Eh?Eh!'s Reviews > The Hobbit, or There and Back Again

The Hobbit, or There and Back Again by J.R.R. Tolkien
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May 31, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: goodreaders-made-me, tandy, dear-diary-what-book, babble-added
Recommended to Eh?Eh! by: Caris, Ceridwen C
Recommended for: parents (maybe)
Read from May 25 to 31, 2010 — I own a copy , read count: 1

I wish I could count this among my childhood nostalgia books.

I remember trying to read this book in grade-school and stopping because there was too much boring scenery and background. I must've been too young because it isn't boring at all, and there isn't all that much scenery as I'd thought and hardly any background. But as I kept reading, this flipped into a feeling that I'm reading this far too old, not young. The voice of the narrator is odd, generally the vague omniscient overlooking tone but occasionally slipping into a confiding 1st person; are you, the reader, the narrator or an accomplice in this tale-telling? This is a book intended to be read out loud* with funny voices (cranky hobbit, grumpy dwaves, grumbling wizard, dumb trolls, merry and suspicious elves, sneering goblins, howling Wargs, roaring dragon) and dancing eyebrows, with blankets shaped into terrain. I wish this had been read to me.

Thinking about reading and childhood - my parents read out loud to us, sometimes. I think between about 4-6yo, Mom chose to read Bible stories usually in the middle of the day when us kids were at our most active and wiggliest, so that didn't work out too well. Lots of whining, tears, orders to sit and listen which had the opposite effect. Booooooring; poor Mom, in her choice of reading material. Dad was also in the middle of the day, but this was a few years later, maybe between 8-10yo, when we would bring a book to him and beg him to read. My father has never learned to speak or read English fluently, so the books were from a set of Korean folktales.** My brother and I could barely understand the words but we were fascinated by the sound of his voice. I don't know if anyone is familiar with traditional Korean music, but it features extremely heavy vibrato (I think?), these extended ends of a note with an earthquake shaking in the throat; Dad has a gorgeous voice when he choses to use it, all ragged and fuzzy, which made his readings mesmerizing. I think he lulled us with it, my brother and I nearly swaying as we peeked over his shoulders at the brightly colored illustrations. The least successful reading sessions had him interrupting himself to try to explain the story in broken English. It was only a few weeks before he became impatient with this whole practice and refuse to read to us.

I wish there had been more reading to us as children, before bedtime instead of in the middle of the day. I wish my dad had been more patient. I wish he had learned better English, found The Hobbit, and read that to us. I wish I wish I wish.

This silly book has made me nostalgic for a childhood I never had. Is there a word for that?

I guess I should type about the book itself, since there're enough weepy couch confessions masquerading as book reviews out there (not really! love the non-book reviews, want more). A pacifistic creature known as a hobbit (a little man with big hairy feet) has adventures, makes friends, becomes stronger and proves true to his friends, then goes home. It's a great story.

Since my only exposure to Tolkein (Tolkien?) before this has been the LotR movies, I was suprised at the lighter tone of this book. Much less grim and grand but still great. I wonder if the Necromancer is Sauron. There's brief mention of Gollum remembering his grandmother - do we learn more about her later?

Since I've lost the chance to have this read to me as a kid, I have the urge to read this to a kid myself. Can I borrow someone's child?


*And now I'm wondering how much I've been influenced by Ceridwen's review, where she recommends having babies just to read aloud to them. Also, from Richard's review, it doesn't sound like children sit as still as I imagined for this.

**I thought Dad had given these away! Turns out, he gave away a different set of books, just as treasured...oh well. Just recently found that these are still tucked into a corner of the parents' house. I'm going to rescue them from give-away happy Dad.
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Comments (showing 1-40 of 40) (40 new)

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Pharminator Awesome book! I need to re-read this myself sometime too!

Eh?Eh! So I keep hearing. Have you read the following books, also?

Pharminator Eh! wrote: "So I keep hearing. Have you read the following books, also?"

Actually, I have not. I've always been a person who read a lot of fantasy novels, so it's surprising that I've never ready any of the main series. I read the Hobbit twice, but haven't continued further. The last time I read The Hobbit was 1992, so it's been a while!

Eh?Eh! I've read lots of fantasy, too, but never these. Time to fill up that gap in our fantasy reading!

The Crimson Fucker yay!!!! i love this one too!!!! hobbiton is the ultimate Utopian society! seriously y'all! 2 fucking breakfast! and kids learning to cook before they learn how to read!

