Thursday, January 07, 2010

Lord of the Rings Readalong: The Hobbit, or There and Back Again

There are times that I obliviously wander through life, not noticing the things that are going on around me. Or perhaps it is that at the time I did notice it, but didn't think I would be able to participate. Whatever the case actually was, apparently as long ago as November, there were conversation happening on Twitter and on blogs about a Lord of the Rings readalong starting in January, and I never noticed...until a couple of days ago, when suddenly I needed, yes, NEEDED, to reread The Hobbit. It must have been fated because I walked into my lounge room, stood in front of the bookshelf, and there was the book. Found it without even trying! And now that I am nearly finished reading it, have to say that it is pretty much the perfect read for me at the moment!

I first read The Hobbit in either year 8 or year 9 - the first couple of years of high school anyway. I remember liking it a lot at the time, but my overwhelming memory is the title page that I did for the book report. Now, I am pretty sure I have said before that I am not an artist, and never have been. My friends would turn in these super artistic title pages with gorgeous colours, lettering and illustrations, but that really was never my strong point. If you wanted to talk about what was in the report in terms of content, then I was up there for sure, but presentation...not so much.

My title page had my idea of what the hill that Bilbo Baggin's hobbit hole was built into, with a path leading to his door. I guess in concept it was something similar to the header over at Kaye's blog, The Road Goes Ever On, but there was a mile wide gap in terms of execution!

If you had of asked me, I would have sworn that the edition that I have in my book collection was the one that I had read that first time, but having a look at the details, that doesn't appear to be the case given that I read the book in either 1983 or 1984, and the edition that I am now reading was published in 1987. You can see that it is a book that has been read a few times. The spine is a little damaged, there is some sticky tape holding the spine together, so even just the experience of reading it again has been something of a trip down memory lane without even reading any of the words.

I did really struggle to find an image showing the cover that I am reading, but thankfully Violet from Still Life With Books came to the rescue! There are so many different covers out there! The only difference between this image and my cover is that at the very bottom it says 'The Hobbit 50th Anniversary'.

In the introductory post, Eva, who is hosting the discussion for The Hobbit, asked several discussion questions to get things going.

When did you first hear of The Hobbit? What made you decide to join the read-a-long?

Have you read it before? If so tell us about that experience.

If you’re new to The Hobbit, do you have any preconceptions going into it?

J.R.R. Tolkien pretty much founded the modern fantasy genre. So let’s take a moment to think about the genre as a whole; have you always loved fantasy? Or perhaps you still feel rather skeptical towards the whole idea of wizards and dwarfs and magic? What was your introduction to the genre?

Do you have a certain plan for reading it? A few pages a day, spacing it out over the month? Or are you just going to race through it? Let whimsy decide?
A few years ago I would have said that I wasn't really a fantasy reader. While I don't read anywhere near as much fantasy as I do other genres, for example historical romance or historical fiction, these days I do read a fair proportion of fantasy, and also books featuring paranormal creatures. There are certain authors that I have read for an extended period of time that are classified as fantasy authors, like Terry Pratchett and Jasper Fforde, but other than those, one of the changes that blogging has made to the way I read is that I do read more outside of my two major genres, and really enjoy it!

When I started rereading this book, I didn't really have a plan as to how I was going to read. It was more a case of having to read it and read it now, and so that's what I have done. In the end I have been enjoying reacquainting myself with Bilbo, Gandalf and all the dwarves, I think I will probably finish it tomorrow morning.

Guess the main question I have left is how many more years will it be before I reread this book again?


  1. Yea for The Hobbit! It DOES sound like fate. You sound like me in that I really don't actively seek fantasy books but don't mind and maybe I don't even realize its genre when I read them. I do so look forward to trying Jasper Fforde.

  2. What a wonderful reading coincidence! :) And I'm glad that The Hobbit was just what you needed. :D

  3. There is nothing quite like "The Hobbit" for lifting the spirits. I had not heard about the read-a-long. How fun! I'm joining a Virginia Woolf reading group for the next two months or I'd be seriously tempted to join you. It's been a number of years since I last sat down with J.R.R. Tolkien. I enjoyed reading your post today.

  4. I joined the read-along too and was once again happy to follow Bilbo on his journey. :-) It's such a wonderful read. That book cover is amazing!

  5. I loved being on the road with Bilbo again.

  6. I haven't read The Hobbit for 10 (I think) years or so, but once I started reading it I immediately felt happier than I had been prior. :D I love it when books affect me so positively like that!

  7. I have not yet read any of these books and have to admit that I am a little intimidated by them! I am glad that you were able to join in the fun of reading these again with a group. Maybe I should try would give me some shoulders to lean on if things got too difficult!