LOTR readalong: The Hobbit (meme)

Reading Beth‘s post has reminded me that I haven’t done Eva‘s q&a thing yet! Bah, I’m just behind on everything.

This is the copy I’m using:

I stole it off my brother before he left for colder pastures (i.e. Minnesota), and I think he got it from…my dad, maybe? You can see it’s been read a few times before, and I think my brother might have even read it. It doesn’t have any illustrations, unfortunately, but it’s easy to carry around with me.

When did you first hear of The Hobbit? I think it was either from my father or from my middle school best friend (the one who also got me into Diana Wynne Jones and Brian Jacques). My dad is a bit Tolkien geek and so was my friend (we’ll call her “S”), so I assume it was one of them who forced me to read The Hobbit.

What made you decide to join the read-a-long? I hadn’t reread The Hobbit in a very long time, since middle school or somewhere around there, and I haven’t read any of the other books. I feel like I’m missing something big by not having read them, so I joined. Plus it’s always fun doing readalongs with a bunch of other people!

Have you read it before? If so tell us about that experience. Ha! I really don’t remember. I assume I liked it– I’ve been saying I liked it for around ten years– but I honestly can’t remember how I felt after reading it for the first time. Just going by that, I assume it wasn’t a life-changing read, but who knows. Hopefully this time around the experience will be more memorable.

I do remember that in 9th grade S. tried to get me to read the other books in the series, but I was so bored by The Fellowship of the Ring that I had to give it up. And of course, when she kept bugging me about whether or not I liked it I had to deflect– usually by mentioning some Diana Wynne Jones thing. It was very stressful back then, let me tell you.

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? I’ve always loved fantasy (and sci-fi), and though I’ve gotten quite cynical towards the swords-and-sorcerers kind of fantasy lately, I still have fond memories of the early fantasy books I read. However, my favorite sorts of fantasies are the kinds that take the tropes from epic fantasies and do something new and interesting with them. Sort of a difficult thing to do, it seems, especially when things like elves and wizards can become so cliched and boring so quickly.

(There Will Be Dragons does that “change things up” thing a bit, though it’s more of a sci-fi/fantasy meld than a true fantasy manipulation.)

What was your introduction to the genre? The earliest fantasy I can remember reading is one of those 1960’s kids books with a friendly witch/teacher character who took kids on adventures and so on. I found it tucked away in one of the school’s bookshelves, along with The Phantom Tollbooth and some Roald Dahl books. Actually, now that I think about it, the fantasies I read as a kid and the kind I love to read now aren’t swords-and-sorcerers kind of fantasies. Hm.

In middle school my friend S. kept pushing epic fantasies onto me, so I started reading more of them then. I remember reading one of the later books in the Dark is Rising sequence and not understand anything at all (it was book three or four, so that’s not really surprising), and another time I read a Dragonriders of Pern book and nearly expired with embarrassment from the mentioned sexuality. So I had a rather rough start with epic fantasies, haha.

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? I’m currently reading about three other books along with The Hobbit, so it’s going a few pages at a time, currently. But I’ve just hit the halfway mark and I think I’m going to try and finish it all in the next few days– hopefully before school starts again!

Okay, now I have a question for you all: have you been reading the poems/songs? Or do you just skim them like I do? (I just really have no patience for poems in the middle of an adventure, so I skip them more often than not. Am I missing something important by doing that?)

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0 thoughts on “LOTR readalong: The Hobbit (meme)”

  1. I usually skim the poems and songs but this time around I did read them. It’s probably one of the few times I’ve done that.

  2. Oh I skim the poems and songs. They flash me back to sharing a room with my sister who used to sing them. I’m doing this readalong too! Need to really write my introduction post before, you know, January is over. 😛

    I am struck by your point about sword & sorcery fantasy. Like you, it’s not a brand of fantasy I read when I was quite young, and I suppose that’s (at least partly) why I’m not drawn to it now.

    1. I know this is a stereotype, or at least something very close to it, but I also tend to associate S&S fantasies with adolescent teenage boy fantasies, and thus something I’m only interested in academically. I keep thinking of all those horrible covers with the half-naked women on them (that are still being made even today!), and I feel sort of…repulsed. They’ve just never seemed like the sorts of things I’d be interested in. And since I tend to base my impressions of a book based on its cover, it’s no wonder I never read many of them when I was younger!

      I think if more S&S fantasy books had illustrated covers like my copy of The Hobbit, I’d have read a lot more!

    1. I do tend to think they slow the story down! Unless it’s something essential to the story, like the The Dark is Rising books where there’s a poem that unlocks the whole mystery, then I just skim and assume if it’s important the book’ll let me know later (and then I can go back and actually read them).

  3. I haven’t read The Hobbit. I think I may at some point (maybe another ten years down the road or something). My first experience with The Hobbit was watching the cartoon movie as a young (too young) child, and it scared me to death. I still remember one of the songs with lyrics, “Where there’s a whip, there’s a way.” I did manage to watch the LTOR movies, but haven’t worked up the enthusiasm to read The Hobbit yet. Good luck with your read through!

  4. It’s weird and maybe it’s nostalgia talking but The Hobbit feels special, perhaps because it’s so entwined with my childhood. LotR, on the other hand, was a chore to get through. I am determined to read it again but I’ve always been quite averse to most fantasy. It’s always been science fiction for me. Although some fantasy has been worth the read, authors such as Clive Barker are trailblazers in the fantasy/horror genre.

    I suppose if I read The Hobbit I’ll be disappointed, I’m older but not much wiser and my ten year old self wasn’t the most critical person.

    It was the beginning of my adoration of reading. I remember reading The Hobbit and then moving onto The Chronicles of Narnia. I recall going to a friend’s house and finding a collection of Stephen Donaldson’s The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. I was intrigued by them then and intrigued by them now.

    I still haven’t read them.

    And I skipped all the poems and songs. I’m sorry but I just don’t think Tolkien was much of a poet.

  5. I totally skim the poems/songs too. I try really hard, but my mind always starts wandering. I’ve just never been very interested in poetry, no matter how hard I try.

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