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Let the Lord of the Rings Read-a-Long Begin!

January 4, 2010

Last fall on Twitter, where so many wonderful book blogging ideas are formed, Maree, Teresa and I were discussing our love for J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Ring series, and how we all were itching for a reread. Well, pretty soon we decided to do a read-a-long, and after recruiting Clare, we’d come up with a format and a button. I think the button is what makes these kind of things official. ;) Anyway, we’ll be reading (or rereading) one book a month, from now until April, and I do hope that you’ll join us. Teresa posted about it back in November, outlining the ‘plan’ and including a Mr. Linky for sign-ups. We’ve got 30 people signed up, and it’s not too late, so feel free to add your name to the list! We’re starting things off with The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, and I’m hosting! A quick reminder: although we’ll be discussing in January, don’t feel obligated to finish the book by the 31st, or to stretch out your reading time. You can definitely approach it at your own pace!

In addition to this post, I’ll be posting again mid-month, and finally at the end of the month. Each post will include a Mr. Linky, so that if you’re posting about the read-a-long on your own blog, we’ll have all of the links in one place. I think the marvelous thing about read-a-longs (vs. challenges) is that since we’re all reading the same book, we can have even deeper discussions, so I encourage you to either post on your own blog or get into comments on other people’s.

In case you need a little inspiration, I’ve come up with a few discussion questions. Feel free to answer any, all, or none of them on your blog or in the comments. I do ask all of the rereaders to remember to post spoiler warnings, though, so that those who are new to Bilbo and the gang know when to look away. :) Also, one of the fun things about books like The Hobbit, in my opinion, is that they’ve been around for so long that they have a ton of different covers! So if you’d like to take a picture of your cover to show it off, I know that I’ll be checking it out…I’m always curious about the physical aspects of books. Personally, I think my cover, which matches my LOTR and Silmarillion books, is quite beautiful. I’ve always been a fan of watercolours, and I like that none of the characters are pictured (well, except for Gandalf’s back), so I’m free to imagine them however I wish to.

Discussion starters:

When did you first hear of The Hobbit? What made you decide to join the read-a-long?
Have you read it before? If so tell us about that experience.
If you’re new to The Hobbit, do you have any preconceptions going into it?
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?
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?

Once you’ve written up a post, share it here:

I first read The Hobbit with my mother in my elementary school. We always read a book together before I went to bed, and we often went for classics. My mom is a big fan of fantasy books, so she suggested we read The Hobbit, and I really loved it! It was so full of adventure, but at the same time Bilbo was so amusing, that I really enjoyed it. Since then, I’ve reread it on my own a few times, and as I’ve grown older I’ve come to appreciate Tolkien’s scholarship more and more. I love how you can completely guess he was in academia, simply from how he created the world, and I love how detailed it is. I think the subtitle, There and Back Again is wonderful, and the whole story of Bilbo speaks to some dream deep in our hearts to try ourselves in the wide world. Now that I’ve read more of Joseph Campbell, I definitely see the Hero’s Journey in it!

Since my mom was such a big fan of fantasy, I never knew that other people associated the genre with ‘pulp fiction,’ so I’ve never had any stereotypes get in the way of my enjoyment of it. :) I don’t read as much high fantasy anymore (that’s the epic, world-building stuff, for those who aren’t familiar with the subgenres), but I enjoy urban fantasy, and I still love revisiting my old middle and high school favourites. I can’t imagine anyone who’s actually read Tolkien trying to argue that he’s pulp anything. And if they did, I might smack them over the head with The Silmarillion! ;)

I’m going to start The Hobbit today, and I’ve been so excited since we began discussing the project that it’s taken all of my will power to hold out until now to begin!

60 Comments leave one →
  1. January 4, 2010 10:57 am

    My copy of The Hobbit is a beat up number from the thrift store! I read it in elementary school for Enrichment. I adore and love fantasy- in fact, one of my resolutions is to step away from my beloved fantastical realms.

    I’m going to take it quite slowly, a chapter at a time.

    • January 7, 2010 6:35 am

      Awesome re: the Hobbit! I’ve decided to read about a chapter a day too. :D

  2. January 4, 2010 11:27 am

    I was thinking I should re-read LotR again after watching the film trilogy. I didn’t particularly rate them that highly but I have an itch, an urge to read them. Maybe it was because I was young when I read them.

    I read The Hobbit at a young age, roughly around the time I was starting to get into reading (like devouring books and not nibbling away at one) so maybe eight or nine. I remember reading The Chronicles of Narnia and then The Hobbit. When I was eleven or perhaps twelve I read it again and bloody loved it. My teacher, at the time, said LoTR were her favourite books and she would never watch a film of them because it would spoil what she had imagined. I’ve always wondered what she thought of Jackson’s films.

