Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Book 62 of 2013: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

I never used to reread The Hobbit as regularly as I reread The Lord of the Rings but with the films coming out I felt like I couldn’t go to see them without rereading the book again. Normally this would be a quick reread, but this year, due to the edition that I’d selected, it took me right from the very beginning of December to the middle.

The Hobbit is the tale of Bilbo Baggins, a quiet unassuming Hobbit who ends up joining a band of Dwarves and a Wizard on a trek to their ancestral home, The Lonely Mountain. This mountain is now the home of a dragon who was lured there by the wealth that the Dwarves hoarded. Along the way they run into goblins underground (where Bilbo finds the now infamous ring), get lost in some woods and run into giant spiders and Elves, and meet a whole town full of people who live in the middle of a lake beneath the mountain inhabited by the dragon, Smaug. The story follows the change that Bilbo goes through as he becomes an entirely different Hobbit to the one he was before he left.

This time around I decided to go for my illustrated edition of the book. I’ve had it for years but normally it sits on my bookcase looking pretty. I’d ended up with a bit of time off in the run up to Christmas so it seemed like a good time to crack out the illustrated version. It’s not the most portable version of the book being a big hardback copy with pretty pictures and thick pages, so I was only really able to read it in bed at night and first thing in the morning.

This led to a slight disaster right at the outset of reading it when I had an accident with a cup of tea. A few sheets of paper towel and all was right. Luckily the pages are fairly thick and don’t absorb liquids very well.

In the past few years I’ve read a couple of old paperbacks (one of which is quite a bit older than me, that’s the edition I reviewed last year) and I’m planning on getting a Kindle version for my next reread, but I forgot what a joy to look at this book could be. The illustrations are beautiful and looking at them now, having watched the first film (and reading it in preparation for seeing the second) I can see what an influence they obviously were.

I don’t think that this is an edition of the book that I’m likely to revisit again particularly soon. The last time I read it was almost ten years ago and I imagine it’ll probably be that long again until I look at it again. That’s partly because it’s just not convenient to read, being unable to carry it around in my bag, but also because I worry about damaging it (which was why the tea incident kind of gave me pause about the wisdom of reading it while I ate my breakfast).

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