“The Hobbit is epic fantasy from Tolkien and one of the best known books in the world.”

NO MAJOR SPOILERS

“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 is one of the rare books I’ve been avoiding all my life. I have memories of playing at my best friend’s house while her brothers watched the 1977 The Hobbit cartoon, and I felt very strange and scared, and a little grossed out (though, to this day, I maintain that Bilbo Baggins is the single best name for a dog in existence). Then Lord of the Rings came out when I was in High School and I hated those movies more than words could express. My husband convinced me to watch them again two years ago, and I actually really enjoyed them and looked forward to them.

Being a voracious reader, I felt it was almost a duty to read The Hobbit. I’d be cheating if I never read J.R.R. Tolkien. So, with trepidation I began The Hobbit. Now, after reading it, I wonder what took (haha—Took! A little hobbit pun) me so long.

It was a very quick and cozy read. I lamented that I wasn’t reading it in the dead of winter next to a fire with an oversized sweater. I loved the writing. It was descriptive, and often humorous. There were a lot of quotable and memorable lines that I highlighted and I look forward to revisiting. Some of my favorites include:

“There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.”

“Where there’s life there’s hope.”

“So comes snow after fire, and even dragons have their endings.”

There are books that must be read during great tragedy or trial. This seems like a perfect book for moments such as these. The story of a little hobbit, happy and comfortable, who is pitched into an adventure and grows in bravery along the way.

My husband Adam stated, “Just when it seems something tragic will occur there is always something to save the day (golden eagles, shape-shifting bear, etc).” I agree with that wholeheartedly. The scenes didn’t seem very intense or worrisome because I felt like Tolkien was never willing to take risks with his lead characters, unlike J.K. Rowling who uses loss effectively to push her stories along. Even when characters died it didn’t really seem to affect others long term. As a huge fan of Rowling, it was neat to read The Hobbit and see the different inspiration she must have drawn from Tolkien.

I read that Tolkien was a language scholar, and he was partially motivated to write his stories by his desire to invent other languages, which I think was incredibly fascinating. I also read that Tolkien first wrote about Middle-Earth with the intention of creating an entirely new mythology for the English people, and the story’s form is based on the ancient heroic epics that Tolkien taught and studied at Oxford. Again, so fascinating. I love that he wrote The Hobbit with his children in mind, and that he’d often test the story out, his children as his audience, as he was writing it.

All in all I thought it was a wonderful book, and I look forward to snuggling up with my children as they get older and reading it aloud to them.

 

Reviewed by:

Melissa Turney

Added 24th May 2015

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