12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on October 31, 2012
I've read other more serious books about how to be "happy," but this was a fun and quirky romp through the realm of the hobbits with some actually very good ideas that are excellent reminders on how to find the simple joys in life. I found myself thinking about some of the ideas for days after, such as really enjoying one's friends and family, getting enough sleep and good food, and getting into my garden! It also made me want to reread both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. They were due for a revisiting but they've moved up my long list of to-read books. Noble Smith's love and knowledge of all things Tolkien were quite evident, and it will be fun to read them again with some new insight.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on November 1, 2012
I received this book as an advance reading copy in a giveaway.
While it's obviously helpful to know the basic story of The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy while reading this to get the references, they are not required to get the life lessons Mr. Smith imparts as "wisdom of the Shire." I want to say I ascribe to almost everything that was suggested or have tried to in the past, which makes me feel a bit like a Hobbit, which is a compliment in my humble estimation.
I've read the actual Tolkien books a number of times, but I find it difficult to remember specifics, so sitting down with this book, reliving the adventures again, and taking the heart the lessons Mr. Smith tries to impart, was liking coming to a very familiar place with a new perspective. I ended up walking over to the bookshelf and started rereading The Hobbit almost immediately after finishing The Wisdom of the Shire.
In reading Peter Beagle's comment that he would buy copies of this book and share them with all his friends, I wish I had the disposable income to do the same. I do know I will share my advance reading copy with a few of my friends who are die-hard Tolkien fans, since I know they will end up going out to buy a copy for themselves for their own bookshelves, not depriving Mr. Smith of any royalties that he deserves for penning an enjoyable, down-to-earth book, with lessons that anyone can take to heart. I'm so glad I got an opportunity to read and review this book.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 2012
You know those conversations you have with close friends and family, late at night or on a long car ride, where you start talking about everything and anything? Like the one you might have had with your brother and husband, about what race of character would you be from The Lord of the Rings? Would you be an Elf, a Hobbit, a Dwarf, or a Human? Well, I always thought it would be cool to be an elf in Middle Earth, while my husband and brother always chose Hobbit. I would laugh and ask why. Why Hobbit when the elves had that cool language and had that communion with trees thing and lived in forests? Well, after reading Noble Smith's book, The Wisdom of the Shire, I would like to take back my answer. I would definitely choose Hobbit.
The movement to eat local and organic, to simplify our lives, live in a sustainable and responsible way is huge right now. Thoreau knew it all those years ago, and wrote about it in Walden. But that seemed like a meager and hard existence. It appears Tolkien had a similar idea, but he shaped this idea, warmed it up, made it cozy and homey, and gave this life to the Hobbits in the Shire. Smith interprets this way of life for us, and the when I finished his book, I really wanted to move to the Shire. Although I can't do that, I certainly can take his lessons and apply them to my life.
The Wisdom of the Shire implores us to take more walks, eat local, plant a garden, get enough rest, make your home a refuge, a place filled with love you want to go back to. To "eat like a Brandybuck, and drink like a Took, "with simple, delicious, nourishing food and, yes, beer. Lol. We learn to love like a Hobbit, and about courage and joy. We learn about giving gifts on your birthday instead of receiving. Smith had a Hobbit birthday once - Hobbits find gifts for others among their own belongings, and wrap them up and give them away on their birthdays. Smith did this one year and he loved it. I think this is something I would like to try next year.
I really enjoyed this book. I loved all the Hobbit life lessons, and feel that I am going to implement this way of life into my own life. I think it is a worth a read, even if you are not familiar with The Lord of the Rings. And I am totally going to plant a Party Tree and a Hobbit garden.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 3, 2012
In The Wisdom Of The Shire, the wonderful ideas that Noble Smith puts forth, gleaned from the ways of the Halflings, bring shelter from the storm of our over-scheduled, over-committed and often under-appreciated lives. We should all be eating, sleeping, walking, talking, reading, gardening, drinking, loving, living, giving and celebrating like Hobbits.
For me, the author has provided a deeper understanding of the works of Tolkien. Something beyond the wonderful characters and astonishing tales. More of an emotional connection to my own life and how I choose to live it. I'm very much looking forward to giving my friends gifts on my next birthday and I can't wait to plant a garden.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2012
Each night before going to bed, I read a chapter of Noble Smith's "The Wisdom of the Shire" and went to sleep with a smile on my face. Not only does this gem of book compile the best of Tolkien's Middle Earth, but offers readers a simple and joyful path to "a long and happy life". The principles underlaying "Wisdom of the Shire" are as universal today as they were when the Hobbit was written (during WWII) and if practiced will assuredly lead to a happier life and a better world. The book is an ideal gift which I plan to give to all my friends and family this holiday season. My advice to you is simple: read it, practice it, give it away, and above all, enjoy it!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 4, 2012
In The Wisdom of the Shire, author Noble Smith breaks down modern and everyday troubles from the perspective of the hobbits of J.R.R. Tolkien's creation.
