Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Why I may actually be forced to read one of my high school novels again.

True confessions time . . . I am not as culturally savvy as I should be. There are lots of some books I should have read that I haven't read. There are other books I've read that I wish I hadn't read.

I have a Master's degree in English, and I confess that I'm not a Tolkien fan.

There, I said it. It's out in the open now. If this makes me culturally illiterate, and I'm sure it does, you can stop reading my blog now. Click the "X" in the corner and never return.

But I feel much better. Like a load has been lifted from my shoulders.

I remember reading "The Hobbit" as a freshman in high school. I'm sure this is where my dislike of Tolkien began because, as I think about it now, I don't think I've attempted to read another of his books.

"The Hobbit" put me to sleep. I couldn't keep the characters straight. I didn't understand this make-believe world of the Hobbits. And what kind of a name is Bilbo anyhow?

Reading "The Hobbit" was sheer torture to me.

So when Maggie's fifth grade reading class read that same book a few weeks ago I was really worried. How could a fifth grader understand that book if I didn't get it as a freshman? And, worse, what if she needed help with her homework?

I talked to B about it, and he confessed that he, too, wasn't much of a Tolkien fan for the very same reason I wasn't. He had read "The Hobbit" somewhere down the educational line and didn't much like it either. Needless to say, we haven't seen "The Lord of the Rings" much less read it.

One night over dinner we got to talking about how Maggie was beginning the great Hobbit adventure, and Kate and Abby both confessed that they hadn't liked the book either. Yes, we're a family of Hobbit-haters!

But Maggie started reading the book every night, along with a tape we got from the library. She has an excellent reading teacher who explained the setting and the characters and even the subtle moral lessons along the way. A couple of weeks later, at dinner again, Maggie sheepishly confessed that she was actually sort-of-kind-of enjoying "The Hobbit."

(We haven't yet decided whether or not to kick her out of the family.)

This week she showed me her final project from her class's study of "The Hobbit." To say I was impressed is an understatement. She had filled a legal-sized page with all of the trials and confrontations Bilbo had encountered on his journey. Next to each trial was the lesson that Bilbo learned from it.

At the top of the chart was a large circle in which each student was to write the "most precious insight" that Bilbo learned through the book. Maggie wrote this: "Adventures (big or small) are important because you learn things."

I love that!

Have you read the quote at the top of my blog? Have you noticed my subtitle?

I wonder if, in some small way, Bilbo Baggins crept into my subconscience all those years ago and instilled in me some sense of adventure.

I wonder if I might actually be a Hobbit-lover after all.


  1. At a weak point in our marriage, Mark agreed to read one of the Jan Karon books in exchange for me reading the Hobbit.

    He read the book. Hated it.
    I started the Hobbit. I never made it past page 5.

  2. Oh Angie, that's hilarious! And, look, you're still married!! :)

  3. This comment is for Maggie rather than Shelly. :)

    You go, Maggie! Way to stand up for what you like and what you think!! :) We are on the same page, kiddo. Okay, so I don't remember reading the Hobbit even though I think I did, but I LOVED the Lord of the Ring movies!!

    And for Shelly: Give sweet Bilbo a chance!! I see a family movie night in your near future... Talk about an "adventurous" movie!

  4. I read The Lord of the Rings after seeing the first movie and DYING to know what happened to the fellowship and too impatient to wait two more years for the next two movies. Interesting reading, to say the least...

  5. I'm smiling at this one! I had to read the Hobbit in 5th grade - bored me silly, it took 10 pages for one walk down a road!

    I've never cared for Tolkien - a dirty secret I only recently admitted!

  6. Sheroll, that's what I'm here for . . . letting out those dirty little secrets. Got any more?? :)

  7. Oh my goodness, that is so precious!! What a gift your daughter will have to be able to take her trials and circumstances and discern what she can learn from them.

    Have a blessed day,