I meant to read The Hobbit ages ago, but never got around actually doing it. You see, while I don’t mind fantasy, I was never a huge fan. Last summer I in fact picked up my copy of The Lord of the Rings saga with full intent to tackle it, until practically every review I’d encountered recommended to read The Hobbit first as a good introduction to Tolkien’s world. And since I didn’t actually own the book, my fantastic quest was set aside indefinitely. Until today at least…
A Striped Armchair, a wonderful blog I started following lately, provided a perfect solution to my procrastination: a readalong of all four of Tolkien’s major works. I cannot promise to follow through till the end (a Tolkien overdose, anyone?), but I do intend to participate in at least the first quarter of the event. I’m feeling extra excited, since it’s my first time officially joining a readalong and an opportunity to tame such a beast that has been intimidating me for a long while.
If you’re new to The Hobbit, do you have any preconceptions going into it?
I do, I guess. For me Tolkien was always associated with long and tedious commitment. Some people I know have been praising his works as ingenious; others have branded them as impossibly slow. It’s hard for me to side with any of these groups, because, well let’s be honest, I’ve never read any of it. I did try to get into The Children of Hurin and couldn’t get past page three. Maybe I was in the wrong mood, or maybe Tolkien scared me off with a genealogical tree that contained at least a thousand names (or something close to that). I found it was really hard for me to follow the author’s (or his son’s for that matter) line of thought. It doesn’t mean that I am somewhat prejudiced toward The Hobbit, but I have to admit that bad prior experience made it more difficult for me to commit to the book.
J.R.R. Tolkien pretty much founded the modern fantasy genre. So let’s take a moment to think about the genre as a whole; have you always loved fantasy? Or perhaps you still feel rather skeptical towards the whole idea of wizards and dwarfs and magic? What was your introduction to the genre?
As I already mentioned earlier, I have nothing against fantasy. But as the question states, Tolkien practically defined the genre, thus breeding numerous copycats who choose to work with already created rules and stereotypes instead of developing their own. After a while a lot of high fantasy novels start sounding same. It happens with many other genres, where one monumental work throws its shadow over the little guys, but it doesn’t make it any easier trying to find an original story among all that mess.
Do you have a certain plan for reading it? A few pages a day, spacing it out over the month? Or are you just going to race through it? Let whimsy decide?
I’m not a fast reader. I tend to read every word, trying to appreciate the author’s syntax and stylistic principles. So you can only imagine the pace I’m going at. I’ll try my best to finish by the 31st, that’s a promise! I guess my strategy is going to include a few pages every day, and hopefully I’ll make it “there and back again” safely…