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The Book Beat: Tolkien, an introduction

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This week's read

"Tolkien: How an Obscure Oxford Professor Wrote The Hobbit and Became the Most Beloved Author of the Century," by Devin Brown allows readers to discover more about J.R.R. Tolkien, the famous, high-fantasy fiction author of "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy.

As the book's title promises, readers will learn about Tolkien’s journey to success, and it is an interesting read even for people unfamiliar with Tolkien’s writings.

The story begins with the childhood of John Ronald Reuel Tolkien. He was the first child of Arthur and Mabel Tolkien and was born in 1892 in Bloemfontein, a former English colony in South Africa. 

When Tolkien was four years old, his father died and his mother moved the family to a small village in England. In a passage from the book, Brown quotes Tolkien's description of the village:

“There was an old mill that really did grind corn with two millers, a great big pond with swans on it, a sandpit, a wonderful dell with flowers, a few old-fashioned village houses, and further away, a stream with another mill … I could draw you a map of every inch of it … It was a kind of lost paradise.”

The impression the village made on him is reflected in "The Hobbit" when Bilbo takes the path from Bag End as he sets off on his great adventure.

Brown explains that this classic series almost did not make it to print, partly because after publishing "The Hobbit," Tolkien kept revising and rewriting the rest of the series. Tolkien also encountered obstacles from the publishing company; the publication of books was determined by the son of the publisher. Luckily for Tolkien fans, the publisher’s son encouraged his father to publish the stories.

This book is written in a concise form to keep the reader’s interest. There are several interesting facts about Tolkien’s life to help the reader better understand the ups and downs Tolkien met, and the struggles he went through to write his novels.

"Tolkien: How an Obscure Oxford Professor Wrote The Hobbit and Became the Most Beloved Author of the Century" was an enjoyable read, and although this biography did not go into great detail, the book did include many of the people and experiences that influenced Tolkien’s life and writing, as well as help the reader understand how and why he wrote the type of books he did. 

After much time and many delays, the books were eventually completed and published, becoming well-known and beloved books for generations of readers.

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