The Hobbit Companion
is a charming guide for anyone who has just read [b:The Hobbit|5907|The Hobbit|J.R.R. Tolkien|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1353852111s/5907.jpg|1540236] or read it many years ago. However, unlike other guides it features watercolour paintings and analyses the world of The Hobbit from a slightly different perspective.
This companion guide goes into (albeit briefly) the history of the Hobbit families and how they came to live in the Shire, commenting on the similarities between their history and that of the Anglo-Saxons. However, what makes this guide stand out is what to me makes Tolkien stand out, the focus on the words and language of his world. David Day, comments on how The Hobbit came to exist from that famous opening line "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit", written down on a piece of paper while Tolkien was marking papers. Day explains that the origin of the word hobbit comes from 'hole-dweller' making this opening line an elaborate philological tautology (in other words Tolkien's method of a joke). He goes on to also point out the other jokes made by Tolkien in his names which to me was quite eye opening. When I re-read The Lord of the Rings I will not look at it quite the same...
The method used by Tolkien to write was one I think many authors could use more. Tolkien started with names, according to Day, and then went on to discover his characters by what their names said to him. Names, and words, really are powerful and organic and I think Tolkien recognised this.
If you want a look into the hobbit as a creature, read this book and learn a little about the names and associations Tolkien uses. In Tolkien's Middle Earth, words and names hold power so learning about them can help you to see the books very differently.