After having put off blogging for a week, I’m determined to tackle the daunting stack of books that are waiting to be reviewed. Also, it doesn’t seem likely I’ll be finishing the books on my list for 2012. It doesn’t help that I lose focus and often read books that aren’t on the list. In fact, the only book that I did read the past week was The Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith. Although it isn’t on my list I don’t regret a bit for having read it. It was certainly very entertaining. But returning to those books that are waiting to be reviewed, I’ve decided to begin with The Hobbit by John Ronald Reuel Tolkien.
I’d actually taken this book with me on our visit to Kashmir last month. I honestly didn’t expect to find the time to read it. But as it usually is – there’s always time for anything that a person really likes and wants. So even though we returned to our room exhausted every evening of our stay, I still found the strength to bathe, write an account of my expenses, and read the adventures of Bilbo Baggins and the 13 Dwarves until my vision began to blur.
The Hobbit is the prelude to The Lord of the Rings, as you’ve probably heard. The story begins by introducing us to Bilbo Baggins, the Hobbit in question. We understand that although Mr. Baggins is like most other hobbits and doesn’t particularly like adventures or the unfamiliar, and would rather be cozy at home smoking his pipe, there is a streak of something contradictory in his nature passed down from his mother’s side. But regardless of this tiny streak of courage for adventure, Mr. Baggins is flabbergasted when he finds out that the wizard Gandalf has recommended him as a burglar to 13 dwarves who are on a journey to retrieve their stolen wealth and home.
The old home of the dwarves is the mighty mountain now occupied by Smaug, a terrifying and very wicked dragon. But apart from the hazardous act of retrieving what is rightfully theirs, the journey itself to the Mountain is dangerous. What with nasty goblins, trolls, one sneaky Gollum, and a few other interesting obstacles.
I thought this book was simply un-put-down-able! Reading in Kashmir made it come even more alive (is that possible?) with the misty mountains that were menacing at dusk and the intense scenic beauty by day. I could visualize it all so clearly. Of course, the book is written very well. It’s intense, and the characters are so lifelike that I was a little frightened at times. It’s silly, but I would freak out if anything that I knew to be fictional happened to show up in reality. Fantasy has a world of its own and when it begins to edge into my everyday life, it makes me a little nervous.
Another thing that I thought would be interesting is the debate over whether J.R.R. Tolkien’s books are christian based or not. I had read online sometime ago that while C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia are an allegory to salvation, J.R.R. Tolkien’s books are supposedly Satanic. I found that a little difficult to believe because in C.S. Lewis’ book, Surprised by Joy, he mentions that J.R.R. Tolkien had helped guide him to Christianity while they were both at Oxford.
But regardless of its theological depth, The Hobbit is a classic for its gripping description of a unique and enchanting world that seemingly overlaps with our own. It’s story is tightly woven and it’s characters engaging. The book leaves you with the feeling of having seen a brilliant life size painting but only having had the time to focus on one corner. But that minuscule portion is so beautiful and fulfilling that it fills you with awe to think that this is only a tiny part of it.
I loved this book! If you’ve read it, I’d love to know what you thought of it. If you haven’t, do try and read at least the first chapter. See if you’ll be able to stop there!