A History of… The Hobbit


Lashaan recently wrote up a review of his first time reading The Hobbit. Great review and I highly recommend you read it. But it got me to thinking. I literally grew up with the Hobbit and thought I’d try to remember my life as defined by the experiences I was going through when I read and re-read the Hobbit.

I believe that my experience with the Hobbit started before I could even read. My mom used to read to me in the afternoons before I started going to school and I know she read me Narnia and the Little House on the Prairie series. I can’t remember her explicitly reading me the Hobbit but my familiarity with it in later years leads me to believe she did. I don’t remember too much of that time overall except for a warm fuzzy sense of “rightness”. 

The next instance of the Hobbit is an explicit memory, one very well defined. I believe I was in middleschool and our family was going up to Canada to visit the Grands. I went to the library and got the Hobbit so I would have a book to read. Even then I knew to always have a book handy. It was one with the faux-leather green cover.

Not sure it was this exact edition, but if not, it looked almost like it

I remember this so well because on the way home we stopped in Maine at some relatives and I got a wicked bad sunburn on my whole back (didn’t use sunscreen) and we had to travel for 12hrs in the car the next day. You don’t forget experiences like that!

In highschool I wrote a paper on the Hobbit and Tolkien. I don’t have that paper handy nor do I remember anything about it, except, I got to read the Hobbit and use it to do some school work. Score!

Jump forward in time to Bibleschool in the late 90’s. One of our professors read through the entire series on Friday nights and Saturday afternoons to us students in one of the rooms that had couches and comfy chairs. When you are 19-22, having a chance to just hang out with everyone and not actually do anything is great. Add in that we all liked the story, the Professor had done this for years and so had a fantastic voice for reading, well, it was all a nerd could ask for.

Aye, aye Captain Professor Sir!

In 2001 the SFBC came out with the omnibus edition of the Lord of the Rings. I bought that and the Hobbit at the same time. Why should I pay for 4 books when I could pay for just 2? Small print didn’t mean a thing to my eyes then and being thrifty meant more than anything.

Teensy tiny print

In 2006 I met Miss Librarian at a friend’s wedding (Miss Library and I had been friends online) and we exchanged books. I gave her a copy of the Hobbit.

It was this edition

2 years later we were married and suddenly there were 2 copies of the same book on our book shelves. 2008 was a year for surprises, that is for sure!

Fast forward 3 years to 2011. I was on Goodreads and loving it. I had book friends and was writing reviews left and right. One of my online friends re-read the whole series every year. I wasn’t as much into re-reading then myself, but he inspired me to go through them all. I was simply blown away by how well written the Hobbit was and at how it could still appeal to my mature 30’something self. You’re Mature at 30 and after that you’re just Old and who cares what Old People think.

And now we come to 2019. Devilreads is a bad memory, 30 is just a stage that I grew out of (into a much more Mature stage I must say!) and yet here I am reading the Hobbit again and still loving it.

Bad Memories Indeed

What do you call a book that enthralls a 4 to 5 year old (no matter how precocious), a middleschooler, a highschooler, someone in college, a mid 20’s man, a 30 year old in his prime and then a 40 year old with the wisdom of the ages under his belt? If Classic doesn’t fit, then I don’t know what would. As sagacious as I currently am, I suspect in another 10-15 years that I’ll STILL love this book.

I’d like to take the time to thank Lashaan once again. He’s inspired several of these A History of… posts. The more years I collect, the more memories tag along, except for when I forget them. So it is good to write them down before they disappear 😀

A History of ….. Reading

Recently,  Lashaan did a post about how people get into reading and he asked people to share their experiences. That was too good an opportunity to pass up, so I decided to jump on the wagon and make a post out of it. Last year I had done a post on my History of Journaling, so I decided to continue in that same vein.


