Every year on March 25th, Tolkien fans around the world celebrate Tolkien Reading Day. The Tolkien Society explains why we celebrate this day and why of all dates it is on March 25th:
It has been organised by the Tolkien Society since 2003 to encourage fans to celebrate and promote the life and works of J.R.R. Tolkien by reading favourite passages […]
Why March 25th?
The 25th of March is the date of the downfall of the Lord of the Rings (Sauron) and the fall of Barad-dûr. It’s as simple as that!
As a huge Tolkien fan of many years, the Tolkien Reading Day is to me as important as actual national holidays. In addition to re-reading some passages from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, I’ve wanted to share with you why I think that The Hobbit is a must read for every traveller!
When you check any given list of ‘best travel books’, you’ll stumble upon Jack Kerouac’s On the Road (I’m currently reading this novel and will give a review in due time), Garland’s The Beach, Krakauer’s Into the Wild and other similar novels. However you’ll rarely, if ever, encounter Tolkien’s The Hobbit (or any fantasy or sci-fi novel for that matter) even though it is about a protagonist embarking on a great adventure full of interesting encounters. In my opinion, one doesn’t have to read a book set in this world, whether it is fiction or non-fiction, to spark someone’s wanderlust.
So here are my 3 reasons why The Hobbit is a ‘must read’ for travellers:
1. You don’t have to be a majestic hero to experience great adventures
A common misconception about travelling is that you have to be a certain type of person to experience grand adventures. Yet, there we have Bilbo Baggins, a 55 year old Hobbit that got too comfortable for his own good when he gets thrown into an adventure by Gandalf. Bilbo is by no means an adrenaline seeking, physically strong being. He is a Hobbit, all he cares about is his next meal and his pipe. So when running off into an adventure, all Bilbo cared about was that he forgot to bring his pocket-handkerchief with him. Yet, throughout the novel, Bilbo gets more and more courageous and by finding the One Ring of Power, his adventures have a lasting impact on the entirety of Middle-earth:
“Then the hobbit slipped on his ring, and warned by the echoes to take more than hobbit’s care to make no sound, he crept noiselessly down, down, down into the dark. He was trembling with fear, but his little face was set and grim. Already he was a very different hobbit from the one that had run out without a pocket-handkerchief from Bag-End long ago. He had not had a pocket-handkerchief for ages. He loosened his dagger in its sheath, tightened his belt, and went on” – ‘Inside Information’, The Hobbit.
My bottom line? You don’t have to be rich, young, or able-bodied to travel. I’m one-handed myself and a while ago, I’ve compiled a list with resources for travellers with a disability which can be found over here. Take the leap and go on an adventure, you’ll never know what you’re capable of if you’ll never test your boundaries.
2. The journey is the reward and not just the destination
Everyone who has read the Hobbit or has seen Peter Jackson’s Hobbit movie trilogy knows that Bilbo, Gandalf, and the Dwarves are on a journey to the Lonely Mountain to kill the dragon Smaug and reclaim their Kingdom. However, even their journey is full of life-changing adventures for Bilbo. Long before they reached the Lonely Mountain, Bilbo began to change already. Whether it being their time in Rivendell, their misadventures in Mirkwood and Goblin Town, each stop of their journey was important in its own way. In the end, at the Battle of the Five Armies, Bilbo actually passed out and missed the actual battle.
Same applies to travels. Often, we focus so much to reach destination xyz that we forget to appreciate the journey itself. Travel is not a competition. It is not about who visits more countries or who has the more exciting stories to tell. Everyone travels for different reasons, but we should never forget how fortunate we are for being able to travel. Don’t take it for granted, but appreciate every part of your journey.
3. Value the friendships you make on the road
Whether you travel all by yourself or are part of a group, we all make new friendships on the road. While not all encounters Bilbo and the Dwarves had during their adventure were friendly, all encounters had a lasting impact. Moreover, while it took a while for Bilbo to be fully accepted by the Dwarves, their emerging friendships lasted for life. Those that haven’t read The Lord of the Rings might not know that decades after their grand adventure, Dwarves helped Bilbo in his 111 birthday celebration preparations.
Personally, I’ve had similar experiences. Whether I’ve met people for only a day or made new, long-lasting friendships, every encounter during my travels made the journey even more exciting. In my opinion, you can’t get to know a country without getting to know its population.
There are, of course, many other reasons why The Hobbit is a fantastic novel to spark one’s wanderlust. Similarly, The Lord of the Rings possesses the same three lessons I’ve mentioned, along with many others, and is, thus, a ‘must read’ for travellers.
Have you read The Hobbit or the Lord of the Rings? If so, what is your favourite quote or passage from these books? Also, what are you going to do today on Tolkien Reading Day? Leave a comment down below!