Challenge: 50 Books discussion

The Hobbit
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Group Reads > Group Read: The Hobbit

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message 1: by Mackenzie, Group Read Curator (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mackenzie | 295 comments Mod
Well, we are a couple of days away from a new month, a new year, and a new book! So, for those interested in joining the discussion on the Hobbit, here is the suggested time table for reading:
Jan. 1-12: Chapters 1-5
Jan. 13-19: Chapters 6-10
Jan. 20-26: Chapters 11-15
Jan. 27-31: Chapters 12-19

There should ideally be discussion questions posted in the last couple of days of each reading section. Whether this is your first time, or your eleventieth time following Bilbo, here's to an exciting ride!


Kate | 251 comments Yay! Can't wait!


Mariam (madamepresidente) | 61 comments I just got my copy! Super excited!


message 4: by Jim (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jim | 289 comments I'm going to give this one another go. I originally tried to read it years ago and got stuck because I have so much trouble with the way Tolkien writes (it took me 2-3 attempts to get through Lord of the Rings). I just went and saw the movie and figured I'll try this one again since the movie made the story look pretty interesting (even though I know a fair amount of the movie comes from the appendices to LOTR). If nothing else, I got the graphic novel version too.


message 5: by Natalie (new)

Natalie (bookfinds) I just checked my bookshelf to make sure I still have this book. I've tried to read this book a few times, but never manage to get very far. I think I'll try it again and see if I can get interested in it this time.


Natasha (natashareads) Terrific time to reread this one :-)


╟ ♫ Tima ♪ ╣ ♥ (tsunanisaurus) I think I might actually join this one :) I haven't read The Hobbit in a little over 10 years, so this is perfect! It just so happens that I stumbled upon the copy originally gifted to me when I was in the 5th grade, can't wait to crack it again.


message 8: by Jim (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jim | 289 comments Just curious as to how the group read works. Should we wait until the discussion questions are posted before we comment on what we've read or wait till after the reading period (i.e. 13 Jan for the first 5 chapters) before saying anything. I want to make sure I'm not spoiling it for anyone else.


Megan (appaloosa05) I just recently read The Hobbit for the third time (finished it a little over a week ago) so I will probably join in. I found a copy of Roverandom at the library, which I'd never even heard of before, so looking forward to starting that tonight.


Julied I have never read The Hobbit. I look forward to joining in the conversation.


VWrulesChick | 351 comments Ahh Perfect! I will join in as it has been on my TBR shelf long enough.


message 12: by Sandra (new) - added it

Sandra Heinzman (vasandra) | 138 comments Is the Hobbit one of the 50 books? Do you read the same 50 books as a group, or what?


message 13: by Mackenzie, Group Read Curator (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mackenzie | 295 comments Mod
Sandra wrote: "Is the Hobbit one of the 50 books? Do you read the same 50 books as a group, or what?"

Hey Sandra, the group reads are just one way to get people reading and to help them reach their personal 50, or 40, or 100. However many books they would like to read in a year. The group reads are entirely optional, and the group as a whole does not work toward the same reading list of 50.
I do not read all the group reads selections because I may have read it before, could not get a copy, or just am not interested in a selection.
If there is a book you have been meaning to read that comes up as a selection, that could be a good excuse to go ahead and check it off. Some people like having folks to discuss a book with in case they have questions about the story. They may even just want to share in the enthusiasm.
I hope that helped and did not simply confuse you more.


Mariam (madamepresidente) | 61 comments Hi everyone! How's the book coming along? I am really enjoying it especially the descriptions and the imagery... makes me feel as if I'm trotting along behind Bilbo. Once I finish it, I'd like to see the movie.


Megan (appaloosa05) I love this book! I love Tolkien's descriptions, the scene in the first chapter when the dwarves come for tea always makes me laugh a bit.


message 16: by Jim (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jim | 289 comments I've completed the first 5 chapters and personally have trouble with Tolkien's writing style. I recently went and saw the Hobbit movie and I think that helps with regards to following the story. Having seen the movie first, it provided some basis and visual reference for the dwarves. In the book, they are virtually indistinguishable outside of Thorin and Bomor (?) who is the fat one. With the movie, it provides a way to tell Kili and Fili and Gloin, and Ori, etc apart. I also felt the movie elaborated scenes, such as the one with the trolls and the interaction with Gollum more so than the book.

