Gollum didn’t feel particularly menacing as he told those “riddles in the dark.” Even the central character of Smaug, the dragon, had less than menacing fire breathing.
In many ways, The Hobbit is a children’s story, as opposed to the heady themes and intricate language of LotR. However, it is also a book that appeals to adults. If you haven’t read it (or haven’t read it recently), pull out a copy to review with your kids before heading out to the theaters next month to see it with your kids.