It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair...
Dickens. Tale of Two Cities.
One of my favorite books that I have read 3-4 times and maybe five. Or more. I don't remember the times so much as the Times and that's the important thing.
In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.
That's the opening line for The Hobbit by Tolkien. It's the sort of opening line that draws you in to the story immediately.
I remember where I was when I read that line and I remember thinking at the time, "I'm going to like this book." And I did.
I was introduced to The Hobbit by my junior year English teacher, Del Davis, to whom I am indebted for many reasons.
First, Del introduced me to The Hobbit and later I moved on to the Lord of the Rings which had just come out in paperback at our local bookstore. Also, Del introduced me to the writings of Lao Tsu which influenced my life over the next decade. Del also encouraged his class to learn to think for themselves which set me on a path I follow to this day.
So, thank you, Del, your mentorship influenced a generation of students. I think about you every time I re-read The Hobbit and I think I'll start again tonight.