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The Wisdom of the Shire: A Short Guide to a Long and Happy Life Paperback – October 29, 2013

4.6 out of 5 stars 46 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Noble Smith reminds us that we can all be as constantly surprising as the Hobbits.” ―Peter S. Beagle, author of The Last Unicorn and the introduction to The Lord of the Rings

“I haven't had too many 'Personal Gollums' in my life but the next time I happen upon one I will take Noble Smith's book out and thumb through it like a manual. My only fear is that I will find someone doing the same thing to figure out how to deal with me. Such a fun book!” ―Ty Burrell, Emmy winning star of Modern Family

“Good books transport us, great books transform us. Noble Smith was clearly transformed by reading J. R. R. Tolkien's classic novels, and this book is the delightful result. It's a humorous but impassioned celebration of enduring values, worthy sacrifices, and simple pleasures. You can't beat that combination, either in the novels or in this irresistible homage.” ―Mark Salzman, author of Iron and Silk

“How to live long and prosper, Hobbit-style. … A life-affirming, must-have morsel for Tolkien's colossal fan base.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“A definitive guide to Tolkien's worldview.” ―Wired.com

“Smith urges hobbit-wannabes to embrace the original small-is-beautiful lifestyle --grow your own food, walk everywhere. And sing. Even to love Tolkien-style!” ―USA Today

“Delves into Middle-earth to show us how Tolkien can instruct us how to live a better life on Regular-earth.” ―The Boston Globe

“Funny, insightful, thought-provoking, and a thoroughly enjoyable read.” ―TheOneRing.net

About the Author

Noble Smith is an award-winning playwright who has worked as a video game writer, a documentary film executive producer, and the media director of an international human rights foundation. He is author of the novella Stolen from Gypsies and the novel Sons of Zeus, the first book in the Warrior Trilogy. He lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and children.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (October 29, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250038294
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250038296
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,090,846 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.
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