Eh?Eh! There wasn't too much time spent in Hobbiton, and I don't remember even seeing that word...I think it was called The Hill? It did sound nice. But Bilbo was a rich one so I wonder what life was like for the poorer hobbits.

Pharminator How is the Hobbit coming? If I do read Lord of the Rings again, I'll probably give the Hobbit another read too.

Eh?Eh! I'm about halfway. Bombur is being carried and they're almost out of the forest.

message 9: by Esteban (last edited May 31, 2010 03:29PM) (new)

Esteban del Mal I love traditional Korean music. All cymbals and clanking and drums and thumping. And I love this review. Your talent is wasted on bridges. Read to us!

message 10: by Eh?Eh! (last edited May 31, 2010 03:28PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Eh?Eh! I don't like Korean music (old traditional dissonant stuff, parents' lounge-style stuff, modern boyband stuff), but it's okay when Dad is singing it. I'm glad someone likes it, to keep the traditions alive!

Thanks! Pretend I'm saying this to you in funny voices.

message 11: by Esteban (new)

Esteban del Mal Well, I should qualify that: I DID love traditional Korean music. To be honest, I haven't listened to it for years (heh)...but I did enjoy listening to it when I lived there for a short time. Would go to the local university and listen to the kids at least once a week. I was in the mood for it then, I 'spose. I'm gonna Google it, since I don't have the imagination to hear your funny voice.

message 12: by Aerin (new)

Aerin Since I've lost the chance to have this read to me as a kid, I have the urge to read this to a kid myself. Can I borrow someone's child?

I tried this with my then-seventeen-year-old brother, after he haughtily declared he saw no use in reading for pleasure.

The effort was wasted on him, but I got a lot of joy out of it. The Hobbit is just as much fun TO read aloud, as it is to have read aloud to you.

Miriam You may be on to something with the aloud stipulation; my mother read this to me when I was four, and I don't recall feeling any boredom or difficulty in comprehension, but she is an excellent reader. You know how some people can convey the different voices without actually "doing" the voices?

This is really unrelated but was brought to my mind by your mention of being read to in Korean: my freshman year of college I dated a Korean mathematician, much too old (24!) and more worldly than I. He had never read a book in English, and I read aloud to him The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. He really enjoyed it, but I must have failed to adequately express that it was not contemporary, because afterward he used expressions like "goodness gracious me!"

message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

Lovely! I sit still for readings too, unless they are on tape, and then I just zooooonne oooouuuttt. I'm reading Harry Potter to the kids now, and it's not near as fun, partially because of the weird narrator - I miss him. It's nice to have someone winking along with you as you read.

Miriam It's nice to have someone winking along with you as you read.

Yes! That really captures the unique feel of the narration. I think JRRT really enjoyed writing this.

message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

Miriam wrote: "It's nice to have someone winking along with you as you read.

Yes! That really captures the unique feel of the narration. I think JRRT really enjoyed writing this."

I get that sense - more fun than when he wrote LotR too. Have you ever read Letters from Father Christmas? It's the letters he wrote his kids over a...what...10 year time span as Santa. Being Tolkien, it's this funny evolving narrative about goofy hijinks with a bear, and a little thing about lost languages, and it has pictures and everything. The later ones, when he keeps nodding to the fact that his kids are old and know it's him - it's heart-breaking and sweet in this really odd way.

Miriam No, I've never heard of those letters! On the tbr pile they go...

Eh?Eh! Esteban - Your university had traditional Korean music performances? Wow...I'm sorry to say, if I was head of that uni I'd divert that money elsewhere, heh.

Aerin - How did you get your 17yo brother to stay still? You must've been the older sister.

Elizabeth - Thanks! Maybe we'll end up in the same nursing home (many years from now) and I'll read to you after pudding.

Miriam - I haven't experienced the voices w/o "doing," but I like the idea of it. There are those with voices that just pull you in.... Great story about the older man, hah!

Ceridwen - I agree, there's something about tapes that make me shut off. Sometimes that's nice, too.

message 19: by Esteban (new)

Esteban del Mal Eh! wrote: "Esteban - Your university had traditional Korean music performances? Wow...I'm sorry to say, if I was head of that uni I'd divert that money elsewhere, heh."

I wasn't in the U.S. of A. I taught ESL in Korea for a year. It was during the height of the Asian Economic Crisis. Got cheated outta money and had a cigarette thrown on me in a subway. Happy times. The music was my Calgon.

message 20: by Aerin (new)

Aerin Aerin - How did you get your 17yo brother to stay still? You must've been the older sister.