I’m definitely one of those who grew up reading. I can vaguely remember my mother reading the Little House on the Prairie books to me before I could read and I definitely remember the Bookmobile. The bookmobile that came to our apartment complex was bright orange, and a bit newer than the one in the picture below, but in 1985, not much newer! We didn’t have the money to go driving about whenever, so if I wanted books, I had to get what I could when it came every two weeks. I remember once I got a picture book that had a story of Baba Yaga in it and I had nightmares about the house with the chicken feet for days afterwards. My parents were a bit more vigilant about what I got after that.bookmobile

When we moved to Pennsylvania, we were in a small town at the edge of Amish country and the library was only a mile away, so it was within walking distance. By my late teen years I was helping out at the library and had developed my love of SFF due to the 2 small shelves of SFF hardcovers and 1 spinning rack of paperbacks of that genre.

It was at this same time that I realized my dad had several boxes of books packed away in the attic, mainly consisting of Heinlein and myth and fairytales. It was always a special treat to be allowed to go up in the attic and pick one of them out to read.

Once I started working in highschool and had some money, I also began joining up with the Science Fiction Book Club every couple of years.


Those were the days when you could join, pick 6 books for $5 and then buy 2-4 more at regular price over the next two years. You also could get referral bonuses of 2 free books if you convinced someone else to join. I regularly double dipped using my brother. I’d join up, get all the books. Then have my brother join up and get the 2 free books myself AND it would actually be me choosing all the books under his name. I was rolling in hardcovers! That’s how I ended up with so many of Terry Brooks’ books that I eventually (un)Hauled.

In 2006 when I bought my condo on the 3rd floor and had to haul up all my books, I swore I’d not move for at least a decade. 12 years later, still living here and quite content.

My days with the SFBC are done, as their business model changed and my income changed. Also, I was just getting into ereaders and they didn’t offer ebooks. Today, except for vary rare occasions, my reading is almost exclusively on my kindle Oasis. My eyes really like the adjustable font and having such a light device I can use one handed while lounging on the couch, thus enabling my free hand to deliver energy drinks or small snacks to keep me nourished. A veritable paradise!

Back in 2000 I was reading 40-60 books year and I was heavily into anime. That yearly number has climbed until I’ve plateaued in the last 5years or so at between 150-200 books a year. I expect to stay within that range as long as reading is my main hobby. Should it ever be displaced, I suspect I’ll be back down in the 50’s range. I’m a reader and it’s what I’ve always done.


A History of ….. Journaling

I WAS going to title this post “A History of Violence” where I detailed my mis-spent youth kneecapping old ladies for protection money but since that Illegitimate Rat Aragorn already made a movie by that name I figured the self appointed guardians of all things legal, or goons, would knee cap me. So better safe than sorry. Also,  this mention about said movie is in no ways an endorsement of it. It is a “real” violence filled movie [as opposed to John Wick] and I found it extremely disturbing.

Last year I posted about my Book Recording and the journey that has been and continues to be. Today I want to talk about journaling and the various kinds of journals that I’ve used over the years. I love this kind of thing to be honest and is probably the closest I’ll ever come to being all arts&craftsy.

I started my journaling back in middle grade. I’d scribble in an 8 1/2 x11 spiral notebook for a couple of pages, then tear them out a week or 2 later, throw them out and not write again for months. It never even occurred to me to write in something more permanent. Of course, I suspect most of my writings was about girls anyway, so no big loss 🙂

However, when I began attending Bible School in the fall of ’97,  I began writing every evening in this little guy:

j1Little 4×5 inch notebook. I ended up writing in 5 of these suckers


j2Corn and potatoes. I was well on my way to a Pulitzer, even back then!



After awhile, I felt my needs increasing and I moved up the Classy Scale a step. Not a lot, but I was definitely upwardly mobile.

j3You think I’m obsessed about journals, you should see some of the entries I made about various pens I try and what works and what doesn’t. And that hasn’t stopped. I just did an entry in my latest journal about 4 months ago about the joys of using the Pilot G2 premium gel roller fine tip pens.


Then I graduated in 2000 and life got real. I had a job, a car, I was renting a place of my own, I made my first proposal. After that it was time to start expressing my inner torment and utter pain in a journal that meant business. I wanted something that would last the ages and remind me in years to come just how much suffering and anguish I had gone through. Yeah, I was that guy.

j4Pure black, like the pain and misery deep within my soul. Sense a theme yet? 😀


Oberon Design to the rescue! I’ve used that cover for 4 of the black blanks and it is still as good condition as when I bought it back in ’05 or ’06.

j5But a journal looks even cooler and more soul’y when it has a real leather removable, re-usable cover on it.


