Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Hobbit ~ J.R.R Tolkien

Hello, blogging people.  Here I am, up to my ears in grad school and struggling to remember books I read/listened to weeks ago and have yet to review.  Such is life.  Anywho, I listened to The Hobbit on audiobook, thus completing the second book in my Classics Club list, so woot!  But I found it horribly boring, so not so woot.

Reading The Hobbit made me want to smack everybody I've ever heard rhapsodize about the wonder that is J.R.R. Tolkien and his Middle Earth.  It's like one really long children's story - linear and simplistic, with such simple constructions like "good" and "evil" (yes, I know Harry Potter does too, but shush yourself).  In fact, I argue that it is a children's story, starring one disturbing child.  A smoking, stealing, middle-aged child.

As a hobbit, Bilbo is of course short, like a child, but also incredibly child-like in his behaviors.  He thinks primarily of indulgences, is fairly helpless except in accessing said indulgences, and relies on taller people to get him out of scrapes.  He fantasizes about doing great deeds and winning lots of treasure, without actually developing any skills necessary for such pursuits.  And then there's his sense of pride in accomplishments that aren't really his.  Also, his cognitions are rather lacking in complexity.

I won't go on about it, but I really had trouble getting through this, much to my surprise.  Even just listening to it on audiobook was a chore.  For a story of an adventure, it is quite dull and overly caught up in strange details.  Also, there was far too much deep, gravelly singing, and not nearly enough women.  I was rather shocked at just how much J.K. Rowling "borrowed" for her own series and marveled at how much better she pulled it off (like the island in the lake in the cave).

A note on the audiobook narration: I believe Rob Inglis read the book, and he did a pretty good job.  His reading was good and appropriate to the material, though his singing was far too low-pitched.  I have given up on audiobooks before due to the narration; in this case, I think Inglis's narration is what kept me going (that and the threat of "losing" the Classics Club).

Since finishing The Hobbit, I've started The Fellowship of the Ring, which I remember enjoying in high school and am finding dull this time around.  Perhaps Tolkien's writing just doesn't translate well to audiobook, but I sure find myself longing for a trip to Hogwarts.


  1. This is the first negative review I've seen on a blog of The Hobbit ever. My bf is a Lord of the Rings enthusiast so I've decided to take on the first one for the classics challenge. I'm going to give it a go. I felt this way when I read some of the Narnia books. I was so bored I almost didn't make it through. Sorry you didn't enjoy it more but at least you know you won't have to tackle the rest of the mammoth series.

    1. I know, right? I feel alone in this boring little hobbit hole! ANd I did commit to read the whole series for the Classics Club! Woe is me. And I'm equally surprised to hear that about Narnia - it's another series I've been meaning to get around to.