Published: September 21st, 1937.
Format: Hardcover, 278 pages. 75th Anniversary Edition.
Goodreads Summary: Whisked away from his comfortable, unambitious life in his hobbit-hole in Bag End by Gandalf the wizard and a company of dwarves, Bilbo Baggins finds himself caught up in a plot to raid the treasure hoard of Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon.
Thoughts: I cannot tell you how much I adore this book. It became a huge part of my childhood and my parents read it to me more times then I care to admit. It wasn’t difficult to immerse myself in a world of magic, Hobbits, Wood Elves, and Dwarves. The author J.R.R. Tolkien spent a majority of his life creating a universe that is beloved today by readers all over the world. And although the story was originally written as gift for his children, it became a gift for many others too.
The thing that J.R.R. Tolkien does masterfully well is world building and description. It isn’t difficult to visualize the lush green hills of Hobbiton, or the chilling peaks of The Lonely Mountain. The world and those who dwell in every part have been created with detailed care. The characters are magnificent and there is an underlying history to uncover. It’s difficult to review a story you have loved since you were a child. The characters may be small in proportion, but they are strong in willpower and ambition. The story itself is a charming and at most times lighthearted adventure story. So often we fantasize about broadly built warriors and women who appear angelic and lovely. These characters are widely recorded in all cultures in one form or another, and these tales have likely helped bring into fruition our modern standards of beauty. J.R.R. Tolkien takes another path. He introduces main characters who are anything but beautiful or strong (at least physically), but nonetheless they steer the story forward. They are portrayed and understood as tiny and mundane. The Hobbit is a story about finding bravery in all forms. Even the tiniest creatures with hairy toes. This message was no doubt beneficial to the children who read this book when they were younger, but I would argue that adults need to be reminded of this too.
For those of you looking at reading The Lord of the Rings I would recommend that you read The Hobbit first because it will introduce you to the world and a few terms and histories important to continuing the trilogy. You can’t go wrong with the movies either. I admit that I am biased in writing this review (if you can even call it that). Forget that this is a children’s book, although some older readers may look down on the story because of it’s lighter nature. Maybe you should look more carefully then. If you have yet to read anything from J.R.R. Tolkien then I believe you owe it to yourself to try. Who knows, you could eventually challenge Stephen Colbert in a “Tolkien Showdown.”