The Hobbit readalong

Posted On 19 August 2012

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I’m taking part in the Hobbit read along being hosted by Writers’ Bloc.  This is the first week reading up to Chapter 6.  Questions this week are provided by Writers’ Bloc (numbers 4 – 6) and Inkeri (numbers 1 – 3).

I wanted to read this again before the film comes out and I’m actually really pleased I decided to join in this read-along (it’s been a long time!)  Not surprisingly I have forgotten more than I ever remembered but I’m enjoying the experience and having reread Lord of the Rings not too long ago it makes it an interesting experience comparing the two.  Be aware that if you haven’t read The Hobbit then the following post will undoubtedly contain spoilers so you might want to stop reading from here onwards – you could instead go and pick up a copy and join in!

The questions this week are as follows:

1. In the book Bilbo gets visited by 13 strange dwarves, and just lets them in to eat his cakes and drink tea. In the modern world it would be really weird if people just started barging in your home. Why didn’t Bilbo just tell them to go?

I guess this boils down to two things really.  Firstly, etiquette.  There seem to be a number of conventions which simply must be followed and it would be rude not to – that’s the way I’m reading it anyway.  Secondly, obviously many years ago, and probably due to a number of things, such as the fact that your nearest neighbour could be a long walk or ride away, I think people had to be more hospitable.  Exactly what sort of reaction you would get if you turned up at my door would depend on the mood and time of day/week that you showed up.  I’m sure I would be polite (well sometimes I would!) but the fact is that, like Old Mother Hubbard, sometimes my shelves can be pretty bare – particularly if I’m about to go and shop for the week.  You’d be lucky if you found a few cake crumbs!

2. Where would the dwarves and Bilbo be if Gandalf wasn’t with them? It’s seems to me that it’s him who saves them from the scary situations.

I must admit I was thinking exactly the same thing.  Gandalf just disappears and then seems to turn up at exactly the right moment. Funnily enough I was thinking he seems to be using much more of his ‘wizardly’ ability in this story than he did in Lord of the Rings and it’s just as well for Bilbo and the dwarves that he is doing so because they seem to be bungling and bumbling along so far!  In fact, without Gandalf this would be a much shorter book as they’d have all been stewing in a pot by now!

3. Bilbo plays a game of riddles with Gollum. He ends up winning by asking “What have I got in my pockets?”, which Gollum is unable to answer. Do you think it was fair, as it wasn’t actually a riddle?

Well, I don’t really think it was a fair question but I suppose you could argue that appearing in front of somebody and threatening to eat them if they don’t win your little game is hardly fair either!  I think my mind would go blank under those circumstances.

4. For those of you who haven’t read The Hobbit before, is the tone of writing one you’d expect from a book that has been loudly proclaimed as a classic? And for those of you who have read it before, how did it feel – like coming home to a much loved book, or were you surprised by how much you’d forgotten?

Well, I’m enjoying comparing this to Lord of the Rings.  Obviously The Hobbit doesn’t have the scope of LOTR and for me it does feel somehow not quite as ‘grown up’.  I read that Tolkien wrote this for his children and reading it you can imagine that he wrote this so he could read it to them at night.  I am surprised how little I remember (although it was a while ago).  I remembered the trolls – for some reason that particular scene just stands out for me.  I’m also surprised at how quickly we seemed to jump into the action and for that matter how many mishaps have so far been experienced by this little band of merry men.

5. We’ve seen quite a few songs so far. Do you pay attention to them, or do you skip them altogether? Do you like how silly they are, or do you think them an interruption?

I distinctly remember disliking the songs in both The Hobbit and LOTR the first time round and actually skipping them entirely.  I seem to have much more patience on the rereads.  Whether that’s linked to the fact that I’m not in such a desperate rush to get to the end of a book when I’m rereading I can’t say.  All I know is that I read them now and just simply find them quite amusing, not to mention they sometimes tell a bit of a story.

