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.