The Hobbit: Or There and Back Again

Thoughts on J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit

 Tolkien's original cover design

Tolkien's original cover design

This is my second attempt at reading The Hobbit after extreme boredom with the story ended my initial effort when I was in college.  I was inspired to try again by the forthcoming film and by my participation in the 

Sword & Laser Book Club, of which The Hobbit is the December selection.  Having finished the book this time, I am pleased to add my name to the list of people who have read this classic, though I was terribly disappointed by the novel itself.

The main reason for my disappointment is the writing style of J.R.R. Tolkien, which I found meandering and far too whimsical for my taste.  I fully understand why this is such a beloved book, but I was not able to whip up even a fraction of enjoyment that my peers seem to have gained from the same experience.  I felt Tolkien lingered too long on uninteresting encounters and completely rushed through the scenes that I found myself enjoying.  The story itself is entertaining, but my enjoyment of it was marred by the writing style.  I feel badly about that, as though I've completely missed the point. 

I do appreciate what I feel is one of the lessons of The Hobbit, which is that with the right coalition of allies, you can overcome overwhelming hardship.  Tolkien learned this lesson personally as a soldier during World War I.  It is an important lesson, but I wonder if the children who were the original target audience of this story would see it.  Despite my disappointment, I am glad I read The Hobbit.  It has informed so much our current popular culture since its publication and will surely again when the films are released.