I Finally Read The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

December 10, 2012 Children's Fiction, Fantasy 52

Hello Bookworms. I’ve missed you. While I was away, I drowned my sorrows in the pages of The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien. I’m highly susceptible to peer pressure, and with Karen at BlogHer hosting a read along , I decided the time had come. I needed to get started on my Tolkien.

Okay. We’re in Middle Earth, right? Bilbo Baggins is a Hobbit, which means he’s short, he likes to eat, and he has weird giant hairy feet. Also, most Hobbits don’t care to leave their homes (I think I’d do quite well in the Shire… Somebody dig me a Hobbit hole!) He’s acquainted with a Wizard (because there are Wizards and Elves and Dwarves and Goblins. Suspend your disbelief, okay?) by the name of Gandalf. Despite Gandalf’s rather dashing beard, he’s kind of rude and fond of getting the unsuspecting into pickles and showing up at the last possible moment to assist them in the battle.


Gandalf manages to talk Bilbo into taking a quest with a baker’s dozen Dwarves. The Dwarves were out to battle a dragon to reclaim their kingdom and treasure. It would make for a terribly boring story if the troop had an uneventful trip, asked the dragon nicely to give them back their treasure, and won the day with no conflict, wouldn’t it?

Tolkien wouldn’t  have that! There are all sorts of challenges! There are battles with Goblins and kidnappings by Elves and excellent hospitality provided by man-bears. There are dark dreary forests and narrow escapes. There are conversations with birds and trips down rivers in barrels.

It all sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Only… I wouldn’t call it my favorite children’s adventure story ever. I mean, the adventures were great. It’s just that the timing felt weird to me. Like… Seriously, are they still walking through the forest? And it’s STILL so dark they can’t see? Great. And oh, they’re in barrels now? Yep. Still in barrels. Rolling down the river in some barrels. And… Yeah. We’re STILL in the barrels! I guess I was just a little frustrated that the action didn’t always coincide with my timing.

I'm guessing Smaug wasn't this friendly looking... And the blue spots would be sapphires.

I’m guessing Smaug wasn’t this friendly looking… And the blue spots would be sapphires.

The only other thing that bothered me was that doggone dragon. Did anyone ask Smaug why he felt he needed all that treasure? Maybe he didn’t need to be slain, maybe he just needed a hug! Instead Bilbo goes and steals his treasure, pisses him off, and causes Smaug to have an emotional outburst wherein he lays waste to a village of men. It’s pretty bad. So eventually, you know, the dragon is slain, Bilbo gets back to the Shire. All is well. Only… The dragon was like jewel encrusted, and the men of the town refuse to harvest the jewels off the rotting dragon corpse. They think it’s bad juju or something. I think they were just pansies. Because, come on. Everyone knows that dragon jewels are worth a fortune on the black market. This is why I’d probably be eaten by Orcs at the earliest possible opportunity were I a character in a Tolkien novel.

Have any of you Bookworms tackled The Hobbit? What did you think? Would you harvest dragon jewels?

52 Responses to “I Finally Read The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien”

  1. Liesel Hill

    Great review! Very fun! I’ve seen a few people tackling this one and with the film in theaters, and most people have taken issue with the writing, especially the rambling and the timing. I read it myself last week because I haven’t since I was twelve or so. My review will be up later in the week, but it’s not nearly as fun as yours. I agree it rambled a bit, but having read LOTR (which doesn’t ramble nearly enough) I think I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. Anyway, great review. Made me smile! 😀

    • Words for Worms

      I haven’t read LOTR yet- it’s my New Year’s Resolution. I forgot to mention in my review that this was one of the first times I was glad to have seen a character in a movie before reading about it. Gollum really came to life for me! 🙂

  2. Jupiter

    How is it that the Universe and kept me apart from you and your blog? Dammit.
    The Hobbit is my Faux-Hubby’s favorite book, I suppose along with The Lord of the Rings. We have this gorgeous illustrated edition and it was that one that made The Hobbit readable for some of my kids. There’s a lot to be said for pretty pictures distracting you when their rolling down the river in barrels for forever and a day.

    • Words for Worms

      The Universe is no longer conspiring against us! I read your blog, but I never feel smart enough to leave comments! I wish my copy had more pictures! I wouldn’t have minded the barrels so much if I could have seen the faces the dwarves were making as they were tossed about!

