The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Cover art. Don’t you just love old cover art? I know. I know. I’ve brought it up before, but when I go through a used bookstore, I’m so drawn to these covers. It isn’t that glossy mess you see in so many paperbacks today, but it’s a nice paper cover with art that’s subtle and doesn’t feel like it’s shouting from the shelves for attention. I’ve been thinking recently about getting a Google tablet for a reader (a toy), but I think I’d miss the feeling of an old book. I don’t know. Thoughts?

The real reason we’re here. Sorry. Anyway, I read The Hobbit. Hadn’t read it since I was a kid, and it’s impressive to me how much I enjoyed it. College has a way of ruining reading for me, and since I’m out, I am finally beginning to take joy in reading again.

The Hobbit is different than I remember. It feels like a first draft of Lord of the Rings. It’s like he hadn’t worked all the bugs out yet. For example, I remembered the trolls in The Hobbit, but I’d forgotten that they were named Bill, Bert, and Tom. In fact, Bill has a full name, William Huggins. This feels so different from LOTR.

Also, let me warn you about something. I had forgotten that in The Hobbit, the bad guys are almost always called “goblins.” As someone who has read The Silmarillion (maybe my favorite work by Tolkien), I wondered what the difference is between an Orc and a Goblin. Let me tell you something … don’t ask. I began to do Google searches on the topic, and what I found was a number of people who were, perhaps, too passionate about the issue. Apparently, Tolkien fandom is akin to Trek fandom, and anyone who has ever been in the middle of a Picard vs. Kirk argument knows the hazards.

Book before movie? I enjoy reading books before going to movies, though I have friends that would argue that reading the book ruins the movie. Not me. I feel like it gives me much better insight and makes me appreciate (or justifiably detest) the movie that much more.

I remembered the big plot points from when I was a kid, but it was great to go through this classic one more time. The Hobbit is not Tolkien’s best work, but it’s great to see where the ideas started and how he was thinking through his world. This story laid a beautiful template for the LOTR trilogy. Plus, it’s a lot easier to breeze through than the trilogy. It doesn’t take the investment of reading through family lineages and so forth.

Do yourself a favor and read, or reread, this book before seeing the movie. You’ll have fun. I promise.

About Adam Nannini

The greatest writer of his generation ... which isn't saying much.
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One Response to The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

  1. Ron says:

    Hey, I wanted to point out the quick little interesting nugget of info that this cover you have pictured here is actually drawn by Tolkien himself. The whole goblin/orc thing is funny. I think it was from the book “Letters by JRR Tolkien” where he talks about that. I believe he said that he originally wrote “goblin” so people would have an idea what these things looked like via old traditional fairy tales, but as he worked on the Silmarillion more and realized that the goblins were the same creature as his orcs (though Tolkien borrowed that word from older myths as well) he later WISHED he had changed the hobbit to read “orc” because his idea of these creatures was utterly unique in that they didn’t start out as an intended created race. They were a bastardized pseudo-creation from the first Dark Lord Morgoth as a twisted/mutilated/unnaturally bred/dark magic-affected race of captured elves…men…etc and twisted to his purposes. You can find equally nerdy geek banter and arguments about whether or not Balrogs truly have wings, haha.

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