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The Wisdom of the Shire by Noble Smith
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The Wisdom of the Shire (edition 2012)

by Noble Smith

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285389,858 (3.7)1
Member:cinnamonowl
Title:The Wisdom of the Shire
Authors:Noble Smith
Info:Hodder & Stoughton Ltd (2012), Hardcover
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
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The Wisdom of the Shire: A Short Guide to a Long and Happy Life by Noble Smith

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This is a unique and engaging self-help book, perfect for any fan of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Noble Smith encourages readers to take a step back from their hectic lives and the many problems that they deal with on a day-to-day basis, and live in a more simplistic manner, just like the hobbits of Middle-Earth.

Anyone who knows me knows that I have been completely enamored by the hobbits and their way of life ever since I first picked up Tolkien’s books. Good food and cheer, what could be better than that? It seems that Noble Smith shares my thoughts on this matter, and really gives us a handbook to following the Hobbits’ example. One of the chapters has such a simple, yet overlooked message. Sleep well. Yeah, that’s it. As simple as it sounds, how many of us actually turn off our TVs and computers at a decent hour and go to bed? Noble even says, “If you’re reading this book right now and you’re tired, put it down and go to bed.” I also thought that the chapter on love was brilliant. Noble has us think about where we currently base our ideas of ‘romance and love’. How many of us are constantly looking at celebrity gossip magazines and acting so surprised when these people split up and both go after ‘the next best thing’? Smith writes about Tolkien and his wife, Edith, and the obstacles they overcame to be together. “The Wisdom of the Shire tells us: True love must be defended bravely with the soul of a warrior, and yet tended with the patience of a gardener.”

I was very happy with this book, and I sure hope others will decide to pick it up and add some Hobbit wisdom to their lives. You won’t be disappointed. ( )
  raisedbybooks | Mar 12, 2014 |
Full review at: http://thebookshelfgargoyle.wordpress...

Ten Second Synopsis:
Hobbit-nature is deconstructed in handily themed chapters as a means of providing guidance toward a life filled with the satisfaction already attained by Hobbit-kind.

A warning, right off the bat. If you are an Uber-fan of J.R.R. Tolkien, born in the last 30 odd years, who has dedicated time and effort and as many internet resources as possible to researching Tolkien's life, work and philosophy, this book is NOT for you. Walk away. Now. Seriously.

If however, you are a fan of Tolkien's work, you enjoyed the Hobbit as a child (or came late to the party, as an adult) and have a soft spot in your heart for Hobbits but a few holes in your knowledge of Tolkien's canon, step right up!

Clearly, Smith's purpose in writing is not to provide an error-free, meticulously researched and analytically conceptualised theory of Hobbit-life intended as a strict, literal handbook for organising one's life. It's a nice light read, with some timely reminders as to how a return (or reimagining) of some of life's simple pleasures might increase personal happiness in those commited to engaging in them.

It's a bit meandering and a bit repetitive in places, and the footnotes often have little or nothing to do with the sentence to which they are attached. Smith refers to the movies as well as the books, and this may annoy the purists out there (who should already have moved on, had they taken my initial warning in the spirit in which it was intended). But overall, it's just a nice, cosy sort of a book.

I would recommend keeping it on your bedside table or in your favourite reading nook, to dip into every now and again when you'd like a not-too-challenging and reasonably uplifting read. ( )
  BruceGargoyle | Jan 13, 2014 |
This review is for the audiobook version of The Wisdom of the Shire by Noble Smith, read by Simon Vance.

This book had me utterly charmed at the dedication, which is a hint at all the goodness that lies ahead. There is no way to put the book down after reading that gem.