Yes, I'm four years older. He was actually pretty polite and muted the TV for the first few chapters, occasionally interrupting with snide commentary on the story. Eventually, though, he started a litany of "shut up, shut up, shut up, Nascar is on!" and I gave up my attempt to instill in him an appreciation for Tolkien.

Eh?Eh! Esteban wrote: "The music was my Calgon. "

Now you have access to real Calgon products and you can save your ears.

Aerin - Hah! Okay, that sounds more like what I'd think would happen. Points to you for trying!

Caris Hey! I've got a kid! You can borrow her if you promise to read in broken Korean!

Eh?Eh! Yay! Deal! All my babymaking peers keep moving away or only hang out with other babymaking couples, so I never get to play with their kids. Mail me your kid and I'll read to her. I'll even teach her all the broken Korean expletives I know.

Those Korean storybooks have drawings of naked people, would that be okay for your daughter to see?

Caris She's a baby, dude. She ain't care nothin' 'bout no nudity.

message 25: by Philip (new)

Philip *Sigh* I think we all love to write and read (to use the term you coined) non-book reviews. Maybe it depends on who's writing it and how it's written.

At any rate, I liked this one.

Eh?Eh! Thank you, Philip. I can see this site turning into my public journal but since a bunch are all holding hands and jumping off the cliff together it seems nice, to have the company.

Caris - send that baby on over!

Caris On the way. UPS 3-5 day delivery. You'll have to sign.

Eh?Eh! Okay, but if I smell a diaper blowout I'm returning to sender, COD.

Elizabeth, you just gave me an idea! Vomit over a cliff then jump immediately after. If you time it right, you'll splash mid-air before going splat. I don't know what it has to do with anything. Um, something to avoid!

This is my gross post for the day. Sorry folks.

message 29: by Caris (last edited Jun 01, 2010 07:02PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Caris Well, it's kind of inevitable.

FYI- If I ever skydive, I'm totally gonna try that.

Caris That takes a lot off my mind.

message 31: by Philip (new)

Philip Skydive with your back to the ground. Vomit facing the sky. Open your parachute to act as an umbrella.

Mission accomplished.

(Unless your mission included more than just jumping out of the plane and vomiting... like if you were part of a covert team parachuting into the jungles of Dictatorshipistan to topple the leader and get out unseen. Bad knews. They found your vomit soaked parachute, captured you, and are now waiting for your country to pay your ransom. More bad news. Your country officially knows nothing about the operation, let alone your existence.)

Eh?Eh! I'm pretty sure Caris is looking forward to returning to his own vomit...woof. To head off the justified complaint that I'm being a private eye, sorry Caris.

You speak as if you have experience in vomit-related debacles, Philip!

Caris Awwww.

*is rendered mindless*

Eh?Eh! It can bring an inked biker (assuming there's a bike with that ink) to a standstill.

Eh?Eh! Elizabeth wrote: "I flagged the spammer. :-)"

I'll order a very affordable gift for you to show my thanks!

Laurenzo I read it just last autumn- it does feel so young, but then again I think some of the humor would've been lost. I remember cracking up at so many completely unexpected one-liners. I remember one was something like "Don't dip your beard in the foam, father! It's already too long!"'s funny in context, I promise.

Kelly Hello Lauren! It's been awhile! This, and pretty much all of Tolkien's other works (Roverandom, SO magical!) are my favorites. I too used to experience family reading time, only I was always the family reader- still am, too, so I know what you mean about feeling as though you've missed out on being read TO. There is something about his writing that is so homey and comforting. They are the perfect stories to read when you're sick, because whether or not you ever had a childhood they somehow fill in all the gaps that might have been left by anyone's childhood, even the most fulfilling childhoods....
There is something amazing about sharing a story out loud. It is a deeper connection than a movie. I think if you share the experience of a good book with someone, it changes you. It deepens your relationship.
There is one line I always love to quote: "Escaping goblins to be eaten by wolves!" I always say that when I am in hot water. Anyway, as you can tell, I love the Hobbit, and it is hard to say which of Tolkien's works I love the best. Read Lord of the Rings and Silmarillion....They are more real than reality.

message 38: by Dana (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dana Salman Totally agree with you! I only read this book now at 17, which I think is way too old. I can't brag about having read it as a kid, long before the Lotr movies or books were written, like a lot of other people get to. I loved your review!

Miquel Reina I think that is my favourite book of all time! ;)

Miquel Reina I think that is my favourite book of all time! ;)

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