The Hobbit

The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien The Hobbit has always been one of those books I've always thought I should read. I've been wanting to get into Tolkien's work for a long time before I caved and finally bought The Hobbit on the Kindle store. I should have gotten a paper copy. This is something I don't think about a lot or rather, I don't think this way for the majority of books I read on my iPad. With The Hobbit, however, I started to get bogged down by the fact that I was reading it on a device.

The Hobbit is dense. Tolkien's writing is full of descriptions of places, languages, and people. Sometimes, the action feels almost like an afterthought. I know The Hobbit is supposed to be a children's book so I didn't expect it to be like those books I read today. However, having a paper copy would have allowed me to highlight and make notes on the paper so I could feel more engaged. I feel like reading it the way I did kind of took away from my enjoyment of the story.

The story was fine, if unconventional in some ways. The way it was told was kind of matter-of-fact but I nevertheless enjoyed the structure. Mostly, it's the narrator describing how Bilbo the hobbit got in an adventure, managed to get into shenanigans, but was able to save himself in the end. It's clear that Tolkien's strength is worldbuilding, not storytelling from the way he describes his world and narrates the story. The story could have been more interesting if the writing was a bit less dry, I think.

Bilbo's adventures were pretty fun if you run through the sequence of events without paying much attention to how it was written. He manages to get himself in and out of a lot of difficult situations, and manages to befriend the dwarves who were originally annoyed by him. In the end, he makes friends with the lot of them, although I felt like he never managed not to be the odd one out in the group. That fact certainly served him well at times, though.

I honestly thought that the last 35+ pages or so would be anticlimactic and I would be disappointed at the lack of action near the end but I was wrong. I hadn't seen the movies, I didn't know it was going to happen. However, Tolkien managed to surprise me and pulled it off in a pretty interesting way. The manner in which it was described can read out of a history book if you took out Bilbo. The end, with Bilbo safely back in his hobbit hole, telling stories with old friends was heartwarming and a perfect conclusion to their adventure.

I think in the end, I don't have a lot of qualms with dry text. Just some when I start to remember what I'm reading is a story, not a biography or a history book. It's still readable. It's just that if I'm reading something that's drier than usual, with more geographical descriptions than it needs, I'm better off reading it with a pen and a highlighter. Will I reread this? Yes. Will I still read the Lord of the Rings? Yes, but I'll read it and the rest of Tolkien's works with paper books.