Review: The wisdom of the Shire: A short guide to a long and happy life

Noble Smith

Hodder & Stoughton

2012

As I said yesterday, I don’t read self-help books but I got sucked in by the Tolkien canon concept. There’s a reason for this; I get the feeling that the authors of such books are a bit smug. They might not be, but why would you write a book telling people how to live, or reach enlightenment, or how to pull, if you don’t believe that you know it all already and are kindly dispensing your wisdom to the world? So I’m a bit cynical; I don’t care how long you’ve been a Tolkien ‘enthusiast’, otherwise known as a fan, have you got something new to say, or are you just taking advantage of the fact that the ‘Hobbit’ films are popular at the minute?

As it turns out Mr Smith has nothing new to say on living a good life: sleep when you’re tired, only take what is sufficient to life, don’t be greedy or grasping, be a good neighbour and friend, treat the earth with respect and be a part of your community. None of this is new, but using the characters from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings as his exemplars is. Much of the information asterisked as footnotes are obvious, irrelevant to the main text or things already known by those who are fans of Middle Earth.

All that being said, Mr Smith is passionate about the subject and that is obvious from his writing and the personal examples included affected me. His plan for a small ‘Hobbit garden’ is an interesting extra, he missed out Sam’s nasturtiums though :D. Most of all it has pushed me back to my copy of The Lord of The Rings, which sits accusingly on my bedside table, demanding to know when I am going to carry on reading it? The answer is, later, after I’ve made my pack up for work tomorrow.

I wouldn’t particularly recommend this book as weekend reading, but if you happen to see it in the library and like Middle Earth it would be a new approach to the works of Tolkien.

Bye,

Rose