I’m watching The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey on HBO, and it’s bringing back memories. I’ve had several encounters with the world of Tolkien, the first of which was when I read and loved The Hobbit in the ninth grade. I never managed to make it through the other books, and didn’t think much more about it until I met husband #1 about 10 years later. He was a huge fan of all things Middle Earth, and told me on the night we met that he actually had kept a backpack ready and waiting next to the door for years…just in case Gandolf came to invite him on an adventure. It was a part of the mystique of the man, this love of adventure and fantasy.
During my first few years with #1, I learned a lot more about the world of Bilbo and Frodo (and Hemingway, and guns, and survivalism, and lots of other things…but those are different stories). #1 had Tolkien-oriented nicknames like Strider and Sting for various things, and once purchased a particular walking stick because it look very Gandolf-esque. I learned to love cottages and any house that looked even remotely hobbit-like. It was a wonderful world to want to belong to.
When we bought our comic book store, we decided to include regular books, but limited our selection to science fiction and fantasy. The Hobbit and the Trilogy were always big sellers, and it was comforting to have them in such close proximity on a day-to-day basis. I had always loved Ray Bradbury, and I soon learned to appreciate Anne McCaffrey, Terry Pratchett, David Eddings and many others, but Tolkien was the granddaddy to all of it, and his works were home.
Since Peter Jackson brought this fantasy world to life on screen, hobbits, dwarves and elves are no longer just geek territory. I hope that, in doing so, he’s opened up the world of fantasy to millions who didn’t have a #1 around to make them sit up and take notice of the marvels that await there.