The foreword is written by Peter S. Beagle, the author of The Last Unicorn and the introduction to The Lord of the Rings, who says, "The Wisdom of the Shire is an idea whose time has unquestionably come. I'd buy it like a shot, give copies away to deserving friends, and keep it by the bed for bad nights." What follows are chapters that explore subjects like food and health, friendship, and courage, with clever titles like, "Eat Like a Brandybuck, Drink Like a Took," "Love in the Third Age," and "Bearing the Burden of Your Ring."
While I can't imagine anyone picking up this book who had no concept of a hobbit, a substantial knowledge of Tolkien and Middle-earth is not required. Each chapter is full of examples that can stand on their own, but coupled with a familiarity with the texts, your understanding can only grow. Having only read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings myself, I still felt entirely comfortable with any references to The Silmarillion or the Unfinished Tales because every example is used and explained for a specific purpose.
Be forewarned! If you want to embrace the lifestyle of a hobbit, you may have to give up the convenience of fast food and start buying food that is grown locally. Turn off the television and just get more sleep. Smith is unequivocal when it comes to describing many of our modern day habits as "orcish." He is not condescending, but I found myself really confronted by the contradictions between the life I desire and my confirmed behaviors. If you truly want to live a life of tranquility, you might need to take a step back and look at your tendencies through a new filter.
There are ample annotations in this book, both clarifying and tangential. Unlike cumbersome back-of-the-book commentary or the sometimes awkward footnotes, Smith's annotations are infused throughout the text. Some offer statistical and expositional facts from Middle-earth, others give insight into the life and times of author J.R.R. Tolkien, and some are just fun. My favorites are the comments that make me want to turn down the page corners; these highlight real-life hobbits, like Simon Dale of the Lammas Project, the inhabitants of Ashland, Oregon, and the owners of The Hobbit Pub in Southampton, England.
The Wisdom of the Shire is great to read all the way through, but would also be a perfect reference when you find yourself approaching "Your Own Personal Gollum" or when you want to "Sing Like A Hobbit." If you need a quick reminder, you can always thumb to the end of the chapter where a short morsel of wisdom summarizes the hobbit attitude.
Previous readers of Tolkien may suddenly crave a re-read of their favorite passages (or favorite books!), and those who have never cracked the spine of The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings might suddenly have the urge to curl up with one of the books after having read The Wisdom of the Shire.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 4, 2012
It is apparent that author Noble Smith read the Hobbit and the LOTR trilogy at a seminal time in life, and that he found them patently uplifting. Clearly, Tolkien "spoke" to him, and Smith walked away with many empowering messages.
In "The Wisdom of the Shire," Smith shares these impressions and his distinct understanding of the lessons gleaned from Tolkien's Middle Earth. Along the way, he draws parallels and relevance to life in these difficult modern times.
There's a simple message about living a simpler, saner life in the comfort of one's cozy Hobbit-hole, which can be a state of mind as well as one's physical surrounding. Lessons on to how to handle unpleasant encounters with the crazy-making, energy draining vampires that we all endure, in a chapter titled, "Your own Personal Gollum."
Replete with sidebars and footnotes loaded with fascinating factoids, the author's interpretations are like granules of insight sprinkled from page to page. In one side note, Smith likens the stewardship of the Ents as the very model for "sustainability." In another aside, we discover that Tolkien had his wife's name inscribed on his own tombstone. The inference being that he probably hoped to see her again in the next world, perhaps on the distant shores of Valinor.
Tolkien's mythology remains a powerful, mind-opening allegory, a didactic warning shot across the bow of an increasingly mechanized world. The burning of Fangorn Forest is the death knoll from the industrial revolution - and a call to action. The battle of The Ents and Samwise Gamgee's own green ethic are messages of hope. Smith also alludes to the Scouring of the Shire as a conflict with a kind of imperial corporate raider in his chapter, "Dealing with 'The Big People.' "
In "The Return of The King," the noble Samwise implores us, "these things are worth fighting for," and Noble Smith's wizened and charming companion to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien tells us that these things are worth thinking about.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 9, 2012
I read The Hobbit as a boy and was fond of Tolkien's book, but I was never a true fan. That has changed now that I have read Noble Smith's wonderful book The Wisdom of the Shire. With humor and a wealth of knowledge about life in the Shire, the book made me fall in love with Hobbits and their wise ways. As the author reveals, we have much to learn from Hobbits--much more than initially meets the eye.