Personally, this is the only book series (Hobbit/LOTR) that I think the movies are better than the book because they provide better character development. Its bizarre but the scenes in the book actually seem trucated and abbreviated compared to the movie.


Mariam (madamepresidente) | 61 comments Appaloosa05 wrote: "I love this book! I love Tolkien's descriptions, the scene in the first chapter when the dwarves come for tea always makes me laugh a bit."

I found that scene amusing as well. I admire Bilbo's "good manners" and patience.


message 18: by Mackenzie, Group Read Curator (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mackenzie | 295 comments Mod
Personally, this is the only book series (Hobbit/LOTR) that I think the movies are better than the book because they provide better character development. Its bizarre but the scenes in the book actually seem trucated and abbreviated compared to the movie..."

I will agree with James that the Hobbit reads like it is a cursory description of many of the scenes. The movie does add more filler(for example there are a couple of action/chase scenes before they reach Rivendell in the film) and makes it easier to have a visual reference of each dwarf. However, I thought this is what made the Hobbit easier to read, especially compared to LotR. That trilogy had way more to it in the books even than the extended Director's cut with additional deleted scenes etc., etc.

Since it seems people are coming to the end of the first section of the book, I will go ahead and throw out a couple of possible discussion questions:
When Bilbo's unexpected guests arrive, he becomes quite flustered and upset. However, throughout the proceedings, a little part of him, the Took part of him, is getting excited. Has anyone ever had a similar experience where they felt disconcerted by an occurrence, but a secret part of you was glad for it?

Does anyone have any favorite riddles? One of mine is "What is no sooner spoken than broken?"


Julied I love the tea party scene. It reminds me so much of the first holiday gathering I hosted for my husband's side of the family. We had heard from and initially planned for 12...by the time we sat down to eat the Thanksgiving meal we had 31 people! I kept going to the kitchen pantry to see what else I could fix to feed the masses!

I find it funny that as unexpected things happen to Bilbo along the journey he keeps "regretting" the decision to go along on the journey. But in reality, I think he is very excited to be on the adventure.

My boys have all read the story, but this is my first time to read more than a few pages and I am thoroughly enjoying the descriptions and the dialogue between the characters.


Sharon Leali (slleali) | 5 comments I have been enjoying re-reading The Hobbit. I certainly have forgotten the story line. I love a good adventure, and with these interesting characters and their always having to help Mr. Baggins makes me laugh. In the beginning it was difficult to keep the dwarves all in their places, but their names are enchanting. Bilbo's mom being "Belladonna Took" made me smile.


message 21: by Mackenzie, Group Read Curator (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mackenzie | 295 comments Mod
So how is everyone's progress so far? Anyone finished the book already? Personally, it is difficult to keep stopping once I reach the goal for a set time.


message 22: by Jim (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jim | 289 comments I am about halfway done with the book and am not really enjoying it. Tolkien packs in a lot of action into a short space but the action is very uninvolved and barely described. The book is mostly a bunch of limited action scenes tied together with a loose narrative. It's very much like ready a comic book where you have limited descriptions of action scenes with several tied together in 30 pages. I can see how these books could make good movies but they don't make for a very interesting read.


Crystal (eclecticdna) | 2 comments I have to agree with James. The book seems a bit bland, lacking in much needed description. It feels almost like a summary. I guess for fantasy books I expect more detail (detail to the point of distraction even) than the color of each drawf's hood. According to Kindle I'm 78% finished.

I'm holding out to watch the movie until I am finished with the book.


message 24: by Mackenzie, Group Read Curator (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mackenzie | 295 comments Mod
Those are valid points you make. Admittedly, the writing is not the best I have ever read, but there is just something about the story that appeals to me, so I still love it.
To the point that "the book is mostly a bunch of limited action scenes tied together with a loose narrative", one could argue that a real life adventure would be much the same. There might be a set goal in the traveler's mind, but the encounters on the way to that goal could seem random and disjointed. If one were to just up and leave their home, and decide to keep a journal along the way, they would focus on writing in the more exciting bits with length and detail, while glossing over the more boring, I-was-just-hiking-for-about-a-week parts. The narrator even says he is doing that when he cuts short the details of their stay in the Last Homely House.


message 25: by Jim (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jim | 289 comments I finished the book a few days ago and my full review is posted. As for the chapters suggested for this date, I think I enjoyed battle with the spiders in Mirkwood and the escape from the elves most. What I liked about this is how Bilbo is stepping up to become a warrior/leader/hero. when all the other dwarves are captured by the spiders, Bilbo doesn't sulk but instead steps up to rescue them. He ends up doing it again to get them free from the elves. he is becoming the hero of the group.