    Thinking about it, The Hobbit does stir up a lot of memories. This is a lovely thing, when an object such as a book holds a link to the past. I get a lot of memories thinking about LoTR too.

    if I didn’t have to read and study I would do this. perhaps in summer

    • January 7, 2010 6:35 am

      We were about the same age when we first read The Hobbit! I do hope you get to reread them at some point this year. :)

  3. Shanra permalink
    January 4, 2010 11:31 am

    Oooh, that’s a lovely copy. ^-^ We own three copies of “The Hobbit” (coincidentally that means we’ve got one copy for each of us), but the one I love the most is the one my dad read from when I was a wee girl. (That’s the cover I’ve shared in my post, but since I haven’t officially signed up, I’ve refrained from adding my name to Mr Linky.)

    Happy reading! ^-^

    • January 7, 2010 6:36 am

      What fun! hehe I’ve added you to the Mr. Linky, because it’s silly to think you need to officially sign up to share the Hobbit love! :D

  4. January 4, 2010 11:49 am

    I have only ever read The Hobbit. I have never read The Lord of the Rings. One day I hoep to get around to it.

    • January 7, 2010 6:36 am

      Have you seen the movies though? I imagine reading the books after seeing the movies would be a very different experience.

  5. January 4, 2010 12:14 pm

    My favorite thing about Lord of the Rings is how much Tolkien loved the world it was in – how broad and deep it feels. Ther eis this continuous feeling in all the Tolkien books that there is so much more going on that isn’t in the book, that the little story really is just one piece of a larger narrative. So it feels like history, not like a clever plot. And he does it like he means it, not like he’s trying to sell his book to you, just like the world means a lot to him.

    • January 7, 2010 6:36 am

      You said that SO well Jason! And I completely agree!

  6. January 4, 2010 1:33 pm

    I TOTALLY FORGOT WE WERE DOING THIS!!! *gets excited all over again*

    • January 7, 2010 6:37 am

      LOL I’m happy you’re joining in!!!

  7. January 4, 2010 2:02 pm

    This is not a dedicated readalong post, but I just reviewed The Box of Delights by John Masefield and noticed some interesting parallels with The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Very minor spoilers for both books!

    Hope to answer some of your questions in a later post.

  8. January 4, 2010 5:29 pm

    I have such fond memories of The Hobbit. I loved Beorn. The illustrations I’ve seen of him make him look a bit scary, but I imagined him as rather handsome.

  9. January 4, 2010 7:31 pm

    Oh my goodness, I have read these books SO many times. I’d totally do the read-along but I’m feeling like getting through some other, new books right now… but I will VERY happily be reading along with your read-along!

    • January 7, 2010 6:38 am

      That’s like me and Jane Austen! lol I think I’ve read Hobbit 3-4 times and LOTR 2-3. :)

  10. January 4, 2010 7:40 pm

    I haven’t read The Hobbit since I was little – I’m excited to see what I think of it as a grown-up. Yayyy!

    • January 7, 2010 6:38 am

      It’s so fun to revisit childhood favourites!

  11. January 4, 2010 8:07 pm

    Yay! I read the first chapter today–I had forgotten how funny that opening is!

    My copy, which I will share photos of at a later date, is a beautiful green hardcover edition that my sister gave me for Christmas one year. It has runes on the cover and the spine and several illustrations by Tolkien himself.

    • January 7, 2010 6:47 am

      I know, right?! I was cracking up at Bilbo spluttering around getting refreshments. ;) My copy as those Tolkien illustrations too!

  12. January 4, 2010 9:34 pm

    I’m thinking about this one. I love these books, read at least 3 times each, the HObbit more……I’ve just come now to the site, so I’ll think about it over night and let you know. It’s a lovely challenge! Hmmmmm……

  13. January 4, 2010 9:38 pm

    Hooooooray!!! I’m so in for this!!! I’ll be starting The Hobbit soon. And I’m so glad that you’re starting things off :)

  14. tasseled permalink
    January 5, 2010 12:10 am

    I’d love to join in. I found your blog a couple of days ago, and it is such an inspiration! Thank you for this wonderful opportunity.
    Since I don’t own a copy of The Hobbit yet, I’m thinking of borrowing it from the library tomorrow. Wish me luck!

    • January 7, 2010 6:48 am

      Thanks for all the kind words! And I hope you grab that copy of The Hobbit. :D

  15. January 5, 2010 12:41 am

    Ohhh you are so tempting me to join! I’ve so much on the plate now BUT still contemplating. I first discovered The Hobbit from an animated film that was turned into a pc game.. I think I was in high school. And then a high school classmate introduced me to LOTR, but I didn’t yet read it then. I got to read The Hobbit and the first volume of LOTR early in college, from books my mom got me from a garage sale. I don’t have those exact copies as we migrated halfway around the globe a few years ago but of course I made sure to get replacements right away. :) I’ll try to see if I can fit this in. Would be fun to reread with the lot of you.

