The Hobbit

      12 Comments on The Hobbit

The HobbitThe Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Published: 1937

With the movie coming out, I figured I should give The Hobbit another read. It’s my favourite book, more for sentimental reasons than technical, and this is my fourth or fifth time through it. The book has its flaws, but I find them easy to overlook.

Some of my earliest memories are of my dad reading this to me as a child. I remember lying in bed every night excited to get back to the adventure. He’d even do the voices and terrify me with Gollum’s riddles. I found out recently that my mom used to stand and listen to him read from the doorway, but I don’t remember ever noticing. This book, and those nights, are probably a large part of why I’m still reading fiction today.

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.

This is the story that came before The Lord of the Rings. It tells of Bilbo Baggins begrudgingly joining a group of 13 dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield, after a little manipulation from the wizard Gandalf. Their goal is to take back the Kingdom Under the Mountain, the home of Thorin’s clan when he was a child, and retrieve the hoard of treasure left there when it was abandoned.

The treasure is still being guarded by Smaug, the dragon that ruined the clan and drove Thorin and the other survivors into exile. Gandalf helped plan the return with Thorin and insisted that they bring Bilbo along, and as reluctant as the hobbit may have initially been, he eventually found himself on a pony and riding into the unknown.

It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.

Reading this really brings me back to my childhood. It’s a string of one adventurous encounter and setting after the next – escaping the trolls, meeting Gollum, flying on the backs of eagles, getting lost in Murkwood, sneaking up on a dragon. I probably passed out half the nights we were reading this just from holding my breath in anxiety.

The first of the three new movies is due out in December, and I’m interested to see how they’ve done it. I don’t know how they’ll pull off The Hobbit after already making The Lord of the Rings. The quest is of a much smaller scale, and the story telling is quite linear and simple. It is a children’s book, after all. I’m curious to see how audiences will react with the expectations they’ll surely have after the previous trilogy.

As for coming out with three movies from one small book – I’m fine with it. I’m looking forward to them all. I know people get up in arms when directors make changes or additions to their beloved source material, but that’s always seemed silly to me. I try to view film adaptations as their own entities. I want to enjoy it, and that enjoyment has no bearing on how closely the stories are aligned. The Hobbit novel will always be here, untouched, and no movie good or bad is going to change that. They could set it in space and cast Justin Bieber as Bilbo Baggins, and it will still not affect my memory of the novel or the pleasure I’ll get from it in future re-reads.

Whether you’re planning to see the movie or not, you should give the novel a try.

There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West. Some courage and some wisdom, blended in measure. If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.

And read to your kids.

12 thoughts on “The Hobbit

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  2. Geoff

    I’m really excited about the film. I’ve only ever read The Hobbit once, but I made sure I collected last time I was at my mom’s house to re-read before December!

    1. Rob Post author

      At this point I’m pretty confident in their ability to do the book justice, so I’m excited to finally see it too. The production video blog posts that Peter Jackson was posting were quite fun, if you missed those.

  3. strugglingwriter

    I’ve never made it the entire way through The Hobbit, which is silly since I’ve made it through The Lord of the Rings. I’ll have to give it another go.

    I am very excited for these movies.


    1. Rob Post author

      That’s so awesome! I hope she enjoys it.

      I’m not sure how the story will work for an adult reading it for the first time, as I can’t really view it objectively these days, but maybe seeing it through your daughter’s eyes will help.

  4. The Classics Club

    I just read this myself for the first time. I love A Wrinkle in Time, and my dad kept trying to get me to read The Hobbit, but I couldn’t get into it. I’m glad I’ve read it now, and look forward to reading it to my sons. -Sarah

    1. Rob Post author

      I’ve still never read A Wrinkle in Time, despite it being around the house my entire childhood. I’ll have to track that one down!

  5. Kerry M

    I just read this for the first time, and really enjoyed it. I am skeptical about the three-movie decision, not because I mind them altering the source material, but because I just don’t know what on earth will make it three movies long, and worry it will be boring. That said, I’ve heard they plan on pulling in some back story not included in The Hobbit, and some of Gandalf’s adventures (since in The Hobbit, he just goes away and comes back, no explanation), which should add more to it.

    I’ll see all three either way, I’m sure!

    1. Rob Post author

      I’m also wondering how the films are going to work. I remember hearing that one of the movies will show what happens to Bilbo between the events in The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring, but I’m not sure if that was just an early rumour or not.

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