Okay, time for a confession: this post has been sitting, blank and waiting, in my Drafts section for over a year. O_o Book review posts have a habit of doing that to me; I finish a book and plan to review it, but something else comes up, and I forget about it. I don't stop reading the books, though, so they continue to build up, until my Drafts section numbers past thirty, and I am left wringing my hands and weeping, all the while wondering what I did wrong.
Maybe that last part is a bit of an exaggeration. ;)
By J.R.R. Tolkien
*Summary from Goodreads.com
"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.
My Thoughts: It took me some time to really get into this book, but once I did, I fell in love with Middle-earth and all its inhabitants. Tolkien has a very different style of writing when compared to his fellow Inkling, C.S. Lewis. Lewis' allegorical themes are more obvious, and his stories are simpler, making his books easier for the young to understand. Tolkien literally invented languages and traditions in his world of Middle-earth to an extent that far surpasses that of Lewis, but naturally, that means his books are much wordier. I enjoy both styles and could not be called upon to pick a favorite; however, it was very interesting to be exposed to Tolkien's style after years of admiring and enjoying Lewis'.
On the surface, The Hobbit is a delightful adventure story that will amuse and entertain people of all ages. The tapestry of the tale is woven so expertly that it leaves Tolkien's gift for words in no doubt. A skeptic who claims its greatness has been blown out of proportion will read two pages and realize he was wrong. But at the core, The Hobbit is even more than a simple adventure story. It teaches deep truths in a very subtle manner. One example of this is when Gandalf is pondering the many meanings of the term "Good morning", which Bilbo lightly offers in the first scene. This gently illustrates how we often use phrases loosely, giving little or no thought to their true meaning.
I admire Bilbo's humble nature and kind heart. He is generous, simple, and satisfied with the little things in life. He has no desire for gold or jewels like the dwarves. And as Thorin himself tells the little hobbit, "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." As a reader, sometimes it is more interesting to read about the bold, vanquishing type — but is it not better that we embody the traits that make Bilbo who he is?
Pros: Engaging plot, creative and endearing characters, and a world called Middle-earth that you will not soon want to leave. Tolkien's tale is one fabricated by the hand of a master, and every individual who opens this book will find themselves entwined at once.
Cons: Can be considered a bit slow at some parts.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
I recommend this book for ages 11+
A Bit O' Reading for the Day:
"[Bilbo] guessed as well as he could, and crawled along for a good way, till suddenly his hand met what felt like a tiny ring of cold metal lying on the floor of the tunnel. It was a turning point in his career, but he did not know it. He put the ring in his pocket almost without thinking; certainly it did not seem of any particular use at the moment." — The Hobbit, chapter 5