(You knew this was coming.)
In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit hole, and that means comfort.
So begins The Hobbit, by J. R. R. Tolkien. If you're like me, you've read this line a thousand times, so often that you scarcely need to see the words to remember what they say.
Like so many other great books, I read The Hobbit in third grade, the year I started homeschooling. Shortly after I went nuts for The Book of Three and Harry Potter, my Wonderful Mother, wondering if it mightn't be unhealthy for me to reread books so much, dug through her old childhood classics and pulled out a yellow, vintage novel with close print and her childish signature in the front. The Hobbit, by J. R. R. Tolkien.
I wish I could tell you that I devoured it in one sitting and that it became an instant favorite.
But... I can't.
I'm rather ashamed of this next part.
I obligingly sat down and read the first two chapters. Dwarves! Songs! Hoods!
And then I reached chapter three, where Bilbo, Gandalf, and the dwarves reach Rivendell and the merry, pretty, singing elves. Now, shortly before reading this book, I had fallen in love with Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl series (a series which has since fallen out of favor with me), and I knew with conviction that elves were stern, tough people, and they-- did not-- sing!
So I threw down The Hobbit and declared that I hated it. I was young and stupid then.
Time passed. And one miserable, wet, rainy day, I was in the mood for a new book. A distant memory of adventure and song floated through my mind, and I picked up The Hobbit again. I was a little older, a little wiser. I loved it.
The Hobbit is beautiful, innocent, childlike, and, above all, a portal to what I believe is the most interesting fantasy world ever created. It has dwarves, halflings, wizards, magic, adventure, a dragon, but above all, it has the faint, nostalgic recollection of the good old days of England before war came to Europe, when Tolkien was young.
Far over the misty mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away ere break of day
To seek the pale enchanted gold.
You remember the drill from last year! Comment on any of the favorite classics posts to be entered in the favorite classics giveaway! Entries are capped at one per post, but feel free to comment more. This series will conclude tomorrow, the 24th, to celebrate my birthday, and I will announce the winner on the 28th, so you can enter until then. As for the hint for tomorrow's book: this dramatic collection is tragic, comic, historical, tricky to read, and great fun!