Happy Hobbit Day!

I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.” – Bilbo Baggins in The Fellowship of the Ring, by J.R.R. Tolkien

I walked into my office this morning, disappointed to hear the receptionist tell me that a highly anticipated package due my way still hadn’t arrived. I sat down at my desk, feeling slightly worried about the whereabouts of my parcel, opened my email, and smiled upon finding a “Happy Tolkien Week!” message from Biblio, online purveyor of rare, used, common and uncommon books. September 22nd marks the birthday of feisty Bagginses Frodo and Bilbo of Middle Earth fame (and the date of the Long Expected Party thrown in honor of Bilbo’s eleventy-first birthday), and this day has long been observed as “Hobbit Day.” The week containing the 22nd is “Tolkien Week.” Tolkien week honors J.R.R. Tolkien as well as his son Christopher, and the books of the Middle Earth cycle.

How could I have forgotten? Tolkien’s stories have been such an important part of my life. One of my best friends joked to my family long ago that I would inflict horrors upon future offspring one day, giving them names like Boromir and Frodo (for the record, I draw the line at Frodo; Boromir’s a toss-up but only because of the lovely Sean Bean). There’s no telling exactly how many days of my lifetime have gone into reading and dissecting the Middle Earth cycle, how many have gone into watching Peter Jackson’s film adaptations. I can’t tell enough about how a shared passion and excitement for something can bring people from all over together–I have a friend whom I met through an online Lord of the Rings forum. Geeky/nerdy? Yes. But we’ve known each other for almost ten years now, and our wonderful conversations and exchanges moved on well past elves and Mordor years ago.

I’ve always had a great love of fantasy, so these stories were right up my alley. My favorites are The Silmarillion, The Unfinished Tales and the more recent Children of Hurin, as I’m a sucker for backstory. I haven’t thought about the beloved Middle Earth books much this year–I spent a good chunk of 2010 fixated on acquiring one particular hard-to-find book that I’ve really been wanting to read (the package that I now eagerly await in the mail). Shame on me for forgetting my favorite escapist writings! So in honor of Hobbit Day, I think I’ll revisit Middle Earth and forget about other books for a short while. I’ve taken the liberty of creating a sorted list of Biblio’s collectible Tolkien books so that you can check out delectable decades-old leather-bound editions of LOTR, gorgeous first edition copies of The Hobbit, and a slew of other beautiful old Tolkien books that my shallow pockets and I admire from afar.

For tonight, I’ll head to my bookshelf and pull out Bilbo’s Last Song, gifted to me through mail several years ago by a sweet woman I met online through a Lord of the Rings forum. It’s Bilbo’s farewell poem as he stands at the Grey Havens preparing to leave Middle Earth forever, published posthumously and beautifully illustrated by the late great book illustrator Pauline Baynes. That will be my happy read for the evening. Hope you find a happy way to celebrate this Happy Hobbit Day!

I leave you with my absolute favorite tribute to Middle Earth: an awesome song and video by brilliant New Zealand music/comedy act Flight of the Conchords. Enjoy…

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