    • January 7, 2010 6:49 am

      How interesting that you were introduced via a computer game! I do hope you can fit in to reread with us; The Hobbit is pretty short. :)

  16. January 5, 2010 9:12 am

    Enjoy your Read-a-Long ! I just wanted to let you know you’ve been awarded, Eva.

  17. January 5, 2010 4:26 pm

    Yay, we’re off! :D Oooh, I need to blog about this today! LOL

    • January 7, 2010 6:50 am

      LOL; we’re such lackadaisical hosts!

      • January 14, 2010 4:23 am

        LOL!!! I like that about us, though. The looser the better, and more people will join in! :D

  18. January 5, 2010 7:41 pm

    I read The Silmarillion with my husband in 2008-2009 (it took a while) and I loved the language. The stories, when there were stories, were great, and I loved the subtly and the biblical aspects to it.

    Then I read The Hobbit. And disliked it very much. It was so cliche: in trouble, out of trouble, in trouble, out of trouble. (I hope that’s not a spoiler for anyone.) I think the simple, child-like language impacted that too. I’m going to give LotR a try in February and I really hope it’s more satisfying. I do enjoy the movies and since I’d loved The Silmarillion, I was devastated to not enjoy The Hobbit more…

    So, long story short, I’m not joining in for the Hobbit read this month. Maybe when my son is older, I’ll try The Hobbit again, for his sake. I’d love for him to have happy memories reading with his mother like you do :)

    • January 7, 2010 6:50 am

      I imagine going from The Silmarillion to The Hobbit would be problematic. Like Teresa said, LOTR is much closer to Silmarillion than the Hobbit. LOTR doesn’t read like a children’s book. :)

  19. justbookreading permalink
    January 6, 2010 6:03 am

    I was so excited to finally start reading that I actually finished the book! As always, it was a great adventure. There is just something about this book…

    I left my thoughts on the book with Mister Linky this morning. Thanks for hosting!

    • January 7, 2010 6:51 am

      lol I’m glad you enjoyed your reread! :D

  20. January 7, 2010 5:53 am

    I’m so amazed at how quickly I have been sucked back into the world of a book I’ve read many, many times. I’m posting a spotlight today and will post a more in-depth review/discussion next week.

    • January 7, 2010 6:55 am

      Me too; it feels like visiting an old friend and settling down immediately in their coziest living room chair. :)

  21. January 8, 2010 1:21 am

    I unearthed a copy of The Hobbit on my library trip today! So yay! I hope to be joining some of the discussions, or maybe even just at the sidelines. =)

  22. January 8, 2010 8:21 pm

    Love The Hobbit. Not sure if I’m going to be doing the read-along though. If I do get to the book this month, it’ll be thanks to you lot here though.

  23. January 9, 2010 12:59 am

    I just finished writing my intro post but I’m sad that it won’t go up until Sunday! I love just thinking about reading these. It will be my third time through the set. I’ll post my link on Sunday.

  24. January 11, 2010 6:34 am

    I have never read Lord of the Rings. That is so surprising since I can remember that in the 60’s when I was vagabonding just about everywhere everyone seemed to be reading it. Well, better late than never.

  25. vampira2468 permalink
    January 11, 2010 9:01 pm

    I have read the Hobbit before and loved it. I have yet to read the others and that is the main reason I joined the read along. I loved the movies and sure that the source material is a 1000 times better.

    I have always been interested in fantasy. Think it is for the getting away from real life for awhile. A great fantasy writer can create this world you know logical doesn’t exist but craft in such a way it feels like it could

    I will try to read a a bit here and there

  26. January 13, 2010 9:28 pm

    I love your cover. I just want to have a picnic on that giant rock. Maybe build a campfire, roast some marshmallows.

    I have to admit that before now I had never heard of Silmarillion, I had to Google it. I also didn’t know that part of The Hobbit was changed because Bilbo lied!!! I am now officially sucked in.

    I’m loving this readalong!

    • January 14, 2010 4:31 pm

      I knew the Gollum chapter was rewritten but I haven’t read the original version. However, I’m hoping to get hold of a copy of the first edition sometime this month and will then compare, contrast and post about it!

  27. January 16, 2010 6:25 pm

    After half a month, I finally got to beginning The Hobbit. This is the first time I am reading it so I am really excited!! I love your cover. Looks smack in the middle of some adventure. I hold a different edition, showing Bilbo’s hobbit-hole.

    Oh what fun this is! I am off to read. Thanks for hosting this!

  28. trinza permalink
    January 20, 2010 10:53 pm

    I’m a little late in finding out this read-a-long is going on, but I just made a post about it and can’t wait to get started! What a great idea, thanks so much for starting it all up! I’ll be running out to pick up a new copy tomorrow, since mine is falling apart.

  29. February 11, 2010 1:15 pm

    I’m late getting started–and I forgot my pocket handkerchief! But my first post for “The Hobbit” is up. Kaye—the road goes ever ever on


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