This is in great contrast to Frodo in Lord of the Rings. It seems like every other chapter has Frodo needing to get rescued/saved by someone else (Weathertop, Moria, the final battle in Fellowship, Faromir's grace releasing him, Sam carrying him up mount doom). When faced with adversity, Bilbo steps up to lead his group (as demonstrated later with the dragon) whereas Frodo is constantly relying on others to get him out of trouble.

Overall, the book has made Bilbo a more appealing character to me than Frodo.


message 26: by Ana (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ana | 7 comments i am half through it and i also find it pretty difficult to fallow. first i thought that maybe i didn't pay enough attention but as i see i am not the only one
honestly this books is so praised that i expected more


message 27: by Jim (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jim | 289 comments I think that a lot of the Hobbit's praise comes from the time that it was published and the revoluntionary ideas and approach it brought forth. When it was published in the 1960's (US version), the Hobbit brought high/epic fantasy into the mainstream in numbers that had never been seen before and essentially created the genre of fantasy. In that, it deserves high praise. However, 80 years after original publication (1937), the book leaves a lot to be desired as a literary work as people's reading styles/interests have changed. I think when you read the Hobbit, you need to look at it the same way that you would reading a Victorian novel or something else written from a completely different time period (i.e. Jules Verne, Wuthering Heights, etc). Literary/writing styles have changed over the last hundred. While the plot/storylines may still resonant and be compelling to readers, the mechanics of writing has changed possibly making the story less accessible to a "modern" audience. This is where I think there is value in the movie versions of Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Those have been done well enough that they transpose the changes in literary mechanics to allow people to identify, absorb, and enjoy the story that is at the core of the novel rather than getting lost in an outdated style of writing.


Cornerofmadness | 784 comments Exactly response James. This is exactly the issue. When I was much younger, reading it in the 70's, I loved this book. I just reread it and went huh, not nearly what I remembered it being but styles change. I'd have to same reaction to the tv shows I loved in the 70's/80's too.


Mariam (madamepresidente) | 61 comments Finally finished it today and I have to say, it was a really good read. Is anyone interested in reading or rereading the rest of Tolkien's books? I intend to read 'The Fellowship of the Ring' in February.


message 30: by Jim (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jim | 289 comments Here are my comments on Chapters 11-15. The entire book had lead up to this huge confrontation between the dwarves/bilbo and the dragon. However, the confrontation itself was very lacking and limited. I did enjoy the humorous exchange between Bilbo and Smaug but was thoroughly unimpressed with the Dwarves. They seemed very cowardly in their avoidance of the dragon after all this time getting there, whereas Bilbo once again stepped up to take the lead of the group in the encounter.

Beyond that one interaction, how thing's played out with Smaug was bizarre. Since Smaug can't get to where Bilbo and the dwarves are hiding, he decides to attack Lake Town. That's fine and understandable. But at that point you have Bard, a character that has not been introduced yet suddenly take a commanding role after the book is 80% over. Then, all of a sudden, this random guy simply fires a single arrow and kills the dragon, threat ended. Given the build-up of the story since the beginning, this should legitimately been the end; dwarves went to get gold from dragon, dragon killed, dwarves leave with gold. Instead, Tolkien blind-sides the readers with a completely new storyline unrelated to the previous 200 pages and takes a character that had nothing to do with the rest of the novel and makes them a major character out of the blue.

Think how you would feel if you were reading Return of the Jedi and everything was leading up to a battle between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. You get up to a point where Luke and Darth have a "yo mama fight" then Shindik Twinkletoes shows up and kills Vader with a blowdart. then for the last quarter of the book has Shindik telling Luke what a whiny farmboy he is before joining up with the Alliance and Ewoks to fight the Yuuzhan Vong who decided to invade Endor at that point just because they were in the neighborhood.


Alison G. (agriff22) | 540 comments Hmmm. Just browsing this thread since Ive read the Hobbit before. I didnt read it this time, but maybe I should read it again. I don't remember anything about a dragon in the book. Thanks for that comment James. It got me thinking too.