Then I met Mrs Bookstooge [well, she wasn’t Mrs Bookstooge at the time, obviously!] and once I’d filled up my latest tome of despair, I quit journaling for almost 5 years. But getting married makes one a hostage to fate and once again life hit me in the nads and I had to write. But I was beyond black, I wanted something to express how mystical and above the common man my thoughts were.

j6There are CLASPS! and lots of shiny lines! The “Common Man” does not write in such a tome as this.


Nowadays I write in something that opens, and stays open [VERY important when writing while sitting in a pew], and will look cool on my shelf.

j7The text on the flap is “Arthur Conan Doyle”.  No clasps, but the flap makes it easier to write in in public.


j8My journaling now is usually a gigantic bitch session, where I vent on paper so I don’t vent in public. Names of jerks and super-jerks blurred for reasons. I AM that grumpy old guy, whooo!


What does the future hold? Well, I’m glad you asked  *grin*  I am currently writing in this small leather journal as a medical journal, keeping track of my blood sugars, food eaten, insulin taken, with times and amounts. It’s a lot of detail but it is what I have to do to keep my diabetes under control. I like the tie, but sadly Barnes&Noble only has it in 5×7 [which is pictured] and nothing larger. If you know of a nice leather, tie down journal that is in the 7×10 or preferably 8×11 range, please let me know in the comments. Lined or unlined doesn’t matter.

j8 (1)This leather one travels with me everywhere now.  And it has its own G2 roller gel pen *wink*


And there you have it. More information about Bookstooge and Journaling than you ever wanted, thought possible or even knew existed. Remember folks, I am a Dichotomy [make sure you say “dichotomy” in an appropriately sepulchral tone of voice]. I use a machete or a pen with equal ease and familiarity.  Except for when I’m tired, then I’m just a problem.


16 Years of Book Recording

In April 2000 I began tracking what I read. I started with a little Mead 3×5 spiral notebook, much like one of these:


In it, I simply noted the date/day, title, author and genre.  Mind you, this was before Goodreads was even a thought [that I’m aware of] and reviews tended to be either word of mouth or by professionals in a newspaper. I wasn’t reviewing but simply recording what I’d read, so that I wouldn’t spend “precious” reading time reading the same thing over by mistake. That had happened several times in Bible School. As my mortality was now within my gaze (I did a lot of growing up during those 3 years], I realized that I didn’t have time to accidentally re-read books, and this was before the plague of indie dreck inundated the reading world. It was also a natural outgrowth of my journaling every day during those 3 years.


In 2004-5, blogging hit my social group and we all began our own blogs and for about a year it was an explosion of words. Things began to wind down and I thought about how else I might make use of blogger. It was also at this point that my notebook began falling apart and I realized I needed to replace it. The thought of writing it all down, AGAIN, was not a nice prospect. So I decided to start typing it, at least that way it would stay online.


In 2007 I joined Goodreads but didn’t really start utilizing it until 2009. Even then, I never made more than a literal handful of friends and I think it stayed in the single digits. However, in ’13, with the free speech ban, I left GR. I came to booklikes, along with a lot of other people and made my home here.


And let’s be honest. In the 2 1/2 years that I’ve been here, I’ve dealt with and dealt out, more drama than in the last 13 1/2 years. People I’ve insulted, people insulting me. Some on purpose, some by accident. Seeing people come, seeing people go.

Making friends. Making a LOT of friends. For those who are introverted, you know what I mean.  Of course, with the uncertainty of recent times here at Booklikes and with Leafmarks shutting down, I’ve been wondering if I’d have to move again.


Thankfully, that won’t be the case as long as Booklikes stays open. I am starting to backup my reviews using a separate Calibre Library filled with empty books, so I’ll be able to back them up and not have to worry about losing them online.


So to wrap up this little maudlin interlude, a lot has changed in 16 years and a lot has stayed the same. And please ignore me as I go up and down here at Booklikes. I review the books I read, everything else, well, I guess that is part of being human.