“The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien

I picked this out for airplane reading, thinking I had read it before many years ago.  Now, I’m not so sure I ever did.  I remember watching the cartoon (on youtube now!) repeatedly with my brother and sister when I was a kid, and I know I slogged through the three Lord of the Rings books during high school.  But I think I missed actually reading the one that started it all!  Until now.

I remember the Lord of the Rings books being good stories (and I really like the movies, although they are a tad long) but kind of tedious to read.  I kind of had to struggle to make it through sections laced with elf-poetry on every other page.  I appreciate Tolkien and the virtual pioneer his novels were in the fantasy genre, but when I read them I couldn’t help but thinking that his works had been eclipsed by later authors in the field.  (I may feel differently now, some ten-ish years later.  Perhaps due for a re-read … ?)

The Hobbit has a delightfully lighter, more fun feel to it than the Lord of the Rings books.  Bilbo’s adventures are not quite as world-shattering as Frodo’s later ones, but they are no less exciting.  The novel has an excellent, witty narrator’s voice whose asides to the reader frequently found me chuckling.  I thought many times that “The Hobbit” would be an excellent choice to read aloud to children (maybe older kids, ages 7 and 8 or up or so) – lots of action, easy to understand story and character motivations, bite sized adventures in each chapter.

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