For a long time I couldn’t decide which book to start with from my extremely long unread physical books list. Finally, I decided by ‘The Hobbit’. I didn’t realize at first, but this is also the book that has been on my shelf unread for the longest time. For 14 years has this book, one that seemingly every other people like me has read already, been sitting on my shelf, waiting to be finally discovered. Not anymore. I finished it, and here are my thoughts about my experience with it!
Back in 2004, though being only 10 years old, I was already an avid reader. To be honest, that was the peak of my so-called Harry Potter-period, I would read and re-read those way more than it’s healthy. Not that I didn’t read any other books, or any other kind, but according to this fantasy-fascination I was seemingly going through (it wasn’t really about fantasy, but those actual books), my aunt bought me ‘The Hobbit’ for me as a gift. I admit that I wasn’t very charmed by this idea. I felt like my family conspired against me because my HP-mania bothered them so much, and they hoped this other fantasy might turn me away from it. I know it’s stupid, but hey, ten-year-olds are often like that. I didn’t dare touch ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy, because the cousins I didn’t like at all (but I was many times forced to play with) watched the movie all the time, and that gave me some kind of aversion against the whole thing.
I still wanted to read it because, well, I already had an image of myself that I read any book I get my hands on. So, I started reading it, and wanted to like it very much, but I didn’t seem to be able to get into it. It simply didn’t suck me in. I felt awkward. So, I finally stopped and moved on. I basically DNF-ed it, though I didn’t know such a thing existed back then. I never touched again until now.
When I took it off my old childhood shelf last week, I didn’t know what to expect. I only knew that I wanted to finish this book this time, whatever happens. When I opened it, I found the paper tissue I used as a bookmark 14 years ago. It was at pages 16-17. Well, I knew this time I wanted to get further than that.
To this day, this is the only book I have ever DNF-ed. (I’m not against it, I get why people do it, but somehow I just always feel like I can’t actually say how bad a book is, if I didn’t read it completely through. I feel fairer, more content and more adequate after finishing it, however bad it was.)
Okay, so I should probably start with this: yes, I actually finished ‘The Hobbit’ this time! Yay. I still have a LOT of mixed feelings about it, though.
Before I say anything, I must state that this one is 100% SURE a case of the reader and not the book. I see it’s quality. It’s beautifully written, and the world-building, the writer’s amazing fantasy is exceptional, and it does have a place among classics. I also know that I have rated less well-written books the same or better before. It’s not that I don’t objectively agree with how great a book it is. It’s just that I wasn’t particularly enjoying the journey all the way through.
Starting the book, I felt like I did when I was 10. I just couldn’t get into it, I wasn’t excited about the adventure that was about to come. The world the story was set in was fascinating, but otherwise I was bored. For a bit of time I couldn’t even put my finger on why. At first, I thought it happened because of the style. See, the style is again something that’s objectively great, but I never really liked omniscient narrators, mostly because they always remind me that I’m reading a book, thus preventing me from actually getting involved in the story. I’ve read book written this way, though, that I liked, so it must not be the complete reason. I think it was aggravated by how tale-like this fantasy is. It might sound weird, because I love fantasy, and I also love to read children’s books occasionally, but when it comes to something having an actual old folktale-like atmosphere, it somehow bothers me. Don’t ask, I can’t explain why. It’s simply not my thing. (See, it’s clearly my bad, and not the book’s.)
I’m not a huge audiobook fan because I’m such a visual type that I can’t really pay attention to something I only hear, but I think I might like this book a lot better if I listened to it while reading. That would take away the awkwardness of the narration, because it would be, well, somebody actually narrating.
By the time I reached the last quarter of the novel, I was actually surprised to find myself enjoying it. But I finally did! And that’s when I realized that my main problem was probably the characters: the moment I saw even the tiniest bit of development, and I started to understand and kind of like them, I started to enjoy the book more. See, at the beginning, I couldn’t for my life feel their motivations. I could understand them, of course, because it’s explained, but it just didn’t come off the pages and find its way to my heart. I couldn’t relate to them. I got that Thorin wanted his kind’s old treasures, and that Bilbo wanted some adventure deep down inside, but for a long time, I didn’t really care if they succeeded or not. To be honest, I’m still not a hundred percent sure if it’s because of the characters themselves or the style that keeps me at arms length away from the story and the characters. (Just a tiny note: have you ever noticed that there are no female characters in this book? Like, NONE.)
Another thing I feel I should mention: I simply LOVE the poems (well, more like song lyrics) that are part of this story! They’re so much the part of the vibe this world gives off!
I still say that it’s objectively a very good book, I see why it’s quality writing, and how it could conquer the whole world – and by the end, I learned to like it.
Let’s Give It a Grade!
- Story: 5/5
- Characters: 4/5 (because my problems with them might be due to the style)
- Style: 5/5 (because I get my feelings about it are very subjective)
- The Subjective Factor: 3/5
- GPA: 4.25
I think I don’t have to explain why it’s wonderful and unique. The world-building is quite exceptional: the land, the creatures, the history of it. It’s really fascinating.
Everybody. This is a classic everyone should know. Even if you have some issues with it. Trust me, I know what I’m talking about.
Fruit tea with biscuits.
I found that for some reason I enjoy this book significantly more while listening to the movie soundtrack. So, as non-creative as it is, I recommend that. It really helped me getting into the story.
After reading the last quarter of the book, I see a potential that I might like The Lord of the Ring better than this one. So, sometime in the future, I am going to read the trilogy as well!
This was the first book I read as part of The Untouched Bookshelf Challenge.
One down, 66 to go!
What do you think of ‘The Hobbit’? And ‘The Lord of the Rings’? Let’s talk, I can’t wait to discuss!