I have just finished reading The Hobbit.
I found myself smiling as I read the last line, knowing I had just finished reading one of the greatest stories ever written.
I loved books growing up, I loved the ability to escape into different worlds and into the lives of so many different people but, as I got further into my teenage years I stopped caring about books so much. It wasn’t until my final semester of university that I realised how much I needed stories back in my life. When I told some of my friends I had never seen the Lord of the Rings films they decided we needed to get together and watch them and this, in turn, made me want to read the books. So far I’ve read the first two, taken a break to read The Hobbit, and will get back to The Return of the King as soon as possible.
As I put The Hobbit back in my bookcase tonight I found myself marvelling at the concept of what a novel is. At first glance it’s nothing more than some pages full of words bound together but, really and truly, novels hold whole worlds of wonder and beauty, ready to be explored by intrepid readers. We, alongside Bilbo Baggins (The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings), Frodo Baggins (Lord of the Rings), the Pevensie children (The Chronicles of Narnia), Albert Narracott (War Horse), Harry Potter, Ishmael (Moby Dick), Lemuel Gulliver (Gulliver’s Travels), Alice (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland) and so many more, adventure into uncharted lands, places known and unknown to the average reader, and allow our minds to imagine places greater than any film or television programme could ever create.
Books aren’t only a wonderful mode of escapism, but they remind us that we’re not alone in our hopes that there is more to this world than we have already experienced, they remind us that adventure is real and that it doesn’t just belong to fictional characters. Books inspire us to be the people we’ve always dreamed of being and show us how we can do that.
If it wasn’t for books and the arts in general we might forget how beautiful this world can be, and how truly wonderful the human race is. My favourite authors at the minute are most definitely J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis; probably one of the best literary pairings of the twentieth century, if you ask me. What I love most about their work in Narnia and The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings are the Biblical metaphors. Check out this extract from the end of The Hobbit:
“Then the old prophecies of the old songs have turned out to be true, after a fashion!” said Bilbo.
“Of course!” said Gandalf. “And why should they not prove true? Surely you don’t disbelieve the prophecies, because you had a hand in bringing them about yourself? You don’t really suppose, do you, that all your adventure and escapes were managed by mere luck, just for your sole benefit? You are a very fine person, Mr. Baggins, and I am very fond of you; but you are only quite a little fellow in a wide world after all!”
“Thank goodness!” said Bilbo laughing, and handed him the tobacco jar.
I mostly loved this because it reminds me that I’m part of God’s bigger plan for the world. A lot of the time I forget that I’m not alone in this world, that there are millions of Christians alive today who are working towards God’s Kingdom. I forget that, in being a part of the Body of Christ, I am living alongside all of these people. I forget that Jesus did is, first and foremost, the most important part of everything and, just like Mr. Baggins, I am glad to know that if I make a few mistakes the world isn’t going to fall apart.
There is so much beauty to be found in books, whether you believe in God or not, and I encourage you to pick one up today and start reading. I promise you’ll never regret it.