Much of the wisdom presented is common to 21st century denizens with any civic conscientiousness and environmental awareness- reuse, recycle, eat local, make nice with your own personal Gollum- but presented through the lens of Hobbitness, the message has a freshness and appeal that is hard to resist. Do not, however, think for a minute that the Hobbit angle is simply a gimmick. Smith is a deep thinker with keen intellect, a big, generous heart, and a wicked knowledge of The Lord of the Rings. He has captured the essence of Tolkien's lands and characters and seamlessly relates them to life in our stressed, hurried, consumer world. Each and every chapter gave me something to enjoy, to take away and ponder, to apply to my own life. From the big (challenge corporate and governmental corruption) to the simple (get more sleep!), Smith's suggestions are inspired and inspiring. And read in Vance's delightfully British voice, they are warm and inviting.

The Wisdom of the Shire will be enjoyed not only by devoted Tolkien fans, but also by anyone with a passing familiarity with the books or films.

I won a copy of this audiobook through Goodreads First Reads. Yet now, after having basked in its good spirit, its arrival on my doorstep seems less like a freebie won, and more like a gift received. Thank you Goodreads and Noble Smith.

The Shire Lives! ( )
  elzbthp | Apr 8, 2013 |
If you are looking for a review where the reviewer overlooks niggling errors because the text is so inspiring, move on. If you are looking for a review where the reviewer fails to mention egregious errors regarding the source material, click on through- nothing to see here!

If you've read many of my reviews, you know I'm a Tolkien, um, fan. I can see that Noble Smith is also a fan, but he's a fan in need of a fact-checker. Especially because of assholes like me, who get all twitchy the instant someone gets the slightest little thing wrong- and who feel the need to shout, "No, no, THAT isn't what The Book says!" So my review is coming from a place of knee-jerk reactionary devotion to JRRT.

I found that Smith tended to recycle incidents from the books several times throughout this book in order to shoehorn in more Shire-riffic advice. I also felt like he was trying too hard. Sometimes the cigar is just… you know. And I disagree, too, with Smith's portrayal of life in the Shire as entirely ideal- even before Sharkey came, it wasn't Eden.

It sounds like I hated the book, but I didn't. The book itself is a fairly non-offensive little pop psychology tome coincidentally (surely it's a coincidence!) published just as the latest big Peter Jackson Hobbit movie hits the theaters. There were pleasant moments, and I sympathize very deeply with many of Smith's moral stances as explicated by the book. I just don't think he's broken any new ground here. The prose is workman-like, with a few grammar nit-picks (would you expect any less of me?) like using council when counsel was called for.

It seems I'm focusing on the negative (and I am) but there's a lot of positive here, too. There are many more correct allusions and fun facts than incorrect ones. There are enticing tidbits that would likely make a person want to read the books if they had not already done so. There is good solid advice for living, plus a garden plan! There's good here- and to be scrupulously fair, this is the sort of book I hate even when it's not based on my favorite books.

I say give it a miss. If you hated The Tao of Pooh, you'll hate this too.

Here are some of the errors that made me either bristle or roar:


"Strangers who passed near the Shire were called 'Bounders'." (The Hobbits who walked the boundaries of the Shire were the Bounders.)

"And when Merry is lost amongst the dead after the Battle of Pelennor Fields, Pippin searches nonstop until he finds his shell-shocked friend and brings him to the Houses of Healing in Minas Tirith." (Maybe this was how it went in the movie, but certainly not in the book.)

"It's only then Frodo realizes Galadriel is wearing one of the three rings Sauron made for the Elves." (Celebrimbor made the Three, without any help from Sauron. -see The Council of Elrond chapter.)

"After losing the One Ring, Sauron could only appear as a lidless eye ringed in fire." (No. Just no.)

"At the climax of The Two Towers the Ents are forced to make a fairly quick decision (which goes against every fiber of their fibrous beings) to defend their beloved forest from the axes of the White Wizard's Orcs." (Treebeard explains how quickly the Ents decide things- it's the explaining that takes so long.) ( )
  satyridae | Apr 5, 2013 |
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. ( )
  cinnamonowl | Dec 6, 2012 |
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Draws on the philosophies of Hobbit lore to counsel readers on how to live rich and satisfying lives, exploring such ideas as the benefits of simple pleasures with friends, giving to others, and carrying burdens without becoming overwhelmed.

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