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Between the Stacks: Happy Hobbit Day!

On Sept. 22, 1401, by the Shire-Reckoning, Bilbo Baggins celebrated his 111th birthday and his nephew, Frodo Baggins, celebrated his 33rd with the biggest party the Shire had ever seen.

That same night Bilbo left his home at Bag End for the last time and passed his magic ring to Frodo, one small ripple in a series of events that would shake all of Middle-Earth.

The Tolkien society declared September 22 ‘Hobbit Day’ in 1978, inspired by “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” by J. R. R. Tolkien.

C. S. Lewis, Tolkien’s friend and literary contemporary, wrote about “The Lord of the Rings:” “The book is too original and too opulent for any final judgment on a first reading. But we know at once that it has done things to us. We are not quite the same men. ...I have little doubt that the book will soon take its place among the indispensables.”

He was right: Tolkien’s work has become indispensable, shaping popular literature as we know it.

While Tolkien drew inspiration from old English legends, he popularized or created the conventions that shape Western fantasy and brought fantasy into consideration as serious literature that can be enjoyed by all ages, not just as tales for children.

You can celebrate Hobbit Day by re-reading your favorite Tolkien works or by having a movie marathon with help from our audiovisual collection (yes, we have the extended editions on Blu-Ray!) at the Charleston County Public Library (CCPL).

For those who can’t get enough Tolkien, “The Silmarillion” is just the start of the Middle-Earth-adjacent books we have in our catalog. Our print collection and eBook selection on Libby and Hoopla contain literary criticism, Tolkien’s translations of Norse and English myths, and more information about the extended lore of Middle-Earth.

If you love “The Lord of the Rings” but want to explore broader into the fantasy genre, CCPL has no shortage of excellent titles.

Tolkien may have inspired countless books and media, but the genre has now grown far beyond his influence, drawing on inspiration from mythology around the world and echoing the challenges of today rather than the 1940’s.

For an epic high fantasy tale that’s every bit as suspenseful and detailed as “The Lord of the Rings” but with diverse representation and female leads (and did I mention dragons?), try The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon.

N. K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is a unique and refreshing take on fantasy with gods and magic, high stakes, and complicated histories.

The Shadow of What Was Lost by James Islington is another epic read with a twisting, turning plot and intricate worldbuilding.

For more suggestions, feel free to ask your librarian – we love helping readers get their hands on the right book!

Mary Baldwin is a librarian at the Wando Mount Pleasant Library, 1400 Carolina Park Blvd., 843-805-6888, www.ccpl.org. If she could live anywhere in Middle-Earth, she would be an elf in Lothlorien.

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