Tuesday, June 22, 2010

77. The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

After I decided to split up the sci-fi and fantasy categories for the project (thanks to Annie for the suggestion!), I needed some help figuring out what to read for each. Armed with e-mailed recommendations, I sat down with Colin and my dad. We talked a lot about the difference between the genres and each of the recommendations that I got. They both mentioned that The Hobbit was funny, so I made sure to add it to the list of definites. I had a serious mental block about reading it for the longest time, though. I remember thinking that it would probably be boring and I wouldn't like it, so I kept putting off reading it. One night when Colin was at work, I decided enough was enough. I sat down to read it and finished it that same night.

Bilbo Baggins was a hobbit who wanted to be left alone in quiet comfort. But the wizard Gandalf came along with a band of homeless dwarves. Soon Bilbo was drawn into their quest facing evil orcs, savage wolves, giant spiders, and worse unknown dangers. [Side note: what could be worse than giant spider?] Finally, it was Bilbo -- alone and unaided -- who had to confront the great dragon Smaug, the terror of an entire countryside!

Plot summary lifted from the book jacket. 

Sometimes it's good to have low expectations. I was dreading reading this book so much, and for so long, that it greatly exceeded my expectations and ended up being a pretty good experience. The writing style is more readable than I thought it would be (me and my preconceived notions about classics!), but not as readable as I would have liked; the saving grace was that it's fairly well-paced. I did enjoy the humor, especially how "Escaping goblins to be caught by wolves!" becoming a proverb along the lines of "out of the frying pan and into the fire." Here's the however: I don't feel like I got as much out of it as someone else would, it was a more superficial enjoyment. So while I liked The Hobbit, I didn't love it and I don't think that I'll be re-reading it any time soon. 

Just for fun, here's what I wrote down during the giant spiders scene:




Annie said...

hi maggie!

i can't believe that Tolkien wrote both "the hobbit" and the LOTR trilogy. the writing style is soooo different. i could not put down "the fellowship of the ring" and read all three in close succession, loving them. although the second one was really tedious for me.... i prefer suspense to action. so i read "the hobbit" about a year later and i could barely get through it. i thought it was a giant snoozefest! and this from the man who gave us FRODO! alls i'm sayin'.... "the hobbit" ain't got nothin on LOTR trilogy.

i LOVE the logo of your blog. i LOVE your reading list. you are a great writer. miss you and hope you are well!

Magnolia said...

Thanks, Annie! You are so lovely and I'm glad we can at least connect online!

I too prefer suspense to action. Maybe I will have to check out LOTR some time... I would love to have the same reaction as yours after all these years of thinking that I didn't like sci-fi or fantasy. :)