In the early 1980s, Benjamin Hoff wrote The Tao of Pooh, one of the most enjoyable works of non-fiction I've ever read. It is a humorous introduction to the Tao (also know as 'The Way', or path to harmony), using characters from the Winnie the Pooh stories. Now, Noble Smith introduces us in an equally enjoyable fashion to 'The Way of the Hobbit.'
For anyone who is looking for a fun and engaging guide to how Hobbits can help us all live more peaceful, more fulfilling, more environmentally-sustainable lives, I highly recommend The Wisdom of the Shire. It also makes a great gift for someone you love, even if they don't love Hobbits (yet).
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 22, 2014
The Wisdom of the Shire contains some excellent albeit common sense advice for all of us. It is one of the best works I have ever read within the category of "self help" and I highly recommend it. Noble Smith's style is very easy to read. The advice he gives is not done in a self righteous or condescending manor. In fact, Smith hardly takes credit for correlating the philosophies of the Hobbits to our own lives. Rather than say, "This is what I figured out because I am so brilliant," Smith's manner of presentation is "This is what the Hobbits told me to tell you." I admire that kind of humility.
Students of Tolkien will especially like The Wisdom of the Shire as references to Tolkien's Hobbits and their way of life are the premise of the book. Smith tells us how to overcome the angst created by our 21st century lives by adopting a lifestyle that is not concerned with the latest fads and styles but one that provides inner peace and contentment. Rather than driving ourselves to a nervous breakdown via the ravenous consumption of 3rd rate goods that (eventually) clog our landfills, Smith implores us to find happiness in a quiet and unassuming way. By using the lifestyles of the Hobbits (not the rich and famous) Smith shows us how making our own "stuff" and growing our own food brings us not only enjoyment but physical, mental and emotional health. Good food and drink, the company of good friends and family in a comfortable home is a better way to achieve inner peace and contentment.
I am not a devotee of Tolkien's works. I read The Hobbit after college but stalled half way through the first chapter of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. That was 35 years ago and I have yet to reattempt reading these works that have transcended so many generations. Thanks to Noble Smith I recalled my thoughts of how idyllic Bilbo's day to day existence must have been. The Wisdom of the Shire has encouraged me to live a more Hobbit-esque lifestyle as my days grow fewer in number.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2013
Since childhood devouring `The Hobbit' and other Tolkien's works such as `The Silmarillion' and `Lord of the Rings' I was naturally really excited, upon being presented with the opportunity of discovering Noble Smith's `Wisdom of the Shire' which contains references to JRR Tolkien's epic creation. Journeying into the heart of the Shire and exploring Hobbiton, I felt `at home' as the author cleverly combines facts with his own singular philosophy. Other parts of vast Middle-Earth are touched upon including other creatures, such as Wizards, Dwarves, Elves and Ents that make Tolkien's world so supremely magnificent and `one of its kind'.
"Hobbits really are amazing creatures...You can learn all that there is to know about their ways in a month, and yet after a hundred years they can still surprise you!"
- Fellowship of the Ring, JRR Tolkien
Hobbits are certainly familiar through the books by Tolkien and the film adaptations of `The Hobbit' and `Lord of the Rings' films (directed by Peter Jackson), and so by studying their lifestyles and homely habits you can compare this to your own life. One thing is clear, that Hobbits live very happy and fulfilled lives and they are certainly merry, jolly and `contented with their lot'. By applying this to our own lives Noble Smith endeavors to make us feel satisfaction, contentment and joy through simple living and being at one with nature itself. Love is so important as too is being surrounded by friends, family and good food (feeling good inside and out) and so working harmoniously with the natural environment and focusing on a Hobbit's life we can ultimately feel invigorated.
"...it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort."
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, Ch. 1
Filled with fascinating facts and tempting tidbits that will entice you into reading JRR Tolkien's works and discovering Middle-Earth and its wonders, this personal read of self-discovery will have a consequential change on your own outlook on life as you contemplate your own happiness. Whether you are seeking peaceful tranquility in the countryside (rather than the city) or the comfort of a `Hobbit-hole' inspired home, this delightful guide fills you full of warmth and enlightenment on how the simple things can have such a big impact. I would highly recommend this to all fans of Tolkien's creation, as it is an enjoyable and illuminating read and one which ultimately makes you feel optimistic.
*I won an audio book copy of "The Wisdom of the Shire" by Noble Smith through a Goodreads, First-Read giveaway.*