Tuesday, March 20, 2018

"The Hobbit, or There and Back Again" by J.R.R. Tolkien

I subscribed to Kindle Unlimited for the first time this month because they were running a special (the first two months for $0.99) which I couldn't pass on, given Elizabeth Hunter's Irin Chronicles books are available on it. But then, I noticed The Hobbit was also available on it (a book I've always wanted to read) so I chose to read this one first.

I was a bit ambivalent about reading this book because though I love Tolkien, it was also my father's favorite (and he and I are not friends). Luckily, though, it seems the charm of Tolkien's writing and the audiobook narration (which was free with Kindle Unlimited) really helped overcome my negative feelings about this book. It's fairly hard for me to dislike any book, regardless of reason, if it's well written, and I will say the same of this one. The Hobbit is phenomenally composed and sweepingly atmospheric.

To the end of his days Bilbo could never remember how he found himself outside, without a hat, a walking-stick or any money, or anything that he usually took when he went out; leaving his second breakfast half-finished and quite unwashed-up, pushing his keys into Gandalf's hands, and running as fast as his furry feet could carry him down the lane, past the great Mill, across The Water, and then on for a mile or more.
              ~The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, page 21 of the Kindle edition

The Plot (As Seen on Goodreads):
'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.
'Written for J.R.R. Tolkien’s own children, The Hobbit met with instant critical acclaim when it was first published in 1937. Now recognized as a timeless classic, this introduction to the hobbit Bilbo Baggins, the wizard Gandalf, Gollum, and the spectacular world of Middle-earth recounts of the adventures of a reluctant hero, a powerful and dangerous ring, and the cruel dragon Smaug the Magnificent.'

I always thought I was most like Eowyn or Galadriel in Tolkien's books, and while I may have some similarities in personality to those feisty women, I am also very like Beorn and Smaug. Beorn is a Skin-changer who can take the form of a black bear, has control over animals, and is surprisingly a vegetarian! I'm not a vegetarian, but I do have fairly good control over my trio of beasts, and I'm also less than enthused with guests like Beorn.

Smaug, on the other hand, is technically the villain of this book. To be honest, though, Tolkien paints him rather neutrally- Smaug is just being a dragon, and dragons kill people and animals and collect shiny things. I may not kill people, but I certainly keep to myself and I notice when my shiny things are touched and dislike it immensely. It was just a joy to read and hear the conversations between Smaug and Bilbo!

The Hobbit is an epic journey in one small, unassuming book. It's often hard to judge a book by its page count, but this one seems like it's longer than it is even though it's a short read (in a good way). If you've ever wanted to follow a wacky heist with a bevy of strange characters, this book may be for you.

Rating: 5 of 5 Stars for a book that made me feel like a dragon again!

Age Advisory: Ages 12+ for violence, general reading comprehension, and tricksy hobbitses.

Page Count: 366 pages


  1. Oh I so need to re- read the Hobbit now. It's simpler than LotR of course so that may explain some of my ambivalence, but it's been so long... I really should. Glad you enjoyed it! Love your comments about Beorn and Smaug. If I remember right Beorn's place seemed rather cozy, and yes off limits to guests ha ha, so maybe that'd be a good place to hang out. :)

    I think I need to read it again just for the Bilbo/ Smaug convo too...

  2. I like the simplicity- I don't know if I could handle the multiple POVs of LotR right now! Beorn has a rad set-up that would put most modern day "preppers" to shame- but of course, he has forest friends to help him.
    Yes, I hope you get to read the Smaug/Bilbo conversation soon!
    Thanks for stopping by and chatting, Greg!
    ~Litha Nelle

  3. I'm so happy that you were able to get past the fact that your Father loves The Hobbit and finally took a chance on it! As I'm sure you already know, The Hobbit is my all-time favorite book. I read it pretty much every year, in one format or another (I agree that the audio is great!), and I read just about everything related to it and Hobbits. The only Hobbit-related books I don't read are the ones that focus solely on the supposed Christian themes. While Tolkien was most certainly deeply Christian, I don't see The Hobbit as a Christian story in the same way as The Chronicles of Narnia are. Instead, I see The Hobbit (and The Lord of the Rings) in a much broader, neo-Romantic light. I think it's time for me to re-read The Hobbit :)

  4. I'm glad to see you take a chance with The Hobbit, it's such a great adventure story! I really admired the writing, it packs so much into such a small book. Great review Litha. :)

  5. I've read The Hobbit twice - my copy is a hand-me-down from my brother, and is really beaten up with dog-eared pages and a bent cover, but I just think that adds more charm ;)

  6. I really enjoyed The Hobbit as well. I admit I am a bigger fan of The Lord of the Rings, but I do love the world Tolkien has created.

  7. His opinion should never matter when it comes to books, because my taste is much better. :P I really enjoyed The Hobbit (you may have noticed from my review). I agree with you on Tolkien having a non-Narnian theme- because he was so interested in Scandinavian/Norse lore, a lot of his seem to have fairly new-age-y themes (if you get what I'm saying). The Hobbit has altruistic themes, but also a touch of hedonism. Go for a reread! It's worth it!
    Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Rachelle!
    ~Litha Nelle

  8. Yes, it is! It was just the sort of adventure story I'd been wanting to read too. It's a shame that I dragged my feet so long before reading it.
    Thanks you, and thanks for stopping by and commenting, Jamie!
    ~Litha Nelle

  9. Yes! The more well "loved" a book, the more I want to read it. I tend to keep an "original" copy of my favorite books, and a pretty copy of it- the pretty one is for display, the original is for reading.
    Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Cee Arr!
    ~Litha Nelle

  10. I think The Return of the King outranks The Hobbit for me (they are both five stars, but even among five star books there is a hierarchy). I feel very weird rating a book five stars when it has absolutely no female characters, but that's just how I felt about it!
    Thanks for stopping by and sharing, Wendy!
    ~Litha Nelle

  11. I'm so glad you enjoyed this! I watched the movie before I read the book and I'm actually very glad that I did, just so I could get the story down. When I read Lord of the Rings, I had the same issue with keeping everything straight in my head due to the flowery language. I love that you mentioned that Smaug wasn't really the 'villain' in the book! I'm so glad that Tolkien decided to portray him as just another dragon instead of being the epitome of evil. I feel like that isn't done enough in literature.

    Laura @BlueEyeBooks

  12. Gah- it seems I must've overlooked your comment on this Laura- I'm sorry!
    I guess with me, listening to the audiobook almost made it into a movie due to the narrator's voice acting. I am a fan of all the flowery things, though. :P
    Yes, I was so glad to have him be a relatively neutral villain, since Smaug and I have some similarities.
    Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Laura!
    ~Litha Nelle

  13. Haha that's all right! I'm also that person who constantly comments late on everything :)

    My friend lent me a gorgeous hardcopy version of this (gold Dwarfish lettering inscribed on a green background) so I've just started a reread and it's so great to get back into the world through such a beautiful book. I have such a soft spot for pretty hardcovers :)

    Haha I can definitely identify a bit with Smaug as well! I love villains like that.


  14. I remember loving this book, but it has been 40+ years since I read it, so my re-read coming up should be interesting. Thanks for sharing your review, and man, I had you pegged for a vegetarian! 🍲


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