  3. didibooksenglish

    Cute! Like minds think alike. I did a post on The Hobbit too. Samug needed to be killed. He was a dragon and a nasty one at that. Everybody knows that dragons are not nice, but I get you sweet side. Loved The Hobbit!

  4. Michelle Proulx

    Haven’t read The Hobbit since I was a kid. Still, I remember it being a really fun read. I would re-read it … but the movie’s coming out in a week, so I think I’ll just re-live the awesome via Peter Jackson’s brilliant mind.

    • Words for Worms

      I’ll probably wait until the movie comes out on DVD because I’m not much for crowded theaters, but I’m sure Peter Jackson did some amazing things. I can’t even think of anything snarky to say about his big screen LOTR versions… Of course, I haven’t read the books yet, so that may change :).

  5. Sarah Says Read

    I’m new to Tolkien too, but I started with the first LOTR book instead of The Hobbit (I have no idea why I decided to read them in that order). And The Hobbit sounds good too, but I had the SAME problem in The Fellowship of the Ring – all the travelling took for.ev.er… I think that may be Tolkien’s one big downfall.

    Also, I want to read this because the new movie looks awesome, except I kind of want to boycott the movies because I’m mad that they’re turning it into THREE separate movies. Stupid greedy Hollywood.

    • Words for Worms

      It’s like Tolkien wants to impress on me that it was a long, arduous journey. But you know, he could just say “it was a long, arduous journey” and I’d get the point. This is why I’m not an author. Everything would be like “This happened and then that and then that… The end.”

  6. Ashley F

    I read it in High School and then tackled the full Lord of the Rings series a few years later. I’m glad I read them but do we really need 14 pages describing a mountain?

    • Words for Worms

      Yeah that was tough. Like, I’m spacially limited, so I have a hard time imagining things taking up space. A giant post on the huge cragginess of a mountain is just kind of lost on me.

  7. Lyssapants

    I read that book so long ago, that I hardly remember it. For me, Tolkien is a struggle to get through. But I would totally harvest dragon jewels. I’m not an idiot.

      • Lyssapants

        I tried SO HARD to have that nerd cred. I got through Hobbit and then nearly DIED getting through Fellowship. And then I stopped and watched the extended versions of the movies.

  8. Jen and Tonic

    I’m not sure how anyone gets through these books. I really think you are tapping into a part of your brain that the rest of us can’t. Tolkien spends so long describing stuff that I often forget what’s happening in the story line. I end up drinking and then pulling out an US Weekly.

    • Words for Worms

      I wish I could tap into parts of my brain that others couldn’t. Then I’d be able to apparate. I’m just really stubborn and hate not finishing things. US Weekly and drinking sounds like more fun than slogging through books I’m not crazy about, but I wouldn’t want to go stealing your signature move.

  9. Darlene

    LOTR is saturated in description and I hate descriptive writing, in general, but the language is so beautiful that it sort of makes up for you having to be aware of every stone they walk over along the way. Of the three, The Fellowship is the slowest, but my gosh, like I said, the language is so beautiful. Book two is a man book, Orcs and battles, and Return of the King is just masterful. You’ll not just have Nerd cred after reading this, you’re gonna be in love. And I am totally going to the Midnight Premier of Hobbit with my twin 14 yr old sons. Can.Not.Wait.

    • H. Stern

      Darlene, I completely agree, but seriously? I mean, yeah, I’m thrilled that Tolkien can find THAT many words to describe a mountain or a bush (and a big chunk of the back story behind these books is Tolkien’s lament over industrialization and its impact on-/ destruction of- the virginal countryside that USED to be most of England), but DAMN! Maybe it’s my shortened attention span from being exposed to, you know, modern life… but after a while I felt like, “Yeah, snow capped mountains. Check. Let’s get this party moving. I have dragons to slay.”

  10. H. Stern

    So, bee-tee-dubs, I can’t remember if it’s The Hobbit, or LOTR, but did you encounter all those SONGS? Like, every other page is a song or a poem or JESUS CHRIST I JUST WANT TO READ THIS FUCKING BOOK, PICK YOUR DAMN GENRE!! One or two would have been cute, and you’re like, “Oh, look! Elves are SINGING! Adorbs.” But when it’s every.other.page…? I started getting mad at the books and muttering “This is why your people are dying out,” which, in case you’re interested, makes people not want to sit next to you on the Metro.

