This is an essay by Vanessa Santilli.
As a dedicated Lord of the Rings fan, it was to my chagrin that I had unsuccessfully been trying to read J.R.R. Tolkien’s prelude The Hobbit for years. But with the upcoming release of Peter Jackson’s highly anticipated film version hitting theatres Dec. 14, I knew it was time to give it another go.
This time, something was different. I sped through the novel and loved every Hobbit and dwarf-filled minute of it. For the unconverted, here are the top seven reasons book aficionados should read the epic tale.
1. You’ll be able to compare it to the movie for accuracy.
How else will you be able to decide whether the movie did justice to the book? Book lovers everywhere can vouch for the fact that analyzing the casting and plot to a fault is almost as fun as seeing the movie.
2. It’s a far easier read than the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Although the movie will be a trilogy, there’s only one book–and no appendices or unfinished tales. You can enjoy all the ups and downs of the perilous journey to the Lonely Mountain without too much commitment. And then you can move on.
3. Tolkien was one of the literary greats of the 20th century.
J.R.R. Tolkien, friends with Narnia creator C.S. Lewis, didn’t just create Middle Earth. He created languages for its inhabitants. As literary classics, Tolkien’s works should be on every reading enthusiast’s literary bucket list.
4. To experience the beauty of language.
Tolkien’s powers of description are unmatched. Travelling approximately a year’s journey across many different lands, the reader is able to easily visualize every change in scenery. As well, the character development takes place primarily through the use of witty dialogue and off-the-cuff humour. But what stands out is Tolkien’s ability to capture raw emotion. “Out up there a silence reigned, broken by no bird or sound except that of the wind in the crannies of stone,” he writes. “They spoke low and never called or sang, for danger brooded in every rock.”
5. It will reinvigorate your imagination.
Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who has no desire to go on adventures. But he suddenly finds himself in the midst of mythical creatures he’s only ever read about. This novel brings you from the dark heart of goblin-infested mountains to the fairytale-like home of a man by day and bear by night. Expect the unexpected.
6. It’s the back story to the Lord of the Rings.
In The Hobbit, Gollum plays a major role, much to his dismay. We also are introduced to the sword, Sting, and we learn about the origins of the mithril under armour Frodo finds so useful throughout his quest to destroy the One Ring.
7. To appreciate the importance of always keeping hope alive, even when all seems lost.
Every time one road block is overcome, it seems 10 more appear during the trek to recover the dwarves’ lost treasure from Smaug, the dragon. But always, they journey onwards. They never give up and always find a glimmer of hope in the mostly unlikely places. It’s a lesson we could all apply to our own lives, as far removed as they may be from Tolkien’s fantasy world.
Vanessa Santilli is a self-professed Lord of the Rings aficionado and hopes to one day visit New Zealand. In the meantime, she is a Toronto-based journalist and freelance writer. Visit her website at www.vanessasantilli.com or follow her on Twitter @V_Santilli.