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Take me to the Shire

How The Hobbit began my love of reading

By Eryn MillikenPublished 2 years ago 3 min read
Take me to the Shire
Photo by Andres Iga on Unsplash

My mother read to me every night as a child. We would curl up on my bed together and she would read; it was our tradition. Even if I didn’t want the day to end, I couldn’t wait to get to bed and hear the next part of the story. I don’t remember the early books or stories, but there are two that greatly stand out in my mind and helped form my continuing love of reading.

The Hobbit


The Prydain Chronicles

I’m not sure which she read first since they swirl together in my memories almost like we read them at the same time, even though I know we didn’t. (I asked - she says she read me The Hobbit first.) All day long I looked forward to climbing in bed that night and seeing where the adventure would go next. Would Bilbo find a way out of the giant spiders’ webs in the woods? Would Gollum eat him in the cave or would Bilbo come up with a good enough riddle to escape? Would the dwarves get the mines back from Smaug, or would the dragon prevail?

The Hobbit is my mother’s favorite book. I’ve known this as far back as I can remember. How many times did I fall asleep while Mom was reading to me, she would put in our bookmark, and go out to the living room and read ahead? I have no idea, but I know the answer is not once. I was enthralled by Gandalf and the dwarves; wondering what it would be like to fly on the back of a giant eagle or see the Mines of Moria before Smaug and the Orcs took it away from the Dwarves. I was equally amused, enamored, and afraid of the elves at the time.

My sense of adventure and excitement, the thrill of traveling to new places, and the instillment of wanderlust deep in my soul all started with this book. Dreams of magical mysterious lands, elves, and dragons wandered through both my waking and sleeping dreams, and I found these stories infinitely more interesting than a lot of the books aimed at kids my age.

By Nong Vang on Unsplash

My daughter is now seven, just a little younger than I was when my mother started reading these life-long loves to me. I’ve waited so long to reach the point where I can pass these stories on to the next generation, and my excitement now that it’s this close is trying my patience. I want so badly to pass on the books that shaped my love of not only fantasy but also started the path that led to me starting to write. I know if we read them when she’s ready she will love them just as much as I do. The tradition has already passed from one generation to the next, and now it’s about to go to another. I can already see her following in my footsteps and finding cozy shady places to read on hot summer days, delving into lands that have captivated children and adults alike for decades.

The benefit of loving a story like The Hobbit is it never goes out of style and never gets old. No matter how many times you read it, or now watch the movies, there’s always that thrill of reconnecting with the characters, who over time start to feel like lifelong friends. Friends who, even if you’ve been apart for some time, pick up right where you left off when you come back to them. Gandalf is still surprising small Hobbit children with his fireworks when he shows up for gatherings, Samwise will always tend to the gardens and trip over his adoration of Rosie Cotton, and the Dwarves are always longing to regain their long-lost lands and glory. Bilbo still toils over his green door at Bag End, smokes his pipe, and keeps his food and drink stocks just so. Music always floats over the hills of lush green hills of the Shire.

And no matter what is going on in my life, I will always dream of joining them.


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