6. What has been your favourite scene, so far?

I’m a bit torn with this one – between the scene with the trolls and the scene where Bilbo meets Gollum – although I think it’s because I’m picturing and hearing in my head Andy Serkis – he really did make this character great to watch.  To be honest though I think I’m going to stick with the trolls (this scene was over much quicker than I actually remembered though!).  I love the bit when Bilbo tries to pickpocket one of them only to have the purse itself blow the whistle on him.  Plus all the picking him up by his toes and shaking him about – I don’t know whether that shows a flaw in my character – but it just made me laugh.  Even as he was going to pick the troll’s pocket I was thinking ‘what, no!’  What a maniac.  It all turned out okay in the end but only due to the timely intervention of Gandalf!

Back next Sunday for the second instalment.  See you then.

The Hobbit

The Hobbit


18 Responses to “The Hobbit readalong”

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  2. nrlymrtl

    The scene with the trolls is 1 of my faves also. I like their discussion on how best to cook them up.

    • lynnsbooks

      I know – sit on them and turn them to jelly – or the worst – mince them! No, put them on a skewer (ouch) and roast them!! All while they lie helplessly listening on.

      Lynn 😀

  3. Tanya

    Haha, I’d flip out if 13 dwarves just turned up at my Hobbit-hole with a wizard that seems to know exactly what I have on my shelves!
    I skipped the songs the first time, as well, although I seem to be paying a lot more attention this time. The first one, the one the dwarves sang, I didn’t remember that one at all, which is weird really, seeing as that’s how they kind of explain what this expedition is going to be about. I can’t believe I missed it the first time.

    The scene with the trolls is definitely my favourite, too, although I find Gollum scarily fascinating. 🙂

    • lynnsbooks

      I love the Gollum character – precioussss. Not saying that I want to choose cushions or something though!
      Lynn 😀

      • Tanya

        Lynn! Would you take over week two with Matt, please?

      • lynnsbooks

        Of course, no problem. By the way – I’ve seen your post and about to head over to your site to check it out. Not sure about everyone else’s posts – haven’t seen anything so wasn’t sure where you were all posting (normally I’d go and check out everyone’s answers and make comments) – just thought I should check if I’m missing something (I usually like to!)
        Lynn 😀

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  5. TBM

    I love this novel and I can’t remember how many times I’ve read it. Enjoy! I’m looking forward to the movie.

    • lynnsbooks

      I know. I can’t wait for the film. I was being a total geek and keeping track of it online but I’ve stopped – don’t want to know all the good stuff before I go to watch it. Part of the enjoyment is in the anticipation after all.
      I’m enjoying the book. I haven’t read it for years. It surprisingly feels a little bit younger than LoTR. I don’t know if that’s intentional as I suppose Tolkien was whetting his appetite before he got to his real story.
      Lynn 😀

  6. jenclair

    I don’t know how many times I’ve read it, either. I read it to my kids, too!

    • lynnsbooks

      Funnily enough I haven’t read this lots of times and yet it’s a really easy book to read. I definitely reads a lot like a bedtime story and I read that Tolkien wrote it to read to his children – so it kind of makes sense.
      Lynn 😀

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  8. theairtwit

    I don’t think I’d be so polite if 13 strange little dwarfs came barging into my home, asking for food and drinks! Ha ha. I like the point you raise about hospitality, too. Today, I think, most people (especially city folk) are more suspicious and prudent of strangers.

    I am curious about the differences in writing between The Hobbit and LotR. I’ve only ever seen the films, so I base expectations from those. LotR strikes me as more complex, perhaps, and deserving of a serious tone than The Hobbit.

    • lynnsbooks

      That is definitely true. The Hobbit comes across as a more light read and I think Tolkien was just cutting his teeth. One of my friends today was saying she read this as a nighttime story to her daughter and I can definitely imagine that whereas I don’t think you would read LoTR as such! More serious and obviously longer – too much going on for a bedtime read. LoTR is a sort of sit and enjoy it by yourself type of novel.
      Lynn 😀

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  10. kerilady

    Hey fellow group-reader!
    I was debating between the trolls-scene and the Gollum-scene, at the en I chose the riddles with Gollum, but I must admit the trolls were hilarious. When Bilbo went to pick the pocket I almost yelled at my book: “Don’t do it you crazy hobbit!”.

    • lynnsbooks

      It’s been quite good fun watching Bilbo’s development. When you consider he was practically tricked into coming along in the first place he’s proved to be quite invaluable. I couldn’t believe it either when he attempted to pick the troll’s pocket!
      Lynn 😀

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