46. The Hobbit

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The Hobbit was one of those books that has been on my TBR list for a very, very long time.  I didn’t really know what to expect from it.  I’d heard so many things about Tolkien’s writing some good, some excellent, and some even saying that it was overrated.  It’s strange the view we can have on books that we read many years ago.  Our memory somehow focuses on the bad, the slow, and the boring or happily the exceptional.  As most readers will admit the exceptional is just so rare.

So, you’re probably wondering what pushed me to pick up The Hobbit.  Well, the You Tube Book Club( spear-headed by Bunny Cates) discussed it last night on live feed.  When I heard they’d chosen The Hobbit, I wasn’t overwhelmed although it was a book I’ve always wanted to read.  In my mind, I found myself remembering some of the things I had heard people say to me when I asked them if they liked it and The Lord of the Rings.  I’d heard everything from it’s great, to it’s ok, to it’s good but some parts are really slow.  I can’t cope when I’m reading a book that’s slow.  It’s hard for me to not put it down.  Henceforth, the whole Tolkien thing remained on the back burner, knowing I’d eventually get to it.  Finally, here I am and I must admit I’m definitely team Hobbit.  I loved this story and I wish I’d gotten to it much earlier.  “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.” (The Hobbit, p. 9)  Who wouldn’t be interested with a beginning like that.

Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit content in his comfortable condition.  He is convinced by Gandalf, the wizard and thirteen dwarfs to go on the hunt for treasure across Middle Earth, in spite of his desire to stay in the comfort of his hobbit hole.  They experience many adventures on their quest for the treasure and to slay the clever, destructive, and murderous dragon, Smaug.  As Bilbo and the dwarves cross Middle Earth, Tolkien’s world building unfolds with each encounter, while being introduced to various original creatures.  I imagine children having this story read to them in 1937, the year Tolkien wrote it, and how excited they must have been to read it or to have it read to them.  Who needs television when you have such a descriptive and action packed fantasy story like this.

The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, doesn’t have anything bad about it.  I enjoyed the first half of the book a lot more than the second half, however most people, who are fantasy novel lovers, will probably find the action of the second part more exciting.  The character development that Bilbo goes through is great too.  You can’t help rooting for the underdog.

J.R.R. Tolkien was a British high fantasy writer.  His best known and loved works are The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.  He was an English Language and Literature professor and was at once close to C.S. Lewis, the author of The Chronicles of Narnia.  My favorite form The Chronicles of Narnia was The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.  They were both members of a literary group called Inklings.  This group promoted writing narrative and fantasy fiction.  Many member of this group were Christian and Christian themes run clearly through Tolkien and Lewis’ novels.

Last night during the YT Book Club, we discussed quite a bit the movie which is coming out in another week.  I’m not so sure how that’s going to go.  I had heard The Hobbit was going to be two movies, but in fact it’s going to be three.  How do you adapt such a short book into three movies?  We tried to imagine where they would stop and start the movies; not so easy to work out.  I’m shuddering just thinking about it.  I took a look at the trailer, which is just below and I couldn’t help feeling swept up by it.  Whatever you decide to do, read the book first.  I repeat read the book first.  I wouldn’t want that great high fantasy ambiance ruined by three movies that aren’t exactly right.  Another thing, when purchasing The Hobbit, take care to buy the oldest edition you can because there are apparently a slew of different ones out there.  I have a 1973 edition (Made in China, argh!)  and I’m on the hunt now for an even older one, particularly a 1966 edition.  There have been a few things added in, here and there between editions.  I gave the Hobbit 4 stars on Goodreads.  Are you planning to see The Hobbit?  Check out the trailer and of course happy reading…..

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0k3kHtyoqc]

Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.

—— Author Unknown

10 Replies to “46. The Hobbit”

  1. I can’t believe you only now read this book for the first time! I read all the Tolkien novels for the first time in the eighties, and I think I had the same 1973 edition of the “Hobbit” that you have. I’ve read it at least one more time since then, long before the movies came out. I too wonder about dividing this novel into three movies. I recall it being shorter than any of the later Lord of the Rings trilogy books.

    1. Yeah I needed to crawl from under my rock which was stuck in the back of a dark cave. The most important thing is that I read it and loved it. My version was 315 pages. I’d love to get the 1966 version though. I’m on the hunt.

  2. Nice review…I’m not sure if I’ll get around to reading it, though since I haven’t done much reading in a while. I also like “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”. I think we had to read it in school, and we also watched the movie. Awesome story! The trailer for “The Hobbit” looks kind of exciting.

  3. I’m always struck by how simple and sparse in detail the Narnia books are versus Tolkein’s expansive descriptions in The Hobbit. Both are great books, but very different styles.

  4. Totally want to see the movie. I’ve never read the book. Tried to read the LOTR’s books but just couldn’t get into them! I think I have a Tolkien block in my brain!

    1. Don’t stay blocked for The Hobbit. Trust me you’ll love it! I was blocked too but it is recounted in a lovely, lively style. I’m sure you would enjoy. Personally fantasy is not my go to genre but I found the great. I may venture to read A Game of Thrones and that for me is a lot.

  5. I loved The Hobbit. It was the last book my mother read to me as a child before she considered i was too old. She had a different voice for each character. I’m dying to see the film, but then again not. I wonder if it will spoil my mothers voices. I have Bilbo firmly pictured in my head, and he was a funny, odd looking person – not really human but not really not! The Hobbit is way better than the Lord of the Rings, and i hated the film of the Lord of the Rings. So for anyone who got put off by The Lord of the Rings, try the Hobbit. It is totally different and wonderful.

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