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Why I Love The Hobbit

It's impossible to tell you what The Hobbit means to me in just a short video, but I can tell you that I've loved this book since I was a kid.

When I was about 10 or 11, my Uncle Rich handed me a beat up paperback and said, "You have to read this." He was so earnest that I just said, "okay!"

So I read the book, and became an instant Tolkien fan. The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and all the collected lore that goes with those works is the kind of fiction that gets inside you. These books are full of deep themes and they're so intricately plotted, and yet both children and adults enjoy them.

There are Elves and wizards and dragons and maps of places we've never heard of, but despite the mythical elements, I get the sense that Tolkien's talking about a world much like our own.

Sure, there's spectacular adventure and danger, but those moments are balanced by things that we may have experienced, like lazy autumn days and having a bite to eat with a few friends.

We see all these universal themes like friendship, courage, nobility, love. But the book doesn't gloss over the flaws of its heroes, and it certainly doesn't avoid some of the more difficult realities of life.

For all it's wonderful moments of humor, there are some heartbreaking moments in The Hobbit, as well. And that balance is part of what lends such an air of realism to the book and keeps me so engaged while I'm reading it.

I loved Bilbo and the way Gandalf drags him into the adventure, especially since I was something of an outcast growing up. So I could identify with Bilbo's fears and his embarrassment at not having the right answer all the time, and feeling like he didn't quite belong in this expedition.

I love the many different ways that Bilbo grows over the course of the novel and the way he overcomes the challenges he faces. And he's just feeling his way...he's trying to help these people that he's becoming increasingly fond of, trying to live up to their expectations of him, even when he has no idea how to go about it. And along the way, he finds out who he truly is.

But one of the fondest memories I have of that first time reading the novel is that my uncle enjoyed it vicariously through me. He'd ask, "What part are you on now?" And I'd say, "I'm at the part where they meet that bear-guy in the woods...Beorn?" And he'd say, "Oh yeah, that's a great part." And he had to bite his tongue; it was all he could do not to tell me what happened next.

So, we laughed together at all the funny parts, and we were somber together at the sad parts. We had a great time enjoying that book together and I'm forever grateful to my uncle for introducing it to me.

I continue to read the book often. Every time I read it, as soon as I arrive in the Shire, it's just like coming home.