Everything I Need to Know, I Learned from Reading Tolkien

March 25 is Tolkien Reading Day, a day dedicated to reading the works of the genius that is J.R.R. Tolkien. As I thought back on my previous readings of the epic adventure Lord of the Rings and, of course, my favorite Tolkien book, The Hobbit, I realized that everything I need to know in life, I learned from reading Tolkien.


It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door…You step into the road and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to. (The Fellowship of the Ring)—Any day can become an adventure.

The world is not in your books and maps, it’s out there. (The Hobbit)—Sometimes you have to get your head out of the books and experience things for yourself.


If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. (The Hobbit)—Always know what is important.

The road goes ever on and on. ((The Hobbit)—The world isn’t going to stop for you.

It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him. (The Hobbit)—Make wise and careful decisions.

You will have to manage without pocket-handkerchiefs, and a good many other things, before you get to the journey’s end. (The Hobbit)—Sometimes you have to sacrifice comfort in order to do the right thing.

Go back?” he thought. “No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!” (The Hobbit)—Keep moving forward. There’s nothing else you can do.


The praise of the praiseworthy is above all rewards. (The Two Towers)—Be someone who others can respect, and encourage others sincerely.

I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn’t. And if they had, we shouldn’t know, because they’d have been forgotten. (The Two Towers)—Keep fighting the good fight, even when things get hard.


It is useless to meet revenge with revenge: it will heal nothing. (The Return of the King)—Don’t get even. Forgive.

Well, I’m back. (The Return of the King)—Always come home to the ones that love you.

And finally, if you ever get the chance to go on an epic quest make sure to take at least one dwarf, one elf, one wizard and a gaggle of hobbits. It’ll be more fun.

Want to read about more epic quests? Check out these reading recommendations from our HPB Bibliomaniacs, or pick up a new Tolkien read at your local Half Price Books.

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