It has been a couple of years now since I last read "The Lord of the Rings", though I have read "The Hobbit" recently. The great thing about this book is how it triggers many fond memories of both those novels, and one is filled with deep nostalgia for scenes and events from Tolkien's great works.
The book is short (205 pages), and broken down into 20 short and simple chapters with titles such as: "The Lore of the Ents" and "Love in the Third Age". Each chapter focuses on a particular theme from Tolkien's work and explains how by applying it to our everyday lives we can help attain the Good Life, or Aristotle's eudaimonia or the like. But though some themes may be best articulated by Elves, say, or wizards, each theme is given a Hobbit-take, and how hobbits demonstrate the virtues in question best.
The raison d'etre of the book, then, is to explain how hobbits live the good life, what makes it the good life, and how we can apply the same methods and philosophy to our own twenty first century lives to achieve an equally satisfying way of life.
Noble Smith succeeds on two counts. First, as mentioned above, he successfully blends his argument with references to Tolkien's novels, evoking from the reader fond and happy memories. You put the book down at the end and all you want to do is go and read The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, The Silmarillion, or whatever Tolkien tome you can get your hands on.
Secondly, he succeeds by articulating a coherent and persuasive argument. He breaks down the lives of hobbits into manageable chunks, and clearly shows that each chunk is an attractive facet that one would wish to evince in one's own life. In short, there is happiness to be found in harkening to hobbits!
My only caveat that I found was that he did have a tendency to bring an element of the political into it, such as when he encourages us to write to our MP if we are unhappy with local matters, or to get involved in the political process. This preaching sounded both patronising and prosaic, and the book would be better off without it. I understand what he is trying to do: to encourage people to care about the world around them, but that is the message that comes out of the book; he does not need to be so unsubtle about it.
It is ironic, then, that one of the hobbits' virtues he highlights is how they don't like being told what to do.
All in all, though, an enjoyable (and easy) read.