    Also, did you get to a certain point where you’re like, “Wait, if ALL the Wizards are boys, then how do we make more wizards…..?” or “Wait, if Gandalf can call an Eagle and be like, ‘Take me to this mountain, ASAP!’ why doesn’t he just go *everywhere* on Eagle?” It’s kind of like the Time-turner and Buckbeak in Harry Potter, which, if you say you haven’t read, I may have to come find you and sit in your living room supplying you with hot chocolates and sandwiches until you’ve finished that series because, no. No. You can’t NOT have read that.

    • Words for Worms

      LMAO- seriously! SO MANY SONGS! I talk to myself at work all the time… I worry about the guy in the office next to mine, but he’s started having outbursts at his computer too, so I think it’s contagious. And, um duh. Of course I’ve read Harry Potter. I consider myself a Ravenclaw and my patronus is a penguin. I kind of want you to come find me so you can supply me hot chocolates and sandwiches while I read Harry Potter again. Yum.

  11. H. Stern

    I know. Those books were awesome. Hot chocolate is awesome. Penguins: awesome in formal attire.

    Pretty sure my patronus is a Wombat… I just go with it at this stage in my life.

  12. Kelly

    I read this book in seventh grade (approx. eleventy billion years ago) and I think your review is tempting me to do a re-read. I wish Tolkien used more phrases like “bad juju” though.

  13. Jon Whiting

    I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy it more. 🙂 Admittedly, the book is not for everyone. But, for me it’s one of those books that I have read multiple times, and it has gotten better each time. The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings trilogy are far and away my favorite books of all time.

    I enjoyed your post, your wit in the review is worth reading it, but I always like to hear others opinions about things I’m interested in too. Thanks for the smile and the honest opinion. 😉

    • Words for Worms

      Thanks for stopping by, Jon! I’m glad to hear you’re a die hard Tolkien fan. I still plan on reading LOTR, so we’ll see how that goes. Perhaps I’ll share your enthusiasm! (Also, thank you for calling me witty. My ego loves you.)

  14. L. Palmer

    I’ve read the Hobbit three or four times – most of which while growing up. I’ve always enjoyed it. I re-read it this summer, and enjoyed Tolkein’s sly humor as he takes us deep through Middle-Earth. The Hobbit is a journey narrative, with random happenings along the way.
    The Lord of the Rings, however, is a far denser story with a wide cast of characters and a multiplicity of story-lines. It takes me about a few days to read the Hobbit. It took me about three months to read LOTR, because I had to stop and absorb. I enjoyed it, but I had to savor it instead of diving in.

  15. It's A Dome Life

    The books gets better…or you can just see the movie. I liked the books, but yeah most of the whole series involves a lot of walking. Sometimes it feels like it is in real time too. Like two hours of reading is equal to two hours of walking in real life. The Hobbit was the worst for that I think.

    • Words for Worms

      I just heard a snippet of a movie review for The Hobbit on NPR. Because they stretched it into a trilogy, they said some scenes go on and on and on… Perhaps like the walking. Maybe the second movie will be nothing but darkness with the sound of footsteps going through the woods and tummies grumbling.

  16. Becky A. Johnson

    I just finished The Hobbit, also as a result of peer pressure from Karen at BlogHer. Overall, I enjoyed it, but I agree with what’s been said about the relentless singing. Also, my favorite part of the book is Bilbo’s encounter with Gollum, and I’d wished there was more Gollum in the book. I haven’t yet read LOTR, so I guess that’s something to look forward to.

    • Words for Worms

      I think the encounter with Gollum was my favorite part, too! Since I’d seen the LOTR movies, the Gollum voice was so clear in my head. Loved it. We can be LOTR buddies in the new year! It’s my resolution!

  17. beckyajohnson

    I just finished The Hobbit tonight, also giving into peer pressure from Karen at BlogHer. Overall, I enjoyed the book, although I do agree that there was a bit too much of the relentless singing. My favorite part was Bilbo’s encounter with Gollum, and I actually wish there was more of Gollum in the book. I have yet to read LOTR, so I guess I have something to look forward to with that.

  18. bhalsop

    Wow, there are some negative reviews here. My mom read it to us in the mid to late 50s, then I read it myself when I was 10 and I’ve read it about five times since then. I love it, because it shows a kinder, gentler world than LOTR. I love LOTR too, but I’ve read it so many times, I can’t read it anymore. I’m looking forward to Alzheimer’s when I can read it all the time.

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