Small Things

December 3rd, 2012

Sometimes when I consider what tremendous consequences come from little things, I am tempted to think there are no little things. ~ Bruce Barton

 What’s smaller than a dwarf, tends to be a “cautious homebody”(unless there is some Tookish blood), wears bright colors but seldom wears shoes over furry feet, likes to laugh and eat (six meals a day), and loves to give and receive gifts?

 A Hobbit, of course, and the perfect improbable protagonist for J.R.R. Tolkien’s heroic quest. Bilbo Baggins, the Hobbit, battles trolls, goblins, evil wolves, giant spiders, and a Gollum to help Thorin and his band of dwarves recapture the treasure of his ancestors, long ago stolen by the ferocious dragon, Old Smaug. Bilbo had help from Gandalf the Grey and others, yet we witness his transformation from a fearful homebody from the bucolic Shire to a brave hero, still keeping his values and resisting the greed that consumes other characters.

 The Hobbit is J.R.R. Tolkien’s beginning to the great story of the War of the Rings, which he completes in The Lord of the Rings “epic fantasy trilogy,” expanding the world of Middle-earth and continuing with the story of another hobbit, Frodo, as he takes on another impossible quest.

 LORD OF THE RINGS THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING - WOOD - BLANCHETT - 144_1530918 image via ImageQuest

Why celebrate this story? Why were New Yorkers driven to write “Frodo Lives!” on subway walls?  I believe the story of a small fearful creature saving others, saving the world, achieving what larger, stronger creatures could not, stirs our souls and gives us all courage and hope.

 The richly- populated world of Middle-earth – with elves, dwarves, wizards, ents, orcs, men  - already translated to film in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, served to draw a new generation of readers to the books, and offer fans renewed excitement for The Hobbit.

 Why celebrate books in college? ACT, a non-profit company, did a study that indicated high school reading is linked to college success. “Only 51 percent of students showed they were ready to handle the reading requirements of a typical first-year college course. The literacy of today’s high school graduates has become an enormous concern for colleges and employers.”

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11608629/ns/us_news-education/t/high-school-reading-linked-college-success/

 The college students I know who are successful love reading! Most of them have loved reading for some time, but who is to say when that love can start? A celebration of books can be contagious! Consider this excerpt from John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany:

 “I want to go on being a student,” I told him. “I want to be a teacher. I’m just a reader,” I said.

 “DON’T SOUND SO ASHAMED,” he said. “READING IS A GIFT.”

 “I learned it from you,” I told him.

 “IT DOESN’T MATTER WHERE YOU LEARNED IT- IT’S A GIFT. IF YOU CARE ABOUT SOMETHING, YOU HAVE TO PROTECT IT. IF YOU’RE LUCKY ENOUGH TO FIND A WAY OF LIFE YOU LOVE, YOU HAVE TO FIND THE COURAGE TO LIVE IT.”

 Literature sucks you into another psyche. So the creation of empathy necessarily influences how you’ll behave to other people. ~ Barbara Kingsolver

 It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end. – Ursula Le Guin

 We can help you on that journey. Whether finding a book on the shelf, through inter-library loan, or accessing e-books, we’re here for you! iueref@iue.edu

And to celebrate Tolkien…you are most cordially invited to the Library Club Tolkien party on Fri., Dec, 14, in the Library Living Room!

Professor J R R Tolkien  115_2670654 image via ImageQuest