Megan (appaloosa05) Mariam, I have been thinking about rereading the trilogy as well, I would be up for reading The Fellowship of the Ring in February.


Mariam (madamepresidente) | 61 comments Appaloosa05 wrote: "Mariam, I have been thinking about rereading the trilogy as well, I would be up for reading The Fellowship of the Ring in February."

Hey Appaloosa05, I guess it's just you and me then. No one else seems to be interested. I'm checking to see if any other group is reading it in Feb.


Megan (appaloosa05) Sounds good, let me know if you find anything, if not I'm okay with just us reading it. Perhaps we could start a discussion topic in the general forum just to see if anyone joins in?


Alison G. (agriff22) | 540 comments for you two... I just read that one but I will be up to reading the Two Towers and Return of the King when you get to them. I hadn't gotten to them yet.


message 36: by Jim (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jim | 289 comments My final comment on the book now that we've reach finishing time. I didn't especially care for the end. I felt the book truly ended with the battle with the dragon and everything else was just filler. This is similar to REturn of the King where the ring is resolved and there are still 100 pages in the book.

The battle of 5 armies seems a little random at that point in the book and then it passes with virtually no detail. the movie is doing a better job of integrating that battle into the final film by having the goblins chase the dwarves throughout the film rather than just having them show up out of the blue. I didn't care for Bard becoming a major character in the last quarter of the novel but Bilbo again showed why he is more honorable and respectable a hero than Thorin or any of the dwarves.

I thought it was rather funny when Bilbo showed back up at Bagend and they were selling his stuff.

One thing of interest, in LOTR Bilbo continually refers to wanting to finish his book, which in the movie is depicted as A Hobbit's Tale, there and back again (the same as the subtitle for the Hobbit). In the Hobbit movie, this is reinforced as the movie is told as a rememberence of Bilbo's as he writes his book. However, the way the book is narrated makes it seem more like someone else is telling Bilbo's story as opposed to Bilbo telling his own story. I looked at the Hobbit as a type of memoir so the POV narration was a little awkward.

Any thoughts?


Crystal (eclecticdna) | 2 comments Finally finished the book today.

I am disappointed by the hurried ending, though the mixed response to the incorrect presumption of Bilbo's death was humorous. Sadly I wondered at times how long this adventure lasted because the book seemed to drag so much. I really felt cheated by the third-hand account of the final battle.

On another note I really recommend the audiobook as read by Inglis.

I'll watch the movie next because I can see where the movie could be an improvement.


Natasha (natashareads) Just finished. I liked the POV: rather playful, winking at the reader at times. Not so sure about the introduction of the Bard at the end, but wonder if perhaps Tolkien was considering another book with him factoring in more heavily in the story line? At the same time, I rather appreciated that Bilbo did not get nor seek credit for finding Smaug's weak spot: humbleness is a virtue. *MOVIE SPOILER*: I saw the movie before rereading the book for this group, and in the movie, I was perplexed as to why the eagles dropped off the traveling party in plain sight of the Lonely Mountain. Hello? It's right there. But the book has the eagles' role much better explained and it makes sense for the party to have been dropped where they were. Glad to have that settled :-)


Denise Weldon-siviy | 33 comments I love the Hobbit. I re-read this one while recovering from the flu early in January, so I guess it was my 1st book inthe 50 book challenge this year. It'd been a while since I last read it and I wanted to refresh my mind on what actually was in the book after watching the first movie. What a lovely relaxing afternooon!


Susan (susanthomas) | 211 comments Not a favorite, but I finished it!


Mariam (madamepresidente) | 61 comments Appaloosa05 wrote: "Sounds good, let me know if you find anything, if not I'm okay with just us reading it. Perhaps we could start a discussion topic in the general forum just to see if anyone joins in?"

Hey Appaloosa05, are you ready to start reading The Fellowship of the Ring? I'd put up a new discussion thread for us if you're still interested :)


Megan (appaloosa05) Sure, we can get started. :)


Mariam (madamepresidente) | 61 comments Appaloosa05 wrote: "Sure, we can get started. :)"

Great! Here is the link


VWrulesChick | 351 comments a little late, but finally finished it. Loved how the story of Bilbo is told. And look forward in reading the rest of the Middle Earth series (and watching the movies) :)


Ginger | 115 comments I picked up the audiobook for this one and it's was highly entertaining. More like a radio program than just someone reading a story. I really enjoyed it.


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