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.